Saturday 21 April 2018

Guests Nicole Tremblay & Zev Bagel - artist & author - of Shediac, NB


The Scribbler is running a series of creative people that happen to be partners with other creative people. The second part of this series includes two former guests to the Scribbler, visual artist Nicole Tremblay and author Zev Bagel. They are back as a team for a 4Q Interview.

 Zev's previous visit can be viewed here , Nicole's here .

**Of special note, Moncton's famous Frye festival begins this week and as a kickoff, Zev will be reading from his work, along with other authors at the Shediac Frye Fringe Fest.

4Q: First question is for you Nicole.  Since your previous visit to the Scribbler, you have completed many beautiful paintings. Which one is your favorite and why? Please share what inspired the painting.

NT: Well…..isn’t this a bit like asking one…and which one is your favourite child? HAHAHA!  I would say that there is always a certain part of a painting that brings it together and gives me the big YES!  Some paintings are much quicker than others giving that ‘yes feeling’.  I do not really plan a painting… I might have a colour in mind and I start building up the background – I love  colour and texture.  I cover the surface with paint, collage, stencils until it takes a form/shape I can feel and then go on…it can sometimes be a rather long process….and then it happens.  I listen to music while I paint. Chris Rea is probably my favourite singer/musician and will often inspire the title of the piece I’m working on.

4Q: I’ve recently completed your latest novel Zev, Secrets, and I enjoyed it very much. Please tell our readers about the story.

ZB: Most of my books are based on real events or personal experiences. Secrets is pure fiction. Well, almost.  I was a life-coach for thirty years, and would never divulge the secrets people told me. The idea for this book came when I thought “What if a psychopath became a life-coach?” Imagine what such a person could do with the secrets he heard. So here’s a man who arrives in New Brunswick, decides to become a life-coach and takes on clients, opening the way to fraud, blackmail and murder. Getting into the mind of such a character was frighteningly easy! It must have helped that an undercurrent of humour pervades the mayhem.

4Q: You have an exposition at present Nicole at Café C’est La Vie in Moncton, NB in which many of your paintings are on display until mid April. Where else can your paintings be viewed and/or purchased?

NT: The exhibit at Café C’est la vie will come down on Monday April 30th. Zev and I will be at the Shediac Market in the Park every Sunday from June 3 to September 30 (9am-2pm) rain or shine.   Friday evenings (6-10pm) July and August (check newspapers for dates) you can find us at the Allée des Artistes off Main Street in Shediac.  We will have books, paintings, poems and cards.   Viewings can also be arranged by appointments (506) 351-0645.

4Q: Your latest novel which you discussed above was published by Museitup Publishers and in the last section of the book, it tells us that there are 5 more novels waiting for publication. Care to tell us about any of them, or perhaps all of them.

ZB: The titles awaiting publication by MuseItUp are: The Last Jew in Hania, Bender’s Box, State of Flux and Lost. I have just completed my latest, which is called Solitary. This last one is about a Canadian who is in solitary confinement in Iran’s notorious Evin prison. He befriends an Iranian prisoner by communicating through a hole in the wall. Some of the story is based on the family history told to me by an Iranian-Canadian friend. This was the hardest book for me to write, since I had to get into the head of someone enduring forced confinement willing himself to survive. The relationship between the two prisoners is what lifts the story.

4Q: We are going to cheat this week and slip in a fifth question. What’s in the immediate future for both of you?

NT:  Having fun, working on my next art projects, going to workshops, travelling.

ZB: The immediate future is now, which is where I like to be. Now is good. I’m between novels right now, and enjoy writing poems to Nicole’s paintings. We have some travel plans, and will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary while we’re away. As for the next book – inspiration awaits.

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts. I'm very happy to say that I own two of Nicole's paintings and enjoy them daily. It is my hope to add more to my collection. I have also collected Zev's novels and am looking forward to the coming stories.

Saturday 14 April 2018

Guest Author Connie Shipley of Italy

There is a saying, “Tuscany, like a fine wine, has been some time in the making…

One of the special things about Tuscany is that our guest calls the region home. Meet Connie Shipley and enjoy her 4Q Interview.



Hi, and thanks for having me on your blog. Now what can I say about myself? I was born in Belgium, although my parents were British. Well actually dad was, but mom was Belgian and became British through marriage. I spent my childhood there and visited the UK at least once a year. Our house was full of books, history, military stuff, as my dad had been in the military and had fought during WW2. He passed the love of books onto me and he used to make up funny stories, so I guess I got the fantasy side from him.  I studied foreign languages, physiotherapy, and osteopathy. Soon after my studies, I traveled to the Middle East for work.  I was fortunate to have met interesting people and I had the privilege of attending embassy socials, as well as observing military training which was quite exciting.  I’ve done quite a bit of traveling for work and for pleasure, so most countries and locations I write about, I have visited in the past.

Today I’m married and living in Tuscany, with my Italian husband and three dogs. I’m an avid researcher, always out on the look for new ideas. I don’t quite remember why I started writing, but it was two years ago, with my first novel MoonHuntress. I created a series, so now there are three completed books. I love complex characters and the psychology that surrounds them. I always try to show the reader how my characters really are, what they think, how they live, feel, their emotions. I also love fashion, so there’s the feminine side to my books as well. I hope you enjoy the series.


4Q: You have a successful series named “MoonHuntress,” which is also the name of the first novel in the series. How did this series come about? What inspired the stories?

CS: It started out as a completely different story about a Sisterhood, but there were far too many characters, so I began to remove them. Then, after talking to some military friends and doing some research, I began to write the first draft of MoonHuntress. Now, as I said before I’ve lived and worked in the Middle East, so many characters are based on real people but of course the entire story is invented. I never really know what’s going to happen with the characters, so I just write as I go. And when I arrived at the end of the first book, I thought, why not continue, and write a series. So, I went back to the story-board, talked to military friends with their specific knowledge on tactics, weapons, strategy, and went from there. There’s also a lot of research in my books, which I love doing.  If you like action, adventure, and a dash of romance, this is the series!


4Q: In the second book of this series, SoulCatcher, your heroine is Bina Knopfler. Tell us about her.

CS: Bina Knopfler is already introduced and the main character in the first book of the series. She’s the protagonist. She’s a Mossad agent. She’s beautiful, clever, and very strong minded and determined (a bit like me, yes). But she also has her weak side, she isn’t perfect, and she makes mistakes. Life hasn’t been easy on her, and she pretty much has been a loner. But through the story, she needs to face the truth, and it’s a hard truth.
Then of course there’s romance, but you’ll have to read the books, I’m not giving out any spoilers, ha!




4Q: Pleased share a childhood anecdote or favorite memory.

CS: My favorite memory is my childhood at the beach. I think I had the best childhood ever. We used to live in a beach town. So, every summer was great fun going to the beach with my cousins. Playing in the sand, digging holes, swimming in the sea. My cousin and I used to have two bathing suits, one dry one, and one to go swimming, we used to change them every ten minutes, making our mums go crazy. It was fun.


4Q: There are three books in the series with the third called The Golden Key and all sound intriguing. Two have also been translated into Italian. What’s next for Connie Shipley?

CS: Well I’m working together with my American editor on an upcoming book, a paranormal thriller.  I’m very excited about this project. It’s completely different, very intriguing and hope the readers will love it as we explore a wing of the esoteric world. Plus, in the meantime I’m working with my Italian editor on the translation of the Golden Key. It’s a lot of work and it’s keeping me quite busy.

Once I’m finished with the thriller, I’m going to work on the final book of the MoonHuntress series. So watch out!!

Saturday 7 April 2018

Guest Author Balroop Singh of California.

The Scribbler is most fortunate to have Balroop Singh as our guest this week, agreeing to a 4Q Interview. She lives in California with her family and is originally from India.

Balroop Singh, a doting grandma and a dedicated wife, a former high school teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing.  She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer and a relaxed blogger. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. A self-published author, she has written five books.  She always had a passion for poetry which evoked images before her eyes and carried her far beyond the horizon. She could see the visions of her own poetry while teaching the poems. Her dreams saw the light of the day when she published her first book ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life.’

Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling of leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows and the butterflies cast a spell on her.

Realism and fantasy blend perfectly in her poetry, which highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block our path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.

4Q: You have lately received high praise from author Deborah Stevens for your book of poetry – Emerging from Shadows. Please tell us more about this collection and your inspiration.

BS: Poetry is timeless as it carries a profound message, which remains eternally relevant. Poems capture raw emotions most eloquently, sooth our disillusioned minds and leave an everlasting impact on sensitive souls. It is the succinct style of writing through imagery that inspired me to embrace this genre.

Here is an introduction to ‘Emerging From Shadows’:

From darkness into light, from despair onto the wider ways of hope…life oscillates between sunshine and shadows. Emerging from shadows is a choice, which lies dormant, which can be gently inspired by self-talk. Each poem in this book banks on the hope of emerging stronger, saner, positive and resilient. Each poem in this book would talk to you, revealing layers of enclosed emotions. Each poem would divulge a secret path that could lead you into the world of poise and serenity.

When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.

Let one of the reviewers speak for my poetry:

“Forty poems, composed and curated by the author herself, adorn the book. All the poems, though not related to each other, seem harmonious to me as I finished reading. As if, they are pearls of the same string and, together they exude a feeling that resonates with your mind in more than one way.

