Friday 29 April 2016

4Q Interview with John Nicholl of West Wales, UK.

Do you like psychological thrillers? Meet John Nicholl - master of suspense!
John Nicholl is our featured artist for this month’s 4Q Interview. John lives in West Wales, UK, and is the author of two successful psychological suspense thrillers. He has worked as a police officer and child protection social worker. His novels draw on his professional experience. His debut novel – White is the Coldest Colour – reached Amazon’s top 100 list in just fifteen days. The Scribbler is very pleased to have him as a guest. His link is listed below.


4Q: Please tell us about yourself and when did you start writing?

JN: I wrote a multi-agency child protection guide, and pertinent articles for newspapers and magazines during my career, but ‘White is the Coldest Colour' was my first novel. I retired early from my post heading up child protection services in west Wales due to health problems, and had a good deal of spare time. I began writing the book one day to see if I could. I found myself enjoying the process, and it progressed from there. It’s proved to be a steep learning curve, but well worth the effort. If anyone out there is thinking of writing a book, I’d encourage them to give it a go.

4Q: Please tell us a bit about your novels and why you chose to write suspense stories?

JN: Both books are written from experience. I dealt with a great many traumatic cases during my twenty or so years as a social worker, and the writing has been somewhat cathartic. The first book focuses on child abuse, and the professionals who spend their working lives striving to protect the vulnerable, often against the odds; whilst the second focuses on physical and psychological domestic violence towards women. The novels are primarily intended as entertaining dark suspense thrillers, but if they raise awareness of, and the understanding of these important social issues, I will be grateful for that. 

4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory with us.

JN:  I wasn't expecting that one, but here goes! Memories don’t come in straight lines, and my mind if full of stories from the past, most happy, but some less so.  One incident that resonates from the past happened in my tenth year, when I was enjoying a sun drenched family holiday in Grand Canaria with my mum and dad.  I was in and out of the hotel pool on a regular basis, enjoying splashing around and interacting with friends of similar age. I thought nothing of it when a woman in her thirties reached out towards me with an angst expression on her face, as I swam to and fro. What she hadn't realized was that the pool got significantly deeper at a certain unmarked point. What I hadn't realized was that she couldn't swim. The woman came towards me with flailing arms and kept coming. She then proceeded to try and save herself by placing her hands on top of my head, and pushing down hard, raising herself above the water, but forcing me under. I fought to break the surface and breathe repeatedly, before being pushed back under again and again and again. After what seemed like an age, I managed to break free of her grip, and pulled her to safety by one of her arms. Even now, I’m surprised that she didn't bother thanking me. Oh well, c’est la vie!

4Q: What’s next for John Nicholl and what are you reading right now?

JN: I’m about a third of the way into writing a third novel, which tells the story of a young woman who is abducted and imprisoned by a depraved serial killer.  I can’t put a firm date on it at the moment, but I hope to have it available by the end of September 2016. I’ve received a recent offer from an American publisher, but I’m likely to remain independent as I enjoy total creative control. With that said, never say never. It’s also worth mentioning that ‘White is the Coldest Colour’ is currently being produced as an audio book. I’ve listened to the first chapter, and a brilliant young actor named Jake Urry is doing a tremendous job of the narration. It should be available to purchase sometime in May 2016.

I’m currently reading Kiss Kiss, a series of short stories written by Roald Dhal. If you’re a fan of dark psychological fiction with a twist, this is as good as it gets.


An Excerpt from When Evil Calls your Name.
Copyright is owned by the author. Used by permission.

