Saturday, 17 October 2020

Returning Mystery Author Chuck Bowie of Fredericton, NB.


Chuck has been a regular guest on the Scribbler and he's always welcome. He writes mysteries and does it well. Today he tells us about what's new in his writing journey.

The Scribbler is happy to have him back as he chats about his new novels. The fifth in the Thief for Hire series- Her Irish Boyfriend -  is due out soon and Death Between the Walls is a new series which has been well received with great reviews. See below for the links to his other visits.

Apples…or Guns; What do You Research?

-         Chuck Bowie

I write Thrillers. I love writing thrillers; I think it may have something to do with experiencing something that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to. Also, if a story arrives in your brain, you want to see where that story goes, right? As an intuitive writer, I will just be sitting around (or sleeping, or driving) when an idea hits me, often quite clearly defined. It may be a character, a scene, or the germ of an idea for a new novel. At my stage in the writing continuum, I peer deeply into this germ of an idea, and if it isn’t about some sort of mystery, I am wont to dismiss it, because, as I mentioned, I like thrillers.


  My first novel: Three Wrongs arrived as a rough but fully-formed story. I didn’t intend at the outset to extend it into a series, but again, I wanted to see where Donovan’s story would take him: to redemption, or someplace else. Along the way, From AMACAT through to my upcoming thriller Her Irish Boyfriend, I discovered if I was to tell a complete story, I needed to brush up on objects and events with which I was less familiar. A visit to Trinity College in Dublin illustrates the wonder of research to enhance a story. Guns being another, for instance. Having owned but one pistol in my life—a pellet gun—I needed to do some homework on weaponry. What’s the difference between a Turkish Akdal Ghost and a Glock Gen 16? In fact, what’s the difference between a Glock Gen 14 and a Gen 16? Readers want to know, and experienced, discerning readers will be offended if I get it wrong. So homework has to happen.

Long Room at Trinity College.

          Research must be conducted, regardless of the genre, or sub-genre. And if God is in the details (and evidence suggests it is) a writer’s work improves with the quality of their research. I’m going to argue that ameliorating the research will improve the writing, including the character’s behaviour (psychology), the setting (which way is west, when the sun sets), exposition (how does an anechoic chamber actually feel like, to the user), and the tools of the sub-genre (including weaponry).

          So here I am, tooling along as a writer of Suspense-Thrillers, when, late one night after a great dinner of red wine, pulled pork tacos with refried black beans, a thought occurred to me. Here comes the part where I self-identify as a word nerd, or Logophile. I awoke with a fairly advanced storyline for a Cozy Mystery. Here comes my fancy word: I am usually comfortable in being visited by the idea for a new story and successfully fighting the notion off. This is called a ‘Velleity’.You may recall I think, or thought, of myself as a Thriller writer. But the idea of a new series wouldn’t go away. Around this time, my life got a bit interrupted, and while I was off-track, I wrote my first Cozy Mystery: Death Between the Walls, and it didn’t hurt a bit.

          But there were growing pains to the creation of this new series.

          I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to write it as a series. And I wanted the little town to feel almost as if it, too, was a character. This I knew would require research. And it seemed as if I may have to refresh my notion of what constitutes applied research. For instance, I probably would no longer need to Google ‘guns’, but I may in fact need to know which apples ripen in August. (Ginger Golds in Eastern Canada, as it turns out.) And my new protagonist was a woman! And a younger woman, at that. Part of my support system would be my female editor, and part of my research entailed reading cozys (sic). The surprise, for me, was that it would be necessary to return to the small town in which I was raised, and look around. This helped immensely; a refamiliarization, as it were.

          Areas of commonality between the Thriller series and the Cozy series were easy to spot: the narrative arc was similar: Intro-Challenge-Quest-Rise-Crisis-Denouement. The development of the protagonist had to be paced, in both cases. The crisis and concurrent tension had to be there. And getting the reader to actually care about the outcomes of the characters was still critical.

          I remain fascinated by this need to get the details right. You don’t shoot someone at 5 o’clock, and then have someone see them in a tavern at 7:00 that same night. But more than that, what does a thirty-four year old woman wear to dinner? And can they engage in a chase scene wearing flip-flops? Would the tiny GM pickup she drives have a V-6, or a V-8? Who would know how to disable ABS braking on that truck, if they weren’t a mechanic? If you see a wolf in rural East Coast New Brunswick, is it in fact a wolf, or might it be a coyote? Are their eyes the same colour?

          As I said; I love Mysteries, and it remains a mystery as to which kind of mystery I prefer: Suspense-Thriller, or Cozy Mystery. I guess I’ll just have to keep writing both until I decide.


