Sunday, 14 July 2019

Guest Author Steven Spears of Shediac, New Brunswick.

Poetry and Stories by Steve S.

That’s the heading when you visit Steve’s Facebook page where you will find lots of interesting material about Steve and his books. He has kindly agreed to be our guest this week on the Scribbler, as well as share an excerpt of his writing.

Steven Spears is a 49 year old Forester and Biologist, who spends his evenings writing and trying to figure out his head. He is still trying.  He is a pagan, who investigates and studies his faith by writing. His poetry takes a look at different aspects of being pagan and what its like to be pagan in today’s society. He also writes erotica, sensual, horror, fantasy and his own brand of fairy tales. He has two self published books “A Journey with the Lady” and “Under the Red Sheet”.

4Q: Let’s talk about Under the Red Sheets first – a collection of short stories and poems about tantalizing subjects.

SS: Under the Red Sheet started out as a collection of poems and stories, mostly around relationships and sex, but as time went on it grew into something else. Yes sex is still part of it, but the book itself goes through the cycle of flirting, dating, shyness, relationships, sex, and loss and breakup. The short stories are just another way to look at these subjects, and oh yes there is a fair amount of humor in there as well.

4Q: A Journey with the Lady has received some very pleasant reviews. What’s it about and what inspired this  story?

SS: A Journey with the Lady is my first book of poetry and prose and it deals with paganism. The poems in it look at how it is being a witch in today’s society, how it’s like to “come out of the broom closet”. It also has teaching poems, chants, and poems relating to ritual. Some of the poems have been used in Wiccan rituals. Also there are more fanciful poems, including a whole chapter of poems on a theme of humor, a poor gentleman who keeps bumping into supernatural creatures.  Journey was a way for me to explore and study my faith more closely, one in which I continue today.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

SS: The past is the past, though it does tend to make us what we are, I do not try to dwell on it. Having said that it was not that my childhood was bad or horrible, it is behind me.  Though if there is one thing it would be this, when I was 11 days old it was found out that my esophagus was not fully formed. It took an immediate operation to correct the situation, and due to complications I nearly died three times in those two weeks that followed.

4Q: Where’s your favorite place to write and please share what gets your creative juices flowing.

SS: I am a bit weird when it comes to writing. I tend to write where ever I am or any time. Basically, it comes down to if something strikes me, I tend to write about it. I could be at home, work or on the road. I even have in meetings, wrote poems when something has come to mind. 

4Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

Photo credit:
SS: I would suppose it would be this that I write not just in one genre. I write poetry and short stories around paganism, erotica, sensual, horror, fairy tales, fantasy and general poetry. In a way they all revolve around the theme of paganism, that of life, fertility, imagination and death. 

An Excerpt from Under the Red Sheet

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

One Last Dance

Out on the floor the young couples twirl,

Tonight is the night of the old barn dance,

To the young ones it is all for a chuckle or a giggle,

Not for all for old memories are again once alive.

He sits in the corner and watches the kids dance,

Old he is that is true but in his mind still young,

She is gone now having passed just last year.

Here he sits forgotten in a corner,

His kids, now adults with kids of their own have left him there,

But as he watches the couples dance he relives his time with her.

They would dance the night away in each others arms,

Remarked it was that they made such a perfect couple.

And in his mind he dances with her still and always will,

His love has gone and he knows he soon will join her,

But right now he sits and watches the youngsters.

His little granddaughter asks him to dance; smile at her he does,

But he must decline for his old legs will not let him anymore.

Instead he holds her and she rambles on about all she has seen this night.

Soon she is off again chasing her brothers and he is again left alone.

She is always with him; for he can feel her nearby like he always could,

So he watches and taps his foot to the music and relives the past,

Tapping with the beat his foot goes, but then his foot stops.

Later they find him sitting in the corner with a smile on his face,

Crying and sobbing they say oh why has he gone?

He has gone to join his love for one last dance.

By Steve S 08/09/2016

Thank you for being our guest this week Steve. For all you readers that would like to know more about Steve and his writing, please follow this link:

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Guest Author Vanessa Hawkins of St. George, New Brunswick

Vanessa Hawkins has quickly become one of my favourite authors. Her ability to weave plot lines is nothing short of remarkable, overshadowed only by the depth of her characters. This book is only the beginning of a long, prolific career.”

— Sean O’Gorman, author of Issues With Etiquette

How’s that for a splendid review? Our guest this week writes in the horror genre and has three books published. I was introduced to Vanessa at a recent writer’s group meeting in Fredericton where she joined us by phone. She has kindly agreed to a 4Q Interview and to share an excerpt from one of her chilling tales.

