Friday, 11 January 2019

The Alexanders - Dominic. 1911 - 1920





I love Historical Fiction.


The first draft of The Alexanders – Dominic, 1911 – 1920 is complete! Now comes the revisions, the corrections, the beta readers, the editing, the cover design….



Please read an excerpt from 1917 – World War 1 rages in Europe. Dominic goes to war. But before he goes, he attends a going away party, a birthday party...and he gets to try Poutine Rapee for the first time!















1917

When Dominic tells the recruiter about his bad leg and how he was rejected back in Scotland, he is informed that there are shortages of many men for different phases of the war besides the infantry but just as dangerous. When Dominic joins up he’s being assigned to the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick) under the command of Lt-Col A.E.G. McKenzie. Elements of the Battalion have recently been used in the Battle of the Somme and are now being readied for a planned British offensive on the German held French city of Arras but that’s not where he’s going. He’s advised that when he arrives in England he will be seconded to the Royal Air Corps to receive his training as an observer
During the first weeks of February he goes on basic training in Valcartier, Quebec. It’s torturous, his leg aches every night. He discovers muscles he never knew he had until they show up being sore. The one thing is he’s exemplary at (his trainer’s words) is marksmanship. The Ross Mk II rifle and he have become close friends, almost lovers. Other recruits argue that it is too long for trench warfare but Dominic sticks up for the rifle proclaiming its long range precision as being significant. His rate of accuracy is the highest in his company. Training is shortened by the urgent call for men from across the ocean. He’s given a four day pass before he ships out.
The twenty-fifth of February is bitterly cold, especially just as the sun sets, which is early today at 5:20. Any time spent out of doors is an invitation to more than frost bite, more like a frost banquet. Exposed skin will freeze in twenty minutes. It’s been that long since Dominic left his house. Walking into the city, he’s warm inside his new greatcoat. Ice crystals whiten a khaki scarf that covers his mouth. A beaver skin hat is pulled down to cover head, ears, nape of his neck and forehead. The greatcoat goes to his ankles. Pure Canadian wool that keeps you warm even if it gets wet. Inside the heavy coat, Private Dominic Alexander is wearing the olive drab uniform of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, wool jacket, shirt and tie and heavy wool pants with leggings wrapped about his calf to his knees, tucked into black sturdy boots large enough for two pairs of socks. He’s bundled up against the cold.



Two days from now, on Tuesday, he’s to report for duty at 6:00 a.m. in Halifax where he will embark for England on the HMS Andania. Dominic will depart for the war from the same wharf he arrived at a little over two years ago. Tonight he is attending a going away party for him and today is also his birthday. When he turns up Cameron Street, Maria’s aunt’s house is on the next corner on Gordon Street, less than a minute away. He’s familiar enough with the large house where Maria and her family tend to have their gatherings because the place is so big. Ma tante Emma, as she is called, is a widower whose late husband was a doctor. An addition contained his offices at one time but now they are all divided rooms to let, providing a continuous income. She keeps the main house as it was, terribly big, bought with the expectation of many running feet when they were younger, but alas, that wasn’t to be. A large open living room and adjoining parlour can hold twenty people in comfort. The kitchen has a cozy nook and small table in one corner and room for three or four cooks. With a dining room containing heavy furniture that can seat ten, there’s plenty of space. No one enjoys a get together more than ma tante Emma and her home is the perfect spot.

People are coming over later but Emma invited him to come earlier and have supper with her and Maria, who has been there helping. She made an old family recipe especially for Dominic, an Acadian treat she told him. What she called it sounded like Poo-tin Raw-pay. Maria assured him they are delicious and a lot of work to make.
Dressed as warm as he is, by the time he knocks on the front door, he’s starting to feel a chill. A faint command to “come in” seeps through the keyhole and he enters the foyer. Maria greets him in the hallway, standing back slightly, not recognizing the shrouded figure at first. Only when he removes the scarf away from his mouth does she know who it is.

Hello my beloved. Come in quick, don’t let too much of that cold in here.”

Regarding the coat of frost on the scarf where it covered his mouth, her eyes widen in disbelief.

My goodness Dominic, did you walk from your house?”

While removing the hat, he’s nodding.

