Saturday, 28 November 2020

Fantasy and Sci-fi Author SC Eston is back!


We are all anxiously waiting for Steve's novel - Deficiency - to hit the bookshelves. It's happening soon.

Steve is with us this week to tell us about his story and how it came into being.

He has been featured on the Scribbler before and you can see his previous posts by following these links. 

The Burden of the Protector

Logbox - A Short Story.

Take it away, Steve - 

On December 2nd, my third book, “Deficiency”, is coming out. Wait a minute, did I say third? That’s hard to believe. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would have three books published by now, I wouldn’t have believed them. In some ways, a part of me still doesn’t believe that those books are out, available to the world, and more importantly, a creation of mine.

People often ask me how I find the time to write. My answer is that it’s not necessarily about finding the time (although that helps), but about focusing on small steps, completing them and repeating them until you reach the end. In writing, you start with one word and then add a few more. Soon, you’ll have a sentence, and later a paragraph. Then, you’ll find yourself with a chapter, and eventually (many days or months or even years later) you’ll wake up with a book on your hands. And if you don’t stop even then, you could end up with three.

From “Deficiency”:

Glass buildings from Quadrant X sped by outside the window, some as tall as 200 levels. Most days, the sight was impressive. This morning, though, Artenz was not able to enjoy the view.


I started writing “Deficiency” six years ago. My initial goal was to write a short story and one month later, the first draft was done. The only problem was that it didn’t work. It’s never easy to admit when a piece of writing doesn’t work, but it’s even harder to make it work when it can’t. In this case, I had a longer story to tell and the short form would simply not do.

Also, some authors can write a good piece on their first try. Let’s be honest: I’m not one of them. Over the next few years, I went through fifteen revisions, many of which were incomplete. On those occasions, I would start to revise but not make it to the end (because I lost focus or because I changed a detail that required me to start over). But through all this, I always felt I had something good, a story worth writing. So, I kept at it.

Finally, two years ago, I had a solid version and decided to send it to a few readers. The feedback I received was extremely helpful. More importantly, it was encouraging.

From “Deficiency”:

He cannot remember much from that previous life. He cannot remember what led him to become a cyborg, not exactly. He knows he killed, once, as an enforcer.

The main idea for “Deficiency” came from another story I was writing, titled “Debris” (still in development). I had hit a wall, and the story was not going anywhere. Or, it was going, but nowhere promising (stories tend to always be going somewhere). So, I decided to put “Debris” aside and use one of the original ideas behind it to write a different story.

The general premise behind this idea was that you wake up one morning and realize that someone close to you have disappeared, completely, including all the records of her existence. It’s as if that person never existed.

This was the idea that started “Deficiency”.

From “Deficiency”:

There’s her laboratory,” said Zofia.

The door opened. Keidi took a step and looked inside. The sight weakened her knees.

Although some stories can be challenging to write, “Deficiency” was surprisingly easy. Even with all its complexity, its tight and detailed timeline (which is several pages long), its many characters and even more numerous technologies, all set in an imaginary and futuristic city, “Deficiency” remained easy to write.

I’m aware how unlikely this is and grateful for it. And if I forget how lucky I was at the time, the story I’m now working on is quick to remind me (it’s given me headaches for over two years now!).

Don’t get me wrong, “Deficiency” was a lot of work. But every time I sat down to write or revise, I only had to put on my headset to be instantly transported into the storyline. I was always looking forward to writing and the world became alive in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. My hope is that readers will be able to experience a bit of the same.

From “Deficiency”:

She hated the idea of her baby growing in an egg-cell in a laboratory somewhere in Prominence City, where she would not have access to it.

In every story, I try to touch on a few subjects that are important to me. In “Deficiency”, many of those subjects took on a more personal turn, as they are closely tied to my own experiences. Among others, I explored the nature of relationships, more specifically the bond between partners and how challenging it can be to build a life together when both persons have vastly different backgrounds and perspectives. I also looked at technologies and the idea that we are often too eager to jump into the next best thing, without properly understanding the long-term ramifications. And finally, the story paints a bleak picture of what could happen if greedy corporations are left unchallenged when their priorities do not align with the well-being of society.

