Saturday 24 September 2022

Where Did That Come From with Author Chuck Bowie


Let’s welcome Chuck back. Always a welcome and popular guest. Chuck has the distinction of being the first Author to begin the new year of 2022 with the Story Behind the Story. See it HERE.

He’s got something new in the works and his fans (myself included) are anxiously waiting for the next thriller and/or cozy.

 A little twist to this post as we stray from the SBTS, and we get some background on Chuck’s writing.




Where Did That Come From?

-         Chuck Bowie


I am what is known as an ‘intuitive writer.’ Actually, it’s not so much what I am as how I write. I don’t operate with outlines, spreadsheets, number limitations (words per paragraph, words per chapter, size of book…). I just sit down, and well, write. There are times when an idea ‘arrives’, but for the most part, I sit at my desk and wait.

Usually, I wait less than a minute.

I write mysteries: Thrillers and Cozy Mysteries. In general, my stories begin with an individual, an event, or a location. This part doesn’t matter to me so much, but it’s always interesting when an inspirational event – from real life – happens along to get my creative juices flowing.

I had mentioned in a previous episode of The Story Behind the Story: SBTS that my first cozy had been inspired by the true story of an inn renovation where a skull, probably from the 1920s had been found between the wall studs. But I have been inspired as a novelist by individuals, events, and locations since I began to write.


The Individual

In Three Wrongs, I was working in Romania with a single (Canadian) colleague, and awakened from a dream with a character fully-formed. Donovan, a thief for hire with little to no conscience carried a contract to steal a chalice from a palace in Bucharest, and I was off to the races.


A Location

In AMACAT, inspiration came from locations. I had been travelling to France, London, and New York (not to mention Canada), and as my story unfolded, these locations presented opportunities to narrate specific plot elements. A woman being set up for fraud works in London. A stolen cask of wine disappears from Provence, in France. A mask changes hands as it travels from Provence to Montreal, and back to France via a riverboat cruise on the Rhône. In every instance, I believe that the setting inspires and amplifies the story.


An Event

Steal It All presents a wonderful illustration of how the story behind the story can unfold. I had made lunch for my son, and while we waited to eat, drinking copious mugs of coffee, Jon recounted a CBC article about the Manchester gangs of the 1980s. I borrowed the concept as a major element of a Manchester gang that (ahem!) caught Donovan’s interest.


An Individual (Who disappears quickly)

In The Body on the Underwater Road, I introduce a character who features prominently in the first two chapters, and then promptly disappears for the rest of the novel. While in her brief tenure on my literary earth, she sets off a chain of events upon which the rest of the novel hinges. ‘Kill your darlings,’ indeed!


So Much Location!

In Her Irish Boyfriend – my wife gifted me with this wonderful title, by the way – we had set out on a grand adventure to England, almost a month in length. At the last minute my son suggested that if we didn’t mind a detour, flying into Dublin would save us several hundred in flight costs. Did we mind travelling to our original thought for a destination? Of course not. Off we went.

We land in Dublin and the kernel of an idea begins to form. Trips to Trinity College and, yes, the Temple Bar District solidified the genesis of the novel. Off we sail across the Irish Sea, into Wales and off to London by train. Crime two is set. After brief jaunts to Bath and Cardiff, we swan off the York, where Crime 3 falls into my lap. By the time we’re back in London, the climax – in Dublin and Yorkshire – writes itself, so to speak. So, location, location…location.

And here is the opportunity cost of being an intuitive writer, as exemplified in the paragraph above. I had sat down a few weeks ago to write Cozy #4. Before I got three words down, the Muse sat on my shoulder, shook her head (I just discovered that my Muse has a gender!) and said, ‘Did you not read Her Irish Boyfriend? Remember the new character, Loic, from the very end of the book? Well, Loic is in trouble. Donovan must go help him. So, thriller now; cozy later. Off you go, Chuck.


Anthologies Have Back Stories As Well

Recently I, with a number of my writer friends have begun a seasonal collection of anthologies. Autumn Paths is in the can, as is Winter Paths. Spring Paths is, of course, on my mind, but I digress.