Aye I did. I didn’t realize it was this cold.”

She pays more attention to his clothing as he removes his greatcoat.

Oh how wonderful Dominic, you wore your new uniform. Here, give me that coat and let me see.”

She calls out to her aunt who is setting the table in the kitchen nook where she, Maria and Dominic will have their supper.

Ma tante Emma, vien voir Dominic avec sa nouvelle uniforme!” (“Aunt Emma, come see Dominic with his new uniform”).


Passing his coat and hat to Maria, Dominic removes his boots to leave them at the door and steps forward to meet Emma. She doesn’t walk so much as she waddles instead. She’s a big woman, not too tall, with open arms and a large bosom that begs to be hugged. Rosy cheeks always look like they’re blushing and a perpetual smile adorns her face. Short greyish curls top her round head. An aroma of boiled potatoes follows her.

What a handsome lad you are Dominic. A shame that you have to go off to war. We’ll have to telegram ahead to warn all those young British girls, won’t we Maria?”





She says that with a wink and engulfs Dominic in her arms. Stooping a bit to enjoy the warmth of her embrace, he takes in the lovely scent of jasmine she always wears.

Now come Dominic, we have some delicious poutines for you. I’ve made a batch for our company to enjoy later on. If it’s one thing you will learn from us Acadians is that we love a good meal.”




Placing Dominic’s coat, scarf and hat on a hanger, Maria stows them in the closet by the front door and gives her boyfriend a quick hug, a peck on the check and waves for him to follow. The hallway has a set of stairs on the right and extends toward the back on the left. Colorful ribbons are strung around the walls and a hand printed sign hangs over the stairway proclaiming Bon Voyage, Happy Birthday and Best Wishes. The dining room is on the immediate right and the kitchen is on the same side. A table in the corner of the kitchen is set for three and Emma invites Dominic to take the head of the table near the window and has Maria take the side seat facing the kitchen and her place setting is on the opposite end of Dominic’s. She spoons out each a poutine on three plates and brings one to set in front of Maria and the other in front of Dominic. He stares at it and loses his appetite.

For those who’ve never eaten poutine rapee, the first time you see one can be a perplexing proposition. Dominic doesn’t know what to say. The object on his plate is the size of a grapefruit, a misshapen, steaming globule that makes him think of snowballs. Emma sets her plate down and turns to get them some tea. Maria is slicing hers in half when she notices the look on Dominic’s face and starts to giggle. She’s seen the same look before when someone is introduced to this delicacy.

They’re much tastier than they look Dominic. Just cut it in bite size chunks and add some sugar or molasses on it. There’s delicious meat in the middle and you can choose between white sugar or brown sugar. I like brown sugar on mine. Some folks just eat them with salt and pepper.
He replies hesitatingly.

Okay, if you say so.”






Not wanting to seem ungrateful, he does as she suggests. Picking up his knife, he slices the poutine down the middle. The two halves divide to expose a center of tender chunks of pork that have been salted and spiced.

Well it certainly smells good.”

After placing cups the cups of tea down, Emma joins them.

I prefer molasses on mine Dominic. You can try a little bite of each and see which you like best.”

Slicing small tentative pieces, he sprinkles a bit of brown sugar on one, white sugar on another, a drip of molasses on the third and only salt and pepper on the fourth. Not sure about sugar on potatoes, he tries the unsweetened one first. Biting into it, he closes his eyes and his teeth sink into the firm but creamy potato mixture with tender pieces of pork that almost melt in his mouth.

Mmmm, it is good! Certainly much better than I expected.”

Maria agrees as she chews on her own piece.

Told you so, didn’t I?”

Dominic tries the sweetened pieces and a smile states how much he agrees with the flavors but decides he likes the natural taste of the poutine best with salt and pepper. Poutine is a heavy meal and he shares a second one with Emma, Maria is full with just one. For their dessert one of her neighbors has dropped off a raisin pie for the celebration and it is another food that Dominic has not had before and he falls in love with the flaky crust and the sweetness of the dried fruit. The plates are cleared off and washed up before the trio sit at the table with their last cup of tea. People will not begin arriving before seven o’clock. With everything ready for their guests they broach a variety of subjects.

Dominic wonders how you make poutine. Emma fills him in.