From “Deficiency”:

A scream almost made him stop.

It sounded unnatural, too loud to be one of the enforcers. It was followed by something else. A long and high-pitched mechanical roar.

“Deficiency” is a science-fiction novel. It’s also a thriller and suspense story, with elements of cyberpunk and dystopia. It’s set on a distant planet, in a fictional future that mirror our own. More importantly, it’s a story about two people whose dreams are shattered and who find themselves on the run, with nowhere to hide and nowhere to go.

It was a great project to work on and I can only hope that readers will have as much fun reading it as I had writing it.

Thank you, Steve, for sharing your thoughts and how Deficiency came about. Wishing you tremendous success with your novel and writing journey.

For all you keen visitors wanting to discover more about Steve and his great stories, please follow these links:

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Award winning Author Rachael Tamayo of Houston, Texas.


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

This week you will meet Rachael Tamayo, all the way from Texas. A bio and excerpt from her latest novel, Carnal Knowledge.

Rachael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher. After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books. A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of almost fifteen years, and their two small children.

Excerpt from Carnal Knowledge

(Copyright held by the author. Used with permission)





It isn’t long after I pick up my drink from the table that I feel it. Something is wrong. It’s only been one drink; was it extra strong? When did I eat last? My head grows fuzzy and spins, the thumping music in the club sounding far away. I grip the table, struggling to focus as I search the crowd for my friend Lily, but I can’t find her. I can’t focus on faces. I close my eyes, stumbling on my high heels. I wasn’t supposed to be drinking; I figured no one would know as long as I don’t drive.

Where is Lily? Probably off dancing. She was supposed to be watching my drink.

I stumble again, but this time a strong arm catches me. I catch a whiff of cigarettes, beer, and a strong cologne. Must be a man. The thought is vague yet matter-of-fact.

Even as my thinking processes dull and slow, I realize I’m not drunk. This is something else. This is wrong. I’m too fuzzy to be scared, yet I feel my heart pounding. I should be afraid. I didn’t come with a man tonight. I don’t know any men here. No one should be touching me.

Don’t touch me.

I try to make my mouth form the words, but I can’t. The muscles just won’t cooperate. I try to look at him, but my eyes won’t focus. My head is just so heavy.

I make out his shape, vague and dark. “Whoa there, beautiful.” His voice is laughing and strange. I don’t know him, nothing there I recognize.

Is he laughing at me? I don’t care. Suddenly so, so sleepy. I open my mouth to speak again, but only slurred, stuttered speech comes out that makes no sense even to my own ears.

He holds me up, leaning close to my ear. “It’s okay. I’m not going to let you fall, baby.”

The tears blur my vision, but I can still see the red stain on the floor muddled by the water that drips from my eyes. I drag my hand under my nose, looking at the splattered mess around me. Standing, I stare at the sheets—more red. The blankets are ripped, the sheets half off the bed. The bedside lamp is on the floor. My phone screen is shattered.

Not knowing what else to do, I gather the linens from the bed and walk them down the hall, stuffing them into my washing machine before starting the load. I gather the Clorox bleach spray and a wad of paper towels to clean the wood laminate floor.

It takes a while, but now it looks normal again. The blood is gone. Normal except for the bare mat‐ tress and the bleach smell. By this time, I’m almost brave enough to look down. My tears are gone, my vision clear. I’ve been terrified to look, scared that I’m the source of blood, a wound I can’t face or maybe can’t feel somewhere that might have caused this mess.

I look down at my body, naked, spattered. I see no cuts, no anything that would suggest blood loss of this magnitude. My head hurts now, so much that I can't concentrate enough to be afraid, or think on what the last thing I remember is, or how I got here, who I might have brought home with me. The answers to the questions that the police would ask, if I were to go to them, which I won’t.

Blood is drying on my thighs. I didn’t go to bed naked. I don’t even remember going to bed or coming home. But that’s where I woke up, though I didn’t even know I went to sleep, or passed out, or whatever the hell this is. I gingerly touch the back of my head, feeling the growing lump there. My blonde hair feels matted, tangled; it must be the source of the headache.

The blood is mine… I think. The pain I have tells me that at least some of it is probably mine.

