Saturday, 26 September 2020

Award Winning Author Edward Willett of Regina, Saskatchewan.

 






The Scribbler is pleased to do a series of guest appearances in conjunction with Creative Edge Publicity.

This week you will meet Edward Willett, an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, YA novels and non-fiction. With over 60 title published, he has something for all ages.

He also features fantasy and sci-fi authors on his podcast – The Worldshapers.

If that doesn’t keep him busy enough, he also offers the following on his website:

Looking for an editor or mentor? I offer developmental and copyediting services as well as writing mentorships.

The Scribbler is fortunate to have Edward participate in a 4Q Interview and he is sharing an excerpt from The Moonlit World.



Edward Willett is the award-winning author of more than sixty books of science fiction, fantasy, and non-fiction for readers of all ages. His latest is The Moonlit World, Book 3 in his Worldshapers portal-fantasy series for DAW Books. He also hosts the Aurora award-winning podcast The Worldshapers, featuring conversations with science fiction and fantasy authors about their creative process, and recently Kickstarted an anthology, Shapers of Worlds, featuring authors who were guests on the podcast during the first year, many of them bestselling and award-winning. The anthology releases in ebook September 22 and in print in mid-November from Shadowpaw Press, Willett’s own publishing company. Willett began his career as a journalist, and his nonfiction includes science and history books and biographies, many of them for young readers. He lives in Regina, Saskatchewan.

 

 

 

4Q: From visiting your website, I notice that the Anthology – Shapers of Worlds – is your newest release. What can you tell us about this collection?

 




EW: Shapers of Worlds grew out of my podcast, The Worldshapers, where I interview other science fiction and fantasy authors—many of them international bestsellers and major award-winners—about their creative process. A couple of years ago I started my own publishing company, Shadowpaw Press, and as a result, became a member of SaskBooks, the professional association of Saskatchewan publishers. At our annual meeting last year, someone from Winnipeg gave a presentation on her successful Kickstarting of an anthology, and I thought, “Hey, I know some authors.” I reached out to (to limit the numbers) my first-year guests to see who would be interested in either writing an original story or providing a reprint, if the project funded. I had a wonderfully positive response—even those who couldn’t commit were very positive about the concept—so I went ahead. The Kickstarter ran in March—just as the pandemic was taking hold! —and funded to the tune of $15,700 CDN from 366 backers. The final book, which features original stories from Tanya Huff, Seanan McGuire, David Weber, L.E. Modesitt, Jr., John C. Wright, D.J. Butler, Christopher Ruocchio, Shelley Adina, and Edward Willett, plus fiction by John Scalzi, David Brin, Julie Czerneda, Joe Haldeman, Gareth L. Powell, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Fonda Lee, Derek Künsken, and Thoraiya Dyer, is now out in ebook, with a commercial print release coming in mid-November.

I’ve already reached out to my second-year podcast guests for a Shapers of Worlds Volume II, and am getting great response again, so look for another Kickstarter campaign around about February!

 

 

4Q:  Please tell us about your podcast – The Worldshapers.

 




EW: I’ve thought for years about starting a podcast, because I’ve hosted my own local radio and TV programs and, as a journalist, have conducted a lot of interviews during my career. When my book series, Worldshapers, began, I decided it was the perfect time to finally try my hand at podcasting, and put my interview skills—and the connections I now have in the field of science fiction and fantasy—to work. So, in August 2018 I launched with interviews with Robert J. Sawyer, John Scalzi, Tanya Huff, and Julie Czerneda, and the podcast has been going ever since.

Each episode is roughly an hour long (some have gone longer—Orson Scott Card’s ended up being a two-parter!), and follows the same general format: I ask how the author became interested in science fiction and fantasy as both a reader and a writer, how they got started writing, and how they broke in to professional writing, and then, focusing on a particular title of their choice, discuss their creative process, from idea generation through planning and outlining through writing the first draft, revision, and editing. At the end, I ask the “big philosophical questions”: “Why do you write? Why do you think any of us write? And why write science fiction and fantasy in particular?”

It’s been great fun and I’ve been gratified by the willingness of so many amazing authors to chat with me. I was honored to receive the 2019 Aurora Award—Canada’s fan-nominated-and-voted-on science fiction and fantasy award, the Canadian version of the Hugo Award—for Best Fan Related Work for the podcast, and honored that it was shortlisted for the same award again this year.

 

 

4Q: Can you share a childhood memory and/or anecdote?

 

EW: I have a clear memory, at the age of about five, while we were living in a little house on the corner of a farm outside of Lubbock, Texas, of learning what a “light year” was—that it was a measure of distance, not time, and an immense distance, at that—and being excited to tell my mother what I’d learned. Clearly, my future interest in science fiction was being foreshadowed.

 

 

4Q: I’m most intrigued by your World Shapers series. Your website states: From an Aurora Award-winning author comes a new portal fantasy series in which one woman’s powers open the way to a labyrinth of new dimensions. What can you tell us about it?





EW: The Worldshapers series is set in an interdimensional Labyrinth of Shaped worlds: worlds that exist only because a Shaper, trained in our world by the mysterious Ygrair (who has her own Shaped world at the center of the Labyrinth) has entered the Labyrinth and created the world from the raw material available there. In other words, it’s a bit like authors getting to live inside their books!

In the first book, Worldshaper, my main character, Shawna Keys, is living a nice, ordinary life in a small Montana city. She’s just opened her new pottery studio. She has a good friend, Aesha. As far as she knows, her world is the only world there is. But then, there’s what seems to be a terrorist attack. Aesha is killed. The leader of the “terrorists” touches Shawna’s forehead, and then is about to kill her. But she rejects that this can be happening—and just like that, it isn’t. It hasn’t. Time slipped back three hours. But Aesha is still gone—worse than dead, because no one else even remembers she existed!