Anthologies can also contain stories behind the stories. In Autumn Paths, I was inspired by the writing of my friend, Allan Hudson, having just read his action thriller, Wall of War. I decided to write a yarn based on my character, Sean Donovan, meeting Allan’s character, Drake Alexander. By melding a common setting: eastern Canada, I was able to bring the two characters together to solve a mystery. So fun.

Winter Paths was quite different. I had been visiting an older gentleman who was housebound. His daily regimen was solidly etched in stone: coffee first, cat food for kitty, lunch, hockey or curling on the TV, late afternoon news, etc. I decided to write a story featuring such an individual together with his regimen. However, I threw a wrinkle into the mix, and watched what happened. I think it is an interesting tale. You should read it.

In fact, reading novels – all stories, really – and imagining the back story can be a satisfying part of the reading process. At least, I believe it to be so.



Thanks for being our guest this week, Chuck. Wishing you continued success with your stories.



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

Saturday 17 September 2022

The Story behind the Story with Chantal MacDonald of Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.


I had the opportunity to meet this week’s guest at a book signing in Miramichi, NB. We were both greeting visitors interested in our books and we had an opportunity to chat.

Chantal is a very personable and positive lady, and I'm glad she agreed to share the Story Behind the Story of her debut novel.

Let’s meet Chantal

A teacher by trade, Chantal has a Master of Arts in English Literature from the University of Ottawa. This is Chantal’s debut novel, but she is actively working on a sequel as well as a children’s picture book series. When she’s not writing or teaching, Chantal enjoys baking and traveling with her family. Chantal resides in Moncton, New Brunswick, with her husband and three young children.


Title: Hope at the Ocean’s Edge




Is a Fresh Start Finally Possible After a Life-altering Tragedy?

Sadie Jones experienced extreme devastation at only nine years old. Now on the cusp of her high school graduation, Sadie is more than ready for a future that will take her away from the small town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia…

As the year is wrapping up, she catches the attention of a cute lobster fisherman who works down at the local docks. Tom Carter is everything Sadie would want—he’s charming, honest, and hardworking, but will he ever be able to accept her distrust of God?

When a stranger from her mother’s past reaches out, Sadie finds herself poised to experience the culture and adventure she’s always dreamed of, but she also is on the brink of emotional breakdown.
Will she open her heart to God’s plan for her life and will she find hope and love at the ocean’s edge?

The Story Behind the Story: As a child and teen, I was a voracious reader. I preferred books that were wholesome romance or coming-of-age stories to which I could relate. However, as a teen growing up in Atlantic Canada, I had to reside myself to the fact that the books I wanted to read would always have an American protagonist (unless I wanted to reread Anne of Green Gables).

And so, when I set out to write my first novel, my primary goal was to create the kind of book that I would have enjoyed reading as a young adult, but to make it Canadian. The setting—Lunenburg, Nova Scotia—and the East Coast flavour of the story were an incredibly important factor.

I also wanted to write a story for young women that would be hope-filled and encouraging in a world that too-often is the opposite.

So, Hope at the Ocean’s Edge was born.

And born it was, with all the struggle and labour pains that tend to coincide with birth. This novel was written over two years, in the middle of a global pandemic, while being a stay-at-home mom to my three young children (aged 4, 2, and 2 months when I began). Finding time, energy, and clarity of mind to write was a daily challenge, but, little by little, I moved toward the finish line.

I am so proud of the finished product and so excited to be working on its sequel as well as launching the release of a children’s picture book later this fall.





A question for you before you go, Chantal:


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

My favourite part of writing is the ability to engage my creative senses and get lost in my characters and their stories. I especially love when I am surprised by what a character does or says. When pieces of story bubble out of me unexpectedly, it feels like my words and characters have autonomy outside of me as the writer—and that’s fun!