I have no idea what happened.

You really don’t know how you feel about some things until they happen to you. You can guess. You can pretend you’d be strong, that you’d stand on the rooftops and shout your indignation as you shake your fist to the skies, but those are only guesses. Hopes. What we think we know about ourselves. They say no one ever really knows anyone. I think it’d be a safe bet to say that we don’t really know ourselves either. You think you do. The “Oh, I’d never do that! Look at how she’s acting. If I were in her shoes….” but you don’t. No one does.

I said the same things to myself when I walked out on my husband, Ricky, months ago. Those thoughts went through my head as I closed the door behind me for what I told myself was the last time. I wouldn’t let myself cry as I said goodbye to him, only feeling the first tears fall when I heard the click behind me, the locking of the door to what used to be our home together. When he didn’t chase me and beg me to stay.

I wept in that moment, wondering how much pain a person could take.

Over the days that followed, it faded into something more akin to numbness as I found an apartment and got a new checking account. As I arranged to find movers to get my things while he was at work, all while thanking God that we had no


Now I find myself in that place once more, though for an altogether different reason. Something has happened to me, something that leaves my body sore and my head feeling as if I have a hang‐ over. These are the moments that tell you who you really are, leaving you exposed to your own darkness.

I found that out about myself. No one ever imagines themselves in this position. You’re not prepared. No amount of self-defense can prepare you for the shock that is the next morning, waking up in a bloody mess, knowing you’ve been sexually assaulted.

I can’t even say it out loud. I won’t. I refuse to do it. It makes it real, and I don’t want it to be real. I want it to be some horrible nightmare that I can wake up from.

But it’s not.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Author & Poet Lynn Davies of Fredericton, NB.


I met Lynn online through a mutual author friend when she announced her newest work So Imagine Me: Nature Riddles in Poetry.  Lynn is the author of three collections of poetry and her work has been short-listed for a Governor General’s Award, as well as the Gerald Lampert Award.

It’s always a pleasure to have another New Brunswick author on the Scribbler. Lynn has generously agreed to a 4Q Interview and is sharing some of her work.



Lynn Davies is the author of three books of poetry, and most recently, her first book for children, So Imagine Me – Nature Riddles in Poetry. Her poems have been broadcast on CBC, translated into French and Spanish, and nominated for a Governor General's Award. She is the proud mother of two grown children, Josie and Patrick, and she lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick with her partner, Dave Macfarlane.



4Q: Let’s talk about your recent release, So Imagine Me. You recently had a book signing and I understand it went quite well. Tell us about the book.


LD: So Imagine Me is a picture book of riddle poems about the natural world, published by Nimbus Publishing in Halifax. Some of the riddles are easy, and some are tricky! The vibrant illustrations by the Fredericton artist, Chrissie Park-MacNeil give colour, texture, and setting to the poems, and add some extra clues. I wrote the poems over a period of ten years or so, and the manuscript, in various forms, visited fifteen publishers, before finding a happy home with Nimbus.




4Q: There are other collections you have published. Can you tell us a bit about them?


LD:  My first collection of poems, The Bridge That Carried the Road, was published by Brick Books in 1999, went through three printings, and was nominated for several awards. When I wrote those poems, I was a mother of young children, and the only time I could write was early, early in the morning with a thermos of coffee before anyone else was up. My second book, Where Sound Pools, was published by Goose Lane Editions in 2005. It's now out of print, and I think was a more confident book than the first. Then life got in the way, and my third book, how the gods pour tea, emerged eight years later, again with Goose Lane. One huge plus working with these publishers was the attentive editing my poems received from other fine poets, John Donlan, Brian Bartlett, and Ross Leckie.




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


LD:  When I was growing up, we lived in Newcastle, New Brunswick for five years. I remember visiting The Old Manse Library, often carrying overdue books, and Dr. Louise Manney peering down at me over the front desk and saying something like, “you owe us money again”. If she wasn't checking books in and out, she was in her office of many windows by the front door, maybe writing. She was the first writer I knew. I loved that library, and I remember the room at the end of the hall to the left with its shelves of books for young readers. I remember the shelf with my favourite books, the heft of those hardcover books, even the texture and smell of the thick and worn pages.