Enter Karl Yatsar, who tells Shawna she’s the Shaper of that world, even though she doesn’t remember being a Shaper—a thing he’s never encountered before and can’t explain. He tells her her world is lost, that the Adversary—the leader of the “terrorist” group—has stolen her knowledge of the Shaping of her world and will now begin to turn it against her. Her only hope is to escape her world into the next world in the Labyrinth. As well, he thinks, from the power she showed in setting time back three hours, that she has the power to do what he has been sent into the Labyrinth to accomplish: gather the knowledge of the Shaping of as many worlds in the Labyrinth as possible and convey that knowledge to Ygrair, before the Adversary can make his way to Ygrair and kill her, destroying the Labyrinth utterly in the process.



The first book is basically a chase across Shawna’s world as she flees the Adversary and she and Karl try to get to where he can open a Portal into the next world. Her world is a lot like ours, with a few differences (which I had fun with—in her world, for example, The Da Vinci Code was made into a not-very-successful Broadway musical starring Hugh Jackman.) She escapes into the next world, where Book 2, Master of the World, is set. For much of the book she’s on her own, having left Karl behind, and has to navigate a world inspired by the works of Jules Verne—so, it’s full of submarines and strange airships and weapons and mysterious islands.

The Moonlit World, Book 3, takes Shawna and Karl into a world Shaped by someone who really likes vampires and werewolves, so the title in my head for it for a long time was actually, “Werewolves and vampires and peasants, oh my!” I had a lot of fun playing with (and subverting) some of the vampire/werewolf tropes, and (as I do in all three books) indulging my penchant for making geek-culture jokes.







4Q: Favorite authors? Novels?



J.R.R. Tolkien, of course. I’m a fan of Harry Potter, too. Robert A. Heinlein was a huge influence on me, growing up, as was Andre Norton. C.S. Lewis. Isaac Asimov.

Non-genre, and maybe overall, my favorite author as a kid was Arthur Ransome, who wrote a series of sailing-focused books for children called Swallows and Amazons. In Worldshaper, there’s a yacht named Amazon for that very reason!

Modern authors: I never miss a David Weber book (and he’s been on the show!) or one of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files adventures. V.E. Schwab (also a guest) is someone I enjoy a lot, and I devoured Peter V. Brett and Kevin Hearne’s series (and they’ve both been on the show, too—this is why I love doing the podcast!). After that, there are all kinds of authors whose work I appreciate. Most of my reading currently is me delving into the books by the authors who are going to be guests on The Worldshapers!






4Q: What attracts you to sci-fi and fantasy writing? 







EW: It’s the ultimate playground of the imagination. There is no idea you can come up with that you can’t find a way to tell in science fiction and fantasy. In science fiction, all of time and space is your mental playground. In fantasy, you’re not even limited by our reality. I can’t imagine limiting myself by not writing science fiction and fantasy.





4Q: You are the recipient of many awards for your writing. Which one(s) thrills you the most?






EW: The Aurora Award I won for Marseguro, my second book for DAW Books, was a huge thrill. My publishers, Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert, were both at the awards dinner (held in conjunction with the World Science Fiction convention in Montreal in 2009). And I got kissed on the cheek by Robert J. Sawyer. How many authors can say that?





4Q: Please share a bit about your editing and mentor services.



EW: I’ve worked as a writer-in-residence for both the Regina and Saskatoon Public Libraries, taught off-campus university writing classes, run many workshops, taught teen writers, edited books and literary magazine...in other words, I’ve spent a long time trying to help other writers. I’m happy to help authors with book editing at all levels, and as a mentor, to work with authors on a longer work they might be working through, offering my suggestions regarding story, characterization, and, of course, language. I had very little access to any kind of mentoring or editing services when I started writing, and I’m thrilled to be able to help other writers now.





4Q: What’s next for Edward Willett, the author?






EW: My next big project is a sprawling space-opera book called The Tangled Stars, which DAW will publish in 2022. I’ve also got a young-adult novel called Star Song coming out soon from my own Shadowpaw Press. This is a book that almost sold in the early 1990s to a major publisher, but the fellow who ran the company died, his son took over, and the son promptly decreed, just as the editor (as she later told me) was about to make on offer on my book, that the company would no longer publish science fiction. It never found a home. I’ve rewritten it completely, start to finish, and look forward to finally bringing it out.

Shadowpaw Press will be bringing out other of my backlist and never-before-published titles as well. It’s also possible, if Worldshapers Book 4 isn’t picked up by DAW, that I’ll continue the series under my own imprint. Book 4 is planned: it’s set in a film noir world.





4Q: Anything else you’d like to share with us?


 

EW: I’d really encourage everyone to check out The Worldshapers podcast. If you love science fiction and fantasy, and you’re interested in writing, you’ll find an amazing wealth of information there about how the books that have enthralled you come into existence.





 

 

An Excerpt from The Moonlit World

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

 

Snarls and howls and bloodcurdling shrieks pursued us up the steep, rock-strewn slope, which I guess was better than being pursued by the things making the snarls and howls and bloodcurdling shrieks...although I was pretty sure they would be pursuing in short order.

My breath came in short gasps as I struggled uphill in Karl’s wake. The trees were sparse and the flat black rocks—shale, I guess—shifted beneath us, sliding downhill with an almighty racket that ensured the creatures below knew we were above them.

The sounds of battle dwindled to nothing. Silence reigned behind us. It wasn’t as comforting as you might think.