A life-long lover of horror, Vanessa wrote her first story in the genre when she was only in grade five. It was titled Mutilated and it warranted her a trip to the school guidance counsellor. A lifetime later, she continues to write about anything gruesome, terrifying, paranormal and erotic, though she has since found herself enthralled in the world of fantasy steampunk and realistic fiction.

4Q: I believe the first novel you published is Gloryhill.  Tell us about the novel and what inspired it. Is it part of a series?

VH: Gloryhill was inspired at the apex of the vampire craze. Really you could say it was a knee jerk reaction to all those glittery vampires who plodded around in superficial angst with pseudo undead problems looking for fresh human poon. Needless to say I wanted my monsters back. I created Gloryhill as a foil for all the vampire romances that was infiltrating the market back then. There was no lovey-dovey romance, instead it was a reflection of what it meant to be a monster. Turns out humans are just as good at being horrible douche-bags as supernatural blood suckers are.

Gloryhill is kind of a series? The second book The Sinister Portrait of Cherie Rose takes place in the same universe, but you don’t have to read the first book to follow along with the story. Mostly it’s good for locating some neat Easter eggs.  

4Q: Please tell us about your writing journey, when did it start and what do you love about it?

VH: I started writing at a young age, which is the clich├ęd response, I know, but for what it’s worth it’s true. My first real story I wrote was called Mutilated and as the bio describes, it prompted a visit to the elementary school counsellor. I guess they just wanted to make sure I was alright in the head. But really… is anyone?

I didn’t start to take writing seriously until much later. It had always been a dream of mine to see a book I made on the shelf, and so when I was fresh out of university I endeavored to make that happen. I love seeing the finished product—even if it’s eternally frustrating to pick out a spelling error after publication. With every new book that comes out with my name on the cover, I see a creative growth spurt, and it’s a great feeling of accomplishment to see all my work displayed on a bookcase. Kinda like when your mom displays every school picture of your life on the front foyer stairs and you get to see the development of your awkward years—bad hair, braces, and all—to your present self. Or… maybe that’s just my mom…

 I’m an only child.  

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

VH: When I was young I drove around a lot. Especially to and from school. I was actually one of the last kids off the bus, which sucked because I never got home until like four o’clock and then I had homework and supper and yadda yadda blech!

Anyway, on the long ride home I used to fantasize that a person was running alongside the bus, jumping over bushes, tight roping the powerlines. Sometimes they would be chasing other people, or being chased by monsters, and usually these characters were people from stories I had thought up in my head or read about.

How creative and weird I was, I thought! Until later on I realized that a lot of people do this. Now I figure that we’re all a little strange, so I don’t mind sharing my work with others, even if it’s a bit unconventional at times.

4Q: Most creative people have a “special spot” where they perform their magic. Tell us about yours.

VH: The best place for me to write is in bed, where I’m not too cold and there are pillows for the taking and all my stupid, beady-eyed stuffed animals are staring at me with cold indifference. I had a desk, a real nice one in an office with notebooks and post-it notes and fancy pencils. But for me inspiration comes with comfort. Although funny enough I always have to get ready to write like I’m getting dressed for work. If I don’t have some makeup splashed on and something nice to wear then I can’t seem to commit seriously. I guess I toe the line between professionalism and a sloth.

4Q: Tell us about your latest work.

VH: My latest work is a piece of realistic fiction that I’ve been pouring over for a while. It has to do with a child murderer and it takes place in my hometown of St. George, New Brunswick. Also child murderer… so I mean a child that is also a murderer. Words are hard, even for us writers...

Anyway, it’s been really fun to write but also one of the most difficult pieces for me because there are no paranormal elements that I can fall back on like I did before. For someone who writes fantasy, it can be a tad difficult to write something believable that adheres to actual laws and societal standards, but so far I’m pretty happy with how the story has progressed. A lot of ‘me’ has actually been written into the story, which I’ve never done before. Though I am not literally in any parts of the story. I’m not a child murderer… by which I mean a child who is also… ah you get it.  

An Excerpt from Alice in Horrorland

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

Alice’s eyes widened. In the brier, stuck through the chest with a butcher knife, was a duckling, half hatched with a hat upon his head.

“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed, placing the lantern on the path. The brier’s thorns: large, shining butcher knives, were bloody now as they stuck the bird who was half alive.

“Let us help you,” she said, moving towards it, unsure of how she could aid him.

But the duckling coughed, looking at Alice with eyes the color of pond scum.