Well we started with about 90 potatoes because we wanted to have 60 poutine or so. After we peel them, half of them are boiled and mashed. The other half is grated, the liquid squeezed out with a cheese cloth which we call epurer. Salt and milk are added and the two potato mixtures are blended together, we call that part meler. Then you need to be quick because if the potato mixture is left out too long, they turn grey, still as tasty but not so pretty. So you form them into balls, rouler, add seasoned pork in the center and put them in a pot of boiling water for two hours and voila, you have poutine rapee.”

Wow! That does seem like a lot of work”

Emma is Maria’s favorite aunt and she loves the rapport and goodwill between her aunt and her boyfriend and listens to their banter. Emma shows concern with knitted brows when she asks Dominic about going to war.

What’s going to happen when you get to England Dominic?”











Thank you to Paul Chiasson (RIP) for explaining the making of poutine.

Thank you dear reader  for visiting the Scribbler. The Alexanders – Dominic 1911 – 1920 will be published in 2019. Watch here for more details.


Coming soon is my collection of short stories, some previously published on commuterlit.com, here on The Scribbler, and several on limited editions booklets dedicated to my grandchildren. Many of them are new. Titled Boxes of Memories.

Watch for details.



Saturday, 5 January 2019

Guest Author Susan Toy. Readers...Resolve To Read More This Year.



Always fun to have this lady as our guest.
 
 

Susan M. Toy is a Reader first, and then an author of two published novels and one novella. She shares her time between a trailer in southwestern Ontario and a verandah on the island of Bequia, where she can always be found … Reading!


Readers … resolve to read more in 2019!

 

I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:

 
 
 
I never manage to come even close to catching up.
But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and discovering new books!
I know there are many others out there just like me, too, so that’s why I say to you now – Make it your New Year’s resolution to read even more in 2019! You don’t need to count the books you do read, or compare numbers you’ve read with others. We are all different, we readers, not only in how fast we can read, but also in when and where we like to read, how we approach our reading, and even why or what we read in the first place. So no judgement calls here at all, folks! Just the suggestion that if you enjoy reading, you might want to make it a priority in your life to read even more.  I won’t go into the many ways that you can make more time to read. I’ll let you figure that out for yourself.




To help other readers along a little bit with suggestions as to what they might consider reading, I recently created a Facebook Group Your next great read ... suggestions for readers and authors that I hope will not only generate lists of books and authors for other readers to enjoy reading, but also some discussion about books and reading in general. It’s an open group and anyone may join – authors too, because authors are (or should be!!) readers themselves. Self-promotion is allowed, but authors are requested to contribute information on other books and authors, as well. I would love to see – eventually – a large membership of readers from all around the world (and we already have the beginnings of an international group) who benefit from the reading experience of everyone. I’m particularly interested in world literature (although only what is available in English, in my case) so I would love to hear about authors in other countries, especially non-English-speaking, who are publishing books that are available in English translation. I know other members already contributing to the site are also interested in particular genres or types of writing. Why not join us and see if you find something new-to-you that becomes Your Next Great Read!

So, Readers, are you ready to resolve to read more in 2019? I hope so, and that you will consider joining us. And, if you’re not on Facebook but are still looking for ways to encourage yourself to stick with this resolution of reading more, I suggest you consider following these blogs …

(This one, of course!) Allan Hudson’s South Branch Scribbler


And my own blog, Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing (I’m planning on writing a series, actually, about all the How, When, Why, Where, What, and Who on reading – subscribe to my blog and Stay Tuned!)

I mention these blogs primarily because we three authors make a habit of promoting other authors and their books. We also all write or have written about writing and publishing as self-published authors and we reblog interesting articles and blog posts written by other authors as well. As my personal interest has swayed from selling books to finding more readers for writing in general, I’ve written a number of posts aimed at readers (as well as addressing directly authors who continue to promote their own work too much!). You might find something interesting in one of these articles:

Why not read books simply because they’re well-written?


A challenge to all Readers …


HOW to get promotion for yourself and your book …








With great thanks to Allan Hudson for encouraging me to write this blog post and offering to host me, once again, on South Branch Scribbler! It’s always a pleasure to appear on your blog, Allan!
 

 It is my utmost joy to have you here Susan.
 
 

Susan M. Toy is a Reader first, and then an author of two published novels and one novella. She shares her time between a trailer in southwestern Ontario and a verandah on the island of Bequia, where she can always be found … Reading!
 
 


 
If you missed Susan's previous visits, interviews and short stories, follow these links.

50 Ways to Lose Your Liver.

4Q Interview

Family Jewels



Saturday, 29 December 2018

Guest Author Bretton Loney of Halifax, NS.



2018 is almost over. The Scribbler is most fortunate to have the talented Mr. Loney as the last guest for the year to share an excerpt from his latest novel – The Last Hockey Player. Watch for the 4Q Interview coming soon.




Bretton Loney is a novelist and short story writer whose work has appeared in anthologies and literary journals in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia. In 2013 his short story, Tommy’s Mother, was shortlisted for the Writer’s Union of Canada’s Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers.


In 2015, he released Rebel With A Cause: The Doc Nikaido Story, a biography of the late Alberta physician, Dr. Harry Nikaido. Bretton lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia with his wife, Karen Shewbridge. For more information, please see www.brettonloney.com  Buying links below.



THE LAST HOCKEY PLAYER

By BRETTON LONEY

Chapter 1 – The Apprentice

                                                                          

Something heavy hits the floor and jerks me awake, heart pounding. Gusts of cold wind beat the open door back and forth as snow snakes its way inside. It’s hard to see. The warming fires have died down for the night and smoke hangs around our sleeping ledges. It parts to reveal a long, thick lump of dark clothing. Someone has fallen through our door.

“Quick, grab him and throw him out into the storm,” says Old William, who sleeps on the ledge closest to the door. “He could infect us all. We can’t have a stranger inside who hasn’t passed The Protocol.”

Some of the grey ones mumble agreement. Old William knows The Protocol all too well. Last spring his two sons came back from scavenging in the city and died in The Protocol Hut of the Second Sickness.

The stranger doesn’t stir. The Leader lights a torch and steps closer to the body. Puddles grow on the dirty floor as snow melts from his wrappings and the icicles hanging from his beard. He’s a big man. Bigger than Neil-Young who is the strongest and tallest of the younger ones in our village. He carries no weapon.

“What do you think, Britanny?” the Leader asks over her shoulder to the Teacher.

Britanny is wise. The Leader and other council members often seek her advice. She’s the most educated person in our village and does a lot of deep thinking. I know because as her apprentice, I spend most of the day with her. It’s been that way since my father died when a tree fell on him four summers ago.

“The Protocol is the right way,” says Britanny, as she opens the deerskin curtain that separates her sleeping ledge from the common area and props herself up on an arthritic elbow.

She pulls her fur covering more tightly around her. Britanny is always cold. She is a grey one. “But if we throw this man outside tonight in the cold, he will die. He looks strong. We all know our village needs another strong man. I say drag him out to The Protocol Hut and light a fire to keep him alive. In the morning we can decide what to do.”

The Leader weighs Britanny’s words. Many times I’ve seen her and Britanny talk quietly about what must be done. What to do with the sick. Who should join the hunting parties. Who must take the risk of scavenging. Which villages we’ll trade with in the spring and which in the fall. These decisions have given the Leader many wrinkles around her sad brown eyes that sometimes fill with tears when she and Britanny talk, their heads bowed together for privacy.

She waves her torch back and forth across the stranger, his long legs and arms sprawled on a floor littered with bone scraps the dogs have gnawed and little ones played with before bed.

“Britanny is right. We can’t throw him outside. It would be wrong to waste a man’s life. Since the last sickness, we have too few strong people to hunt, fish, and chop down trees. Old William and Coach, tie a rope around him so that you don’t have to get too close. Drag him over to The Protocol Hut and get a fire going, then bind the door shut. Sorry, but you two will have to spend the night in the barn. Take a fire bundle with you.”

Photo by John Silliman - Unsplash
There are grumblings in the darkness from some sleeping ledges as the sounds of the night’s constant hacking and coughing resumes. Some agree, some disagree, but the Leader has spoken and so it is done. She chooses Old William because he’s a grey one and can be lost if the stranger has sickness. She chooses Coach as Old William can’t drag the stranger through the snowbanks to The Protocol Hut by himself. They put a rope under each of the stranger’s arms and pull fiercely. He must be heavy as a tree trunk.

