Saturday 24 December 2016

What Happened and What's Next?

Christmas Eve Post!

Wishing you the merriest Christmas, the happiest holidays ever.

What a year it has been.

I would like to thank everyone that has visited the Scribbler over the last twelve months. whether it was for a few minutes or for many minutes, stopping by to meet my guests.

Readers from US, Canada, Russia, India, China, Ukraine, France, United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Germany, Belgium, Brazil, Australia and others.

Thank you to the tremendous authors and artists that have been kind enough to share their thoughts and work.

Authors from as far away as South Africa, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Tennessee, Florida,  Illinois, New York, Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and good ole New Brunswick.

2016 has been an incredible year for the Scribbler and myself personally.

What is truly exciting is what is coming this year. The Scribbler has a tremendous line-up of authors and artists as guests.

Beth Powning of Sussex, New Brunswick, author of The Sea Captain's Wife and A Measure of Light.

Seumas Gallacher of Abu Dhabi, author of the Jack Calder series.

Chuck Bowie, New Brunswick, author of the Sean Donovan - Thief for Hire - series

Sally Cronin of Great Britian

Tina Frisco of USA

Jane Simpson of New Brunswick

Renee Gauthier of Ontario

Diana Stevan of British Columbia

Victoria Hanlon of England.

And the list continues to grow...


Two consecutive weeks of over 1000 page views.

Over 20,000 visitors.

Good news!

My second novel - Wall of War is finally going to the editors in the New year and keeping my fingers crossed for publication in the late spring.

I've started working on my third novel which remains untitled at this time. It is an historical novel that begins in Scotland in 1911. Fate will bring Dominic Alexander to Canada and the shores of the East Coast where he will make his home. 

The plan is for a trilogy of the Alexander family beginning with Dominic and ending with my main character Drake Alexander, Dominic's grandson, almost a hundred years later.

*I've resurrected one of my favorite characters, detective Jo Naylor and will feature a serial based on one of my earlier short stories. (you can find it above on the Page bar). Should be fun. It is going to be a story that will continue over time and I'm hoping that there will be some reader feedback as you help me.

Finally I want to thank my family for their support, encouragement and love. I am a very lucky man. My beautiful wife Gloria, my son Adam, my stepsons Chris & Mark, their wives Mireille and Natalie and my precious grandchildren Matthieu, Natasha and Damian.

Saturday 17 December 2016

Guest Author Valerie Sherrard of Miramichi, NB.

Valerie Sherrard was born in 1957 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and grew up in various parts of Canada. Her father was in the Air Force so the family moved often, and was sent to live in Lahr, West Germany, when Valerie was in grades 6 and 7. It was there that a teacher encouraged her toward writing, although nearly three decades would pass before she began to pursue it seriously.

Valerie has made her home in New Brunswick since 1980. In 1985, her second child, Rebecca, died at the age of 19 months. This led her to a decision to foster children in need of homes and over the years she fostered approximately 70 adolescents for various lengths of time. Valerie also worked as the Director of a group home for teens for more than a decade. It was quite natural, in light of those experiences, that when she began to write in earnest, she wrote for young adults.

Valerie eventually gave up fostering and left her job at the group home and is now a full-time writer. She soon expanded her work to include picture books and middle novels as well, enjoying the challenges of writing for those age groups. To date, 25 of her books have been published.

This author’s work has been recognized on national and international levels and has been translated into several languages. As well, she has won or been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Governor General, the TD Children’s Literature, the Geoffrey Bilson, the Ann Connor Brimer, and many others.

Her bibliography and link are listed below.

Valerie Sherrard: Excerpt from Rain Shadow
                                                            Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.

Before the Beginning

My sister Mira is the sun and I am the moon. That is what she said to me one day. She meant it for mean, like when she tells me she is a jewel and I am a stone or she is a rose and I am a cabbage.

            When she says things like that I make a sad face. If I do that she laughs and tells me not to be gloomy because I cannot help being the way I am. Then she goes away and stops buzzing in my ear like an angry bee. The truth is, I do not mind the idea of being a stone or a cabbage.

