Saturday 30 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Yolande Essiembre of New Brunswick, Canada.


Welcome to the Scribbler, Yolande.


This is her first visit to the Scribbler. I had the pleasure of meeting Yolande at a writer’s retreat and she was working on her story then. 

A story very dear to her.

She's going to tell us about her book which was recently published and launched in Shediac, New Brunswick, making a dream come true.

The 5 star reviews are piling up.




Yolande Essiembre is an author, coach and workshop facilitator. Her passion for understanding human behavior and a lifelong interest in personal and spiritual growth led her to returned to university as an adult to pursue her dream of becoming a therapist. She holds a Master of Theology degree, along with a certification in social work, a certificate in religious sciences, as well as accreditation in various types of counseling and coaching. She is the mother of four children and grandmother to two beautiful granddaughters.


Working Title: Long-Lost Mom: My Journey Out of Hiding





At seventy-one years of age, she hears her son’s voice for the first time. 

After forty-six years spent carrying a heavy secret, Yolande has built a good life for herself. A few days after arriving from an exciting trip to Japan, she stops at the local post office to pick up her mail. The clerk hands her a registered letter. Yolande stands motionless as she read the address of the sender, Department of Social Development, Fredericton, New Brunswick. Her mind somersaults back to the year 1970. 

What if for nearly five decades you knew you had a long-lost child, one you had given up for adoption but who has been on your mind and in your heart for all those years? And what if-- because your son was conceived as the result of a sexual assault--his existence felt like something you had to hide?

Long-Lost Mom is the poignant story of giving up a child for adoption and the difficulty of remaining silent over the course of a lifetime. When Yolande's son, Trevor finds her, she is faced with confronting the truth of her past and a deluge of complicated questions. How could she tell her three other children? How would the life she has built be changed?

Their healing journey is captured through heartfelt and honest correspondence as they come together almost fifty years after his birth. A powerful and engaging memoir, Long-Lost Mom speaks to the healing power of reconciling with ourselves and with our pasts.



The Story Behind the Story:

Several months after my son found me, I discovered I was not alone in living this experience. Ours was part of a greater story. In Canada, historical data from Statistics Canada (1999) reveal that between 1945 and 1971 almost 600,000 infants were born to unmarried mothers and were recorded as illegitimate births. Because of social, cultural, and religious beliefs of the time, most unwed mothers were pressured to put their children up for adoption. This practice was also common in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Adoption records were sealed which meant very little information was revealed to the adoptive parents, and no information was available to the adoptees or to the biological parent. I was one of these unwed mothers and my son was one of these babies.

After returning home from visiting my son in Vietnam in February 2018, I found out that in my province of New Brunswick, adoption record which had been kept sealed for one hundred years would be opened. Adult adoptees and birth parent would now be able to access the information. Gradually, this is also happening in other provinces and countries. My heart went out to all the long-lost moms still in hiding, wondering if they, too, still felt the pain and shame of the past. I also wondered about all the long-lost sons and daughters who were searching wanting to know the truth. I thought about the great number of adoptive parents who might worry about how this would affect their lives. My intention in sharing our story is that it will bring a ray of hope and understanding to those living similar experiences, or to those supporting them. It is a story about hope; about overcoming shame and self-doubt; about healing and making peace with the past.





A question for you before you go:


What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?

My favorite part is putting words on a page. They are an expression of self, a thought developed, a dream expressed. I Love painting pictures with words, organizing thoughts from the heart, describing awe, appreciating wonder; it is like putting words on the invisible.

What I enjoy the least is the hours spent at the computer. I like to write with a pen and paper but eventually it needs to be put into my computer. I must admit though, editing the work in the computer is a gift! 


Thank you Yolande for sharing your touching story with us. Wishing you continued success with your stories.


And a big thank you to my visitors and readers. Comment box below – tell us what’s on your mind.

Saturday 23 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story with K. L. Loveley of Nottinghamshire, England


Meet K. L. Loveley.

Another first time visitor to the Scribbler. When I followed her on Twitter, I was intrigued by her intro –  Retired nurse, now author, poet. Kooky and Kind. Lives life to her fullest.

I don’t know her well enough to vouch for the kookiness but from reading her bio, I can see she is kind.

It’s great to have her as our guest this week, so read on my friends.



Hi everyone, here’s the bit about me.

The most fundamental point is that I enjoy writing and in particular using my voice to raise awareness of social and medical issues through fictional characters. My background as an NHS nurse provided me with the knowledge required to provide authenticity.

Since Covid-19 created major problems in Health and education, I have volunteered my services as a Covid-vaccinator. I also help children with their reading at our local primary school.

Last but not least important is my love of writing and reading all genres of literature and poetry



Working Title:  Union Blues.


Synopsis:    Nature lover Willow embraces life to its fullest potential. After all, she is living her life as two people. When her identical twin sister Molly sadly dies a short time after birth, Willow carries with her the memory of sharing the same beginnings of life.

When Willow becomes a mother, the voice of Molly begins to drown out all sense of reality. Survivors guilt begins to manifest as post-natal depression, taking over her every thought.

Gabriel is a third-year medical student when he begins a relationship with Willow. Coming from a very different background he hides his own secret. This is a secret that eventually has far-reaching consequences.

Gabriel is not the only one with a long-hidden secret. His parents have a lot to answer for and are the driving force behind the events that unfold in his life and as a consequence this impacts on the life of Willow too.

Watch the story unfold as their lives spiral out of control. Classified as a thriller, this story will keep you turning the pages as you become involved with the characters in this true to life fiction.


The Story Behind the Story:  Essentially Union Blues was born out of my desire to raise the subject of gambling as an addiction. Having read a number of reports about the increasing issues of gambling addiction, I decided that this would be a subject that could lend itself to my sympathetic style of writing. Using my social voice to create realistic characters who find themselves in difficult circumstances, I was able to combine both the issues of post-natal depression and gambling addiction into a believable story that is current and at the same time, very concerning.

Classified as a thriller, which was a surprise to me! is testament of sorts, to the way my style of writing is developing.








A question for you before you go Katie:


What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?


I love breathing life into new characters and giving them a personality and a story to tell.

Editing is difficult for me. Having to cut out parts of the story that I have put much time and thought into is quite upsetting, however it is necessary to give the book the best chance of success.




Thank you, Katie, for being our guest. Wishing you continued success on your writing journey.

And thanks to you, our terrific readers and visitors. Don't be shy, leave a comment. Tell us what you like, tell us about your summer, your books, whatever you want.

Saturday 16 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Anne-Marie Mawhiney of Sudbury ON, Canada.


Let’s welcome Anne-Marie to the Scribbler.
Her debut novel – Spindrifts – is receiving a lot of favourable attention and reviews.

Here’s what one reviewer wrote: “Such intelligent writing. I was captivated. Highly recommended!”

Anne-Marie is kind enough to share her story behind the story, so read on, my friends.

A-M Mawhiney is a fifth generation settler who lives in Sudbury, Ontario with Dave McGill and their canine companion Charlie, in the territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in the Robinson-Huron Treaty area.

Book Title: Spindrifts

Synopsis: Racism, climate change, and violence are in the past. But are there secrets lurking in the shadows of the Land of Hope? What truth about the past is being covered up?

When fifteen year old Fania returns from Immersion, she is shattered to learn that the next phase of her education is at home with her granny Alicia. She had hoped for something far grander that would prepare her for an Important role with the Earth Project. Their two strong personalities clash as Fania begins to learn more about the past and her family’s role in it.

As Fania grows in confidence and power, she starts to wonder exactly what secrets Alicia is keeping in her underground lab. After Fania discovers the truth, she finds her calling that has the power to change everything.

The Story Behind the Story: In March 2020, like others all over the world, my normal routine stopped, and I became immersed media coverage of the pandemic. It seemed obvious to me the pandemic was one additional symptom of climate change.

I realized I was becoming so caught up in the media coverage of the events swirling around the early days of the pandemic that it was not healthy for me. I searched for something that could give the tragedies in 2020 some meaning, something to serve as an inspiration for change and hope.

One day I decided to start a journal of my experiences of life during a pandemic, but to my surprise the first sentence in the novel Spindrifts flowed from my finger tips. I had done no creative writing since high school, but I decided to see where my creative side would take me. Much to my surprise I found myself writing a novel.

The words poured out and, when they stopped, long walks with my canine companion, Charlie, would bring new ideas. For several months I wrote, walked Charlie, stared into space, and ate the wonderful meals Dave made. It was a great escape from the realities around us, as Dave and I stayed in isolation even from family members during the « bubble » times.