4Q: You write poetry and stories for children. I imagine this to be quite difficult. What draws you to this genre?


LD: I read a lot of novels for young readers, especially when I tire of the world we've made for ourselves as adults. And I love and admire picture books; the good ones are as condensed as poetry and a big part of the telling is in the artful pictures. When I can't sleep at night, I often look at picture books. Dennis Lee once said that he wrote for the layers of kid inside him. I can't think of a better line for explaining why I enjoy writing for children.




4Q: Please tell us about your workshops.


LD: I often hang the writing on an activity like walking or making something with our hands. The cutting, folding, and sewing of a simple book is like an entry-hall, a place where the chit-chat of the brain is shed and space opens up in our heads for stories or poetic lines. So, we make a book and begin to write, sometimes with prompts in a three-hour workshop. Likewise, cutting, arranging, and pasting images for a collage involves the hands and invites new and unusual connections that can generate writing that feels fresh, again in a three to four-hour workshop. And walking . . . well, walking is a big one and many writers have written of how they've walked themselves into stories and resolution, out of messes and projects that didn't work, into the perfect word for that eighth line, out of that paragraph or stanza that needed to be abandoned. So I run a day-long workshop that toggles back and forth from walking to writing, from observation to working with what we find in the world we walk through. A walk can beckon writing and can inhabit our writing. Of course, these days of the frisky virus, it's hard to offer in-person workshops, and I'm working at moving my school presentations into an online format.




4Q: Favorite authors, poets or books?


LD: Lately I've been rereading old favourites like The Hobbit and Emily of New Moon. These books still work for me. Last week I finished Watership Down, and I'm still missing the company of rabbits. Last summer it took me three and a half months to get through Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy; I loved that thick, marvellous book and the world it laid out for me. I'm often reading non-fiction and enjoyed Walking Home by Simon Armitage. Favourite poets are always changing for me, but ones I return to often are George Herbert, George MacKay Brown, Eric Miller, Anne Compton, and Sue Sinclair.




4Q: What’s next for Lynn Davies?


LD: I'm often working on several projects at a time. Right now, I'm writing a series of essays. And new poems. And I've started a book-length bus-poem for very young children.




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


LD:  Thanks for asking questions! I'm grateful for your interest, Allan.


**You are most welcome, Lynn.





Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.




Thank you, Lynn, for being our guest this week. Wishing you continued success with your writing.



For all you wonderful visitors wanting to discover more about Lynn and her writing, please follow these links: 





favourite bookstores:


Saturday, 7 November 2020

What are you thankful for?


Myself – I’m thankful for today… and the possibilities of tomorrow.

Photo by Becky Magnolia.


Why Today?

I’m a morning person so I like the quiet of the start of each day, watching the sun come up if it’s not too cloudy, and even then, I’m thankful for the clouds. They’re a reminder that even when the sun’s not shining, it’s still there, just hiding behind bunch of “aerosols consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets or frozen particles” – you know, clouds!

I don’t worry about the clouds.

Photo by Gloria Hudson


Another thing about today is that it’s fresh, new and open to many choices of how I’m going to spend it. Maybe I have plans. Maybe I don’t. Regardless, it’s an awakening. Another chance to do something better, or more meaningful than yesterday. A chance to greet my neighbours, say hello. Do something nice for someone. Create something.


Anyone visiting this blog on a regular basis knows I love to write. Today I’m going to spend a few hours at the keyboard, make stuff up. I hope today, I find a new reader for my stories, maybe two.


Today I’m working on two stories at the same time. The second volume of The Alexanders and the third installment of the Jo Naylor series. Let me take a minute of your time and tell you about them.


Volume 2 – The Alexanders. Starting in 1921 through to 1930, it’s going to be fun. The roaring twenties, the prosperity after World War 1, goodbye to the corset and hello to more  liberated ladies, speakeasies and bootleggers, The Charleston and the Great Depression. Wow!


Shattered Dreams – the third novella in the five part planned series. Jo Naylor is still on the run. Living off an inheritance, she travels to Europe, France in particular. Hopes to settle down for a while. Won’t happen! Jo is a cop through and through. Doesn’t need a badge to know right from wrong. The old lady she befriends has too many secrets.