At least there’s moonlight, I thought, glancing up. Here, there’s always moonlight. The stars around the moon looked normal, the constellations the ones I knew from my world, presumably the same as those in the First World...though from what Karl had said, these stars weren’t really stars at all, just a very-large-scale stage backdrop to give this pocket universe, this cosmological cul-de-sac, the illusion of infinity.

My thoughts returned abruptly to Earth…this version of it, anyway…as a rather large boulder dislodged by Karl came bounding toward me. “My apologies,” he said over his shoulder.

“No worries,” I said, with a soupçon…perhaps even a dash…of sarcasm. The rock leaped and crashed down the slope behind us for a good fifteen seconds.

And then, suddenly, the slope eased. Ahead of me, Karl straightened, walked a few paces, and stopped. I scrambled up onto the level ground where he stood. Together, we looked at what lay beyond the ridge.

“Wow,” I said at last.

“Succinctly put.”

We stood just a few feet from a sharp drop-off. Spread out before us was more of the valley—a lot more of the valley. It stretched as far as I could see, which was pretty far in the omnipresent moonlight. Fields, forest, rivers, ponds, and hills tumbled away into the indistinct distance.

Directly below us lay a lake, smooth as glass, reflecting the brightest stars and the moon back at us as though it were a mirror. Fields surrounded it and, unlike most of those we’d passed through, appeared cultivated. We could only see half of the lake from our vantage point—we’d have to get closer to the edge to see the rest.

Karl reached for my hand, which surprised me; and I took it, which surprised me even more. “For safety,” he said.

“I’m all for safety.”

Together, we edged forward until we stood at the lip of a cliff that might not have been perfectly sheer but was within spitting distance of it: said spit would fall a long, gut-clenching distance before it hit anything. Directly below us, on the near shore of the lake, stood a village, a cluster of buildings surrounded by a wall of pale stone that shone in the moonlight. A few yellow lights burned here and there.

Other than the castle, it was the first inhabited place we’d seen since entering this world, and considering what had come out of the castle, I thought it reasonable to worry about what might live in the village.

But a howl sounded behind us, and was answered by one of those weird, blood-chilling screams. The werewolves and maybe-vampires were still abroad, and they had to know we’d climbed the ridge. The village had a wall around it. Behind a wall sounded exactly like where I wanted to be. So...

“There is a path,” Karl said. I glanced at him. He wasn’t looking at the village, and following his gaze, I saw what he had seen: two wooden posts, with a gap between them and, sure enough, what looked like the beginning of a trail.

He released my hand and walked carefully over to the posts. I followed. He held on to one post, and I held on to the other, and together, we peered over the edge.

The path descended a couple of hundred feet, switched back, descended another hundred or so, and continued in that fashion on down the rock face. Trees rose between the switchbacks. It looked steep, but not too terrifying...

Another howl.

At least, no more terrifying than whatever was coming up the slope behind us.

“I think we should take our chances with the village below,” Karl said. “Do you agree?”

“Fervently.”

We started down.

You might think, if you have never been pursued through the mountains by monsters, that going down a hill is easier than going up one. You would be almost right. It’s less wear and tear on the heart and lungs and more wear and tear on the legs, which start to ache in short order, and keep on aching. It turns out holding your body back to keep from tumbling headlong is hard work. But that’s what we had to do, because the slope of the path we followed definitely did not adhere to building-code requirements for a wheelchair ramp.

After ten minutes, I would have welcomed a mountainside to climb. After fifteen, I would have welcomed a sharp blow to the head to put me out of my misery. But the path went on and on...and on. Every once in a while a howl or a shriek rent the air, but far enough in the distance they were only mildly alarming, as opposed to breathtakingly terrifying.

Not long after we began the descent, I realized it wasn’t as dark as it had been, that the sky had begun to lighten and the stars to dim. On the one hand, that was a relief, because as day began, based on the previous night’s experience, the maybe-vampires would disappear. If the howling things were werewolves, presumably they’d run off as well.

Of course, if they weren’t werewolves, but just regular (if somewhat oversized and glowing-eyed) wolves, they might actually prefer the light, in which case, we were about to be exposed to everyone...or everything...in the valley.

Including whomever was in the walled village. Smoke now rose from buildings inside the walls, one of which had the unmistakable cruciform shape...not to mention tall bell-tower...of a church. Which was interesting. Did this world have Christian churches?

I hope so, I thought. In the last world, Robur, the Shaper, had set up a religion that worshiped the Shaper...which was all kinds of ick, for my taste.

However, Robur as not only merely dead but really most sincerely dead, so it wasn’t like pretending to be a god had translated into actual godhood. In my world, I’d copied over all the religions of the First World. I myself had grown up going to Sunday School. If this world had some version of Christianity, I’d feel right at home.

Also, a village with a church seemed unlikely to be friendly to either undead bloodsuckers or flesh-eating lycanthropes, so there was that.

We paused to rest our aching...or at least, my aching...legs. I looked back the way I’d come. Nothing. I looked down at the village. “They’re stirring down there,” I said. Traditionally, people seen from a height are said to look like ants, but we weren’t quite that high, so I thought they looked more like cockroaches as they moved the streets and the village square. There was no sign they had seen us.

Karl looked up at the brightening sky. “Between the devil and the deep blue sea,” he said, almost to himself.

“Rock and a hard place,” I put in. “Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Torn between two lovers...”

Karl gave me a look I was becoming accustomed to, equal parts annoyance and...well, annoyance. A touch of amusement would have been a nice change, but I suppose the last of my examples, though it pre-dated my birth, had post-dated him by decades. “Since we’re pretty sure the things chasing us are on the side of the devil,” I hurried on, “I suggest we opt for the deep blue sea. Or at least the smooth black lake.” I pointed down.

A bloodcurdling shriek came from behind us...and above us. I twisted my head around.