In July 2020, I was accepted into the Humber College Summer Writing Virtual Workshop. This was an excellent way to receive thoughtful feedback from our instructor, Alissa York and my peers in our small group. In the workshop on how to get published, I learned that finding an agent and a publisher for traditional publishing could take up to ten years! But I felt some urgency to have my story out in the world, and found Friesen Press through a google search. Within 24 hours of downloading their materials I was contacted by someone there who explained how their services worked.

I completed my first draft in the spring of 2021, went through the usual revision steps, guided by feedback from my editor, some friends, and my writers group formed from writers I had met at the Humber Workshop — we still meet virtually every two weeks.

Spindrifts was published a November 15, 2021, the same day of unprecedented flooding in British Columbia Canada, a clear sign of climate change. At least I think so.

My goal in writing Spindrifts was to inspire readers to consider ways they can each contribute to a healthier planet. My vision of hope for the future, through this fantasy that takes place 50-60 years from now, will inevitably provoke discussion and critique, which I hope compel each reader to consider what their own vision of hope for the future looks like, so they can work toward it.

I am currently working on a sequel.


A question for you before you go, Anne-Marie.

What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?

My favorite parts of writing are when my characters take over. In writing Spindrifts I was a panster— I would sit at the computer and see where my imagination would take me. But a few times I had ideas for a particular scene in mind, and by the end of my writing that part I realized the characters had take me in a different direction, one that would turn out to be significant later on in the story. So, for example, one character who was supposed to play a small but significant role and then leave, liked it so much in the Land of Hope she wound up staying, playing a more prominent role; and she is part of the sequel.

The part of writing I like the least is when I run out of ideas and need to pause until I am inspired by a spark of an idea. There is a sense of worry about whether I will break through the dry spell. With experience I am starting to realize writing has a personal rhythm and the pauses will lead to more ideas that flow better than trying to force myself. My writing is much easier as process when the ideas are sparking.

Thank you for sharing the story behind the story, Anne-Marie. All the best in your writing journey.

And a big thank you to our readers and visitors. Don't be shy, leave a comment.

Saturday 9 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Author Jane Doucet of Halifax, NS, Canada.


Fishnet & Fantasies. What an intriguing title.

And it sounds like an entertaining novel.

Let’s welcome Jane to the Scribbler. It is her first visit to our blog and I hope it won’t be the last.

I’ve been following Jane on Twitter and I am beyond pleased she decided to share her Story Behind the Story this week.

Jane Doucet is a Halifax-based journalist whose articles have appeared in myriad national magazines, including Chatelaine and Canadian Living. In 2017, she self-published her debut novel, The Pregnant Pause, which was shortlisted for a 2018 Whistler Independent Book Award. In 2021, Nimbus Publishing’s Vagrant Press released her second novel, Fishnets & Fantasies. Vagrant Press will publish Jane’s third novel, Lost & Found in Lunenburg, in 2023.


Working Title: Fishnets & Fantasies


Synopsis: Wendy Hebb has been a fisherman’s wife for forty years. She has also been a mother, a yoga instructor, and a part-time soap maker. She loves her life in picturesque Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but it’s just not enough anymore. With a burning entrepreneurial desire, she decides that when her husband, Paul, retires, it will finally be her turn to live out her dream. The catch: her dream is to open a sex shop.

While Paul begrudgingly goes along with Wendy’s “half-cocked” idea, it’s out of a sense of guilt; a recently spilled secret has their marriage on the rocks. As soon as the townspeople get wind of Wendy’s plans, it opens up a whole other can of worms—and Paul finds himself bait for the local rumour mill. Her silent, “invisible” partner in the project, he secretly hopes her plan for the shop will fail.

An irreverent novel full of heart and humour, Fishnets & Fantasies is a story of love and lust at any age, of old grudges and older secrets, and of the relationships that make all of the awkward fumbling worthwhile.


The Story Behind the Story: In 2017, my husband and I were talking about what we’d do if we won the lottery. We love visiting Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, so I imagined that we’d buy a house there. We were in our late forties, which I thought was too young to retire, so I suggested starting a business to keep us busy. I said, “What does Lunenburg need? Not another tourist shop. A chocolatier? No, someone in town makes chocolate. A small-batch soapery? No, someone in Chester makes soap. Hey, how about a sex shop?”

I thought that was a funny concept, and a lightbulb went off. I originally envisioned the story as a TV series, so I set out to write a screenplay, which I’d never done before. I borrowed Screenwriting for Dummies from the library, but ten pages in I quit. I thought, “This is too hard. I know! I’ll write a novel and sell it to the CBC.”




A question before you go, Jane.

What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?

I’m a humour writer, so my favourite part is envisioning funny characters and scenes in my head, then putting together the right words to describe them in a way that will make me laugh. Of course, my hope is that those characters and scenes will make readers laugh, too, but I have to find them funny first. The part I enjoy the least? I find it hard to be patient with the process.


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

And thank you to our visitors and readers. Don't forget to leave a comment.

Saturday 2 July 2022

The Story Behind the Story for The Allspice Bath by Sonia Saikaley


This is a terrific novel. One of the most enjoyable I’ve read over the years and I asked Sonia to tell us the Story Behind the Story.

Sonia has been our guest before. Most recently regarding the release of her children’s book – Samantha’s Sandwich Stand. Read about it HERE.

Her first visit was back in September of 2019 and you can read it HERE.




Sonia Saikaley was born and raised in Ottawa, Canada to a big Lebanese family. The daughter of a shopkeeper, she had access to all the treats she wanted. Her first book, The Lebanese Dishwasher, co-won the 2012 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest. She has two poetry collections Turkish Delight, Montreal Winter and A Samurai’s Pink House. Her novel The Allspice Bath was the 2020 IPPY Gold Medal winner and the 2020 International Book Awards winner for Multicultural Fiction and a finalist in the 2020 Ottawa Book Awards. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Humber School for Writers. Her first children’s picture book Samantha’s Sandwich Stand was published by Renaissance Press in 2021



Title: The Allspice Bath



It is 1970. The evergreens are thick with snow despite it being the month of April. In an Ottawa hospital, another daughter is born to the Azar family. The parents are from Kfarmichki, a village in Lebanon but their daughters were born in Canada. Four daughters, to be precise. No sons. Youssef is the domineering father. Samira is the quiescent mother. Rima, Katrina and Mona are the traditional daughters. Then there is Adele, the newest member. “You should’ve been born a boy,” Samira whispers to Adele shortly after her entrance into the world. As she grows, Adele learns there are certain rules Lebanese girls must follow in order to be good daughters. First off, they must learn to cook, master housework, learn Arabic and follow the traditions of their culture. Above all, they must save themselves for marriage. But Adele dreams of being an artist. When she is accepted to the University of Toronto, this is her chance to have a life outside the confines of her strict upbringing. But can she defy her father?

When Youssef surprises her with a family trip to her ancestral home, Adele is excited about the journey. In Lebanon, she meets Elias. He is handsome and intelligent and Adele develops feelings for him until Elias confides to her that her unexpected meeting with him was actually a well-devised plan that is both deceitful and shocking. Will this unravel the binding threads of this close-knit Lebanese family? Crisscrossing between Ottawa, Toronto and Lebanon, The Allspice Bath is a bold story about the cultural gap and the immigrant experience.



The Story Behind the Story:

When I was growing up I heard countless people say to my dad, “You poor man! Four daughters and no sons!” My dad, or what I called him ‘Baba’, just laughed it off. He never once spoke of any regret at not having a son nor that he only had daughters unlike the father in my novel The Allspice Bath. Youssef, the dad, wants a son and is disappointed when his last child is also a girl. The first line of the book: “You should’ve been born a boy” sets the tone of this novel about a Lebanese-Canadian family and the main character Adele Azar’s place in it.

         In real life, for my Baba, my sisters and I were his kids and he was our dad, that’s all that mattered to him.  He was a shy man who left his village in Lebanon by ship to come to Canada in the fifties to have a better life. An uncle and aunt in Ottawa sponsored him with the hope of marrying my Baba to their daughter but she didn’t want to marry her cousin so my dad was introduced to my mom when she arrived in Ottawa. It was a whirlwind romance and they were married six months later at St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral on Lyon Street in Centretown Ottawa. 

The church would eventually move to another location in the city but my parents remained in centretown. It was in this area, namely the Golden Triangle, where my dad and mom began their lives together and started a family and business. Baba loved his grocery store which he purchased in 1965 with my mom from a lively Italian man named Deprato. Over the years, my parents spoke fondly of this gentleman and how he was kind enough to finance my parents’ purchase of the store until they could get a loan from a bank.  I wasn’t yet born but arrived in the early seventies to my parents, my three older sisters and this charming yellow grocery store called Jimmy’s Grocery. I loved this store as much as I loved my dad and I wanted to write a story that would let my Baba’s beloved business live long after the store closed and long after Baba passed away.

         The Allspice Bath has the yellow grocery store, the shopkeeper, his wife and four daughters. Set mostly in Ottawa, in centretown with the Rideau Canal and old heritage homes of the Golden Triangle, it was easy for me to write about this setting since I grew up there surrounded by a big family and extended family that would visit often. My parents hosted many parties on summer nights with Arabic music playing and my family, guests and I would dance the dabke holding hands and swinging our legs as we went round and round on our small street. My mom barbecued meat in front of the grocery store and our adjacent house (our house didn’t have a backyard so we were like the family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding roasting a lamb out front, well, it was beef from half a cow that my dad would purchase from a farmer on the outskirts of Ottawa). My mom and elderly aunts from the village who came to Canada years earlier would clean the meat and chop it up while I stood in the kitchen fascinated with how fast their hands moved and how they shared their stories of the village with me. They loved their homelands but they also loved their lives in their chosen home: Canada. I sensed their longing too and the hopes they had for their children here. Every generation wants the next generation to do better than the one before and my Lebanese family was no different.

         These seeds of hope and expectations planted their way in my novel. Adele wants a life not defined by her parents’ or culture’s expectations while her older sisters follow the culture’s belief of what it is to be a Lebanese woman. I wanted to create a story where the protagonist, this young feisty girl who later becomes a strong woman, decides to live a life of her own, not defined by cultural obligations or expected roles. Of course, here is the dilemma that Adele must face: can she find a balance between the two worlds she inhibits, namely, her Lebanese and Canadian cultures? Furthermore, can she still have her place within her family if she doesn’t comply with the expectations placed on her? This is a dilemma I wanted to explore in my novel since many first-generation Canadians have faced and are still facing this scenario in our diverse world. Is it possible to live in two worlds and not lose one side of yourself? I have lived this and I like to think I have overcome the dilemma since I embrace both sides of myself and still maintain my closeness with my family and culture. It wasn’t always easy growing up with one foot in my Lebanese culture and another in my Canadian, but luckily I never split my pants! I did sometimes find myself answering in Arabic as a child when speaking with my teachers but then found the English words. I also didn’t want to bring hummus or taboulleh to school for lunch so I wasn’t always comfortable in sharing that part of my life with my Canadian friends. But I’d race home after school to stuffed grape leaves and yoghurt (laban) that my mom would make homemade. My mom is in her late eighties and has dementia and although she can’t cook anymore, she still knows how to make laban.

         Laban is a staple in Middle Eastern food and so is allspice. I remember growing up with this familiar scent wafting throughout our house and how my mom would use it in a lot of dishes like fasulia (red or white kidney beans) with riz (rice) and beef or kibbeh nayeh (raw ground meat with fine bulgar wheat). In The Allspice Bath, the mother Samira cooks feasts of food and this talent is displayed throughout the novel. She even comes up with a term “allspice dreams” which represents her dream of wanting to be married with children. She wants this same dream for all her daughters. Adele, on the other hand, doesn’t want this dream. She has other dreams and goals. Can one achieve their goals if they don’t have the support of family? I felt inspired to write this novel because it is also about a young woman who wants to be an artist and, therefore, not follow the acceptable professions like doctor, lawyer, engineer or accountant or even become a homemaker. My mom was an amazing cook before the onset of dementia and her delicious soul-soothing food also inspired this book.

         Food, family, a yellow grocery store, childhood memories, an old neighbourhood and a desire to find a balance between two worlds provided the inspiration for this novel. The Allspice Bath explores my rich Lebanese culture and what it is to be a woman in this culture while at the same time trying to find a balance between two worlds. Sometimes we have to define our own place in the worlds we inhabit and, in the process, try to keep the ones we love in that dual existence.




A question for you before you go, Sonia:


What is your favorite part of writing and the part you enjoy the least?

My favorite part of writing is the first draft because it is just you and the blank page. I like that freedom of allowing the characters to develop and giving permission for the ideas to flow and take me throughout the work-in-progress. When the first draft is done, this is a big accomplishment that deserves a celebration. Now once the celebrating is over, comes the hard work of rewriting. This is not my favorite part of writing but I know it is essential so I have grown to enjoy it more with every book I complete. Plus it is lovely to work with a good editor who helps you polish the manuscript before it is presented to the world.


Thank you so much, Allan, for your support and for always promoting other writers!



My pleasure Sonia. Thanks for being my guest once more. Wishing you continued success with your stories.


Thanks to all you readers and visitors. If you love stories, good stories, pick up a copy of The Allspice Bath.