So, let me tell you a few other things I’m thankful for.

My family for sure. My partner, Gloria, the boys and their families. My siblings, nephews and nieces, and in-laws (the outlaws, too)They’re good people. Kind, funny, caring… what more can I ask for?

I’m thankful for books… lots of books.


I’m thankful for the writing friends I’ve met on this journey. Their stories. Their support.


Authors I can’t wait to read their next books – Chuck Bowie, Steve Eston, Beth Powning, MJ LaBeff, Gerard Collins and Ian McKinley come to mind first. Authors I respect and know how to tell a tale. (There’s a lot more but these, I’m getting anxious about)


The ones that go above and beyond to support their writing friends, their fellow authors – Sally Cronin, Debby Gies, Susan Toy, Angela Wren, MJ LaBeff – relentless - my heroes.


The people that are not authors, but readers and supporters – James Fisher of The Miramichi Reader, Gracia and Allen Williston, Gail Brown, The Hachey clan, Dr. Julien Dastous…


I’m really thankful for all the folks that read my stories and there are so many to mention… you all know who you are and… THANK YOU!


I’m thankful for a roof over my head, food on my table, a coat for when it gets cold and shoes for my feet.



Now what about the possibilities of tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a few quotes:


“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” H Jackson Brown.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The timelessness in you is aware of life’s timelessness. And know that yesterday is today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.” Kahlil Gibran.

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it?” L.M. Montgomery.



Oh, and another thing I’m truly thankful for - YOU! 


Thanks for visiting the Scribbler.

Now, what are you thankful for?

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Authors Pamela MacDonald & Valerie Sherrard of Miramichi, NB.




Another unique post for the Scribbler. Mother and daughter team collaborate on Pamela’s debut novel.

Valerie Sherrard is no stranger to our readers. This is her third visit and this time she is participating in a 4Q interview with her daughter Pamela. They are sharing an excerpt from Finding Avalon. As an added extra, Valerie will share an update on her newest work, The Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell.

Valerie’s first visit can be found HERE. Her second posting can be found HERE.

Finding Avalon is an association best described by their publishers, Chocolate River and Nimbus Publishing.

Pamela authored the voice of Avalon, who is the primary character in this story. Valerie contributed the minor voice of Avalon’s mother.


Pamela MacDonald was born and raised in New Brunswick, and returned to those roots after completing her education in other parts of Canada. She shared these thoughts with the South Branch Scribbler:

“I grew up in Miramichi, NB, in a loving home, with my mother, father and brother (as well as foster siblings). My parents divorced when I was in elementary school, and I gained two loving step parents and three more siblings. After I graduated high school, I did my undergrad in psychology in Ontario and my masters in counselling in Alberta. I became a registered psychologist, moved back to New Brunswick and opened a practice. I now live in Miramichi, NB, with my wonderful, supportive husband and 2 amazing boys, age 3 and 4. “


Valerie shared a few details about herself in an earlier SBS visit here.

***Take Note: Book launch 

Saturday, November 7 at Mill Cove Coffee in Miramichi. It will run from 1:00 - 3:00 pm. (Social distancing and masks required.)


4Q: Congratulations Pamela on your novel. Please tell our readers what to expect when they pick up their copy of Finding Avalon.


PM: This story is a journey with the main character, Avalon, who is flawed, but has good qualities too, as she navigates some unique situations.


4Q: What inspired the story?


PM: My mom brought up the idea years ago of us writing a story that included letters back and forth between mother and daughter. We developed it from there.


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


PM: Rather than one memory, I will share a collection of memories. A pattern. I was a fairly free child when with my parents, a dreamer, often lost in imagination. I wasn't good at everything, in school or otherwise. I was strong at math and poor at French. I was often praised for efforts and accomplishments, but my failures were not dramatized.  I was allowed to be me. My parents didn't make me feel like it was a big deal if I did poorly on a test or assignment. I suppose it was that pattern that made me not fear failure. If I wanted to accomplish or try something, I was never afraid to give it my best shot, even if the risk of failure was reasonably high. That has opened many doors for me, including writing.