Two of the winged things burst into sight, black cutouts of giant bats against the pale sky. “Run!” Karl shouted, leaping to his feet.

Below us, I heard faint shouts: the cockroaches...villagers...had obviously spotted the vampires, too, if that’s what they were. Karl and I charged down the trail, or charged as fast as we could without tumbling head over heels and either breaking our necks or plunging to our deaths...which, unfortunately, wasn’t very fast at all. Certainly not fast enough.

Another shriek, almost on top of us. Karl glanced up. His eyes widened. Then he twisted, grabbed me...and pushed me off the ledge.

 




Thank you, Edward, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your stories.

 




For all you wonderful readers that want to know more about Edward and his writing, please follow these links:

www.edwardwillett.com

www.theworldshapers.com

www.shadowpawpress.com

Twitter: @ewillett

Facebook: @edward.willett

Instagram: @edwardwillettauthor





Saturday, 19 September 2020

Returning Author MJ LaBeff of Arizona, US.

 




MJ’s is an award-winning author and her stories are gripping, fascinating thrillers. 

I’m a big fan of MJ LaBeff. It’s an honour to have her return for a guest blog this week. 

Her first visit was in 2019 and you can read her 4Q interview and an excerpt from Cold Case #2 HERE.

 

 

MJ LaBeff is an American author best described as the girl-next-door with a dark side. She’s drawn to writing suspense novels, featuring complicated characters and twisted plot lines that will keep readers turning page after page. (quoted from MJ’s website – mjlabeff.com)

  

Thank you so very much for having me as a guest Allan. It’s always nice to have an opportunity to share what goes on behind the scenes before I start writing a book. This gives you a look into the mind of a thriller writer— mine!

 


Truth or Dare?


It’s a harmless game played with friends. How many of you remember it? I do. At nearly every sleepover I went to in grade school and high school we played Truth or Dare. The stakes got higher as we got older, more brazen and adventurous. What’s that expression? Young and dumb. How about? Live fast, die hard, leave a beautiful corpse. Hey, we were kids who thought we were cool, invincible. We also had another saying. Take it to the grave. A simple pact- innocent enough, right? I mean, what could a group of high school kids really do that was that bad? Let me tell you.




Last Spring’s Stranger book 4 of the Last Cold Case series explores exactly what happens when a prank goes horribly wrong.

Have you ever heard of Pack Mentality in humans? It’s a scary but interesting phenomenon. I’m reminded of a pack of coyotes, and how they operate in the wild, luring, cornering, and then ripping their prey to shreds. Pack Mentality occurs when people make decisions based on the actions of others. A person can also be lured into Pack Mentality when he/she want to fit in. Things that otherwise rational people would not do- get done. Consequences, be damned. Take it to the grave. Remember the pact, or dare I say pack. But, the truth always finds a way of coming out. Doesn’t it? Humans also have this thing called a conscience.

These are the thoughts that ran through my head while plotting Last Spring’s Stranger. People often ask me where I get my ideas so I thought this might lend a bit of insight. The game of Truth or Dare isn’t in the story, but it initially spawned the idea for it. That, along with some myths from the small town I grew up in.




There was the legend of Albino Man. He lived in the woods and was frighteningly tall, bald and ghostly white. I remember being a little girl and a bunch of us gathered in the neighborhood, wanting to go into the woods in search of him. We were at an age where defying our parents still scared us as did going in search of a person as scary as Big Foot. So, we requested that one of the girl’s ask her dad if he’d take us hiking through the woods. Eh, eh, eh, sneaky little girls that we were, it wasn’t until we were walking the trails did we tell Mister Whitney the truth. I’m sure our squeals, giggles and loud whispers never tipped him off, ha, ha, ha. We never did see Albino Man.

Thinking of that adventure had me drawing on others, including pranks. Often meant to be harmless but could be hurtful too. Remember what it was like being a teenager. You gave and you got.

It starts with a prank that ends in death. There was my premise. Next, I began thinking about fictitious myths and legends. The Legend of Verch’s Hollow was born. It’s a separate piece of writing that I thought would be fun to share here.



 


 

 

The Legend of Verch’s Hollow

        The untimely demise of the Verch family occurred forty five years ago. Legend has it that their restless souls rise up and haunt the property every year during the spring equinox. Despite the no trespassing signs, teenagers cross the covered bridge to the overgrown mound where John Verch sacrificed his family in a grisly murder and then resurrected their slaughtered bodies like scarecrows before taking his own life days later.

   

The property remains vacant until 1999 when one of Verch’s descendents, Lenny Verch decides to reclaim the land. A decision he and his wife Ursula will regret after their teenage daughter Tina is brutally murdered. Her death fuels the legend of Verch’s Hollow. Teenagers hold séances. Young and old alike believe that every year during the spring equinox Tina Verch rises from the thawing ground seeking revenge for her death.

 

It’s been over twelve years since her brutal murder. No evidence. No suspects. No arrests. Case closed.

 

Then another teenage girl is murdered in the hollow. Laurel Adamsen is on the school newspaper staff, an athlete, and liked by her peers.  Who hated this young girl so much to have wanted her dead? Is this a sick copy cat crime? Why would someone want to kill an innocent fifteen year old girl? Was this a teenage prank gone wrong?

 

Don’t ask me why the character’s name is in red. Maybe I was thinking about changing it. I don’t know. This is the original piece and as you might’ve guessed it’s hard to say what was going on in my head. Such is the life of a writer.

 

So, what’s it gonna be? Truth or Dare?

 

I do hope you and your readers have enjoyed this peek into my writer’s mind and that I’ve piqued your interest about this story. Last Spring’s Stranger it is available for preorder. The book release is January 12, 2021.  

