Saturday, 22 January 2022

The Story Behind the Story with MJ LaBeff of Arizona.


One of our most popular guests is back for The Story Behind the Story.

MJ LaBeff writes terrific thrillers and I’m a big fan of her work. If you missed her previous visits, check them out HERE.


Hi Allan! Thank you for inviting me back as a guest on the Scribbler. It’s always fun to share what I’m working on- even if a release date isn’t anywhere in sight!

***It’s always a pleasure to have you as a guest, MJ. Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your newest work.


Bio: MJ LaBeff is an American author best described as the girl-next-door with a dark side. MJ grew up in northeastern Ohio but traded snow for sunshine and moved to southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She’s drawn to writing suspense novels, featuring complicated characters and twisted plot lines that will keep readers turning page after page. When she’s not writing or plotting her next novel, MJ enjoys reading, running, lifting weights, and volunteering for the American Cancer Society.


Working Title: Murdered Last Summer (book 6 of the Last Cold Case series)


 Synopsis: I’m not invisible…

Someone is killing Snug Harbor, Ohio’s most vulnerable residents. A serial killer prowls the streets in search of drug addicts. There are three victims in one week—a drug addiction specialist, a down-on-her-luck former teacher, a recovering drug addict. Unlike the overdoses plaguing the city, this time the killer removes the victims’ eyes. Does the signature have meaning? That’s what homicide detective Rachel Hood, a psychic empath and FBI agent Nick Draven, an occult crimes specialist need to find out before more people die.

You look…

The killer sends a string of messages. An envelope addressed HOOD contains a photo of two boys. An undercover detective goes silent. Another woman is murdered.

But you don’t see me…

This victim haunts homicide detective Rachel Hood. The woman’s spirit seeks forgiveness but all she conveys to Rachel are these two words: see me. Rachel suffers through this unidentified woman’s pain putting her through the rigors of the addict’s hell on earth.

The story behind the story:

There are two that inspired this story. The first one came from a friend many years ago about a child who had brought drug paraphernalia to school for show and tell, and the second from a news story I caught one morning about a child who had gone to school and told a teacher about the parents drug use.

I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about how irresponsible the parents were and the tragic conditions they were raising their children. However, I also started to think about the possibility that these parents’ could’ve been decent, hard-working people who fell victims to drugs, maybe through no fault of their own.

Next came the: what ifs? What if a child brought drugs to school and confided in a teacher for help. What if that teacher had drug problems? What if the teacher became the parent’s newest customer? What if the parent’s weren’t as decent as I imagined? What if there was a toddler in the home that died as a result of living in a place where drugs were carelessly left out? What if the children felt let down by the teacher and the police? After all, these were people they had counted on for help. How would that affect them in later years?

Before I knew it a story began to develop about two boys who relied on each other but as young adults were on very different paths.

This common theme arose: what happens when the people you think you can trust the most are the ones you learn to trust the least. I thought about the people I was told to trust as a kid if I needed help or was in trouble. What if all of them had failed me in my eyes?

As I started writing about halfway through I started to think about the boy’s mom. What was she like? What did she do? Did she care for her children? What happened to their father? That was easy. I incarcerated him. A death in the home led to his conviction and sentence. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so that’s all I’ll say about it.

Now, you might be thinking you know who the serial killer is, but do you? Nope. You wanna know why? I haven’t even decided who has gone on this killing spree. There are so many wonderful characters with so many reasons to commit murder, and if you’ve read any of my other books you know how much I love to create clouds of suspicion around everyone being investigated.  

A Question for you, MJ, before you go.

What is your most favorite part and least favorite part about publishing?


MJ: My favorite part about self-publishing is the control I maintain when it comes to deadlines and release dates. My least favorite part about self-publishing is the control I maintain, LOL! Seriously, the one thing about self-publishing that I don’t enjoy is that I’m responsible for setting several deadlines, assembling a team responsible for editing, formatting, and designing cover art and then I’m the one releasing the book via Draft2Digital and Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). 