“Christ, why do I have to help?” Coach says, not so loud that the Leader hears, but loud enough that others do.

Another grey one sighs, breaks away from the arms of his wife, and comes to help. They drag the stranger from our warm nest into the blizzard and slam the door. Outside the wind thrashes angrily, pushing and pulling, desperate to find a way inside.



Chapter 2 - Britanny


We still know very little about the stranger who was thrust into our midst. He spent two days in The Protocol Hut and somehow survived. The hut is not well-made or warm because if anyone who stays inside is actually sick, we have to burn it to the ground and build another one. We warned everyone to stay three arms-lengths away as The Protocol says. My apprentice pushed a bowl of rabbit stew to him with a long stick. It was not much, as it is early winter and our food stores are already wearing thin as they did last winter. The hunting parties have caught some small game and birds, the fishers some trout and pickerel through the pond ice, but not enough. Hunger growls in every stomach.

The Leader and I come out in the failing afternoon light and tell the stranger to strip off all his clothes, even though it is very cold. We tell him to raise his arms so that we can see if there are boils under his armpits or rashes from the Black Sickness. He has strong shoulders and well-muscled arms. His chest and stomach are covered with thick brown hair. There is a large, jagged scar near his ribs.

The stranger has powerful thighs and a knee that is crisscrossed with thin, pink surgical scars. The Leader tells him to move his massive thing one way and another to make sure no open sores or lumps hide behind it. We cannot help grinning at each other as he does this.

 “Oh, to be young,” I whisper to the Leader, who has a greedy glow in her eyes.

“You have passed The Protocol, stranger,” says the Leader. “Now the three of us will go over to the Lookout’s Platform for some privacy to talk about where you’ve come from and where you’re going. We need to know of life beyond our village and the neighbouring villages.”

Photo by Elias Schumann - Unsplash
The stranger tells us he is originally from another Nova Scotia village that is a week’s journey from here. It is probably abandoned now, but no one knows for certain. He was working in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and got stuck there when The Crumbling came, eighteen years ago. He says that he and other foreigners were about to be deported by the U.S. Government when the second wave of the Bogota Virus washed over the world. It killed hundreds of millions in North America and around the world, destroying governments and institutions and decimating the medical community. Worse was to come.

He says that when he eventually decided to leave, it took him more than a year to walk to our village. It is insane to walk all that way alone. He is lucky to be alive.

The stranger has seen many things and people during his travels. Some were cannibals and he stayed well away, the piles of human bones scattered around the edge of their villages a warning sign of imminent danger. One night in upstate New York, he walked past a village in a forest that was all lit up, guarded by huge, barking dogs. The stranger says he was sure it had electricity. I burst out laughing at that one. I am certain that no one has had electricity anywhere since The Crumbling.

Photo by Lukas Neasi - Unsplash
Some of the villages the stranger passed through were organized like ours, with a few families living and sleeping together in one large shelter and sharing the food caught in the water, hunted and gathered in the forest, and the little that can be grown and traded. In others, individual families live in their own huts and only eat what the hunters and fishers in their family catch. How they manage to survive without sharing, I have no idea.

I tell my apprentice about all this afterward, as it is important for a bright boy like him to know as much as possible about the world outside our village. Because of his clubfoot, he has never travelled more than the half-day’s journey to the village of TimHortons that we trade with regularly. Even that trip makes his foot sore for days afterward, not that he says anything, but I can tell.

“I think some of what the stranger told us is B.S.,” I whisper to my apprentice as we get ready for bed. “Either that or he is crazy as a loon, and I don’t think he is crazy. His eyes are too wary to be crazy.”

I blow out the candle above our sleeping ledge and ponder the meaning of this stranger’s arrival. He has stirred my memory. You almost forget that once there were streetlights, waterproof coats and hot baths instead of the swallowing darkness of a winter forest, greased animal skin cloaks to cut the biting cold and, if you’re lucky, a pail of cold water to wash your face. It is depressing to remember what once was, and dangerous too. To stay strong it is best to try and forget the old life.