My least favourite part of writing is everything that comes after the writing is completed. I believe in the message of my stories, but I don’t love marketing. This part is a challenge for me and, because it’s time consuming, it tends to eat up a lot of the time I would rather spend working on new stories.



**I think we all feel that way about marketing Chantal. Thanks for sharing TSBTS with us. Wishing you continued success on your writing journey.


Thanks to all our visitors and readers. Feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday 11 September 2022

It's Back! Six Great Books - Six Great Authors.


“A great novel, rather than discouraging me, simply makes me want to write.” — Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet



Todays posting is back to one of my favorites.

I want to share six great books and six great authors.

I’ve shared some others on the Scribbler and if you’re interested, please go


I hope you find something you like and check out their stories.

(Do you have a favorite? Tell us about it in the comment box below.)



Layers by Zuzanne Belec


From Goodreads:

Eight short stories on the power of the human spirit.

Layers is a debut collection of imaginative short stories celebrating life and the human spirit despite the ever-present spectre of melancholy in our lives today. With their distinctive blend of wit and humour, they light up any underlying darkness.

From the Americas to India, from Africa to Europe, and through a range of genres, voices and styles, layers are unraveled, revealing the textures and contrasts of old and new in the environments and cultures of today's fast-paced world.

With vivid descriptions, we are drawn into enchanting worlds with characters that leap off the page, leaving the reader lingering long after the pages have been read.

*This is a great introduction to Belec’s writing. Creative, entertaining, each story is different.  If you like short stories, give this one a read.


Zuzanne has been a guest on the Scribbler and if you want to read more, please go HERE.



Memories on the Bounty by Janet Coulter Sanford


From goodreads:

For fans of Tuesdays with Morrie, a memoir of friendship in the face of memory loss, and of preserving one man's story of an incredible year about the replica HMS Bounty.

In 1960, Roy Boutilier and twenty-five fellow Nova Scotians set sail for Tahiti aboard the newly built replica sailing ship Bounty. The ship stayed in Tahiti for almost a year while MGM Studios filmed the epic historical drama Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Marlon Brando.

Roy's year on Bounty and his experiences in Tahiti are themselves the stuff of movies, but it took a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease for Roy and his old friend, Janet Sanford, to realize that his fascinating stories would be lost if someone didn't capture those memories.

So began a series of Monday-morning meetings as Roy and the author embarked on a race against time. Memories on the Bounty goes far beyond re-telling Roy's story; it explores the boundaries of memory, the challenges of storytelling, the pain of saying goodbye, and the enduring bonds between good friends.

With dozens of never-before-seen photos from Bounty's maiden voyage and her time in Tahiti, Memories on the Bounty weaves a heartwarming tale of love, loss, adventure, and deep friendship.


*Sanford’s memoir not only recollects the memories and once in a lifetime experience of a younger Roy, but it entertains in the telling of the story and the warm relationship of author and a true friend, before he forgets.

An exceptional debut.


Janet has been a guest on the Scribbler and if you’d like to read more, please go HERE.




The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles


From goodreads:

Based on the true World War II story of the heroic librarians at the American Library in Paris, this is an unforgettable story of romance, friendship, family, and the power of literature to bring us together, perfect for fans of The Lilac Girls and The Paris Wife.

Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Together with her fellow librarians, Odile joins the Resistance with the best weapons she has: books. But when the war finally ends, instead of freedom, Odile tastes the bitter sting of unspeakable betrayal.

Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. Her interest is piqued by her solitary, elderly neighbor. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor’s mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.

A powerful novel that explores the consequences of our choices and the relationships that make us who we are—family, friends, and favorite authors—The Paris Library shows that extraordinary heroism can sometimes be found in the quietest of places.

*I read the blurb for this book at a friend’s house and I knew right away I wanted to read it. Couldn’t put it down. Excellent story.



Daughters of the Resistance by Lana Kortchik.


From goodreads:

A heart-wrenching novel of love, resilience and courage in World War II, from the author of Sisters of War – perfect for readers who loved The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The German Midwife.

USA Today bestseller!