Now, I’m the one driving the schedule. I’ve always taken my writing seriously so meeting deadlines has never been an issue I’m highly self-motivated and full of determination. The writing is the fun part. I do miss having a publisher who set the deadlines and provided the team of professionals. At my core, I’m a writer and if I’m being honest I don’t have any interest in learning how to format a manuscript, and I’m definitely not an artist so designing a book cover is a hard no. When it comes to editing I find it much harder to edit my own writing so I’ll trust that to someone else, too. For what it’s worth, my manuscripts are pretty clean but as writing goes there’s always something!



Thanks again, Allan, I always have so much fun chatting it up with you on Scribbler! I’m also a fan of your books and especially enjoy the Jo Naylor detective series and your short story collections. You’ve inspired me to give writing a short story a try, but I don’t have the time just yet.


***Your kind words and support is very much appreciated. Wishing you continued success with your writing. When you get around to the short story, I know it will be good! Thanks again for being here.

Do you, my wonderful readers, like thrillers? What is your favorite genre?

Saturday, 15 January 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Zuzanne Belec of the Czech Republic.


Hello to all our fantastic readers and visitors.

This week the Scribbler is pleased to have our first guest from the Czech Republic. We met on Twitter and discovered we both have an affinity for short stories.

Let’s welcome Zuzanne.


Who is Zuzanne Belec?

Zuzanne was lucky enough to grow up in the school of life that is the stunning South Africa. She has two wonderful daughters and now lives a peaceful life near Prague, Czech Republic, with her supportive partner.  She worked as a translator and interpreter for many years. Then she discovered writing… Zuzanne also enjoys travelling, languages, and learning from other cultures (and trying out their interesting dishes!).



Layers: A Collection of Short Stories



Eight short stories on the power of the human spirit around the world.

Layers is a collection of original and imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness and will leave a lingering impression long after the pages have been read.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today's fast-paced world. 



The Story Behind the Story:

I confess that I did not read a lot. And until recently, the idea of creative writing never occurred to me. I was too busy trying to take care of my girls, get through university, and maintain some semblance of home for myself and my family.

Then I discovered creativity! It was in my late forties, after winding down on the doctor’s orders. And I was bowled over!

I began reading again. I immersed myself in the beautiful, surreal world of writing–learning and practicing the craft for several years. It came as a shock when two of my short stories were then accepted by traditional publishers (two Canadian literary magazines), because I’d always thought that publishing was only for the gods. Once I realized (thanks also to Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft) that even regular folk can become good writers if they’re passionate enough about it and willing to practice hard, I knew that I will one day publish a book of my own–which I did about a year later. Publishing Layers: A Collection of Short Stories was both exciting, and scary, but with the support of my friends and family, I overcame the challenges (especially on the tech side, or learning about and hopping on the social media train–something I’d avoided like the plague till then).



Why do I write short stories in particular? Because life is short. Because I believe that when our time comes, we won’t go remembering the entire length of one’s life, or its long narratives, but what will impact us more are the deeper, key nuances of our lives. And it is that depth–that essence–which I enjoy capturing through my stories. I write short stories also for practical reasons because, as a late bloomer, I might not have those ‘10 000 hours of writing needed to master the craft properly.’ So while the short form sure is difficult, learning and practicing it goes a longer way for me.  Oh, and the short attention span might also have something to do with my choice too…

I am grateful for the trials and tribulations of life, for the lessons learnt from Mother Nature, for the opportunities to travel, to all the interesting people I’ve met, and for the support of the writing community–thank you all for the motivation and for inspiring my stories. A big thank you too, Allan, for inviting me onto your blog.

*** You are most welcome Zuzanne. It's a pleasure to have you as a guest

So, remember: it’s never too late! There is still much to learn and do, but there’s no stopping us now that we’ve found our passion in life, right? If you’ll excuse me now though, I have some dire catching up to do … ;o)





A question before you go, Zuzanne.

What is your most favorite part and least favorite part about publishing?


Zuzanne: This may sound somewhat clich├ęd, but what I enjoy most about self-publishing is being in charge of my own publishing process.