Chuck Bowie writes out of Fredericton, New Brunswick, and so does his pseudonym, Alexa Bowie.

**Note from The Scribbler: I thoroughly enjoyed Death Between the Walls and if you are into cozy mysteries, this one won't let you down. 

I've followed the TFH series and am anxious for the release of Her Irish Boyfriend.

A review for Death Between the Walls:

Loved the mystery itself besides the "local flavors" incorporated into the story. Great writing definitely makes for a page turner. Looking forward to Emma's next adventure and meeting more of the interesting characters that surround her.

To view Chucks earlier visits, follow these:

July 7, 2018 February 11, 2017 August 20, 2016

To buy Chuck's books, go HERE.

To discover more about Chuck and his writing, follow these links:

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

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Author Michelle McLean & Illustrator Sophie Arseneau of Bath, NB.


Another first for the Scribbler!


Michelle and I met online through several author friends we follow on Facebook. There is excitement in the air for Michelle and Sophie – a mother and daughter team – with their first collection of children’s poems – When Pigs Fly. The book was launched September 19th in Woodstock, NB.

Michelle is an award-winning poet and her work has been featured in many publications. Sophie is an artist, writer and competitive dancer.

The Scribbler is lucky to have the ladies as our guests this week. A 4Q Interview and an excerpt from the new book.


Michelle McLean is a clinical social worker, educator, poet, and mother of two fabulous, big-hearted daughters. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Quills, Ascent Aspirations, Understorey, Other Voices, Peacock Journal, JONAH, and others. She lives with her family in the village of Bath, New Brunswick.

Sophie Arseneau, now 12, completed the majority of the illustrations for this collection between the ages of 10-11. Sophie is an artist, writer, competitive dancer and grade 8 student at Florenceville Middle School. 


4Q: Michelle – how did this project come about? What inspired you and Sophie to create this work?


MM: The majority of these poems were actually written when Sophie was in utero.  I was thrilled when the unpublished manuscript won second place in the Writer’s Federation of New Brunswick’s annual competition in the “Writing for Children” category (2007).   Despite receiving encouraging feedback about the collection over the next couple of years, I wasn’t able to find a publisher at the time and I basically sentenced the manuscript to life in the back corner of my closet amongst the dust bunnies, my too high/never worn heels, and photo boxes filled with outtakes, snapshots of old boyfriends and regrettable 80s hair.  This is also where I housed my rejection letters – out of sight, but never quite out of mind.  Yet all of those kindly worded (and often personalized) rejection letters invite reconsideration of the previously-scorned-as-platitude “things happen for a reason”, since this deferral allowed the opportunity for my daughter to illustrate the poems and for the two of us to collaborate on this project together.  I was also delighted that we were able to include a gorgeous artistic contribution from my youngest daughter, Lily.  It’s a pretty special project to me – a collaboration that never would have happened had the book been accepted for publication all those years ago.


I’ve long admired Sophie’s artistic talents and how much animation and life she brings to her drawings.   I’ve always loved the humor and joy in her artwork and it would never fail to make me smile and chuckle.   When Sophie was around 9 or 10, I remember thinking “how cool would it be if she wanted to illustrate the poems in When Pigs Fly?”  Luckily, Sophie was on board with this idea, and Chapel Street Editions was willing to take the plunge with us! 




4Q: Sophie – please tell us about your illustrations. Was it difficult to portray the words into a drawing?


SA:  It was a little difficult, but some poems were easier to portray than others.  For instance, some of the shorter poems took less time to draw than some of the longer or more complicated ones.  I completed some of the illustrations at home, and others in my art classes with Brigitte Rivers.  Each illustration usually took between 1-2 classes, but some of the more complicated drawings might take up to 4 classes.  The words in the poems affect a lot of the outcome of the drawing.  Most of the poems in the book are written in a silly or funny style so that drawing would be different than maybe a more serious poem or a love poem.




4Q: Now tell us what to expect when we pick up a copy.


MM:  One of my fondest descriptions of this collection came from my publisher, who called it “delightfully quirky”.   I’m thrilled when I share the poems with folks and they laugh out loud.  That’s my favorite reaction.   I think when people pick up a copy, they can expect to be impressed and delighted by the illustrations (I am admittedly biased, but I still think it holds true), and to have some laughs and to enjoy a little goofy foolishness, whimsy and wordplay, with the occasional dash of something extra.    




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


MM:  Sophie has been writing and illustrating since she was a very little girl.  I can remember her as young as age three, crafting books out of construction and printer paper, carefully hole- punching and binding them with ribbons – titles such as The Canary Merry Christmas, The Yicky Sticky Ick, Tommy the Tow Truck, ABCDE Animals, The Horse and the Flea, The Fuzzy Wuzzie Bear, and her five-volume series, Hey Abby!  Sophie would always include an “About the Author” section on the back, and the whole process and production at that age was pretty adorable, but also just really impressive.   I also fondly reflect on the newsletter Sophie created years ago to share around town, entitled “Chit Chat and all That”.  Staff at our local convenience store, Mark’s the Spot allowed Sophie to display them on their newsstand for folks to take home with them.


Over the years, I have rescued various pieces of writing and artwork from the trash – pieces which didn’t meet Sophie’s standards in some way.  I just couldn’t bear to see them thrown out.  I know I’m biased, but I think everything she creates is pretty special.  Who knows – maybe she’ll publish the “outtakes” someday!


SA:  Like my mom has said, when I was quite young, I was often writing my own little books and stories.  I threw a lot of my writing away, but mom ended up rescuing half of my art pieces and books from when I was little.  I’m glad she did, because now I can see them again and remember when I wrote them.  




4Q: Please tell us about your other writing Michelle and especially your award(s).


MM: I continue to search out a home for my unpublished manuscript, Tesserae, but have published a number of individual poems from this collection.  Tesserae was awarded an honourable mention for the Alfred G. Bailey Prize (2017).    I was twice awarded honourable mentions for the Dawn Watson Memorial prize (2015), (2018). 

As an unpublished manuscript, When Pigs Fly was awarded second place in WFNB’s annual contest in the “Writing for Children” category (2007).   I was also a grateful award recipient in the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg poetry competition for “young writers of unusual promise” (2007).

I have received a number of other honourable mentions, as well as second and third place awards in various contests from Ascent Aspirations, Open Minds Quarterly, Toward the Light, and the Ontario Poetry Society.

While part of me feels a little obnoxious listing these recognitions, I have to say that these awards have been quite helpful in buoying my faith and optimism in the midst of the inevitable swamp of rejection letters one often finds themselves slogging through as a writer.




4Q: Sophie – When did you start drawing and when did you start competitive dancing. Tell us a bit about both.


SA: I have been drawing for my entire life because it was always something I really enjoyed doing.  I started competitive dance three years ago but I have been dancing recreationally since I was three.  What I love most about drawing is that there is no “right way”. You can just do whatever you want and there’s no rules.   What I love most about dance is everything, honestly, – the costumes, the music, being on stage – I love everything about it!




4Q: Favorite authors, novels or artist?


SA: I don’t exactly have a favorite author because I usually pick out any book and if I like it, I read it. I don’t usually pick out books by a specific author.




4Q: What’s next for you ladies? Another project to work on together?


MM: I would absolutely love to work on another collaboration with Sophie at some point, but I suspect she would enjoy a little break to move on to other things in her life right now.   My youngest daughter Lily has expressed interest in working on a project together, so perhaps that will be something to look for in the future.


SA:  Although I did enjoy this project a lot, I agree that mom and my sister Lily should work on the next project together and that way we would both get a chance.




An Excerpt from When Pigs Fly.

(Compliments of Chapel Street Editions. Copyright is held by the author(s). Used with permission)



Thank you both, Michell and Sophie, for being our guests this week. Wishing you much success with your future endeavors.


For all you fantastic visitors wanting to know more about Michelle and Sophie, please follow these links:

 ****Please note that when you visit Amazon, you may see that the book is "temporarily out of stock". This is not so if you are ordering a paperback. Because it is print-on-demand, you can order your copy.  

Purchasing links:



Other links and contacts:


Michelle’s email contact:


Sophie would also like to invite you to follow “Gruffy the Puppy” on Instagram:



Saturday, 3 October 2020

Award winning Author Jennifer Irwin of Los Angeles, CA.


I had the pleasure to become acquainted with and follow Jennifer on Twitter when I noticed the exceptional cover of her debut novel – A Dress the color of the Sky. What was also striking is the amount of awards the novel has garnered, as well as exceptional reviews. Most impressive. After visiting her web site, I hoped to share her work with my readers.

She has graciously accepted my invitation to be this week’s guest to participate in a 4Q Interview and the book summary.


A native New Yorker and captivating storyteller with a flair for embellishment, Jennifer Irwin currently resides in Los Angeles with two cats, a dog, and her boyfriend. After earning her BA in Cinema from Denison University, she worked in advertising and marketing, raised three boys, and ultimately became a certified Pilates instructor. Jennifer’s short stories have appeared in numerous literary publications including California’s Emerging Writers, An Anthology of Fiction. A Dress the Color of the Sky is her first novel. Since its release, A Dress the Color of the Sky has won seven indie book awards, received rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and been optioned for a feature film. Jennifer is represented by Prentis Literary.