 

 


 


Thank you MJ, for sharing your thoughts and an Excerpt from your new novel. I’m looking forward to reading your story. Wishing you continued success.

 

 

For you wonderful visitors wanting to discover more about this talented author and her stories, please follow these links:



Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08FKMRYY8

Apple

https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1527136329

Kobo

https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/last-spring-s-stranger

Barnes and Noble

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/last-springs-stranger-mj-labeff/1137460833?ean=2940164659028




For more about the Last Cold Case series please visit www.mjlabeff.com. I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.





Saturday, 12 September 2020

Six Great Stories. Six Great Authors. Reading suggestions.

 



Who doesn't love a great story?


It's that time again when the Scribbler makes a few suggestions for your reading pleasure. 

Many of these fine novels come to my via The Miramichi Reader , which is an excellent site for reviews and reading recommendations. Some of the following authors have been guests here on the Scribbler and you can click back to their interviews.


“Reading brings us unknown friends” – Honoré de Balzac


“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.” – Louis L’Amour



#1 Access Point by Tom Gabbay.




Goodreads.

"A psychological thriller with compelling explorations of memory, obsession, and identity. Readers will find it an intriguing and entertaining read." - BlueInk Review

When American art student Mia Fraser is brutally murdered steps away from her London house she shares with computer genius Ula Mishkin, it leaves the socially inept scientist heartbroken. When it becomes clear that Detective Sarah Boyd is making no progress in solving the crime using traditional methods, Ula creates a software program that allows her to reach into her dead housemates memory in order to reveal the identity of the killer. Entering the dead girls life through the echo of her memory, Ula learns that sometimes the past is best left undisturbed.



Tom Gabby was a guest on the Scribbler. Read his interview HERE.

Review on The Miramichi Reader HERE.



#2 The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant by Jeanette Winsor.




Goodreads.

Hanging for witchcraft has been outlawed in Ireland for centuries…

Sixteen-year-old Molly Chant faces the noose, a punishment unheard of in 1869. Her one chance for escape is to follow her friend, Mick, to a ship ready to sail to the desolate island of Newfoundland. But, crossing the vast, angry ocean to the colonies could be a new kind of death sentence.

Her only hope for redemption is in the tiny outport of Silver Cape Cove, where she struggles for a balance between her healing powers and the superstitious ignorance she encounters there. Will she find a new family and acceptance or become the pariah everyone believes her to be?



Jeanette Winsor has been a guest on the Scribbler. Read her interview HERE.

Read the review from The Miramichi Reader HERE.




#3 Death between the Walls by Alexa Bowie.




Amazon.

Not much happens in the tiny town of Newcastle. At least, not until Emma returns from Toronto to claim her inheritance: a stately arts and cultural center. Since taking up residence in the center, Emma Andrews has gotten used to finding things just a little off-kilter. Her tenants, for example, are convinced she may have killed the town manager (but they still love her). The new town manager is determined to have her evicted (but he would still love to date her). And there’s the little matter of a coyote – or is it a wolf? – that shows up at the most interesting of times. Trouble in the form of a dark secret gathers momentum, swirling around her like Dorothy’s tornado, and threatens to carry her away. The arts and culture center holds a link to the past, together with a crime that just won’t remain hidden. Helping Emma avoid disaster are a couple of handsome police officers, a new-old best friend, her feisty namesake aunt, and a Manse filled with eccentric, talented artists. Emma has to get to the bottom of this. Will her new friends be enough to keep her safe? Or will Emma’s Manse become her final resting place?

Watch the Scribbler for more about Alexa and the stories - October 17, 2020.

Amazon review HERE.

The Miramichi Reader review HERE.



#4 Montbel by Angela Wren.




Goodreads.

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques' case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the case.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?



I'm a big fan of Wren's cozy mysteries. This is the third in a series. Her protagonist is Jacques LaForet and he's a very cool character.


My review HERE.

Review by Vanessa Couchman HERE.

Angela has been a guest on the Scribbler. Read her interview HERE.


#5 Secret Sky by JP McLean.




Goodreads.

An intrepid young woman. An incredible gift. A terrible price to pay.

Emelynn Taylor's gift didn't come wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow, nor can it ever be returned. Now, it’s taken over her life. It strikes without warning, strips her of gravity and sends her airborne, unchecked.

Haunted by terrifying flights she can’t control, Emelynn vows to take command of her dangerous gift. She returns to the seaside cottage where it all began. Here, she discovers an underground society whose members share her hidden ability, and a man who sends her heart soaring.

But the deeper Emelynn gets pulled into this secret society, the more she questions their motives. Are they using the gift for good or for evil? Unravelling the truth will plunge Emelynn into a fight for her freedom—and her life.

The first book in The Gift Legacy series, Secret Sky is a thriller that skirts the edges of reality in a world within our own. Buckle up and escape the ordinary: take flight with Emelynn Taylor.

My revieHERE.

Review by Author Diana Stevan HERE.


Jo-Anne has been a guest on the Scribbler. Read her interview HERE.




#6 Guilty Innocence by Maggie James.




Goodreads.

When Natalie snoops through her boyfriend Mark’s possessions she finds more than she bargained for. Mark was once convicted of a brutal killing. Heartbroken by what she has discovered, Natalie’s dreams of a future with him collapse.

However, Mark was not the only person sentenced for the murder of two-year-old Abby Morgan. His former friend, the violent and twisted Adam Campbell, was also convicted and Adam knows more about the murder than he will admit.

When circumstances thrust Mark back in contact with Adam, the past comes back to haunt him. Can Mark ever break free from Adam? Will the truth ever come out?





Review by Booklover Catlady HERE.

Review by Kath Middleton HERE.

Maggie has been a guest on the Scribbler. Read her interview HERE.










Here's one you might want to check out.









The Alexanders Vol. 1 1911 -1920

Historical fiction by Allan Hudson.




Goodreads.


In the turbulent waters off Saltcoats, Scotland, Danny Alexander dies in a boating accident. He leaves behind a wife, seven children and no hope. Dominic is the middle child. With a broken heart, his mother is forced to leave him with his bachelor uncle, Duff. None of them are happy with the decision.
Eleven-year-old Dominic Alexander must earn his keep. There are no free rides. Yet despite the difficulties, he finds his place in the structured world of his uncle and overcomes his loneliness.
Fortune and misfortune follow the young man until adversity forces him to make a decision that will affect the rest of his life. Is emigrating to Canada the answer?


More info HERE.

Get your copy HERE.





Thank you to all you wonderful readers for visiting today. I hope you will give some of these fine stories a chance. 





Please tell us your favorite recommendations.




Saturday, 5 September 2020

Author Jeanette Winsor of Belize City, Belize.

 

 






I was introduced to Jeanette’s delightful novel - The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant – when asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her novel by James Fisher of The Maritime Reader. After reading the following, I knew this was a story I wanted to read.

Sixteen-year-old Molly Chant faces the noose, a punishment unheard of in 1869. Her one chance for escape is to follow her friend, Mick, to a ship ready to sail to the desolate island of Newfoundland. But, crossing the vast, angry ocean to the colonies could be a new kind of death sentence.”



I was enthralled. Read the review HERE.



Jeanette is formerly of Bonavista, Newfoundland. She has graciously accepted our invitation to be our guest this week to participate in a 4Q Interview and is sharing an Excerpt from her novel.



Jeanette Winsor is a graduate of The Humber School for Writers, Toronto, and has been writing both novels and short stories for the past twenty years. Many of her works are set in Newfoundland out ports as she tries to capture a culture quickly giving way to the modern world. Her nonfiction pieces have been published in journals and magazines both nationally and internationally. Her short stories have appeared in Unleashed Ink, Frustrated Writers, CanWrite Anthology and most recently, The Antigonish Review. She is a member of the Writers’ Community of York Region, The Toronto Romance Writers, and The Barrie Writers’ Club.

Having completed a Bachelors degree at the University of Waterloo in Ontario and a Masters degree in Adult Education from St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, her career as a lecturer/instructor wended its way from St John’s, NL to Belize City, Belize, on to Edmonton, AB and then, Barrie, ON.

She now lives in Belize City and, like just about every other Newfoundlander, often yearns for the comfort and traditions of the wonderful place called The Rock.

 






4Q: Please tell our readers what to expect when they pick up there copy of The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant.






JW: Molly Chant’s apprenticeship as a midwife starts in Ireland (in the mid 1800’s) but quickly transfers to the desolate island of Newfoundland. She strives in a community—filled with superstition and old wives’ tales—to survive and to become a respected member. Learning quickly that her medicines and practices are frowned on here, she lives each day being both the pariah and the woman everyone comes to (secretly) for help during times of sickness. It’s a long hard road to acceptance but Molly continues, until a tragic event brings her life full circle.

Drawing on the history and stories of the small village of Spillar’s Cove, near Bonavista where my family originated, I have created the fictional community of Silver Cape Cove. While the characters who live in the story are totally fictional, I have tried to draw on the characteristics and personalities that are prominent in the Newfoundland culture. As far as possible, any references to history, geography, and cultural practices have been researched and are true to the times and places. For example, I am often asked why I called the ship that brings Ignatius and Molly into Silver Cape Cove the Ariel. I had checked the website 
http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/ and found that in 1863 the SS Ariel was the coastal steamer that ran from St John’s north to Twillingate. While ‘Ariel’ is currently the name of a Disney character, it in no way influenced my naming that ship.





4Q: What inspired this story?



JW: Two things inspired this story. First, I was born and raised in Bonavista, NL in the 60’s. Our community had ‘witches’. No, they weren’t the broomstick riding, cauldron stirring women of folklore, but they had a certain power. They carried a stigma that gave them this power and people went out of their way to be ‘nice’ out of fear these women would put a ‘wish’ or a spell on them. These spells would cause a loss of some kind, or pain and suffering and getting rid of them took time and energy.

The second thing that inspired me was a book based on the research of Dr. Barbara Reiti of Memorial University of Newfoundland called Making Witches: Newfoundland Traditions of Spells and Counterspells. In her book, Reiti explores the significance of the fact that certain communities had ‘witches’ in Newfoundland because of a combination of social interdependence and female coping strategies in an unstable economy. The book fascinated me and although Reiti never actually spells out which community she is discussing, it is clear to anyone who has lived there that she is referring to Bonavista and the surrounding coves.




The story is told from Molly’s perspective and so we are able to understand some of the ‘unusual’ things she does. She is not the fearsome hag that some would assume her to be, but a woman trying to survive in a world where women had little power. Just as, I believe, the women of Bonavista were using their ‘power’ as a survival tactic.




4Q: Please share a childhood memory and/or anecdote.



JW: One memory that comes to mind is of stealing a cat when I was about eight years old. The cat, a big orange tom, came out to greet me every day on my way to and from school. One day he came close enough for me to grab him and sneak him into my bookbag. I brought him home and hid him in the wood shed, feeding him part of my supper. He stayed there all night and when I got home from school the next day, his owner sat in the kitchen, drinking tea with my father.

Dad folded his hands together on the table and quietly said, “Mr. Hunt is looking for his cat. The orange one. Didn’t see it around, did you?”

I picked up my wet mittens and pinned them to the clothesline over the stove where wet mittens and socks belonged. “I never seen any cat.”