Ukraine, 1943

On a train from Ukraine to Germany, Lisa Smirnova is terrified for her life. The train is under Nazi command, heading for one of Hitler’s rumoured labour camps. As she is taken away from everything she holds dear, Lisa wonders if she will ever see her family again.

In Nazi-occupied Kiev, Irina Antonova knows she could be arrested at any moment. Trapped in a job registering the endless deaths of the people of Kiev, she risks her life every day by secretly helping her neighbours, while her husband has joined the Soviet partisans, who are carrying out life-threatening work to frustrate the German efforts.

When Lisa’s train is intercepted by the partisans, Irina’s husband among them, these women’s lives will take an unimaginable turn. As Irina fights to protect her family and Lisa is forced to confront the horrors of war, together they must make an impossible decision: what would they be willing to lose to save the people they love?

*I’ve read all of Kortchik’s novels and I’ve never been disappointed. This is a terrific read for WW2 buffs.


Lana has been a guest on the Scribbler and if you missed her post, please go HERE.



Last Winter’s Taken by MJ LaBeff


From goodreads:

The murder of Willow Danby, a married woman and expectant mother, thrusts Homicide Detective Rachel Hood into a murder investigation and missing person’s case as she searches for the baby ripped from Willow’s body. The mysterious undertone surrounding the current investigation forces Rachel to reopen a cold case from the previous year. Yvonne Johnson and Willow Danby couldn’t have been more different. Wrong side of the tracks meets white picket fence. The only thing the two women have in common: they’re both dead and their infants are missing.

Even with a long list of suspects to interview, alibis abound, and Rachel is no closer to solving Danby’s or Johnson’s deaths. She worries: where are the children? Rachel’s psychic empathy draws her closer to the taken infants, and she suffers from a haunting premonition. But, how can she be their voice when they are too tiny to speak?

A single clue left at each of the crime scenes links the cases together and leads Rachel to a mystery dating back to the year 1638. Her frightening premonition spirals out of control, but she can’t track the infants’ sobs.

The sinister murders and search for the missing infants reunites her with occult crimes specialist and psychic FBI Agent Nick Draven. Even with his psychic gift of hypersensitive hearing, Nick can’t hear the infants’ cries in the night. Then a mysterious enigma is unearthed for the first time in over 372 years and draws them closer to a modern day sociopath, murdering expectant mothers and taking their unborn children.

*Thriller lovers won’t want to miss this one. LaBeff’s blend of the paranormal and modern day criminal investigation make for a top notch story. It was easy to get lost in this book.

MJ has been a popular guest on the Scribbler and is you’ve missed her previous visits, please go HERE.


Senior Management: Parenting my Parents

By Martha Vowles

From goodreads:

At age fifty-five, the author became a first-time parent. Her new charges were reckless, accident-prone, pig-headed, over 80 years old and bigger than her.

In a memoir told with grace, poignancy, and humour, the author chronicles her years of managing the care of her elderly parents as together they slipped into dementia - from a chaotic Christmas, to an addled father who insists on driving, to calls to the police, to trips to the hospital, to a high-priced care facility that lost track of her stepmother.

*An award winning memoir. It was with great pleasure I picked up this book. Vowles story of caring for aging parents is both entertaining and amusing, heart breaking at times. An enjoyable read.

Martha has been a guest on the Scribbler. If you missed it, please go HERE.

Thank you for your stories!

Thank you to all who have visited. I hope you’ve found something of interest.

Saturday 3 September 2022

The Story Behind the Story with Jane Risdon of Great Britain.


This week, we welcome Jane back to the Scribbler. She was a featured guest recently with a short story in our SHORTS pages.

She was a guest last year when she talked about her stories and if you missed it, please go HERE.

Today she’s going to tell us the Story Behind the Story.

Read on, my friends.




Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, Electric Press, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

She is a regular guest on international internet podcasts including UK Crime Book Club (UKCBC), Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways, and on radio shows such as,, and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show.

Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Introduction to Literature Class, for second year students from Autumn 2021 for the foreseeable future.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers. They also facilitated the placement of music in movies and television series.

Earlier in her career she also worked for the British Ministry of Defence in Germany, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London.

Jane is represented by Linda Langton of Langton’s International Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA.

Working Title: The Matryoshka Files: A Lavinia Birdsong Investigation

Book 2 in my series featuring former MI5 Intelligence Officer, Lavinia Birdsong.



Synopsis: MI5 Intelligence Officer Lavinia Birdsong was given the option of taking voluntary retirement or face the sack and loss of her pension after twenty years working her way up the Security Service. She’d had her eye on being the third only ever, female Director General but all that went south when she chose retirement.

Determined to inveigle her way back into MI5 and to find out why she was given the elbow — after a year she still hasn’t a clue why she was given the ultimatum upon return from a joint MI5/MI6 operation in Moscow — she’s already investigated and solved the case of a missing woman in her locality, but without any indication from her former boss that he would give her even the slightest hope of reinstatement, and despite aiding MI5/MI6 to track down and capture Russian Mafia (Bratva) and Pro-Russian Ukrainian Separatists, Lavinia’s aspirations of working at Thames House again, seem a distant dream in the first of my series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva.

When her home is broken into a year later, and sensitive USB files are stolen from her ultra-secure safe — which operates with a scan of her thumb print — and her young cleaner, Mercy Farthing mysteriously disappears at the same time, Lavinia finds herself investigating everyone around her. Things get dangerous for the former Intelligence Officer, and for her colleagues, as they try to help her find out who has her files and why. Bodies are mounting up; the pressure is on, and time is running out.

The Matryoshka Files will be dynamite in the wrong hands.



The Story Behind the Story: Since I was old enough to take adult books out of the library I’ve read authors of crime, thrillers, mysteries, and espionage. From Agatha Christie to John Le Carrè, Stella Rimington, Frederick Forsyth, Leslie Thomas, Mickey Spillane, Michael Connolly, Peter James, Kathy Reichs and so many others, I’ve devoured their writing. I dreamed of writing, and I hoped one day I could write similar books.

Before my career in the International Music Industry, working with musicians, singers, songwriters, composers, record producers, and facilitating the placement of music on Movie and TV soundtracks, and my marriage to my musician husband, I worked for Government departments as a Civil Servant.  Not my first choice of a career, I wanted to be a War Correspondent, but my family moved to Germany before I could realise my dream.

My first position was with the British Ministry of Defence (MoD), in Germany in the late 1960s, on an army base which was in a village at the heart of the flooding resulting from the bombing by the Dam Busters in World War Two. It was a fascinating experience.

I also lived in Germany from 1957-1960 and we lived on very secure army base, not far from bomb sites, and we children had an armed guard taking us to and from school. The War was still very fresh in evidence around us. We were warned about the Russian Secret Police who hung around in bars not far from the gates of the base, hoping to kidnap or entice British soldiers into defecting.

Our regiment was there as part of the protection afforded Germany against the Soviets. We were a Guided Missile Regiment — we had weapons with us to act as a deterrent. At first, we were not welcome, understandably.

Upon arrival in Germany, by boat, the families were stranded on the boat for hours because of demonstrations against us by Germans. We eventually disembarked on to coaches to take us to the railway station where we were to get trains to Dortmund where we were to live. However, once on the coaches, demonstrators blocked our way, rocked the coaches side to side and generally terrified us all. After a few more hours, we were able to make our way to the train. More demonstrations and frightening behaviour before we boarded the trains and when we arrived in Dortmund.

Welcome to life in Germany in the later 1950s. We were spat at in the street, chased by women with brooms shouting, ‘go home Englander,’ and prams were overturned with babies in them. An interesting time. But eventually we kids played with German kids on the bomb sites and had quite a fun time. I met black American GI’s and their children with whom I played. Having just left Singapore, where I lived as a toddler, and where we mixed with Chinese and native Singaporeans daily, it just goes to prove kids are kids and will get on with being mates without any prejudices or political awareness.

During my time there in the late 1960s I met and worked with many local Germans — and was entertained in their homes — with whom I’ve made life-long friends. The Sergeant’s Mess was situated in the building where Nazi, Herman Goering, gave many of his speeches. The whole area is steeped in history and my imagination ran riot.

I met people from Eastern Germany who had escaped in hay carts under a hail of bullets, and families who went to Berlin and the Berlin Wall, every Christmas, to see if the names of their brothers and fathers were on lists provided by the Russians, of German soldiers — prisoners of war — who were being released from Siberia, or who had finally died. These soldiers had often been taken as teenagers in the middle of the night by the Hitler Youth to join their organization. Their families were forced to allow them to go under pain of death. I soaked up all these stories; one day I might use them.

I transferred to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall and found myself in paradise. Not only when the ‘Swinging Sixties,’ was at its height, but the Cold War was too. When I first lived in Germany the Berlin Wall didn’t exist. When I lived there in 1968 its consequences dominated Germany.

Working at the FCO during the Cold War was manna from heaven for a would-be crime and espionage writer.

Those who have read about my life before will know that I worked there at an amazing time. The person who Positively Vetted (PV) me regularly, from Special Branch, was a commander who had tracked down and arrested the Soviet husband and wife spies, Peter and Helen Kroger, who were in fact Americans. They were part of the Portland Spy ring, and my ‘Vetter’ would tell me about them and others he’d been involved in bringing to justice.

Whilst I worked there, over one hundred Soviets were expelled from their London Embassy on suspicion of spying. Moscow then expelled a similar number of our Embassy staff in retaliation.

I worked in a section which dealt with people alphabetically, and one such person was our Ambassador to Montevideo, Uruguay, Geoffrey Jackson. He was kidnapped by extreme leftwing guerrillas — known as Tupamaros guerrillas — during my time and spent eight months in captivity before a ransom was paid for his release. The FCO worked day and night to keep his family, and everyone updated, and to strive for his release, which, for a young aspiring writer was mind-blowing.

All this inspired my Ms. Birdsong crime series, although I don’t draw upon actual events and her stories are more current. I have always been fascinated by Mafia, whether it is Italian/Sicilian or Russian, and the workings of MI5 and MI6. The FCO in the 1960s meant the Security Services worked closely with the department. I loved it.

Today, MI5 and MI6 are often involved in operations involving ISIS, Russian, and other Mafia, and Organised Crime Groups, and it is this area I have researched for Ms. Birdsong. As the series expands, I am planning to delve further into espionage, but for now her stories are about MI5/MI6 and Organised Crime and how its activities finance rogue states and fighters such as Pro-Russian Ukrainian separatists. I began this series long before Russia invaded parts of Ukraine.

My series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates has been a joy to write.

Book one — ‘Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva,’ is in with my agent.

Book two (being rewritten now to accommodate changes at MI5 and in Ukraine) is called ‘The ‘Matryoshka Files: A Lavinia Birdsong Investigation’.

Book three is also being re-written for the same reasons, updating. It is called, ‘The Safe House’: A Lavinia Birdsong Investigation.

My agent is patiently awaiting books two and three. I need a clone.

If my crime writing interests you, please check out ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ and various anthologies for which I have written. I’m a multi-genre writer so you will find a mix of genres in them as well as crime stories, and of course, my co-written novel with Christina Jones, ‘Only One Woman,’ is about life in the late 1960s UK music scene, with a love-triangle at its heart.


Thanks, Allan for inviting me to share my ‘Story behind the Story.’ It has been a blast.





A question for you before you go, Jane:

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

I wish someone could type it all up for me. I hate typing it all. But, most of all I hate editing. My own edits to begin with, then waiting for an editor to send their findings back. It’s such a big delay in getting the story out there.





It’s a pleasure having you as a guest, Jane. Thanks for sharing the SBTS.



Thank you to all our visitors and readers. Feel free to tell us what‘s on your mind in the comment box below.