Jewels are nice with their colour and shine. But I think stones are more interesting. Holding a stone can make you feel peaceful and calm. Some stones are mysterious, with lines and drawings in them. It is a mistake to ever think a stone is not worth looking at.

Or cabbages. Have you seen a cabbage grow from the first tiny leaves all the way to a perfect round ball of green? They are beautiful, and also delicious when Mother cooks them into a boiled dinner, or cabbage rolls or sauerkraut to go with the sausages the butcher makes.

But the moon! Of all the things Mira says I am like that is my favourite one. She is welcome to be the sun if she likes. That is fine with me. The sun has one face for every day. Even on days when the sky is full of clouds, the sun is there behind them, round and orange. It does not change.

The moon is never the same. Sometimes, the moon is a soft white ball, like a curled up kitten. Or it can be yellow or gray as if there is a very pale curtain hanging in front of it. Other times, it is a tiny sliver of light. Daddy says that is like a farmer’s scythe, sent to gather a basket of stars. Clouds and trees and other things look mysterious when the moon is behind them. But the best thing of all is the moon’s faces. It can smile or frown or look sleepy.

I have even heard the man who tells the weather on the radio talk about the different faces of the moon. Mother told me I was mistaken and that was not what the man said, but I heard him with my own ears. I don’t know what Mother’s ears heard, or how it could be different from what my ears heard. I asked her, but she told me to go and play and not be under her feet.

Mother never tells my sister to go and play when she asks a question. Mira says that is because she is fourteen years old and almost a grown up woman. Mira says that Mother cannot waste her time explaining things to me because there is no point.

Sometimes Mira says nice things to make me feel better when Mother is angry with me. But other times she makes her voice very, very quiet, so that only I can hear it, and she calls me the thing I do not like to be called, which is Retard.

I am what is called slow. That is why I am in a littler grade at school than other kids who are twelve years old.

Daddy says that I just learn things different from how other people learn.

He says, “Bethany, I think you might surprise a few folks some day.”

And he says, “There’s no call for one living soul to think they’re better than you.”

They do think it though – that they’re better than me. They think it and sometimes they say it. Only not in those exact words. There are different ways to say things. Sometimes you have to look to see what is hiding behind the words.

What I hate the most is when someone talks about me and looks right at me at the same time. It makes me feel like I am a dead bug in a glass case like we saw one time on a class field trip.

I don’t talk much myself. It doesn’t seem that I have a whole lot to say, usually, but that gives me plenty of chance to listen.

I listen very good. I think it might be my talent. Daddy says every last living person has got at least one special talent. It took me a long time to figure out mine because listening good is not a special talent that is easy to spot.

            Another thing about me is that I walk with a limp. I don’t know if that matters to you or not. It does not matter to me because I am used to it. One of my legs is a little shorter than the other, and that is the reason of the limp.

            I think that might be enough to tell you about myself. Mother says it is bad manners to talk about yourself too much. She says that will make people think you are full of yourself. That is one of those things that people say which has another meaning hiding behind it. Of course you are full of yourself. What else would you be full of? What Mother means by this is that people will think you are full of pride.

            A girl like me has no cause to be prideful.

I live in Junction, Manitoba. You might have heard of Junction before. Two years ago, in 1947, there was a lot of talk about this place. It went on for a long time. Folks kept saying the same things over and over about what happened.

            I did not know much about the girl who was the cause of all the talk. Her name was Gracie and she was in the same grade as my sister Mira. Gracie talked about her hair a good deal but that is not the thing I mostly remember about her. The thing I mostly remember about Gracie is that I took something that belonged to her one day. 

It happened during recess. Gracie and some of the other girls were rolling marbles at a plumper on the scuffed place near the side of the school. That is the best place because the grass is gone and the ground is smooth.

When Gracie took her turn, her marble rolled right straight into the plumper. That made her happy. She jumped up and down and clapped her hands. That was when I saw something fly out of the pocket of her skirt. It was shiny, and for a second I thought it was another marble. I looked for it and picked it up only it was not a marble at all. It was a penny, or actually, half of a penny, which is shaped just like half of a moon.