My father was no fool. “No? Well, whoever got your cat, Mr. Hunt, is the worse kind of thief. Don’t you keep that cat in the barn to chase away the rats?”

“I do. And you know, the hardest part is, that’s the best cat I ever had. Why, every night, he has a lunch with me and the missus before we goes to bed. He loves jam jams.”

I giggled and glanced toward the man. But he wasn’t smiling. His face, drawn down, eyebrows knitted together, made him look scary.

My smile dropped and the air around me grew harder to breathe.

Dad gave me a look like he did when I kick the seat during mass or interrupted when people were talking.

The two men chatted on, drinking their tea, and talking about storms on the Grand Banks.




The sun fell lower in the sky and Mr. Hunt stood, rubbed his hand across the top of my head. “Well, seems like ‘tis bad news I’ll have to carry home to the missus.” He put on his cap, stared at Dad. “A wonderful cat. Like a child to us, he is.”

His words pierced my heart. I broke down and went to the woodshed. Despite the sadness and tears, I figured ‘twas best to give the cat back. I learned several lessons that day—the most important I think, a lesson in empathy.



4Q: The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant is the first novel in the Silver Cape Cove series. Can you tell us about the next book(s) in the series and what we can look forward to?





JW: The next book in this series The Healer’s Journey is about a young man, Thomas, who feels he has been ‘witched’ by Molly Chant and as a result, he, too, becomes a pariah in the cove. He tries to make sense of it, but when his family has a bad fishing season, they call him a jinker and send him away from the one thing he loves most of all—the ocean. On his return to the cove several years later, he learns a secret that brings his life to a different place.

The third book in the series, According to Daniel, continues Molly Chant’s legacy and looks at some of the history of mental illness in Newfoundland back in the 1930’s through the eyes of a teenage boy who has witnessed a most incredible tragedy.



4Q: On a more personal note (if we’re not being too nosey), how did a young author from Newfoundland end up in Belize?



JW: This ‘older’ woman came to Belize with her husband back in 2000. He worked with the utility company here and I taught at St John’s College. We were here for 6 years, then went back to Canada. Last fall my husband was called back and I was delighted to return with him. I am writing full time and enjoying the beautiful country—when we are not on Covid lockdown. I miss being able to go back to Canada to visit my grandchildren, but as soon as travel bans are lifted and borders are open, we will be back to visit family and enjoy the people, customs, and fine salt air of The Rock.






4Q: Favorite author? Novels?


JW: Ohhh, I could talk all day about authors and novels I love. I would say that the authors who influenced me most include: Donna Morrissey, Kit’s Law, Downhill Chance, Sylvannus Now. Norah Donoghue, Room, Slammerkin, The Wonder, and The Pull of The Stars. Zora Neal Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Michael Winter Into the Blizzard. Michael Crummey, Sweetland.



4Q: When Jeanette Winsor is feeling most creative, where will we find you writing? Your writing habits?




JW: It’s six o’clock in the morning and the sun has just breached the horizon on the Caribbean. I am sitting in my little corner in the living room (a place I call ‘my office’) tapping away on my computer. I am debating if I should go for a walk or a jog while the temperature is still only 25 degrees Celsius or get down all the ideas that have been percolating during the night. My creative brain always wins, so there is no going out, just a continuation of tapping keys. By noon, I’m starting to fizzle out. I have lunch and settle down to the pleasure of reading. By 4:00, the sun is not as hot and the sea breeze has picked up so I walk for about an hour. By five, I’m back to the kitchen preparing supper. If the mood is right, I may tap out a few words tonight or do a little research.



4Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us about?



JW: To all those who want to write, please do it. I pushed back the urge for so many years telling myself that I couldn’t, or I’d not be very good or, …and the list goes on. Once I started writing, I couldn’t stop and it went forward. I constantly sent out pieces of my work to contests and magazines, and from there I found my work did have validity. I attended workshops and conferences and met so many people who willingly guided me along the way. The world of writing is a lonely world, but once you establish friendships there you find that so many writers are willing to help you and eventually, you will want to help others succeed. Study your craft diligently and write every day.





An Excerpt from The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant.

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






PART ONE

County Cork, Ireland

April 1869

Molly Chant stood on the docks of Cork in a blood-soaked frock, her hands burning, and her life not worth a tinker’s cuss. Witchcraft, they said in the courtroom, and no one in Ireland accused of it for over a hundred years. Her only friend in the world, Mick, waited for her on the deck of The Myrtle, a ship bound for the desolate island of Newfoundland.

He readjusted the small pack he carried over his shoulder and reached toward her. “Come on, then. Give me yer hand.”

Her mouth dried, her throat ached. She had to get away from here. From the danger of being caught. She knew nothing of the place he planned to take her to, except it was a colony across the ocean, and going to the colonies was never a good thing. Stories abounded of starvation, murder, and other—more shameful—deeds.

“Molly. We have to hurry.”

She shook her head, the ends of her long black hair stiff with blood. The stink of piss and filth coming off her body, stark reminders of the horrors of prison over the last few days. But how could she go and leave them? They were her family. “Mick. What about Bridget? She’ll need—.”

“Molly, please. Bridget is gone and ’tis hanged you’ll be if you stay.”

“Hanged for what? We did nothing wrong.”

“The law doesn’t see it that way. You’ll be safe on the ship. But Alfie and Mariah, they’ll be run off the land, left to starve if you go back.”

“Can we ever return, Mick? How many years will I wait?”

His voice dropped and he pulled his brows together. “When Ireland’s free of the English. Next year, two years at most. I promise ye, Molly.”

His hand, pale against the dark hull of the ship, lay face up, beckoning her. Bridget’s voice sounded in her head ‘Molly, girl. Be careful with Mick. He’s trouble. Not to be trusted.’