As interesting and exciting as self-publishing is, the time it takes to try plan out one’s own marketing is just darn frustrating. It takes up way too much of my writing time. This paradox is my least favourite part, for sure. But it’s a compromise an author starting out has to accept, I suppose, if one wants to take the self-publishing route. It is a constant and distracting battle to find a balance between the two, but it’s part of the learning curve, I suppose...

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


And a special thank you to all my visitors. The Scribbler would love to hear your comments. Don’t be shy. What is YOUR favorite book?

Saturday, 8 January 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Author Chuck Bowie of Fredericton, NB.


Starting the new year with our bold look, who better to have for our first guest with The Story Behind the Story than Chuck Bowie, a popular author and a true gentleman. He is sharing the news of his Work-in-Progress. He’s been here before. If you missed Chuck’s earlier interviews, guest post, start HERE.




Who is Chuck Bowie? 

Chuck has been writing for a while, but has happily settled into crafting mystery series these days; specifically Suspense-Thrillers and Cozy Mysteries. He has sat on the Boards of NB Writers’ Federation and The Writers’ Union of Canada, and is a fellow of the Kingsbrae International Residency for the Arts. He writes out of Fredericton, NB, when he is not travelling for fun and research.

Chuck is currently finishing up his eighth novel, a Cozy Mystery. His readers are used to experiencing thrillers under his author name, So when he finished his first Cozy, it was decided to reduce confusion as to what genre of mystery was being offered, and cozies would be presented as having been written by his pseudonym: Alexa Bowie.


Working Title :

Death Between the Decks is the third Cozy in the Old Manse Mysteries series, scheduled to drop this spring. Chuck writes the Cozy Mystery series under the pen name Alexa Bowie



Emma Andrews is finally settling into her adopted small Maritime town, and has decided she won’t return to her former home of Toronto except for visits. She attends a dockside reception of lawyers to keep her non-lawyer friend company, and while six lawyers cruise around the harbor, only five return alive. With the caterer in jail, Emma must convince the police (and herself) the caterer is innocent. But if she is correct, then the murderer must be a lawyer. Will the town’s lawyers conspire to band together, or will they seek the truth? And is Emma herself being targeted as the second victim?


The Story Behind the Story:

I’d been writing international suspense thrillers for years – and love writing them! – but the concept for a story kept niggling at me. What if I wrote a mystery where a small town, similar to the one I grew up in, was so charming and warm and, yes, so cozy that the town itself became a sort of character? Book one: Death Between the Walls was well received. It was loosely based on a construction demolition that revealed a skull hidden in the walls of an old inn. Book two was equally fun: Death Between the Tables, where I staged a murder to take place in front of most of the town’s police, fire, and EMTs. In Book three: Death Between the Decks, I wanted to pay homage to the river-bay water system that bisects the community in the series. The location…all fictional, I assure you!... is loosely based on the Miramichi River Valley area.




And a question for you, Chuck, before you go:


What is your most favorite part and least favorite part about publishing?


Chuck: Clearly this is a trick question! I began writing, well, to write, and publishing has been the necessary evil—joking!—to the process. I was fortunate to land with a trad publisher for my thriller series, and chose to independently publish for my cozy series. I guess I am a convert to the indie route, since all of my novels are now published under my own (microscopic) publishing arm: Old Manse Studios. The best part is the control I have with my novels, and the challenging part is marketing and promotion.

People write to be read. Publishing is the enabling mechanism. I receive great pleasure from having been read, so thank you, publishing universe!

Thank you for being our guest Chuck. Wishing you continued success.

Please leave a comment. Would love to hear what you think. Who is your favorite author?

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Happy New Year. A new look. Lots to look forward to in 2022.


Goodbye 2021.

Hello to a new year, new dreams, new horizons and all good things.
No looking back.

I have so much to be grateful for. A loving wife, a happy home, family, a roof over my head - a new one since we moved in November - lots to eat, dear friends...

Gloria Hudson.

 and you - my fantastic visitors and readers.

I said there would be changes to the Scribbler.
Besides the new color and layout, we are taking a new approach to our guest's visits.

The Story Behind the Story.

You will meet great authors, old and new, from all over the world.
They will share their latest work, or what they are working on.
A brief bio.
The story behind the story.
A question.
A link.

January 8th - Chuck Bowie of Fredericton, NB.

January 15th - Zuzanne Belec of the Czech Republic.

January 22 - MJ LaBeff of Arizona, US.

January 29th - Janet Sanford of Moncton, NB.

Yes, there will still be occasional interviews. There will be short stories, mine and others.


There will be new contributors. Nothing set yet but we are searching for anyone willing to share their thoughts, ideas or whatever.

Exciting news!

Today I am introducing you to my newest story and revealing the cover. 

I'm extremely happy about this story. I've been wanting to write it for a long time.

In 1942 everything is going good for Tanner Hill. He has a good job, two healthy sons and a wife who loves him. As he makes lots of extra cash with his moonshine, he can afford many luxuries his neighbours cannot. And he’s not worried about conscription.

However, he soon realizes good things do not last forever. One argument after church with a disgruntled man with revenge on his mind and Tanner’s world is turned upside down. Forced into making a choice, Tanner chooses to follow his brothers and enlists. He leaves for the fighting so far away as a private in the Royal Canadian Engineers.

It will be three years until Tanner returns home. It won’t be the same.

Available today as a eBook. Go HERE. Paperbacks coming soon.

Launch date and location - February 19th. 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Chapters Moncton.

Go HERE for more information.

I'm hoping to publish the next Jo Naylor adventure - Shattered Dreams - in April.

Jo leaves Thailand because it is not safe for her any longer. She can't go back to Canada yet. She's not certain where she will travel to but an image of the Eiffel Tower lures her to Paris. Jo has been a cop too long to ignore injustice and this time the bad people  picked on the wrong person.

(tentative title)

 A murder mystery set in World War II at Royal Canadian Air Force Station Scoudouc,
 New Brunswick. 

The base is gone now but it thrived  during the war. Pilots from England, Canada, Australia and New Zealand trained in tiger Moths.

The body was headless. Identification would be difficult, if not impossible.

There is more than one body.
Warrant Officer Stefan Kravchenko  has been ordered to solve the mystery and keep the police from getting involved. There are too many secrets on the base to have civilians nosing around. RCMP Officer Dia Francis thinks differently. 

.... and Volume 2 of The Alexanders. 1921 - 1930. 
In progress.

I'm looking forward to 2022. I think the dreaded Covid will become a memory. I have lots of time to write. I love sharing other peoples work with you.

Leave a comment if you like. Tell me your plans for 2022. Which mountain will you climb. Which project will you finally get to? Tell me your favorite author. Your favorite book.

Saturday, 25 December 2021

An interview with the Real Mrs. Claus.


The Scribbler was hoping to interview St. Nick again but the PR department at SC Enterprises has asked us to interview Mrs. Claus instead. Very little is known about her and the head elf in the PR Dept., Slipknot Boomside (people call him Slippy), felt it should change.


The last time we had the opportunity to speak with Santa was in December 2019. Due to the world-wide pandemic in 2020, we had to forego an interview with the man-in-red due to his hectic schedule. Preparations were unlike any other, so we did a recap of Santa’s interviews to the Scribbler last year. Have a peek HERE.


The Scribbler is more than pleased to have Mrs. Claus as our guest.. Wow. WE ARE IMPRESSED. What a lady. We didn’t know……..


Allan: So, Mrs. Claus….


Mrs. Clause: Oh please call me Svetlana. None of this Mrs. Claus stuff.


Allan: Um… okay, Svetlana. Nice name by the way. Sounds Russian. Before we get into the interview, let’s tell our readers about the photo above. The one Slippy from PR sent us. Titled - The New You. This is not the little old lady we’ve become accustomed to. You know, heavy set, the long dress, the ever-present apron, hair in a bun, granny glasses…


Svetlana: The image of the kindly, cookie making Mrs. Santa was a product of our PR department began in the early twentieth century, probably back around 1910 or so. There wasn’t a Mrs. Claus actually; it was all a figment of everyone’s imagination, from well know authors and poets who chose to romanticize the old guy. For the benefit of children everywhere and other true believers, it was felt he should be married. I mean, really, who would ever think a bachelor would be a Santa Claus, or Sinter Klass, as he was known back then. A female companion adds warmth, hominess, you know. But the twenty-first century calls for a new image and in this case, the real me.


Allan: Back in 2019 in Santa’s last interview, he mentioned how you two met, when you were a nurse. His description of you fits with the image above. How come you don’t age?


Svetlana: Ah, the mystery of the North Pole. No one ages here. We all get older but the beauty of youth lingers.


Allan: Like magic?


Svetlana: Not really magic, like pulling a rabbit from a top hat, or sleight of hand. It’s…; well it’s difficult to explain. It’s mystical…, dream-like. A moment in time and space where nothing changes. It really is quite beautiful.


Allan: Where are you from? Were you really a nurse, or is that part of the myth?


Svetlana: I’m from Siberia. My father was a reindeer herder, part of the Lapp community. I actually met Santa when I was only six. He was looking for reindeer to pull his sleigh. Oh gosh, he was so handsome. Oddly enough he took the reindeer with the shiny nose everyone had neglected. Of course, you’ve heard of him, Rudolph. When he left, he gave me a doll. I still have it. I moved to Australia when I was twenty. I wanted to heal people and truthfully, I was tired of the cold. And look at me now, back in the cold in the North Pole.

I was working the midnight shift when they brought him in.  He remembered me and asked about the doll. We fixed him up and poof, he disappeared. I knew we had worked on him for at least two hours and when he left, I checked the clock and only two minutes had gone by. Part of the mysticism I spoke of earlier. We’ve been together ever since.


Allan: I know this might be personal but do you and Santa still… you know…

***There is no response from Svetlana but the wide smile and blushing cheeks tells me enough.


Allan: Do you still bake cookies, look after the elves, and such?


Svetlana: Not any longer. When Santa stopped eating all the cookies and sweets people left for him, I mean he was getting so big and all the food made him sluggish, he couldn’t do anything for weeks after he returned. People took the hint and now they leave him money, so we are quite well off. We have the elves to look after the chores. I spend a lot of my time writing letters to the kids and sign Santa’s name. There are just too many for him. I spend time at my spa. I meet with women all over the world, especially those in need of support. I work hard for women’s rights and equality.


Allan: As Mrs. Clause?


Svetlana: No. As Svetlana Tsvetkova.  No connection to Santa at all.


Allan: Oh, you’re that Svetlana? I’ve heard of you and would’ve never known. Yes, you do wonders. Before we sign off Svetlana, is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?


Svetlana: Yes. To everyone, it is not enough to just ‘be good’ at Christmas time. You need to reach out to your fellow man and woman and commit yourself to at least one act of kindness each day.  Smile to strangers. Hold the door open, help the old person across the street, let someone cut in front of you, do something nice unexpectedly… just be nice all year round.


Thank you Svetlana… Mrs. Claus… for being our guest this week.


… and poof! – she disappears!




This, of course, is the last post of the year. I owe so much to many spectacular guests and to you, my dear readers. I need to thank many people for making 2021  great. I hope you all know I appreciate every one of you, from the bottom of my heart.

MJ LaBeff. Chuck Bowie. Steve Chiasson. Sally Cronin. Susan Toy. Marjorie Mallon, Angela Wren. Debby Geis. James Fisher. The Miramichi Reader.  Susan Jardine. Stephen Shortall. Leonard Shortall. Bernie & Jacinthe Blanchard. Paul Blanchard. The Seasonal Collective.  Lucille Robinson. Andy Gill. Cynthia Murray. John Roberts. Darlene Daigle. Lisa LeBlanc. Mill Cove Coffee. Chapters. Et al.


The next post will be January 1, 2022 and there are exciting changes coming to the Scribbler. A new format, new colors, new (and old favorite) guests. I’ll tell you more then.