VS: I’m not sure how old I was when this happened, but definitely under 10. My family used to go for drives now and then, and on one such drive we encountered a man—he seemed elderly to me as a child but thinking back I realize he was probably in his mid to late 40’s. He was wearing socks, but no shoes, and we picked him up to give him a drive. The details are unclear, but I know shoes were provided for him somehow. And despite the haziness of the memory, I know the lesson was a powerful one and helped shape my world view. 



4Q: How did it feel Valerie, to work closely with Pamela on this story?


VS:  More than anything else it was interesting. When Pamela was younger, she wouldn’t share any creative writing with me, and so this was actually the very first time I had the opportunity to see her writing style. She sometimes discussed the storyline with me and while she was open to considering the occasional suggestion, she had a definite vision for the novel, and she stayed true to that. My contributions in providing a distinctive voice for the mother’s letters were guided by her concept.


4Q: What is the most difficult aspect of working as a team on a singular venture?


PM: Editing was more complicated, I imagine, than with one author, as we had to discuss and send back and forth with track changes. Although, for me this was also part of the learning experience, so even though it took more time it was very beneficial.


VS: Finding time was always a challenge. Pamela is busy with her practice and with two small boys at home, so opportunities to collaborate on storyline and so forth weren’t easy to manage. In fact, the story was begun several years ago and sometimes months went by without any progress. But we persevered, albeit slowly, and finally there was a draft that was ready to submit.


4Q: How did Valerie’s extensive experience with manuscripts, covers and publishing assist you in the development of Finding Avalon?


PM: That part was a huge benefit to me. She was able to say approximately how many chapters we would be looking at, how many pages/words per chapter, so we were able to write something that was appropriate for the publishing world, for this age group.


4Q: Are there more joint projects planned for the future?


PM: Yes. We do have an idea for another joint project. I also plan on doing some solo books.


VS: We’ve definitely talked about that, and have briefly discussed a story we might like to work on together, but there’s nothing planned for the immediate future. I think it’s likely Pamela will take on a solo project or two before we move forward with another collaboration.



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


PM: I would like to say, to anyone who wants to write books, do it. It may be a big learning curve to become the writer you can be, and most probably won't write a masterpiece their first draft, but edit, and edit again. Join a writing group (we joined kidcrit early on to assist in my learning). If your first story isn't published, do it again. Each time is a learning opportunity. 


VS: I was pleased when Pamela first expressed interest in writing a novel, and I was happy to be part of the project as she worked on Finding Avalon. IT was particularly gratifying for me because it so happens that she played a pivotal role when I was writing my first young adult story. That story is called Kate, and, never having written a novel before, I experienced many doubts partway through. What made me think I knew how to write a book for teens? I was probably wasting my time. And so on.

Then, it occurred to me, Pamela is the right age for this story, and she enjoys reading. So one day I asked her to read the first chapter—and let me know if she found it even a little bit interesting. I can’t say she looked excited about it, but she took the printed pages and disappeared into her room. A while later she returned, put that chapter on the table, and said, “More!”

It was the biggest boost anyone could have given me, and the exact prompt I needed to finish writing that story, which was published in the fall of 2003. (While it was my first novel for young people, it ended up being the third one published.)




An Excerpt from Finding Avalon.

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


By 8:30, the place is vibrating with music and movement. Best turnout ever. Pip and I have been trying to talk but it’s difficult over the noise. I’m pretty sure he’s been flirting with me, and when he suggests we find a spot where we can talk without yelling, my pulse quickens. Upstairs is off-limits, but we go halfway up the steps and sit side-by-side.

The conversation starts out on a promising note.

“Have you noticed we’ve been introducing each other to family members?” he asks.

“We have?”

“Sure. You’ve sort of met my mom, and I’ve met your dog,” he says.

I laugh.

“Has Winston mentioned whether or not he approves of me?”

“I haven’t had a chance to ask him,” I say.

“Once you get the go ahead from Winston, I should probably meet your mom and dad too,” Pip says.

His voice is light and teasing but it’s easy to see where this is going. It makes me slightly giddy, but I manage to match his tone.

“Of course. Although, actually, it’s just me and Dad.”