“But ‘twas lies, all lies. I tried to tell them. Bridget and I are not witches. We didn’t hurt anyone.”

“I know that. But it’s more than that we’re running from now, isn’t it?” His voice, although hushed in the shadows, came clear to her.

“I did it to save you. I had no other choice.”

“So you’ll tell that to the court and expect they’ll believe you?”

“I can’t leave Bridget.”

“Fuck sakes, Molly. Just give me yer hand.”

 Her life was here, her family, her work, and…the threat of hanging for murder. But once she stepped foot on that ship, she’d never see Ireland—never see her family—again.

As much as it cut into her heart, there was no other choice.

She held on to his hand until she found her footing on the deck. ‘Twas as if she had stepped up to the gallows, waited for the hangman to put the sack over her face.

“Stay here ’til I find out who’s on watch.” Mick walked away.

She swayed with the ship, wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm against the breeze cooled by the dark night, dampened by the river. The journey to the courtroom and through the prison had been hard, but not nearly as hard as fighting off Paddy and breaking out, away from the cold and the filth and the blood. Her legs and feet ached from skulking around, one corner to the next, to avoid thieves, drunks, and the police. Running, that’s what she was doing and not taking a single moment to think. Was this the right place to go? Mick said it was, said he’d care for her, in fact he’d promised. But Bridget said…. She balled her hands into fists. Seems like she couldn’t even trust herself these days.

They had gone to trial, she and Bridget, accused of witchcraft, of spoiling crops, causing death. She told the truth when she said they gave medicines and prayed over the sick and dying. The Justice of the Peace twisted her words, calling their medicines ‘potions’ and their prayers to the Mother, ‘spells and incantations, the very work of witches and devils’.

Leaning on the rail now, Molly stared into the murky Lee River below. Bridget. Dear sweet Bridget. Her heart ached.

“I’d not be thinkin’ of jumping in there, lass.” A tall man, his smile comforting and his voice gentle, leaned against the wheelhouse, strong arms crossed in front of him.

“I’ve no intention, sir.”

“Then why so sad?”

“Tis more than I can speak of.”

“Aye.’ He sighed. “A lost lover, then?”

“No. I been told lovers can be found anywhere, anytime. I lost a true friend.”

Mick came around the side and stopped. “There you be Ignatius. Are ye on watch?”

“I am. Your Uncle Seamus and Mr. O’Rourke was late gettin’ back from the pub.” He straightened.

“Is Uncle still sleeping?”

“He is, and ye best not wake him.” Ignatius pushed away from the wall and walked toward her, his dark eyes never leaving her face. “And who’s the fine colleen here?”

“Molly. She’s sailing with us to Newfoundland.”

“Part of the cargo?”

“No.”

“What, then? Seamus don’t abide the sale of Irish folk into service in the colonies.”

Mick moved closer. “She’s a guest on this ship. That’s all you need to know.”

Ignatius smiled and tipped an invisible hat. “Welcome aboard.” He walked away, sauntered downstairs to the deck below, dark curls pulled back and tied with a leather thong bouncing against his back.

Uneasiness flared up. She moved closer to Mick. “What was that all about?”

“Nothing. Keep yerself out of sight as much as possible until we’re out of port. Uncle Seamus’ll be up soon.” Mick ambled toward the stairway.

She followed. “Who was that man?”

He stopped, turned. “Ignatius? Just a lad out of Waterford. Been sailing with Uncle for five or six years now. Why?”

“No reason.”

He pulled down his brow. A scowl shadowed his face. “You best stay away from Ignatius Flynn. Not right in the head, if you know what I mean.” He took her hand, led her along. “Now wait here.”

She sat next to the wheelhouse, sheltered on the port side away from the quay where morning trade was starting up. Men and boys shouting, sails flapping against masts, the scrooping of the tie ropes rubbing along wood. The sun peeked through a thin line between the horizon and the clouds, lighting the sky in a vibrant pink. The Lee flowed along, thriving in the early dawn. She yearned for her tiny stone with the Ogham symbol of the birch tree scratched on it—the symbol of protection—but they’d snatched it from her when she was thrown in prison. Images of home taunted her. Alfie with the hearth burning now, heating the tiny kitchen. Mariah ladling out oats for breakfast, her bread already set to rise. Home.

An escaped tear dropped to her hand. How could you yearn for someone so much? She closed her eyes. You have a strength and a power few other people possess, Molly Chant. Bridget’s voice echoed inside her head. Take your strength and use it to fill your life. But how did you fill your life when the most important people were missing?

A shadow fell across Molly and her eyes flashed open. “Uncle Seamus wants to meet you. Come on. He’s a busy man, so be nice.”

She pulled herself up, her hair all down around her face, and her dress...

“I need to wash up, get out of this—”

“No. We’ve no time.”

Mick’s eyes scanned her, head to toe, his lip curled and he stepped back. Molly pulled her shoulders together and stared down as the sun shone upon the filth she longed to shed.

“This way.”

She followed him, the sounds of the early morning so unlike what she heard at home. Two sailors looked up from their work, stared at her with prying eyes. Could they see what she’d done? No matter. They should mind their own business, had probably done far worse things in their time. But what was worse than—? She glanced away.

Mick stopped and knocked on a door.

“Come in.”

He opened it and stood aside. With a touch to the small of her back, he urged her into the room.








Thank you, Jeanette, for being our featured guest this week. We look forward to reading more about Molly and wish you continued success with your writing.





For all you devoted visitors wanting to know more about Jeanette and her work, please follow these links:



Website: http://jeanettewinsorwriter.com

Twitter: Twitter.com/jwinsor13

Email: jpwinsorauthor@gmail.co