I was checking it over when I heard a voice ask, “What have you got there, Bethany?”

The person who said this was Mira. She was coming toward me with her hand out. Her face was steady and stubborn and I knew she would take the half penny from me. Sometimes Mira takes things she knows I want even if she does not want them herself. I knew she would laugh and say I was touched in the head. She would grab it from me and look it over and hold it up high so I could not reach it. After that she would toss it off in a field, most likely. It would all happen before I could explain that it belonged to the new girl, Gracie, and then it would be too late.

I am not a person to steal. I hope you can take my word for that. One time Mira told all her friends that I took something of hers, which was a lie. It was a silver necklace with three blue beads. It was true that I liked to hold it, but I did not take it. She lost it, probably, and then blamed me. That was the day she threw everything out of my drawers looking for it.

The time I took the half penny was different, because I really did take it. Only, I did not mean to keep it. I would have walked right up to Gracie and passed it back to her if Mira had left me alone. It was her fault that I ran and stumbled and fell and dropped the penny in the grass. I looked for it every recess for the rest of the week but I did not find it and after a while I gave up.

I thought that was the end of that half penny until one day, a long, long time later, I was making a daisy chain. There were lots of daisies in the grassy field next to the playground. That is where I was gathering them when I saw something twinkling on the ground. I squatted down and looked at it and I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It was Gracie’s half penny.

I would have given it back to her if I could have, but Gracie was gone then. So, I kept it. That is how I came to take something that belonged to someone else but you should know that was the only time I ever did such a thing.
Thank you Valerie for sharing your story and being a guest on the Scribbler.
Please visit Valerie's website to discover more about her work.

Valerie's Bibliography:

Down Here: 2015 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Random Acts: 2015 (PenguinRandomHouse Canada)
Rain Shadow: 2014 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Driftwood: 2013 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Counting Back from Nine:  2012 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Miss Wondergem’s Dreadfully Dreadful Pie: 2011 (Tuckamore/Creative)
Testify: 2011 (Dundurn)
Accomplice: 2011 (Dundurn)
The Glory Wind 2010 (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
There’s A GOLDFISH In My Shoe  2009 (Tuckamore/Creative)
Tumbleweed Skies  2009  (Fitzhenry & Whiteside)
Superstars: Vanessa Hudgens (biography) 2009 (Crabtree)
Watcher  2009 (Dundurn)
There’s A COW Under My Bed  2008 (Tuckamore/Creative)
Searching for Yesterday, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery 2008  (Dundurn)
Three Million Acres of Flame 2007 (Dundurn)
Speechless 2007 (Dundurn)
Eyes of a Stalker, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery  2006 (Dundurn)
Sarah’s Legacy  2006 (Dundurn)
Hiding in Plain Sight, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery 2005 (Dundurn)
Sam’s Light.  2004 (Dundurn)
Chasing Shadows, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery  2004 (Dundurn)
KATE, 2003 (Dundurn)
In Too Deep, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery  2003 (Dundurn)
Out of the Ashes, A Shelby Belgarden Mystery 2002 (Dundurn)

The Scribbler would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment before you go and THANK YOU for visiting.

Saturday 10 December 2016

RIP Christian Brun.

On December 5th, 2016, Christian Brun passed away at the age of 46. There is now a void on Earth that can never be filled. Christian touched many lives throughout his life. His positive attitude and infectious personality will be sadly missed.

For those that choose to, you may read his obituary here .

Two years ago I posted a 4Q Interview with Christian and would like to share it with you once more out of respect for the man I admired.

May 30, 2014.

Christian Brun is the Executive Director of the Maritime Fisherman’s Union. He has travelled extensively throughout the world, lived in Mozambique, Africa. He lives in Shediac, NB. He is an exceptional artist and author of several books of poetry. A man of many talents (pardon the cliché but it fits). His website is below.

4Q: Before we talk about your writing and painting, tell us about your desire to travel as much as you have and how did you end up in Africa?

CB: Travels fuel my great curiosity. I have a never ending almost obsessive need to generate new information through observation. I can only go so far with a book and with local travel and have discovered the great wealth of geographical displacement. The movement and grace of difference through people, contact, communication, architecture, food, weather and nature have provided an energy that is hard to describe. While the pizzazz might have somewhat phased with age, I yet feel like an adolescent going through puberty when I leave the country. When I am in a foreign area, I prefer walking, so I can slowly grasp the nuances and the beauty. In 1994, in France, I walked from Spain (San Sebastian) to Biarritz for example. My own little “Randonnée de compostelle” of sorts. After that experience, I understood how travels were not only exploration of sight, touch, sound and smell, but were also experienced from within: all of these new found observations were having a profound effect on my thoughts and perceptions of life. A relatively short travel experience had changed who I was almost immediately; imagine if this was to happen for a longer period…

A few years later, I was confused about what I wanted to do with my life, quite frankly. I was completing my articling with a small Law Firm in Ottawa and was disappointed as to the realities of the practice. Pushing paper was not very fulfilling. Just as I was to pass my bar exams, I was offered a job. I had applied with many Canadian NGOs a year previous as I had a great interest in more long-term travels – so I could get immersed into culture and language.
Mozambique was a perfect opportunity: 1- the project was about civil disarmament and turning weapons into art, 2- Maputo, the Capital where I would be working, was a coastal town, 3- Portuguese was the language spoken, a Latin language, therefore accessible through French basics, another cousin Latin language, and finally, 4- the field of international development seemed much more real and substance oriented than what I had survived in the urban legal world. I took a week to think about it, confirmed and was off a month later in November of 1997.  

4Q: You have three books of poetry published at present. What is it about poetry that that you enjoy and what inspires you.

CB: I like to say things in a snapshot. I like to also play with words. Mostly, I am in love with the metaphor, always have been. The metaphor lets you be true to yourself and not always reveal absolutely all of who you are. I have learned earlier in life that one must protect oneself to be free. Life is not all roses and blue skies and there are some people and circumstances that can hurt and damage. I have always been myself, I believe, with others, but often, I only share what I feel I should. I have created an invisible filter coming in and going out. That is why poetry is so powerful. It enables you to divulge who you are, but not completely.

I am inspired by nothing and everything. I have written about the most mundane act of human stupidity (the fact that one needs to go to the washroom once in a while, hopefully throughout his/her whole life - lol). I have also written of the most typically exciting and cliché moments of love, despair and drama. I have found that some of the blandest past photography can become incredibly strong 30 years later – have a look at Dennis Hopper’s photos as an example. Therefore, the mundane of today could very well enlighten the future. I was also amazed in my twenties at how French poets like Rimbaud, Prévert, Apolinaire and Éluard could speak of everyday events and make them so interesting… or how Verlaine, Beaudelaire and Neruda could make the cheese disappear when thinking of love, death and depression.

What finally really clicked the switch was when I began reading our own Acadian literature, how real it was and how it was part of our conflicted collective soul. In some ways, our Acadian identity was somewhat like I was: for many years, it could not, and preferred not to reveal all of what it was. Poetry in l’Acadie, is a code and an extremely important one at that.  

I am getting off subject aren’t I? Back to your next question. 

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

CB: Well… hmmm… I will share one that has shaped who I am. I had built a very badly strewn tree house near our home in Cormier-Village with leftover wood, planks, tar paper and rusted nails. I remember sitting there in the doorway looking at the water flowing in a nearby brook and the nature that surrounded me. It was the first time I really had a different perspective of the world, I guess, from a different height in something I had built with my bare two hands. Moral of the story is that my creation had enabled a new perspective of the same things I looked at everyday… I realized much later that the creative process was synonymous to youth and renewal.

 4Q: You have many fine paintings to your credit. How did you get into painting and where can your work be seen other than your website?

CB: The visual arts came naturally as a complement to writing… I am mostly visual in my concepts, but more literary in my communication… so I decided to use both as a survival guide to procrastination! When I find one creative process less motivating, I refer to the other… and they both meet rather often. For example, I am attempting to write a text for every painting I have produced (good or bad – lol). I’m hoping this will be a lifelong project.  

I have one exhibition per year at Galerie 12 in the Aberdeen Cultural Centre in downtown Moncton. This keeps my blood flowing...


Thank you Christian for sharing your thoughts with us. We look forward to more of your creativity in the future. Christian’s website is

Rest in Peace Christian.

Thank you for visiting the Scribbler today. Please leave a comment before you go.


Saturday 3 December 2016

Guest Author Ethan Adams. Guest Blog - Between Writing "The End" and Finding a Publisher.

The Scribbler is pleased to host Ethan Adams this week. He is a speculative fiction writer living in the small town of Fredericton, New Brunswick. He’s the father of a tween and two fur babies, has an affinity for pasta, and escapes the modern world weekly with fantastic authors in his writers group. Ethan has begun writing a series called DiAngelo whose first novel is due to be published by Torguere Press late February 2017.


Between writing ‘The End’ and finding a Publisher 

Thank you, Allan, for hosting this post. You remind me of the story about the boy and the starfish. There are many authors on the beach and even though it may be impossible to help them all, the things you do matter to the few. 

My name is Ethan Adams. On February 22, 2017, my first novel titled DiAngelo: Revelations will be published electronically. I created a web site for the occasion,, so visitors can connect with me easier. At ekadams you can also find blog posts about writing a book. Here, as Allan’s guest, I am sharing something I haven’t posted before - my experience of what happened between the time I wrote The End on my first draft to when I found a publisher. 

The End. 

Those two solemn words carried more weight than I had ever imagined. The end of what? 

The End of writing my first story, of course!

I threw a party because I ran the proverbial gauntlet and came out the other side a changed person, albeit a paler one after having spent so much time indoors. Alcohol isn’t my thing so I poured a strong glass of ice water and drenched myself in that substance people call ‘sunshine’.   

The End of the incessant fear of failure

I laid to rest the doubt that I could finish writing a novel. No more guilt over spending time with my family when I could have been writing, or missing my friends when I sat staring at a monitor until the wee hours of the morning.  

The End of being a Writer. 

The moment the period adorned “The End.” I become something else, a mix of re-writer, fledgling editor, and beggar. On the inside; I pleaded. On the outside, I played the part of cool and collected. “Would you be interested in reading a book I wrote?” I begged. Many people agreed. Only a small portion actually did.  

Some of the people who didn’t read my book are: my best friends, brother, and father. It wasn’t that they tried to and couldn’t. They had a copy and simply didn’t. It sucked, but swallowing my pride at this point helped teach me a lesson; you can’t force some people to read outside of their genre, or to read at all, regardless of who they are to you. My feelings aren’t on the line when I ask for critiques now; I think this is a good place to be.  

With feedback came re-writing and editing. The work I had undertaken to improve my 110,000-word novel felt like a mountain on my shoulders again. Doubts about why I worked so hard on this project resurfaced. 

Editing required four stages.

1.      I checked to make sure I said what I meant to say – more gibberish made it into my draft than I expected.

2.      I made the story more immersive by exposing the characters’ experiences in as much of the five senses as possible.
3.      I addressed storytelling and plot, or more accurately, plotholes by asking myself questions like ‘Did I close all of the plot lines?’ and ‘Did my characters really need to have breakfast if it didn’t advance the plot?’.
4.      I fixed grammar, selected the right words for the tone of the paragraph, page, and character.  

These edits took two years’ worth of spare time hours. I began querying agents after the second edit.  

Yes, agents, not publishers. Agents know where your book will do best and know how to approach the publishers they have in mind. Agents generate revenue for me while I am writing my next book and they are my best bet for a fair contract with a publisher. Did I mention agents also sell audio, video, and international rights for you too? People think of their price as fifteen percent of the author’s profits. I see it the other way around, that I get 85% of the financial results of their efforts using my work. 

So who’s my agent, you might ask? I didn’t get one. Yah. It worked out that way. 

The majority of agents I’ve reached out to set the expectation of a response between six weeks and three months if they choose to work with you. If they don’t, they don’t reply. Hoping and dreaming for something that never comes is hard. Really hard. 

Let’s talk querying. In my experience, the query game goes like this.  

Stage 1. Starting out. 

Research the agents who’ll accept your genre. Order them top down from most to least favorite. Start querying agents from the bottom of the list and work your way up because you don’t want queries that may be rough around the edges to scare away your good prospects. Also, many agents don’t mind if you send to multiple agents simultaneously, but some do. Be aware and respectful of that. 

Send about six queries out to those bottom agents. If you get no response from those six, investigate why your query might not be effective, make some changes and resend six more.  

Stage 2. You get requests for pages now but none for your manuscript (MS).  

Your query’s good, your book’s pages aren’t. Consider buying “The First Five Pages” by Noah Lukeman. He didn’t endorse me to say that. There’s a million reasons why the pages are unappealing. Follow that book and there’ll be a lot less. Send six queries again. No MS request again? More editing and more resending. 

Stage 3. You’re getting an MS request or two. Awesome!  

Apply the fixes you put on the early pages to the entire book. Page by page, paragraph by paragraph, word by word. It’s a full novel edit but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Send your queries now to the agents at the top end of that list you made.  

On average, people would send 27 queries in 9 batches over 1.5 years to get a request – if they ever get a request.  

I travelled this path until two years ago, when I discovered Twitter events. 

Or rather Chuck Bowie, a good friend of mine, exposed me to them. I didn’t have a Twitter account at the time. How could 140 characters even work in a contest? A quick visit to a pitch contest web site motivated me to give it an earnest go.  

The rules.
·        Post limit is once every four hours
·        Add genre tags, like #ya and #sf
·        Don’t favorite anyone’s tweet unless you’re an agent or publisher
·        If favorited, visit the agent or publisher’s twitter page for instructions
·        You must have a polished manuscript, not just a draft 

The contest is really an event where professionals cherry-pick their favorite plotlines. It works when an organizer prompts writers to tweet their synopsis in under 140 characters using a specific event’s hashtag on a specific day. Publishers and editors peruse that hashtag. The event and its rules are publicized online.  

If a professional ‘favorites’ your tweet, they like you! Check out that professional’s twitter page and follow the instructions on what to do if you’re tagged. You just skipped ahead in line to Stage 2 – sending pages.  

Freak out but don’t go too crazy. It’s still your responsibility to research that agent or publisher. Find online interviews and get a feel for their personality because you want a good working relationship with your future business partner. Keep in mind too that these events can be poached by anyone, even people pretending to be agents, so protect your work and do your homework. You’ve been warned. 

That first contest I entered had 35,000 tweets in one day. Mine might not have even been seen, let alone considered and immediately rejected. In March, 2016, I entered my third contest, a year-and-a-half after the first one and close to the end of my fourth round of editing, I caught a favorite. Many other writers’ tweets went by that day. Some made me laugh out loud, others brought me to near tears. My own tweet had been retweeted by others in an expression of admiration. This is the tweet my publisher favorited “The Demon Greed brought his fury. The psychics brought hope. Roan brought his sister's memory and his last thread of sanity #ya #p 

A publisher liked my tweet! I’d have preferred an agent, true, but beggars can’t be choosers. The publisher direct messaged me on Twitter then on Facebook. We chatted for nearly an hour because we were both having fun, the connection took me off guard. Publishers are friendly? Whaaat? By the end of our light-hearted conversation she requested my MS. Another person at the publisher’s house vetted it and some weeks later a contract was offered. I’m still amazed at the whole surreal experience. 

It’s my sincerest hope that this post resonates with you and helps in some way. Please leave questions and comments to your heart’s content and remember to thank Allan because if not for his kindness, this post wouldn’t be here.

Thank you Ethan for this very informative blog and for being a guest this week.

Don't forget to check out Ethan's website.
And let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Thank you for visiting the Scribbler.