“I am Nobody, fear me not. Death and torment, Nobody sought. Nobody remembers, Nobody knows, Nobody’s friends with Nobody’s foes.” Blood began to leak out the duckling’s bill. Alice reached forward to touch him, to perhaps help him from the brier, but the knives resisted, growing up around the duckling, turning their blades towards her and cracking his shell till it fell away.

“Nobody dies without a friend, Nobody truly loves the end.” The duckling smiled, and Alice found herself pulled away, back into the path as the knife pierced into the duckling’s belly, killing him.

“We could have helped him.” Alice cried, watching incredulously as the Caterpillar sighed, breathing out a peal of three bells.

“Nobody can help himself. Let’s go.”

Vanessa recently had one of her short stories published in Canadian Dreadful and the anthology is "flying off the shelves".

Thank you, Vanessa, for being our special guest this week.

For you readers that want to discover more about Vanessa and her writing, please follow this link:

Thursday, 4 July 2019

One Bedroom Ark - Part 2 continued.

Welcome back to the Scribbler and the “rest of the story”. If you missed the beginning of this short story that was posted last Sunday, go HERE

“I know what you’re worried about. Eventually you’re going to have to let your parents see Anna. They’re suing you for visitation rights. You can’t keep them away forever, not matter what happened in the past. It’s time to let it all go Clair. You don’t have to have anything to do with them. I mean I agree with you, but they are her grandparents and they want to make it up. They admit they were wrong. The courts are going to allow it Clair; you remember what your lawyer said.”

Clair wasn’t thinking of that but it adds to the burden she already carries only this is a lot more serious. She resents her parents still, for telling her to leave when she told them she changed her mind and was keeping her baby. Anna’s father wouldn’t have anything to do with them. She was homeless and broke until Noah came to her rescue. It was almost a year before her parents found her but Noah sent them on their way with a tongue wagging that embarrassed everyone. The letters from her mother have been continuous but she throws them all away. The bitterness they cause is too much. Reluctantly, she has come to understand that Anna should be given a chance to know them.

“Well Noah, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about but I’ve decided that I’m going to tell the court they can see her, short times in the beginning to see how they treat her. But I don’t want any contact with them so I’m going to ask you a big favor. Will you be the liaison between them and Anna? I’ll okay it.”

She may as well have given him the new plasma TV he covets; she’s never seen such a happy face. He’s almost blubbering.

“Why, yes… yes, Clair. I’d be honored.”

“You’ll have to stop telling them off, alright?”

He answers with a laugh and agrees.

“Ok, then, what did you want to tell me.”

He sees the indecisiveness in her eyes.

“Bad news, isn’t it? C’mon Clair, what is it?”

Clair finishes her coffee and sits straighter, looking Noah in the eyes.

“I can’t get you a ticket to Anna’s kindergarten graduation next week. It’s parents only and because I’m not married, I can only get one. I’m sorry Noah.”

Noah dons a cheerless face and nods.

“Oh darn! I’m saddened but those are the rules, I guess. Maybe I’ll just crash the party, make a fool of myself, how about that?”

“Don’t you dare, you rascal.”

Noah holds up an open hand.

“Anything else?

Clair decides there’s no sense pussy-footing around the issue.

“I’m giving you my notice for the apartment. It’s just not big enough for us anymore, Noah. I hate to tell you because I know how attached you are to Anna but I’ll try and find something close by.”

Noah is rubbing his chin, the crease lines on his forehead read discontent. Clair lets the idea ferment before she says anything else. The only sounds are Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd arguing in the living room and Anna giggling. It’s a short while before Noah answers.

“I expected this someday but was hoping it wouldn’t be right now. You’re still going to manage the store?”

“Oh yes, I’m thankful for the work and I love the store. You know you can count on me.”

 Noah gets up and takes his cup and Clair’s to the sink to rinse out.  Clair watches him, waiting for a word of encouragement.

“Ok then. If you and Marsha are all right for the day, I’m going watch cartoons with Anna and I’ll mind her until… is it Jeff working the store tonight? ”

“Yes it is. I’m sorry Noah but you understand, don’t you.”

“Of course, of course I understand.”

Jeff Abernathy is in his last year of high school and saving his pay for community college where he wants to go to go after graduation to be an electrician, like his father. He is always early for work and greets Clair with his usual happy attitude. When he enters and says hi to Clair, she is studying something behind the cash and doesn’t respond. Jeff sees the frown on her face and notices the newspaper spread out on the counter in front of her.

“Hey there Clair, you looking for a new job? Hope not.”

“Hi Jeff. No not a job, an apartment for Anna and I. The one upstairs is too small. I’m flabbergasted at how high the rents are for a two bedroom apartment, I don’t know if I can afford one right now. I was hoping to buy a car soon and I have a good down payment saved up but it may have to wait.”

“Did you already give your notice to Noah?”


“Bet he wasn’t too happy. He’s quite fond of that little girl of yours. And I know he thinks a lot of you. I’m sure he’s going to miss you.”

Clair closes the paper and folds it up, placing it under the counter. Glancing at the wall clock, she sees it’s almost time for supper and she must go take Anna off Noah’s hands. It’s Friday and Noah plays cards with several of his drinking buddies.

“Look Jeff, it’s a half hour earlier than your shift starts but do you mind going on the clock now so I can go make supper for Anna and me.”

Jeff places his backpack behind the counter.

“Sure, go ahead.”

Several customers come in and Clair makes her way upstairs to knock on Noah’s door. Hearing a voice to tell her to come in, she hears Anna tittering and wonders what’s going on. When she steps inside she puts her hands to her mouth and stares wide eyed at the two of them. Noah is wheeling a pushcart around the living room and Anna is standing on it. She has one of Noah’s old pale blue shirts on and it hangs to her knees, as well as a pair of Noah’s work boots that look like clown’s feet. Her hands are clad in a large pair of work gloves which are Noah’s also and she’s hanging on to the side rails of the pushcart which is tipped back on its two wheels. Noah is also clad in work gloves and an old hard hat and his old blue coveralls. They are laughing and stop suddenly when Clair enters. 
Almost as if on cue, Anna jumps off the dolly and turns her back to Clair. Noah swiftly stands at her side with his back to Clair as well. Scrawled on the backs of their respective garments, in black marker and wide childlike printing is Anna and Noah’s Moving Company. Clair relaxes, drops some stress. Everything will work out with the move. Momentarily she  forgets about the high cost of rents that was getting her down. She can’t help but start laughing.

“What are you two up to?”

The loose shirt furls around her like a flag  when Anna runs to her mother and hugs her legs.

“Momma, Noah and I have a surprise for you.”

“I’m surprised already but what is it?”

Anna looks back at Noah.

“Can I tell her?”

Noah has a smile a foot wide and nods his assent.

“Grampy Noah wants to trade houses with us.”

The word houses throws Clair off for a moment until she gets the full picture, he wants to trade apartments.

“You mean trade apartments?”

Both Noah and Anna are bobbing their heads. Noah adds in a bonus.

And the rent will stay the same because I know you’re saving for a car, and well… “

He doesn’t get a chance to finish. Everything goes blurry for her and she rushes to embrace Noah, slipping her arms around his thick chest and resting her head on his shoulder. In loving whispers she thanks him a dozen times. They’re startled by a little girl’s screech of delight. Anna is jumping up and down, the boots not moving under her. The gloves go flying from her waving hands.  Her chubby cheeks are pink and puffed up with the widest smile. Noah and Clair start laughing at her antics.  Soon Noah and Clair are jumping up and down in rhythm with their leader. The gaiety comes to a quick stop when the buzzer down stairs announces a visitor. Anna rushes out the hallway where the intercom is and jumps up on an old chair Noah has put there for her. Short index finger pushes the speak button. Her sweet voice could melt an iceberg.

“Grampy Noah’s house. I’m  Anna.”

The reply causes a delightful chuckle from the other end.

“Well Anna, I’m Joshua, and I’ve come to see Grampy Noah. He’s my Grampy too.”

Anna looks over at Noah who is coming down the hallway, his eyes shining. Clair one step behind, curious to see the visitor, she knows he just turned twenty-one so they’re the same age Noah showed her pictures of him. He reminds her of Rob Lowe, an actor she adores.  Noah nods to Anna and she pushes another button to release the door. Noah opens his apartment door and sees Joshua ascending the stairs. Anna and Clair are close behind on the landing separating the two apartments.

“Welcome young man, how wonderful to see you again. Your timing couldn’t be better. We need a strong arm for the next couple of days.”

“Good to see you too, Gramps.”

They do the fist bump, elbow rub. Same greeting they’ve been doing since Joshua was two. Then a bear hug from Noah. Noah is laughing like he won a prize and Joshua was also but goes quiet. Noah sets Joshua down and frowns at his silence until he sees where the young man is staring. Clair and Joshua are locked in orbit. Noah can almost see the vibes caroming back and forth. He studies the look in Clair’s eyes and for one blissful moment, remembers when he met his wife, Vanessa. Her eyes were dappled with the same desire. 

The End

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