 The warming fires cast eerie shadows on the ceiling of our shelter as I try to fall asleep.





Thank you for being our guest this week Bretton and sharing the first chapters of your captivating story. We look forward to your 4Q Interview.

The Last Hockey Player can be purchased here:

Amazon : https://www.amazon.ca/Last-Hockey-Player-Bretton-Loney/dp/1775393305/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1546097313&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Last+Hockey+Player

Kobo : https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/the-last-hockey-player

Monday, 24 December 2018

Santa Clause is back for a 4Q Interview.


Ho Ho Ho!

The Scribbler is honored to have Santa Clause back for our third 4Q interview. Because December is such a busy time for St. Nick, the interview actually took place in October. We discovered many new things about Santa on his last visit to the Scribbler when we talked about the unionization and retirement of the elves, the magic of reindeer, the things Santa likes and houses with no chimneys. If you missed the informative session we had, please go HERE!


4Q: We touched briefly on this before but please tell us Santa, how you gauge whether a child has been good enough throughout the year to get gifts?




SC. Ho Ho Ho. Now that’s a good one Allan. Interesting enough, the Mrs. and I were talking about that last week. Things have changed with the growth of gaming and that seems to be all children ask for these days, computers, Ipods, gaming accessories and such. Most of them are merely vegetables these days with big thumbs that spend an inordinate amount of time staring at those little screens with fancy colors, sound effects and challenges, so most kids don’t have time to be bad. Things have certainly changed. No one asks for skates or sleds or dolls or board games anymore. I’m not saying that’s wrong but we always have to make these supply and demand changes at our massive warehouses at the “pole”.

Now, about good and bad. All children are born with a good heart but they learn to be bad on their own. Take yourself for example. If you remember the BB gun I left you one Christmas, well you had been a good little boy most of the year so I left it all wrapped up under the tree that Bea and Willie had put up. You were always a bit mischievous, however, you were a bad little bugger with that gun and I should’ve never left it there. Shooting out windows in abandoned buildings, light fixtures, little birds and the worst was when you shot your neighbor in the buttocks. You tipped the good/bad scales way over to the dark side. Now had it been up to me, you wouldn’t have gotten anything the next year. It’s only the fact that you got caught and your mother punished you sufficiently by taking the gun away that you had time to be good for the rest of the year so you see, the gauge tips back and forth. Had you done any more damage, I would’ve taken you completely of the list. I’m glad I didn’t, because you turned out okay. Ho Ho Ho!


4Q: Yes well, that’s an incident I’d forgotten about.  I guess I was a little over zealous with that gun. Anyway, moving along here, now that marijuana is legal in Canada, is anyone asking for pot related gifts?



SC: Good question Allan. Not the little ones of course but the adults and teenagers do of course and we have to be diligent in accessing birth records to know if they are of legal age. We get requests for baggies of dope, bongs, rolling papers, pipes and other paraphernalia and we do what we can to accommodate those wishes and of course like those old ads for Red Rose tea, “Only in Canada, eh?”

We linked up with suppliers in Ontario because the elves will never part with any of their weed, say it’s much too powerful for the average human. I would agree. Which reminds me, where did that bag of Cheezies go?


4Q: All the pictures we see of you depict a white bearded man that is quite plump. Are you overweight?

SC: Well you should know the answer from the last question Allan. Of course I’m fat. Do you think for one minute that eating over 1400 cookies, 800 donuts, 1100 sandwiches, 4300 glasses of milk, (the odd glass of beer), and 33 bags of mixed candies in one night won’t have an effect on me? Gracious, I have to diet for six months to get back to my normal weight of 300 pounds. Because you’re from Canada, I can admit that if it wasn’t for the marijuana I wouldn’t be tempted but the concoction the elves roll for me has a vicious munchies effect. I get pimples from all that sugar as well, it’s a terrible thing. But I do it for the kiddies. Can’t let them down now can I? Ho Ho Ho.




4Q: Your image is very popular and all over the place this time of the year. Do people or companies have to pay you royalties for that?

SC: The Public Relations department usually handles the requests for my image and at one time we could control the use of my photo, or the reindeers or the elves but now with the internet and so many scammers, it’s almost impossible. There are good people that pay (those were the kids that were especially good when they were children and mostly little girls) for the rights of my image. Otherwise it’s a free-for-all out there. I don’t care for those images that make fun of me or put me in questionable situations such as flirting with other woman. The Mrs. doesn’t like those either.