I give him the story I’ve been telling anyone who doesn’t know the truth.

“My mother has been pretty much out of my life since she moved to California with her boyfriend a few years ago.”

“Oh. Sorry.” His voice is soft and kind.

“That’s okay. I'm used to it,” I say, hoping he will drop it. I don’t want sympathy that comes out of a lie.

“I get that,” he says, and I remember about his father being gone from his life. Only, his story is true. Then he speaks again.

“Having something like that in common might be one of the reasons we kind of click, if you know what I mean.”

I’m about to respond when more guests arrive. I recognize the guy from a group picture I’ve seen on Lana’s phone. He has a girl on his arm, but not just any girl.

It’s Sherry Rudder.

My stomach clenches in panic. Before Sherry has a chance to see me, I jump up, dart up the rest of the stairs and race around the corner. All without a word to Pip.

I stand there in the hall, trying frantically to figure a way out of this, but the wild thudding of my heart is drowning out everything else.

Of all people. Not only does Sherry know the truth about my past—the one I’ve just now lied to Pip about—but I know, without the slightest doubt, that she’ll blab it as soon as she sees me.

The strange thing is, we used to be friends at my old school. Close friends, in fact. I could never have predicted that she would turn on me. She wasn’t the only one who did, but her betrayal hurt the most. I didn’t understand it at all. I still don’t.

I remember, with a fresh burst of panic, that she’d worked at Party Portal just before I did, which means she must know Pip. What if she sees him and tells him anyway, without even seeing me?

No, that doesn’t make sense. She’d have no reason to mention me to him unless she saw us together. As long as I stay hidden, there should be no danger of that.

Forcing myself to calm down, I try to figure out the best plan of action. I can stay up here until the party is over, or try to sneak out without Sherry seeing me. If I stay here, there’s a risk I’ll be exposed. Also, Pip will think I’m a nut-job if I never come back down. Which only leaves one option.

I go back to the top of the stairs and peek around the corner. Pip has to be puzzled about my sudden disappearance, but at least he’s still sitting there.

Psssst. Pip!

He looks up and as he sees me, his face goes into a “what-the-heck?” scrunch.

“Come here,” I whisper, waving him upstairs.

He joins me. “I thought no one was supposed to be up here.”

“I know, but listen. I’m really sorry about this, but I have to go home.”

“Seriously? How come?”

“I feel sick all of a sudden. Maybe I ate too much junk.”

“That’s too bad.” His face is instantly sympathetic. “At least let me give you a drive.”

“That would be great. Thanks.”

I grab my jacket from Lana’s room, and we head downstairs. The Katy Perry hair is coming in handy. I use it to cover as much of my face as possible and make sure Pip is ahead of me in case I need to duck behind him. As we get near the main floor, I scan the living room. No sign of Sherry, so I move past Pip and hurry toward the door. I’m almost close enough to grab the handle when Pip says, “Avalon, is this you?”

I swing around to find him holding a framed picture of me and Lana when we were about six, dressed for Halloween in identical Cinderella costumes. (Back then, we thought dressing alike was cool!) She had dug it out earlier and perched it on a table in the entrance for tonight’s party. Naturally, it caught Pip’s eye at the worst possible moment.

“Did I hear someone say Avalon?”

And there, of course, is Sherry. Coming straight at us from the kitchen.


(End of excerpt)



Valerie is also happy to announce the recent release of her humourous new middle grade novel, The Rise and Fall of Derek Cowell. From the back cover:


Hi, my name is Derek Cowell.

You might remember me from when I was popular.

Before that, I was invisible. And after … well, that’s a long story.

I never expected to become popular. It just sort of happened. An accidental photobomb, a chance encounter with a real live celebrity, and suddenly, I was somebody.

These things never last, though, unless you help them along.

That’s where I ran into trouble.


(From Lisa Doucet’s review in ABT: Sherrard has created another captivating tale of family life and middle-school angst, filled with humour and heart.)


Read the first chapter





Thanks to you both, Valerie and Pamela for being our special guests this week. Wishing you each continued success with your writing.


For all you devoted readers wishing to discover more about Pamela and Valerie, as well as their writing, please follow these links: