Sunday 26 March 2017

Guest Author Renee Gauthier of Ontario, Canada

The Battle of the Book Cover
RM (Renee) Gauthier lives in Ontario, Canada and has a diploma in Film & TV Production.

She began her writing career late in life, which she has been quoted saying, "better late than never." She has five novellas published, including Christmas Miracle in July, Longing & Waiting, and her debut novel, Control, was released on November 10 2016.

She is part of many writing FB groups and helps run a group called The Indie Writers' Cooperative, which provides her plenty of joy helping other authors anyway she can.
Planning Book Covers by Renee.

The Battle of the Book Cover

Wow! Just Wow. When I first looked into self-publishing, I knew it would be a journey, but I failed to realize just how long that journey would take. It's incredible the amount of work that goes into creating your masterpiece, which eventually becomes your book.

So the writing is down, the editing is done and you have a book ready for the world to see… wrong. The manuscript is finished and your dreams of having a bound book in your hand are just beginning. There are so many decisions to be made, so many thoughts that go into the final piece, but for this post I’m going to stick with book covers.

The blank page stared back at me as I try to figure out what the heck I was going to put on the blank canvas I had opened in Photoshop. I went through thousands of pictures in my own personal arsenal and crawled the web for a photo or image that would sum up my book. The agonizing decision finally ended when I came across a friend’s photo. It was perfect for my novella and now the hard part was asking him if I could use it. Fortunately for me, he agreed and now I had the perfect image to represent my story.

But the work didn’t stop there. Now that I had the image I had to pick the perfect font for the titling. After five cover designs, three image changes, I finally decided on the perfect image with the perfect font. Things were looking good at this point. I was getting excited about the process once more until I had to figure out words to put on the back of the novella… a description was in order and at that point I didn’t have one.

Describing your book in one or two short paragraphs can be scary. What do you say about something that takes you months, perhaps even years to create in two short paragraphs? I always start with short points about my stories, such as these for my novella:

·       A childhood with little opportunities.

·       8 years in the Special Forces.

·       A family torn apart.

·       A missing sister.

·       A drug dealing, pimp boyfriend.

·       A brother on a mission.

·       One man out for revenge.

·       One man out for justice.

Once I had these points I begin joining them together in sentences:

·       While Leroy was abroad fighting for the freedom of his fellow countrymen, his sister was home losing her freedom.

·       After serving 8 years in the Special Forces fighting for freedom, Leroy returns home to find his sister has lost hers.

·       A drug dealing, pimp boyfriend. A brother on a mission. A missing sister. One man out for revenge. A family falling apart. A childhood with little opportunities. 8 years in the Special Forces.

Next part is to make short paragraphs from these sentences:

·       After discovering that his sister is missing and has been missing for months, the mission begins to find and bring her home. While oversees fighting so that his fellow countrymen could be free, Leroy’s family was falling apart. Hoping to leave his nightmares behind when he landed on American soil he realized the nightmares were just beginning. After serving in the Special Forces for 8 years, Leroy returns home to reclaim his life.

·       Discovering that his sister had been missing for months, Leroy sets out on a mission to find his sister and bring her home. Leroy returns home after serving 8 years in the Special Forces to discover his nightmare has not ended, but was only just beginning. When he finds Landon he realizes that his missing sister is only the tip of the iceberg. Longing brings together two men, one out for justice, the other pure revenge.

During all of these exercises I take my time, sometimes hours, sometimes days, to absorb all of the ideas. Then, I finally end up with something that makes me happy:

Two men come together, one out for justice, the other revenge. Leroy, returns home after serving 8 years in the Special Forces to discover his nightmare has not ended, but is just beginning.


After discovering that his sister has been missing for months, Leroy sets out on a mission to find and bring her home. Meeting, Landon Miller, exposes Leroy to a world of corruption he had no idea existed.

It took me about 2-3 weeks to get my cover complete and ready to publish, but I’m a crazy person who will keep changing the smallest of things until I feel it is right. I always figure if I’m not happy with the cover, than how can I expect readers to be happy with it?

The truth is we never know what makes people like one book cover over another, or one movie instead of another, the thing I feel is that if I did the absolute best work I could do, than that is all that matters because we know we can’t please everyone all of the time.

But I’m sure going to try!
Thank you Renee for this insightful article. For you Readers that would like to more info on Renee's books, please drop by her Amazon page.

Thank you to all you wonderful visitors ...please share a thought with us by leaving a comment below.

Saturday 18 March 2017

The Love of Gaming! A 4Q Interview with Adam Hudson.

Something different on the Scribbler this week.

A special 4Q interview with a master of the games. Gaming is one of the most popular pastimes today with hundreds of choices online and at home with complex gaming stations that require exceptional eye and hand coordination, memory and the development of game strategy.  To give you an idea of just how popular gaming is, the website – Steam – an online community, store and entertainment platform has as many as 2-3 million users online at any one time. It also has the record of over 8 million visitors at the same time. Think of the fame of Minecraft or World of Warcraft.

Adam Hudson loves games. It started with an Atari when he was seven years old. His fascination hasn’t stopped. He has agreed to talk about gaming with us this week. 

4Q: In your own opinion, why is gaming so popular, not only for children but people of all ages and especially adults?
AH: There is obviously an entertainment value there but I think what really captures you is the sense of achievement you get from them, whether it's beating your friends and family at pong, getting the high score in Donkey Kong or finally saving the Princess in Mario. For some, it's taking out that raid boss with your Guild Mates in World of Warcraft. For others, it's topping the leaderboard in Call of Duty. All levels of people who play games feel the same sense of elation. In my opinion, the smartest thing the gaming industry ever did was invent Achievements. Basically, its digital bragging rights so you can say, “I did this." They are incredibly addictive. 

4Q: To be a serious gamer online, what kind of equipment would a person need?

AH: It really depends what you are into. The basics would include either a console or computer to play the games and an internet connection. Everything else is about your comfort. There are tons of add-ons for console controllers and a huge market of gaming mice and keyboards.
If you don't mind me interjecting my opinion, to be a serious gamer, online or otherwise, takes commitment, a reason to want to get better. Most of all this comes from your community. As I mentioned above having people that can relate to your experiences is what drives you to take it seriously. Makes those achievements something of real tangible worth. 

4Q: As well as online gaming, you have always been fascinated with role-playing games (RPG) such as Dungeon & Dragons and war gaming such as Warhammer 40, 000 and most recently, Infinity. How do these type of games differ from online games?

AH: In one sense not much, it's still that learning the mechanics of the game and then using them to the best of your ability to get the upper hand on your opponent. It's still about that sense of overcoming a challenge with your wits, skill and sometimes a little bit of luck.
A big difference is in the community you share it with. Online people have anonymity about them and some can be real jerks. That doesn't always change in real life but it's definitely something that being face to face influences. One down side is you usually need to line up a time to get people together. It's the type of thing you do one night a week with snacks and laughs. Video games have the advantage of needing much less space and equipment. On top of that, With the Internet your community is international. You can sign on and, boom, you have a whole world with thousands of people any hour of any day. 


4Q: I understand that RPG needs what is called a Game Master. Is this something you have done and what is the purpose of a GM?

AH: I have or should say I've tried. The GM is your Storyteller and Judge all rolled into one. Like Tolkien, they lead you "there and back again", choose the monsters you fight and decide how you are rewarded. Just like an Author they create your world. To be a great GM you need about all the same skills’ creativity, Imagination and careful planning as well as the ability to create a scene and allow the players to partake how you see fit. Of course there is also the boring part of enforcing the rules, but it is a game and it's all about the fun in the end. 

4Q: Just to sneak another question in here, I understand that you are responsible for creating a friendly, competitive competition at a local gaming facility where you have invited players to participate in a weekly round of Infinity. How has this experience been?

AH: At the risk of sounding like I am repeating myself, I can say the hard part has been being creative, imaginative and a careful planner. The good has been the camaraderie and being amongst fellow minded friends. Like any leadership role, it's been a rollercoaster. Truth is, Infinity is a game I am passionate about and I couldn't ask for a better group to play with. We have tournaments with people coming from out of town and we're slowly working our way into another province. I'm looking forward to being a part of the community and seeing how it grows.


Thank you Adam for taking the time to talk to us about this popular pastime.  Happy Gaming!
If you have any questions for Adam, you can contact him at

Thank you Dear Readers for visiting the Scribbler this week. If you would like more information on gaming, try these sites.

Infinity, The War Game
Free games for all ages
Warhammer 40, 000
Painting your models

Are you a Gamer? Leave us a comment below, would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday 4 March 2017

Guest Author Jane Tims of New Brunswick.

An artist at work.............
Jane Spavold Tims is a botanist, writer and artist living in rural New Brunswick. Jane’s interests are diverse but usually include a connection to natural themes. Her manuscript of poetry “mnemonic”, about wild bird calls, won the Alfred G. Bailey Prize in the 2016 New Brunswick Writers’ Federation Writing Competition. Previously she won Honorable Mention in this same category for her poetry manuscripts “growing and gathering” and “waterfall”. She has published one book of poetry, within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016), about gathering edible wild plants. Her next book of poetry will be published in 2018, about plants and animals living in the shelter of New Brunswick’s covered bridges. She has also contributed to a chapbook “butter and eggs” by the Fredericton-based writing group Fictional Friends. Jane illustrates her books with her pencil drawings and paintings, and shows her work regularly at Isaac’s Way Restaurant in Fredericton in their charity art auctions.


Diversity in Writing
People frame the approach to their life work very differently. Some focus on one project and work at it with commitment and dedication. Others juggle multiple projects, always keeping a dozen balls in the air at a time. I am of the second type. At any one time, I could list a dozen projects I am pursuing.
Some of this is part of my personality: the tests tell me I am an INFP (Myers Briggs Type Indicator®, see ) and my prayer for life is, “I will finish what I sta…  “. But I do occasionally finish things. And I thrive when I have lots to deliver. Some of this approach was reinforced during my career – managing many projects at the same time was a part of the job.
My approach to managing diversity is to tackle each project in turn, keep everything in balance and work towards specific goals.     
When I retired from 37 years of work as an environmental planner, I could hardly wait to start my new work as ‘writer’. I had built up to this part of my life with deliberate actions: writing at every opportunity, taking courses and building a list of literary publications. The day I retired, I was already a busy writer, working on the manuscript that was to become my first published poetry book -- within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016). By the time within easy reach was launched, I had undertaken two other poetry manuscripts with the help of Creations Grants from artsnb.  Now, almost five years later, I feel like a fraud listing my occupation as “retired”: I have never worked harder or struggled more with achieving balance in my work life.

Diversity in the Business of Writing

Consider the romantic notion of a writer at a tidy desk, in a cozy corner before a fire, looking out on a tranquil scene. This version of the writer’s life is probably a long way from truth for most writers. My day is a busy complication of submissions, email communications, editing, arranging future readings, research, reading and, yes, sometimes actual writing.
I have always known the occupation of writing has three aspects:
1.      the creative phase of putting words on paper or screen, and editing those words,
2.      the administrative phase of submitting, more editing, publication and marketing, and

3.      the ongoing process of training: reading, communicating with other writers, attending reading events, participating in writers’ groups and taking writing courses.  

In my experience, the administrative side can be the most time-consuming of the three. Publishing my first book meant immersion in administration, working with the publisher to edit and publish my book and to market it in various ways. I am fortunate to have an attentive and knowledgeable publisher in Chapel Street Editions (Woodstock, New Brunswick ). Publisher Keith Helmuth is interested in themes associated with the natural history of the lower valley of the Saint John River and so easy to work with. Chapel Street’s designer, Brendan Helmuth, is responsible for the beautiful layout of my book and the balanced presentation of poetry and drawings.   

Diversity in Writing Projects and Themes

My writing tends to organise itself in themes. Since I am a biologist and botanist, I draw from that training and experience in every bit of my writing. From this have come my poetry manuscripts about the use of plants as natural dyes, wild bird songs, and gathering edible wild plants (the beginning of my book within easy reach).
I also have a degree in history, so often I include the exploration of regional, community and family history in my writing. This has resulted in poems about plants and animals living in and around the covered bridges in southern New Brunswick and a recent interest in discovering the history of our vanishing one-room schools.
In addition to my poetry, I am also working on a trio of novels about life in a rural community of New Brunswick, focussing on efforts to save an abandoned church (“Open to the Skies”), a damaged covered bridge (“Crossing at a Walk”) and a discontinued river ferry (“Shore to Shore”).
With my next book in line for traditional publication in 2018 (“in the shelter of the covered bridge), I have decided to try my hand next at independent publication. In part this is about curiosity and in part it is because writing in the science-fiction genre is so new for me.
I have always loved reading science-fiction. My sci-fi story will be contained in a series of five short books, each presented as a long poem and illustrated with my drawings. I will publish under my first name Alexandra Tims, in part to keep my work in the sci-fi genre separate from my other poetry.  The first book, Meniscus: Crossing the Churn tells the story of a young woman on an alien planet and her search for freedom from servitude.

Balancing Act
Of course, I don’t work on all these projects at once. Instead I will say that all are in various stages of completion. At any one time, I have a writing focus, a single project in the creative phase. And a couple of projects in the administrative phase.
The difficulty with independent publication? The creative and administrative phases are accomplished without the help of a publisher -- the author has to undertake both phases alone.
But not alone. There are editors out there to help with manuscript review. My editor for Meniscus: Crossing the Churn is Lee Thompson (Lee Thompson Editing + ). This is my third project with Lee and I have confidence in his approach to manuscript evaluation and substantive editing. 
There are also other writers who have independent publishing experience and are willing to help. For this, I have turned to my friend Roger Moore, writer and poet, who has undertaken the process of putting his numerous books into CreateSpace ( ). Roger has helped me to understand the process and mechanics of independent publication.
And there are those who have listened and helped me hone my ideas and writing. I am fortunate to belong to two writing groups: Wolf Tree Writers who have met monthly for over twenty-five years, and Fictional Friends who have been together almost ten years. For me, these groups have provided the support and friendship of other writers, and a chance to hear the work of others and to get feedback on my writing.  My fellow writers in both groups have listened and offered comment as I embark into this new genre of writing.  I think they would agree they have found my interest in this project to be a bit bewildering! 


So, I am certain I have proven to you that I am interested in working at the same time on multiple projects. I know completing projects one at a time would probably send them more efficiently off the end of the production line.
But I was made to manage diversity.
And in the end, whether or not I get the truck loaded with all my completed boxes of books is not really the point. The point is that I had lots of ideas, wrote about them and loved the whole process. Managing the diversity is part of the pain and the fun.  

by Jane Spavold Tims:
 within easy reach, Chapel Street Editions, Woodstock, 2016
by Alexandra Tims:
Meniscus: Crossing The Churn, Amazon, available March 2017
with Fictional Friends:
butter and eggs, Fredericton, 2015

                                    berries in brambles

                               ‘... summer's blood was in it ...’

             Seamus Heaney, Blackberry-picking

on the mowed road
above the lake
we are astonished 

for three Saturdays
we pick berries 
first, unprepared
we heap them
into hats
eat handfuls
pulp, seeds and cordial pressed
between palate and tongue
the next 
we stay all morning
reach deep into the bushes
thorns impale the easy pull
of berries into pail
all week we concoct
              blackberry jam
              blackberry buckle 
              blackberry muffins
set blackberry brandy to steep                  

the last day
we are uneasy
              (indigo bear droppings 
              still steaming)
the picking hard
berries and foreheads 
bloody scratches on arms

grapple my coat
more than a firm tug needed
to struggle free      

from within easy reach, Chapel Street Editions, 2016 

Blackberries (various species of Rubus) are brambles growing in barrens and waste areas, in meadows and along roadsides. Plants range from tall and arching to low-growing. Some have numerous prickles and bristles, and some are barely prickly. The black fruit are raspberry-like, eaten raw, or used to make jam, jelly and beverages.


 Thank you Jane for being our guest this week on the Scribbler.
And a huge thank you to you Dear Reader for visiting. Please fell free to leave a comment below.