I like most of them and  its okay.




4Q: Any last comments Santa?

SC: Well I wish all your readers a very merry Christmas. Drive safely   out there. Don’t drink and drive.  Give to those that have less than you. Be kind to everyone and have a tremendous New year.


Thanks for being our guest this week Santa. You are the coolest!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Guest Author Aurora Jean Alexander.



This week the Scribbler has a guest all the way from Nashville, Tennessee. Aurora has exciting news to share with us, and she has agreed to participate in a 4Q Interview and share an excerpt from her new novel – Soul Taker. See below for links.




My name is Aurora Jean Alexander. I grew up in a family involved in politics and was blessed with an excellent education in several countries, holding a bachelor’s degree in BA. I was very lucky. I’m living by myself with three cats, working a full-time job and I am a new Paranormal Romance/Fantasy author. Currently, I work on a series with 13 books. My first book has been published today.




4Q: From following you on Facebook, I sense the excitement of your upcoming novel. Please tell us about Soul Taker. (
AJA:
Soul Taker is the first book in “The Council Of Twelve” series.

After long years in the line of duty as a ‘Soul Taker,’ Kate is worn out.

When she gets a new job offer from the ‘Powers Above,’ she accepts her new job as a Guardian gratefully without knowing that her teacher is one of the most powerful beings in existence, the Archangel Raphael.

Along with Raphael, she takes on her new task, and the connection between them grows.

Raphael helps, protects and supports Kate, but suddenly, she becomes a target for the Demons of Hell.

Raphael realizes that Kate means more to him than he expected, which causes him to fight furiously against danger. If he fails, Kate’s future will contain eternal darkness, evil, and torture.




4Q: We understand that this is book one is a series. What can you tell us about what’s coming?
AJA:
I call it ‘The Council Of Twelve’ series. Basically, the series is about twelve of the most powerful individuals in existence and their fight against Evil. The Twelve are fighting this war since the beginning of time, and it seems the opponents are about to win. During the series, the Council meets and involves different characters, people and creatures, each one of them a unique source of power. They all are able to add to the Council’s strength and support the Council in the eternal war. Nobody knows who will show up, when they will show up and what their story is. The new characters are not to be hired or picked. The development of the extension to the ‘Council Of Twelve’ isn’t recruitment – it’s a matter of confidence, bond, and soul.

Photo by Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

During the entire series, we will meet new characters, together with the known ones. We will also find out more about each one of them as the series progresses. The fight against Evil is going to be more difficult with each book. Not only The Council Of Twelve collects more power. The ‘Other Side’ does too.


4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote of memory.


AJA:
My Dad taught his two daughters quite early how to ski. It was one of the things he loved doing, and we both joined him. Every year, at the season start he made sure we got a refreshing course with a professional skiing teacher before our entire family went to amazing ski resorts on vacation. Our Mom only learned skiing a while into her marriage and was never the biggest fan of that sport. She preferred skiing for an hour or two and then go back to the hotel, go for walks or do other things while her husband and daughters stayed out in the snow for six or seven hours a day. When we were younger Dad often left us skiing to ourselves, with clear instructions which ski lifts we could use and showed us the range where we could ski until he returned. We knew better than to ignore his orders. Not that it was ever necessary. We had tons of fun and got better and better, only by practicing – and laughing.
Photo by David Heslop on Unsplash
Many years in our youth our Dad listed us for ski racing for kids and as long as we participated in the races were fun. (Even more since normally one of us won, and the other one was second.) The only thing we hated about these races was the fact that the hills the race took place rarely had a decent ski lift. We had to shoulder our skis and stumble up the hill to the starting point. We still think the race wasn’t about who was fasted; it was more showing who was least tired.
I will always be grateful for these wonderful winters, full of skiing, laughter and spending time with my sister and my Dad, outside in the snow.


4Q: You have been more than kind to your fellow authors for some time now Aurora sharing their work and writing on your website. Please tell us about the Writer’s Treasure Chest.


AJA:
Before I went public as an author, I did some research, and I read it was recommended for an author to show his/her writing in a blog. In fact, this was one of the first things I did when I created my author branding. I decided to ‘build’ a writer’s blog. In my head I planned to publish great posts, helping other authors with my advice and recommendations.
Yeah – wonderful me. HAHA
I’m realistic enough to understand that I’m only a newbie in this business. How can I advise someone when I have never been published? That was the time I had to see I needed the help and support of experienced authors and bloggers. I connected with amazing authors and writers; you are one of them, Allan! There are many fantastic, educational, helpful and supportive posts online, written by experienced and successful authors. Since they could teach new authors like me so much better than I can, I spread the word about interesting posts to other authors – and myself, yes.
My research told me to connect with other authors on my blog. I opened Writer’s Treasure Chest to blog tours and guest posts. Finally, I decided on a ‘Featured Author’ category, and my blog started growing. I wanted to give back to many talented authors who permitted me to re-blog their own posts and help me developing ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest.’
My blog is still a ‘Writer’s Blog,’ and that’s what it should be. In the meantime, I occasionally permit myself to publish some personally important article or blog some humorous posts too. I love to laugh, and humor is a part of me and my blog.
There is a widget with a contact form on the right side of ‘Writer’s Treasure Chest.’ Everyone who feels like becoming a featured author on my blog is welcome to scroll down and send me a note. And please: don’t think, the ‘Featured Author’ interview is a one-time thing, it’s not! I got a questionnaire for returning authors. 





An excerpt from Soul Taker.


He looked at me. “Would you ever permit yourself to fall in love?”
I gave him a warm, sunny grin as I felt I was on safe ground again. “Sure, why not? If he’s the right Angel. I figure now I wouldn’t consider it a problem.”
Raphael seemed confused. “Why are you emphasizing the word ‘now’?”
I grinned. “I only recently changed jobs. I was sad and depressed before, and I suppose I was not a friendly and social companion back in those days. In the meantime, I got the chance to relax, become more open, more fun to be with and develop my humor, now that I can be myself, I consider myself able to give a partner what he deserves.”
Raphael watched me carefully during my speech. “You seem to have given it more thought than I expected.”
I laughed loudly. “In fact, things have changed so much, so quickly, there wasn’t much time to think about it.”
And still, you’re answering so convincedly.”
I shrugged. “I had too much time before.”
Raphael nodded. “Does that mean you weren’t sufficiently busy?”
I laughed. “No, I wasn’t. When I got a call, it was my job to be there. But it’s not as if I worked around the entire world. I was never the only one. Other sections were taken over by other angels. And sometimes we weren’t the ones called, but the other side.”
Raphael rubbed his chin. “Did that bother you?”
Yes, it did. It was painful to listen to these particular souls screaming and thrashing in despair and fear. But there wasn’t much we could do.”
At my response, Raphael was lost in thought but soon found another question to ask. “Did you ever fight for a soul?”
My brows furrowed. “Yes. If it was a situation that was undecided I had to be fast. If I was quick, we had the chance to fight. I think, during all the centuries, I’ve done my job I had to fight maybe 20 times. And thankfully only lost twice.”
Raphael nodded. “I got wind of you being horribly injured.”
Yes,” I confirmed. “It was a disaster. And even the Warrior Angels summoned for support were unable to do much. The opponents were too strong. In the end, they could only save me with my severe injuries. It took nearly an entire month for me to recover.”
Raphael whistled through his teeth. “One month! They evidently ripped you to shreds, didn’t they?”
I nodded sadly.
The Archangel comforted me with a hug. “Thank God you’re here, you’ve got a new job, and there’s not that danger anymore. I’m with you too.”
But you won’t be here forever, will you?” I said with a sigh.
Raphael laughed. “No, of course not. But that doesn’t mean I’m letting my students out of my sight once they finished studying. There will always be a special connection between us, Katie.”
I smiled happily. “There will? That’s good to hear.”
Raphael eyed me curiously but remained silent. I was too excited to notice what I just had revealed






Thank you so much, Aurora for being our guest and sharing your thoughts and words.


Thank you very much for having me, Allan. I really appreciate your support!

For those wanting to know where you can buy Soul Taker or to discover more about Aurora try these links:



Buying links here.