4Q: Let’s start by telling our readers how you chose the intriguing title A Dress the Color of The Sky and then we’ll share the book’s blurb.


JI: I came up with the title after reading the fairy tale, Donkeyskin which was written by Charles Perrault and originally published in 1695. I refer to the fairy tale in my novel which helps to align the title with the premise of the book.



4Q: How thrilling to be recognized for your work. Of the seven awards received for your novel, I am most fascinated by the three awards given by The Feathered Quill. Wow! Please tell us about this experience.


JI: The first award I learned about winning was the Feathered Quill book award in which A Dress the Color of the Sky was awarded medals in three categories. It was the most exciting moment for me as a debut novelist—to be recognized as an award-winning author and to have my work chosen against my peers was the best feeling. I was actually in a restaurant when I received the email and I felt like jumping up from the table and screaming, “I won!”



4Q:  After reading The Story Behind the Story on your website, we note there are experiences in your life and those close to you that inspired your story. Would you care to share a bit about this?


JI: I began writing my book when I was going through a divorce and felt like I had failed at one of the biggest commitments of my life. It was important to me to dig deep and try to understand why I had chosen this person as my life partner when I knew he was an alcoholic. What I realized was that I had been carrying around a great deal of pain from my childhood and the fact that my father was an alcoholic and I married one must have had some correlation. This was one of the reasons I dug deep into the process of healing from childhood trauma which is the underlying theme of my debut novel. I also was fascinated by the huge impact that Fifty Shades of Grey had on women and the reawakening of their sexuality so I decided to make my protagonist a sex addict as well.



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


JI: It’s funny that you are asking this question since some of my book is loosely based on my life. While writing A Dress the Color of the Sky I dug deep into my childhood to understanding how I ended up the way I am but more importantly what processes needed to happen in order to unwind the unwanted baggage I had carried into my adult life. If I had to pick one memory from my childhood it would be spending time with my mom. She had a great sense of humor and a contagious laugh which was like a burst of sunshine in even the toughest of situations.



4Q: Your website mentions your follow-up novel, yet to be published, A Dress the Color of the Moon. What can you share about this novel with us?


JI: I recently submitted the final draft of A Dress the Color of the Moon to my literary agent who is in the process of putting the pitch package together. I’m hopeful that the stand-alone sequel will be picked up by a publisher and perhaps they will also pick up my first book, re-cover and re-release. The sequel begins when Prudence checks out of rehab and follows her and a few of the characters from the first book as they journey through their post-rehab life. The story moves from third person to first person and back and forth in time so I definitely took on a complex story structure for my second book! There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns as the reader learns more about a few of the characters including who stays on course, and who doesn’t. There is a movie called The Big Chill in which a few old college friends gather for a funeral. In Moon there is a similar premise in which the characters all gather for the funeral of someone who committed suicide in rehab which happened in book one. I dig deeper into who she was and how the suicide affected each of the characters.



4Q: Favorite authors or novels?


JI: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. I love a good story about overcoming hardships and the strength of the human spirit.



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


JI: I would like to thank you for helping indie published authors like myself spread the word about our books!


** You’re most welcome, Jennifer. Talented authors, like yourself, are what makes the Scribbler so interesting.


A Dress the Color of the Sky.

Book Summary:


For too many years, Prudence Aldrich has been numbing the pain in her life with random sexual encounters. Her marriage to cold, self-centered Nick is, not surprisingly, on the rocks. But after several dangerous experiences with strangers, Prudence finally realizes she needs therapy to stop her self-destructive behavior, and so she checks into the Serenity Hills rehab center.


Prudence blames herself for her irresponsible behavior and is filled with self-loathing. She’s convinced she is completely at fault for Nick’s manipulative attitude and believes with therapy, she can return their relationship to its idyllic beginnings. However, her therapist and the other members of her rehab group see the person behind the pain. As Prudence learns for about herself and the reasons for her behavior, including startling revelations about her childhood, she begins to understand the basis for her lack of sexual self-respect. She also learns she is not entirely to blame for the failure of her marriage. With the positive reinforcement of everyone at Serenity Hills, Prudence learns not to define herself by her past. But moving forward would mean letting go of Nick for good, and Prudence isn’t sure she can.





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

For you readers that would like to know more about Jennifer and her novel, please follow these links:


Don't be shy,