                        Chapter 1
                     Sunday 5, February 1995
I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour, trying to figure out where to begin: my name, perhaps, my location at the time of writing possibly, how I ended up in this miserable human dumping ground in the first place. Maybe, the awful entirety? Yes, that makes sense. If I’m going to tell you my story, why hold anything back. I’ve got absolutely nothing to hide. It’s all a matter of public record anyway. What would be the point in trying?
  This isn’t going to be easy, but I think it’s probably best if I introduce myself right now and get it over with. Please try to keep an open mind if you saw the numerous news reports relating to my case. Not everything they said was true. Not by a long shot.
  Well, enough prevarication, here goes, time to bite the bullet, as the old saying goes… my name’s Cynthia. Do you think that’s sufficient, or do you require a surname? People often do for some reason. I suppose I may as well tell you now, and be done with it: Cynthia Galbraith. That’s been my allocated label since my marriage to that man. So now do you understand my initial reticence? It was Jones, Cynthia Jones, before that. It’s who I used to be. Someone I once was. A stranger from a distant far-off land I can never visit again. But then, I guess we all live in the shadow of the past to varying degrees.
  I’m twenty-nine years old, by the way. I was twenty-six when I arrived here. That’s three long years. Time tends to pass rather slowly here. No, that’s understating the case, agonisingly slowly is more like it! Yes, agonising describes it very nicely.
  But I’m getting ahead of myself. I can hear you saying it. Shouting it conceivably? Or is that just my notoriously overactive imagination playing tricks on me again? That wouldn’t surprise me. I get a lot of things wrong and make a great many mistakes. He told me that time and time again. It seems, such things define me.
  Give me a second. Deep breaths Cynthia, deep breaths…  I’m writing this in
my prison cell. There, I’ve said it! A dingy eight-foot by six-foot enclosure illuminated by intrusive overly bright, fluorescent-strip lighting that buzzes constantly, and only serves to highlight how truly ghastly every inch of this fucking place truly is.


My sincere apologies for the profanity, I hope you’re not offended. I found my fellow prisoners regular use of ‘colourful’ language hard to accept when I first arrived, but it’s amazing what you can get used to.  And anyway, surely it’s just a word, a collection of letters, like all the other words in this good, bad and indifferent world of ours. What do you think? Tell me, please, I’ll try not to take any criticism personally. Obsession, control, bitch, murder, life. It seems words can be emotive after all. What on earth was I thinking? I should understand that more than most. Words can hurt. They can have a substantial impact on our psyche. They certainly did on mine.
  But, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Now, where was I? I need to press rewind and focus if I’m going to do my story justice. Oh, yeah, I was telling you about my cell. I’ve already told you the size. Small, that sums it up. Claustrophobic? Most certainly, but I shouldn’t complain. Some say I deserve to be here. The judge clearly thought so, given the length of my sentence. And then there were the newspapers. I recall reading the Daily Mail at the time of my trial. An evil woman, that’s how they put it. An evil woman! It sticks in my mind and eats away at me like a rabid dog. Not an easy thing to read about myself, to be honest. I hadn’t thought of myself in that way until then. Stupid, yes, inadequate, yes, but evil? It was strange really: some journalists seemed to see me as villain, and others as an unfortunate victim of circumstance who rose from the ashes like a phoenix from the flames to smite my oppressor. How can different people, seemingly intelligent people, writers and the like, interpret the exact same events so very differently? I’ve given it a great deal of thought over the years without reaching an adequate resolution. You should make your own mind up. I think that’s probably best. Perhaps one fine day you can provide me with an answer. I’d really appreciate it, if you could.

  And back to the cell. I’ll try my best not to go off at a tangent this time, promise. White peeling paint on walls pockmarked with multiple spots of black and blue mould, like a Jackson Pollock painting I like to think. A vivid imagination is a definite advantage in this place. It’s my only means of escape when the walls close in on me. And then there’s the bunk beds, of course. Not very comfortable, there’s no denying that, but a lot of innocent people put up with a lot worse. There’s a great many homeless people in this increasingly socially diverse country of ours. What have they done to deserve their fate?
  Mine’s the top bunk, by the way. That’s truly significant here, it’s the prison world equivalent of residing in Chelsea or Mayfair. Does that make any sense at all in your very different world? Well, yes or no, I’ve earned it after almost three years. Only thirteen more to go. Unlucky for some, eh? Unlucky for me, that’s for sure!
  I share my cell with Gloria, a skinny nineteen-year-old girl with fashionable short cropped dark-brown hair and a much older name. We’ve got nothing and everything in common, and very little to say to each other most of the time. We share occasional pleasantries, that’s true. She asks me for tampons, toothpaste, toilet paper and other necessities on a fairly regular basis, and she moans about the guards from time to time. But then, who doesn’t? It’s the national pastime in these parts. Most of them are okay, to be honest. The majority are just here to do a job, to pay the bills, and do the best they can within the confines of their role. But then there’s the others: a seemingly different species, the right bastards who seem to take infinite pleasure in making my life as miserable as feasibly possible at every conceivable opportunity. They’re the sort of people who like to pull the wings off butterflies. It seems there are good and bad people in all walks of life. I knew one of the worst, a monster, a man devoid of empathy or virtue, but it’s far too soon for that. I’m not ready to address that particular topic just yet.

Thank you John for sharing on the Scribbler.  We wish you continued success with your writing journey. Lear more about this talented author and his novels here:

Next week's post is to be announced later this weekend, watch for it!

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Friday 22 April 2016

Guest Author & Poet Judy Savoie of Grand Barachois, NB.

This week's post is a First for the Scribbler with a collection of poetry from our talented guest. .

Judy Savoie was born in Fredericton, N.B. and began writing poetry at an early age. This pursuit continued into her early 20’s when she became a technical writer at the University. She co-authored a learning directory after graduating from U.N.B. with a BBA and didn’t return to creative writing again until 2011, a traumatic year of personal illness, divorce and the loss of her stepfather.

Judy was able to turn difficulty into productivity by expressing her emotions through writing. While adapting to these many changes, she took an array of workshops to hone her writing skills. During the summer of 2012 at a cottage in Shediac, she spent an intense week of writing and meditation.

Judy is the author of two books. Her first, titled ‘Serendipity’ was launched in 2015 and is a collection of poetry, prose and song lyrics. It expresses a love of music, photography and nature; all elements that are nurtured by life spent near the beauty of the ocean. 

Her second book project, ‘All About Hats’ was completed in 2016 after much research and collaborates personal experience with a life-long passion for hats. Though lighthearted, it presents interesting stories, poetry and historical facts that demonstrate the influential role that hats have played in affecting all world cultures for countless centuries.

During the time that she undertook a summer hat business, her partner challenged her to write a book about ‘Hats’. After deciding to answer this challenge, she began her research and within four months the book was printed. Both books are available on the internet ( or at various venues in Moncton where books are being sold. A third book that blends new poetry, songs and photographs is in the making and will be completed in the very near future.

 Judy is a member of the Writers Federation of New Brunswick, the ‘Shediac Writers Group’ located in Shediac, NB and is a participant of a group in Grand Barachois called ‘Women Who Write’.  

A major inspiration for her songwriting is derived from her partner, Gilbert Babin who is a talented musician/composer. Exposure to music that encompasses Acadian, Folk, Celtic, Jazz and Spanish has helped her to transfer from expressing herself in poetry to crafting lyrics for music composed by her partner; a transition that has been both immediate and seamless. She wrote fifteen songs for this new venue during the first year and another ten have been composed since that initial flurry of writing. Although she had never sung in a serious way, she discovered that she enjoyed doing so when Gilbert recorded her voice. This fulfilling collaboration was extended when they made a c.d. together that was included in Judy’s first book, ‘Serendipity’. Last year Judy held three book launches and accompanied by her partner, sang publicly for the first time.
Copyright is held by the author. Used by permission.


Faded photograph.
The young stranger that I see.
He has disappeared,
and only these tattered pictures remain. 
Yet I know this gentle man,
With tanned skin and deep wrinkles on his forehead.
This quiet man who molds who I am today.
Who others portrayed as a villain.           
I see an intensity in his eyes:
another country, another culture.
A familiar place I have not been to. 
I long to know that truth,
the dreams and aspirations of his youth,
before the damage done to him in the war. 
I study the image,
the faded black and white.
He is handsome,
slim like I remember him.
Carefree, quiet, lonesome. 
A bicycle at his side, a teepee-like hut in the foreground,
he blows into his harmonica. 
It's like the wind that woke me this morning,
or the train passing through the backyard bedroom window
of my childhood home. 
I know now.
he is here, somewhere.
Dune Shadows 
What were these grains?
Fossil, animal, human? 
Feel them with us.
Each speck of dust,
Gently caressing us. 
The ghosts of our past
Want us to know
Their history, legends, knowledge. 
They are forever with us
In a different form,
Watching, whispering,
In the depths of our consciousness. 
I arrive home,
Shake the sand from my garment,
Spray my feet with running water.
The bubbles tickle my toes
And I watch the sand swirl
down the drain. 
A vague feeling overcomes me.
I am clean but saddened at the realization.
I quietly reply goodbye,
To what very well could be part of me.
Little Bird (Fanny Power)
There was a young girl, her name was Fanny,
Her spirit so open, and light and free.
She knew in her heart, she was meant to be,
Patiently waiting his plea. 
Nearby, a boy, who could not see.
He never saw light, but he felt her glee.
He knew in his heart, where he wanted to be.
To live in her eternal beauty. 
Come little bird, come little bird, come little bird,
Come little bird, come little bird.
With you I shall flee,
Teach me to fly,
Soar with me high,
Until we shall die. 
One afternoon she lost her way,
She flew to the end of the earth to play.
She lost all her senses that very day.
Because he was too far away. 
His powerful thoughts were of her each May.
He missed her so deeply, he had to pray.
Her image was in him, was meant to stay.
A feather fell to the ground that day. 
Come little bird, come little bird, come little bird,
Come little bird, come little bird.
With you I shall flee,
Teach me to fly,
Soar with me high,
Until we shall die. 
Many years later, a man on the beach,
He plays his guitar in solace and peace,
His beautiful music, her ears they do reach,
She writes words that her soulmate can teach.

Smelt Cabins 
Randomly scattered
Square boxes.
Delicately placed
on a crystal platform.
Reflections below
are accentuated
By  the horizontal peach beam above.
Another breathtaking optical illusion
A gaze shifts to the left,
Two trucks, one cabin and one post,
Pose on the glassy surface.
On the opposite side,
the sun blazes,
As it fires up the sky.
The wharf’s silhuoette recalls memories
while it stares in stillness
Of moments below.
The brilliance gradually dims.
Then disappears.
As suddenly as it came.
We are left to marvel in the smoke.
Divine Reality
A vision of mind, a mission of heart,
Holds them together, yet tears them apart.
Though oceans away, through veins pump a youth,
Heart beats of legends, lost ashes is truth. 
The future amidst, a flurry of now,
Pasts soon are forgotten, none left to endow.
Will ever it change, fate being misled?
With eternal sun, their souls will be fed. 
When smoke disappears, then what will remain?
Remnants with nothing to prove what was gained.
My favourite hat story was at my mother’s private wedding ceremony to her partner of 30 years. My mother was married in September, one month before her partner passed away. It was a day of mixed emotions as everyone knew he had very little time left after a brave fight with cancer. My youngest son, 11 years old at the time, showed up at the small ceremony wearing a vintage top hat, dating back to the late-1800s to early 1900s, which my best friend had loaned him for the day. The strange part was that she had purchased the hat at an estate auction, and it happened to be my new step-dad’s late-father’s hat! My step-dad, his sister and his brother-in-law were delighted. Despite the fact that no one at the wedding was a hat person (except me), the boys and men alike took their turns wearing the top hat. I fervently took photos of their fun as they smiled from ear to ear. It was among one of the highlights of the day, fragile moments almost frozen in time, which somehow eased the sadness of knowing we were to lose someone very special soon.


Thank you Judy for being the guest this week on the Scribbler. Visit Judy's Facebook page. here
Watch next week when the Scribbler hosts John Nicholl of Wales for the 4Q Interview and an excerpt from one of his psychological thriller novels.

Friday 15 April 2016

Guest Author Regina Puckett of Tennessee

Regina Puckett is an accomplished author  with her sweet romance Concealed in My Heart, steampunk book I Will Breathe, children’s picture book, Borrowed Wings, her poem Memories and book of poetry, Fireflies,  have all received awards of note.

She writes sweet romance, horror, steampunk, inspirational, picture books and poetry. There are always several projects in various stages of completion and characters and stories waiting in the wings for their chance to finally get out of her head and onto paper.

Copyright for the following excerpt is owned by the author and is used by permission.

Finding Libertry

Chapter One

When the airship entered the valley, Aapeli leaned over the railing to get a better view.  He never grew tired of looking at the pristine lake that took up much of the valley floor. It was the main water source for everyone who lived within a thirty-mile radius – the good and the bad. Stately pine and oak trees snuggled up close to the edge of the mountain, creating a wonderful hiding place for anyone interested in stealing his airship or killing him.

“Looks good so far.” He didn’t know when he had taken to talking to himself but took comfort in the fact there was no one here to witness it. Sometimes he just liked hearing a voice – any voice. The daily solitude was a way of life and had been for many years, but there were times he missed sharing ideas and words with someone else. It didn’t help knowing he was heading toward the loneliest place in the world - The Forbidden Lands.

Aapeli adjusted his goggles and leaned even farther over the railing, ever vigilant for what might be hiding in the forest. The nearby caves were supposedly inhabited by men who loved killing for the simple sport of it. The rumors were they ate their victims. In his twenty years of stopping at the foot of the mountains to refill the water tanks, there had never been any indication that these tales about the cave-dwellers were true.

It was quite possible the tall tales were just that – tall tales, but it didn’t hurt to keep a sharp lookout just in case there was some grain of truth in them. The last thing he wanted was to wind up on a roasting stick. It would certainly have been far safer to refill his water tanks elsewhere, but Big Lake was the nearest source of water before heading over the mountains into the Forbidden Lands.

Satisfied that all was well, Aapeli ran over to the helm and checked all the gauges before pulling a lever that sent a plume of steam into the air. Slowly but surely the airship began its descent. It skimmed over the tops of the trees before settling onto the bank of the lake.

 Aapeli patted Airus’s helm. “Way to go, girl. Another perfect landing.” A couple of turns on a large brass wheel lowered the anchor until he felt it hit the ground. To make certain it was secure he tugged it a couple of times before throwing the water hoses over the starboard side. Not wanting to lose his hat or goggles, he carried them over and set them down on the captain’s chair. They had belonged to his father, and to his grandfather and great-grandfather, so he felt it his duty to protect them.

Satisfied everything was secure, Aapeli lowered the ladder but then sat with one leg over the railing, casting a cautious eye over the area one more time. A flock of birds flew out of the trees closest to the lake.  He held his breath and listened for any unusual sounds, and when none came he rubbed his pocket watch for good luck before heading down.

Aapeli had nearly reached the bottom rung when an eerie wailing cut across the lake’s usual silence.  He halted, mid-step, and chills ran down his spine.

“What the hell?” Every sense snapped to full alert, and without thinking, he slipped the small handgun out of his jacket pocket before jumping the rest of the way to the ground. The lush, green grass assured a quiet landing.

Another cry filled the air, and he flattened himself against the ship and cocked the pistol. An unnerving silence then settled over the lake, somehow more alarming than the wailing.

Which direction had the high pitched sound come from? It was tempting to pull up anchor and get the hell out of here, but that would have meant backtracking to Little Lake. Damn. Totally unacceptable. It would set him back at least a couple of days. Not such a big deal any other time of the year but winter was quickly approaching. The delay could easily make the return trip over the mountaintop as dangerous as hell. The wind currents were unpredictable once freezing temperatures reached those higher altitudes. The added threat of snow was also a worry. Any extra weight would make Airus sluggish.

Another wail ripped through the stagnant air.

The smart thing would have been to get out of here for the crying had clearly drawn someone else’s attention.

“Shit.” To hell with being smart. Maybe someone needed his help, and so Aapeli stepped ahead, scanning the area again.

Something about the crying troubled him. It sounded more like a child’s sob than that of a man or woman. Was this one of the tricks the mountain men used to entice their victims?

“What are you going to do?  Shit or get off the pot?  Some mountain man is out there licking his chops, hoping you’re stupid enough to run right into his arms.” But none of the stories he had heard over the years had ever led him to believe the cave-dwellers were smart enough to pull such a trick.


“What the hell?”  It wasn’t possible for a grown man to disguise his voice enough to sound that much like a little girl. He stopped, stood on his toes and strained to see over the tall grass. He couldn’t chance it really was a child. How long before the cries drew the attention of someone looking for an easy meal?

“You can’t stand here all day.” With no firm plan in mind, Aapeli took off running, silently cursing himself with each step. He was a damn fool for taking such a chance and was probably going to wind up in someone’s soup pot tonight.

Keeping the pistol ready, Aapeli stopped every couple of steps to check around, in case someone had maneuvered themselves between him and his airship. When he turned to look ahead again, a movement at the tree line caught his eye.

Anger replaced apprehension. What kind of fool left their child alone in such a dangerous place? Aapeli ran across the open field toward the edge of the trees and stopped a few feet from the child, peering into the dense underbrush to make certain there was no one there waiting to attack. As best he could tell, they seemed to be alone and so he quietly approached the girl. 

Her big eyes watched his every movement so he slowly knelt in front of her, trying not to spook her. Her curly, red hair was filthy and matted. Tears had washed some of the grime off her face. A river of snot ran from her nose and dripped from her chin. Where was her mother? He looked over his shoulder at Airus and wondered what to do. He couldn’t very well leave her here without any protection but he couldn’t take her with him either.

“This is a damn fine mess,” Aapeli mumbled to himself as he scooted in closer.

With an innocent expression of curiosity, the girl eyed the shiny pistol before reaching out to touch it. Before she could, Aapeli put on the safety catch and slipped it into his duster pocket.

The little girl was no longer crying but was now drawing in ragged breaths.

“Where’s your mommy?”

She slipped a thumb into her mouth and hiccupped.

Before he could question her further, a shrill yell bounced down the mountainside. This time there was no mistaking the fact that danger was heading their way. Aapeli looked up toward the caves, seeing a mass of dark dots speeding toward the valley floor. He scooped up the little girl and took off running. Calmly, with each step, he mentally clicked off what needed to be done before takeoff.

The trip up the ladder took less time than it did down. Once onboard, Aapeli swiped his hat and goggles off the captain’s chair and there deposited the child. He vaguely noted that her tears had stopped and her big eyes watched him with interest, not fear. Sensing she could probably use some reassurance, he quickly patted the top of her head before running over and spinning the wheel that hauled up the anchor. That done, he dashed over to the portside and pulled up the ladder until it was all safely back on deck.

Feeling more secure now that no one could climb on board, Aapeli took a moment to look out at the herd of men rapidly running toward the airship. With them all bunched up and on each other’s heels it was hard to tell how many there were, maybe some twenty to thirty. By now they were at the furthest edge of the lake and heading in his direction.

“Damnation!” Aapeli checked that the little girl was still in the captain’s chair. She hadn’t moved but was sucking her thumb – a mystery sitting there that would have to wait to be solved after they were out of danger. Now at the helm, he increased the speed on the friction engine and opened the steam vent to release hot air into the balloon.

Even though the engine was running on it highest setting, it was an excruciating wait for the airship to lift off. Aapeli pulled out his pistol and looked over the railing. The crazed mob was now beating on the sides of Airus with their bare hands and large sticks.

Aapeli shook his head. If that was all they had, they were going to leave here disappointed. Since he had built Airus, he knew exactly how much punishment it could take and a few rocks and sticks were useless against its seasoned cedar planking.

He couldn’t decide whether to be afraid or amused at the sight of the ragtag mob. They were grabbing whatever they could and throwing it at the airship, as if that would be enough to stop it from taking off. Most of the missiles fell harmlessly to the ground but every now and then some would land onto the heads of those below. Of course that only stirred them into a more fevered pitch, but thankfully to no avail. Airus slowly gained altitude and climbed out of reach, the rocks and sticks no longer clattering against its hull.

Aapeli grinned and waved. The smile was all for show because their crazed growls and hoarse screams had unnerved him more than he wanted to admit. No doubt they would have torn him and the little girl into tiny pieces if they had gotten their hands on them.

Slipping the pistol back into his coat pocket, he returned to the helm and increased the steam pressure. He looked at the dirty little girl and sighed. Shit. What was he going to do with her? She was sucking on her thumb still but with renewed vigor, though there was no fear in her big brown eyes - only curiosity.

Lost for what to do or say, he again patted the top of her head. Her face lit up with a huge smile.

Before he turned back to the airship’s controls, he knelt in front of the captain’s chair, again hoping to reassure her. “I’ll stop by Shatter’s. I bet if anyone knows who you belong to, it’s him.”  That brought another bright smile. Someone was surely looking for this beautiful little girl. If she was his daughter, he would never stop searching until he’d found her.

With a new mission now before him, Aapeli headed Airus toward the local trading post.


 Thank you Regina for sharing your clever writing on the Scribbler.  Please visit her website below for more connections.


Please drop by next week when The Scribbler will feature Author and Poet Judy Savoie of Shediac, New Brunswick with a collection of poems.