Balroop’s poems liberate the mind of the reader from darkness to light. Life, for us, is not a bed of roses. It is a roller coaster ride alternating continuously with highs and lows. The carousel of life concocts love, discord, merriment and strife. Balroop made us understand this eternal truth and guides us to rise above mediocrity. Her poems would make you feel stronger from within, would help you ameliorate the pain and suffering life has thrust upon you, would lead you to have that insight towards self-discovery. There lies the magic of her poetry!

Portraying the philosophy of life in the poetical form, that is what the poet has done in the book. But, so subtle, so beautiful is her approach, that the reader will never feel encumbered. The language is a delight, exuberant bubbles of words rising softly upwards– leaving behind a sillage to cherish for a long time.”
- -Maniparna (

An excerpt from my poetry, liked by Cathleen Townsend, another reviewer: 
“I can no longer remain insignificant

Your harrowing hauteur is oppressive

Forgive me for finding my own avenues

My gratitude goes to my spirit.”

This is one of my favorite poems from the book:

Blooming blossoms, whispering wind

Carried me far into the haven of peace

Solitude softly spoke in serene tone,

We welcome weary travelers alone 
Divesting dirty robes of dissent

We revel in the glorious sun

You too can embrace this light,

Just follow it with smiling delight

The light that enlightens the mind

The light that permeates all around

Adds new dimension to thoughts,

Guides us out of those knobby knots

Illumines those innate virtues

When we try to shake them off

In annoyance, in rage, in resentment,

Leisurely hours are wistfully spent

Rejoicing in the new found glee

We sat and shared upon His knee

Palpable peace pervaded all around,

Into which all dismay drowned.

4Q: I’ve visited your blog – Emotional Shadows – (see below for link) and you spoke of teaching, sharing your thoughts and experiences in your pursuit of happiness. Does writing make you happy? How so?

BS: Teaching molded me into a patient, kind and responsible individual and I discovered myself anew when I was placed amongst youngsters who spoke intrepidly and honestly. I stumbled upon my writing talent while I was encouraging them to pen down their thoughts. I was bewildered that I could compose poetry, when challenged to do so. Happiness filtered through those tireless moments of working together in creative writing workshops.

The elation of recording our feelings is so liberating! When we write, we can create our own world of fantasy, we can unlock all the doors, as the keys are in our possession…isn’t it a wonderful feeling?

Writing calms us and leads us to self-discovery. Words become our best friends, teach us tolerance, control our anger and rein our negative thoughts. They slash those emotional walls down, which ward off our progress towards becoming a better person.
All those hurts, the agony and emotional throttling gets assuaged when we pour it out. Healing starts the moment we pen down our thoughts. We feel relieved. We learn to forgive. We rise above human imperfections.

Writing has given me wings. I can fly anytime, anywhere. I often perch on the branches of my favorite trees and can communicate with anyone without any reticence. All those who sit far away, in the comfort of their homes can hear me as I let my voice merge into the clouds that float around, merrily.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote.

BS:  Little children like to follow their moms and we were probably too determined not to be left behind. Our moms thought they could slip by while we were playing near the pond outside our grandma’s home. We must be too little as I have heard this story many times but have a faint memory of this incident.

The moment we saw our moms going out, my cousin Debi suggested we must see where they were going. So we ran after them. We were told many times to return home but we were made of sterner stuff and didn’t get deterred by the threats and gestures that we could see. We knew any punishment at grandma’s home was not possible!

They quickened their pace and thought we would return when we wouldn’t see them. We didn’t. Our moms returned home in the afternoon to discover that we were missing and were blamed for being irresponsible. The whole house was searched. My grandma rushed into neighboring houses, hoping we must be playing somewhere.

The big news was conveyed to my uncle, an authoritarian man with haughty demeanor who considered talking to women a waste of time. He was furious and thundered: “These women can’t even take care of two kids!” Only grandma could face his wrath and ordered him to send men all around the village. No success!

Having realized the gravity of the situation, my uncle took his bike out and told grandma that the kids must have drowned in the stream. Mumbling some obscenities about the women of the house, he drove away to request the local authorities to stop the discharge of water so that the bodies could be retrieved.

No one could have ever seen such a delight at the face of my uncle as he returned home with us, chatting away to glory! My grandma ran to the storehouse to carry round blocks of Gur (jaggery) to be distributed to all those who came to congratulate! Nobody was interested in our story and who saved us!

Within hours, my uncle announced that we should go back to our own homes next morning as he had had enough of our adventures!

4Q: What’s next for Balroop Singh in writing? Travelling?

BS: My next poetry book ‘Echoes Within’ is almost ready. I am looking for a suitable cover.

Travelling has been my passion though I have never made any bucket list. When I look back, one memory looms large and that is the wish to visit Switzerland. Though it had faded away as I grew up, it is returning now with passionate reminders.

Thank you Balroop for taking the time to answer our questions. For you readers, you can learn more about the talented author here:

Let’s connect: