Saturday 29 April 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Jane Doucet of Nova Scotia, Canada.


It's a pleasure to have Jane with us again. She was a guest almost a year ago and if you missed her visit, please go HERE.

This week Jane is going to tell us about her novel – The Pregnant Pause. Released with a new publisher and a new cover, she is excited about sharing the news with you.

Jane Doucet is a 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. Jane is thrilled that in spring 2023, Halifax-based Vagrant Press is rereleasing The Pregnant Pause with a fresh new cover. In 2021, Vagrant published Jane’s second novel, Fishnets & Fantasies. Jane’s third book, Lost & Found in Lunenburg, which Vagrant will publish in fall 2023, combines characters from her first two novels. Jane lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her husband.

 Title: The Pregnant Pause


 Synopsis: Just before her thirty-seventh birthday, Rose Ainsworth has her first attack of baby fever. She adores children, especially her sister’s kids, but she’s facing a dilemma. Not only is her husband refusing to commit to becoming a parent, but her friends are drowning in all the joys of mothering. She feels cut off and, worst of all, she’s worried that maybe she isn’t motherhood material. Rose’s journey through the potential pitfalls and prospects of parenting is a roller coaster ride—a journey that many women travel as they work, play and listen to their biological clock ticking away.


The Story behind the Story: In 2003, when I was in my mid-thirties, I was searching for a lighthearted, funny novel to read that sent a positive message to women who assumed they’d have children but, for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. I couldn’t find one, so I decided to try writing one myself. There are lots of novels that end with ‘And she had a baby and lived happily ever after.’ I wanted to write a different story. I signed with a literary agent in London, England, but after three months of revisions, we parted ways over creative differences around the ending. Discouraged, I let the manuscript sit in a drawer for 14 years. Then, in 2017, with a friend’s encouragement, I decided to self-publish it. And now I’m thrilled that Vagrant Press is giving it new life by rereleasing it.




“When are you planning to have a baby?” Vincente didn’t care if he stepped over the line. Vincente ignored the line.

“That’s just it, we don’t know if we are,” said Rose. “I’ve been trying to decide over the past few months. I mean, it’s such a serious decision. If we have a baby and then find out we aren’t cut out to be parents, it’s not like we can give it away.”

“Sure you can, sweetie, you can give it to me. I’ll bring up your baby,” Vincente said charitably. It was no secret that he was eager to adopt, but his partner—Paulo from Puerto Rico, who was in his early fifties—thought they were too old.

“Thanks that’s kind of you,” said Rose. “I’ll think about it.”

“Good girl,” said Vincente.




A question before you go, Jane:

Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?


The quiet of my home office, working on my iMac at my sit-stand desk. Decaf green tea and dark chocolate, daily (can’t write without them). Neat most of the time, but sometimes—especially in the early stages of research—notes everywhere.

Thanks for being our guest this week, Jane. Wishing you lots of success with your books.

And a HUGE thank you to all our visitors and readers.

Saturday 22 April 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Ritu Bhathal of Great Britain.


Ritu is no stranger to the Scribbler. Always a welcome guest.

This week we will discover the SBTS of her new novel, Straight As A Jalebi

If   you’ve missed the Ritu’s other visit, please go HERE.


Read on my friends.



Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. Ritu's colorful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.

From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.

As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes. A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!

Ritu also writes a blog,, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.

Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.



 Working Title: Straight As A Jalebi


Synopsis: Who knew that an innocent trip to India would have such an impact on his life?

 Sunny had only gone as a chaperone for his sister and her best friend, and to attend a few business matters while out there.

He’d ended up with a deal that was to change the shape of his professional future, and possibly his personal one, too.



The Story behind the Story: Way back when, I began writing a story. It took nearly 20 years to get from an idea to a self-published novel, Marriage Unarranged. As I basked in the happiness of my first novel out there, the characters I had written about would not be quiet.

In fact, other readers wouldn’t stop either. ‘What about so and so in the book?’  ‘I’d love to hear what happens next’…

And so, the beginnings of ideas for a further two books came about.

Straight As A Jalebi, or SAsAJ as I like to call it, was born, as I followed the story of one of my first book’s secondary characters, charting his confusion during his journey to discovering his sexuality, as a British born Sikh guy, in the early 2000s.

There are updates on the other characters, too, leaving the door open for book three, which I am beginning the first draft of, now.




***Straight As A Jalebi can be preordered HERE.


A question before you go, Ritu:

Can you tell us about the perfect setting you have, or desire, for your writing? Music or quiet? Coffee or tequila?  Neat or notes everywhere?


The biggest thing I need for writing, is energy, and inspiration.

After that, quiet would be good, but I don’t mind low music, as long as it isn’t something I already love, because I will then end up just singing along to it instead of writing!

I’d have a cup of tea by my side, or a large glass of water or cordial.

And snacks. A writer needs fuel!

And I am, in general, a bit of a neat freak so I like to have organized notes around me or a plan on my whiteboard.


 Book Blurb: Who knew that an innocent trip to India in the year 2000 would have such an impact on his life?

Sunny had only gone as a chaperone for his sister and her best friend and to attend to a few business matters.
He ended up with a deal that would change the shape of his professional future and possibly his personal one too.

Battling the pressures of marriage by his family isn’t Sunny’s only fight, as he finds his feelings for a certain ‘friend’ may be more than just friendship.

But how can he tell anyone how he truly feels?
Because the road to love isn't always straight...

Ritu Bhathal is a fresh, new, and much-needed voice for British Asian fiction.

Straight As a Jalebi is Book 2 in the Rishtay Series, following the Gill family in the new millennium. Book 3 due out in 2024.

Here's the first one.


Thanks for being our guest once more, Ritu. Wishing you continued success with your writing.



And a BIG thanks to our visitors and readers.

Saturday 15 April 2023

Merlin Star Press of New Brunswick, Canada.

 There is a new kid on the block in the Publishing World.

Merlin Star Press. 

Get in touch with them at





 Like it says on the website

Merlin Star Press is an accessible, local publisher that supports writers through their creative process, offering them an opportunity to be published. Our concentration will be in Southeast New Brunswick, with the long-term goal of including authors from Atlantic Canada.


So, this week you will meet the Board of Directors  but first, we have the Managing Editor, Don Blewett, with us to tell us more.



Scribbler: Hello Don. Thanks for taking the time to tell the public about this exciting new adventure. How did all this begin?


Don: Thanks for having me on your Blog Allan. Merlin Star Press began after someone at our monthly writers group meeting said, “Is anyone else here interested in starting a publishing company?” There was a flurry of thought and a number of people put their hand up.

A small core group got together and wrote a Mission Statement and set initial goals. Meetings were organized, plans were made, people were invited to join and in the end a group of eight people formed the core management group of Merlin Star Press.

Planning then began in earnest with elections for critical positions and the assignments of positions and duties. The legal wheels were put in motion and proudly, Merlin Star Press became a legal entity by the first week of January 2023.

Then our eyes became set on finding authors and manuscripts.

Being so new, we chose, at first, to concentrate on South Eastern New Brunswick authors before expanding into the rest of the Maritimes.

A Web presence was developed for information, manuscript submissions and author assistance. Please drop by and have a look around at     



Scribbler: What exactly does your role as Managing Editor entail?


Don: In my base interpretation, I consider myself a juggler. We have been blessed by having a number of screening and editing volunteers come forward. Their passions as with most writers is reading. In the various writing groups that they are involved with, they provide sound constructive critique of other authors work, as well as encouragement.

When we receive the initial limited submissions from authors, they come to me. I will organize a number of the “Screeners” to go over all of the information provided for each submission. Having a minimum of three screeners as well as a standardized template gives each author equal footing. If I notice a large discrepancy between the opinions, I will have someone else read it as well.

Once the screeners reports are organized, the core group of Merlin Star Press will select which authors to request the submission of their full manuscripts

These too will go through a similar acceptance process until we can approach authors and say we would like to talk to you seriously about your book and how we can help you get it from your manuscript to the hands of readers.



Scribbler: Are you an Author also? What do you write? 


Don: I am proud to say I am an author.

The majority of my publishing experience has come from publishing, editing, writing and laying out a magazine called “Whatsup Magazine”. It promoted New Brunswick and the rest of the Maritimes to people within the Maritimes as well as sixty five countries around the world for twelve years.

While it did offer me plenty of opportunity to write and interview interesting people, I became enthralled with writing after shutting down the magazine. I began a humorous memoir book titled Stories I Thought You Would Like in 2020. It is a series of short stories traveling through the misadventures of two loving brothers from their childhood to recent days. It is amazing they survived some of the situations that they found themselves in. We did though, and I got to write it in to history.



Scribbler: Are you ready for submissions? How does an author get in contact with you?


Don: Indeed, we are ready for submissions. To get in touch with us and me in particular, simply go to our web site at . Go to the “Submissions” section and read the guidelines thoroughly. It explains the whole process. If you feel you fall into our guidelines and are interested, please, jump right in and start your journey. We’ll be happy to walk it with you.

I should mention here that we do not want your entire manuscript right away, but that is explained in the guidelines.  



Scribbler: Can you briefly tell our readers what is involved in publishing a book?


Don: There are a great many steps that need to be taken before a book is actually in your hands. My department does screening and editing but there are other things that need to be dealt with, not the least of which is keeping the author informed at all times. There are legal things, designing, printing, site support, promotion, advertising, media, distribution, launches, readings and on and on. Those are some of the things that we worry about for you.




Scribbler: Anything else you’d like to mention?


Don: The trip from picking up the pen to opening that first book is a long journey. It takes more time than most people realize. It can be a year or even more from start to finish. Writing takes commitment, organization and work. We’re here to help you through it.






Thanks for sharing the good news Don. Best of luck to you and your team.


  Board of Directors


Warren Redman.


Warren writes under the pseudonym of Zev Bagel.

Warren lives in Shediac, where he can look out of his window onto Shediac Bay – an inspirational setting. His short stories and poems have been published in several anthologies, and he is the author of four novels to date: Bernie Waxman & the Whistling Kettle, which was shortlisted for the Atlantic literary awards, Secrets, Solitary, winner of the David Adams Richards Award, and his latest, The Last Jew in Hania.

As Warren Redman, he has published seventeen books of non-fiction, including the Canadian award-winning The 9 Steps to Emotional Fitness. Many of his poems are inspired by the work of his wife, artist Nicole Tremblay.



Secretary and Co-director of Marketing

Maria Gillespie.

Maria Gillespie is a former school principal who has hung up her whistle and put her school bell on the shelf. She no longer writes staff memos and newsletters. Instead, she enjoys creating short stories and poems.      

She is a member of Ice Dash, the Shediac writers' group and the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick.      

She is learning new skills by delving into the business of writing as Director and Secretary of Merlin Star Press, a newly incorporated company on the New Brunswick publishing scene.


Allan Hudson

Allan was born in Saint John, New Brunswick. Growing up in South Branch he was encouraged to read from an early age by his mother who was a schoolteacher. He lives in Dieppe with his wife Gloria. He is an author of action/adventure novels, historical fiction and a short story collection. His short stories – The Ship Breakers: In the Abyss – received honourable mention in the New Brunswick Writer’s Federation competition. He has stories published on, The Golden Ratio and his blog – South Branch Scribbler.



Managing Editor.

Don Blewett.




Bradley Boudreau.

In order to deal with his anxiety Bradley Boudreau started keeping a journal of his thoughts. This exercise turned into poetic surprises and fictional exploration. After submitting works of poetry to competitions and receiving encouraging feedback he decided to embark on writing a novel. His life then pivoted to family growth and software development. His fascination with human behavior and imaginative leaps still intact, he's now taking up the call to adventure and investing in his writing. Bradley's role within merlin star press is focused on our digital presence. He manages our website ( and our twitter account (@melinstarpress).


Co-director of Marketing Team.

Rachel Baxter.

Rachel Baxter recently capped a decades-long career as a practicing lawyer and litigator with a foray into writing. A long-time member of the Writers' Federation of New Brunswick, she innocently joined a Shediac writers' group in 2019. They had so much fun together, members discussed starting a publishing company. Rachel is a Board Member and a marketing director of Merlin Star Press.


Other Board Members & Executives.

Nicole Tremblay


I moved to Shediac in 2009. In the previous 30 years I had lived in Ottawa, Calgary, France, England and again Calgary. I have now thrown away my moving boxes. 

I never in my dreams thought that I would one day call myself an artist. I have no professional training other than workshops I have attended over the years. I have always been attracted to vibrant colours and textures creating things with my hands (calligraphy, soap, candles, collages, dolls) and things that are different). In my mid-forties I started painting with watercolours on 4”x5” cards depicting fanciful fish and flowers. It is not until I discovered acrylic paints and inks mixed with collage that I felt I was home.


Donna Griffith.


A retired elementary teacher who enjoys reading and knitting. Exercising and travelling keep her moving. A writing group, the Ice Dash Dozen, has kept her journaling and interested in all things bookish since retirement and widowhood. Several book clubs keep an eclectic bunch of books at her reach. Creative adventures are yet to be experienced!



Thank you to our dear readers for visiting today. If you are an Author from Southeastern new Brunswick, please consider submitting your story to MSP.

Monday 10 April 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Barb Curtis of New Brunswick, Canada.


Let’s welcome another author from our province.

Barb has agreed to tell us about her novels.


Read on, my friends.




A happily-ever-after-crafter at heart, Barb Curtis’ love for writing began with a quick-witted style column, and her background in marketing led to stints writing print and web copy, newsletters, and grant proposals. The switch to fiction came with the decision to pair her creativity with her love for words, and crafting characters and settings she could truly get lost in. Barb lives in rural New Brunswick with her husband, daughter, and dog. You’ll find her restoring the family homestead, weeding the garden, and whistling the same song all day long.


The Sapphire Springs Series:

Forever With You – Book 1

Only For You – Book 2

Falling For You – Book 3



Synopsis / Back Cover Copy  


Forever With You


Jay Wynter wants to be successful on his own merit. That's why he left Sapphire Springs and his family's winery to build a career from scratch. But now that he's successor to Wynter Estate, Jay must return to his small hometown to face everything, and everyone, he left behind-especially his high school sweetheart, who happens to be his stunning new business partner . . .

Leyna Milan knows family legacies come with strings attached, but she's determined to prove that she can run her family's restaurant. Of course, Leyna never expected that honoring her grandfather's wishes meant opening a second location on her ex's property-or having to ignore Jay's sexy grin and guard the heart he shattered years before. But as they work closely together, she begins to discover that maybe first loves deserve a second chance . . .


Only For You


After having his heart broken on national television, Tim Fraser knows only one way to stop the gossip about his love life-a new girlfriend. The problem is, he's done with romance forever. A fake relationship with his friend and Sapphire Spring's sweetest baker, Emily Holland, seems the perfect solution to getting rid of his newfound fame, but their fleeting fauxmance is stirring up the kinds of feelings Tim has sworn off for good.

Emily has secretly lusted after Tim for years, but pretending her feelings are all for show never factored into her fantasy. Still, her decades-long crush makes it impossible to say no to Tim's proposal. But with each date, the lines between pretend and reality blur, giving Tim and Emily a tantalizing taste of life outside the friend zone . . . if they can find the courage to give real love a chance.


Falling For You


Just when recently evicted yoga instructor Faith Rotolo thinks her luck has run out, she inherits a historic mansion in quaint Sapphire Springs. Though Faith never imagined putting roots down anywhere, small-town life is growing on her, as is her fixer-upper house. If only her handsome new contractor, Rob Milan, would stop spoiling her daydreams with the realities of a major rehab…and his generally grouchy vibes.

A single dad of two, Rob doesn’t have much time for fantasy wish-list ideas his clients can’t afford. Then again, Faith’s creative energy might be exactly what he needs right now. But while Rob and Faith work to give her home the second chance it deserves, their spirited clashes wind up sparking a powerful attraction. As work nears completion, and Faith’s house becomes the shining jewel of the neighborhood, will she and Rob realize that they deserve a fresh start too?


Story Behind The Story


I wrote the Sapphire Springs series because they’re the types of books I like to read in order to escape, be it from the bad news in the world, or simply the rat race most of us struggle with on a daily basis. I take comfort in reading and writing Happily Ever Afters, because no matter how much conflict is happening in the story, you can rest assured, knowing the ending won’t disappoint. I’m also a sucker for a good Hallmark movie, and was aiming for that same level of coziness, but with characters a little more relatable to me, in that they might mutter the occasional curse word, drink too much on a Friday night, or (gasp!) kiss before the credits roll.








A question for you before you go, Barb:


Music or Quiet?

Music is a big part of my writing process. I create playlists for each book – not necessarily sound tracks, per se, but songs that inspire certain chapters or scenes. I love putting on a pair of headphones and losing myself in the story. I find it hard to concentrate while listening to music with lyrics though, because before I know it, the inner rock star comes out and I’m singing along, forgetting all about what I’m supposed to be writing. What works best for me is listening to instrumental jazz, because it meets the criteria of music that I love, but that doesn’t distract.



Excerpt of Falling For You (Sapphire Springs Book 3)




Two months was a long time to be off the grid.

An eviction notice clung to Faith Rotolo’s apartment door by a grimy piece of scotch tape and her key no longer fit the lock.

Her heart rate surged as she dug around her purse for her cell so she could call Nick—the friend of a friend whose apartment she’d been staying at before she went to Fiji. Her fingers clasped around the phone. She pulled it out and pressed a button.


“Ugh.” Just great. She spun on her heel to race back downstairs, where her car took up the better part of two parking spots.

Settling behind the wheel, she plugged her phone in to the charger, patiently waiting for it to come to life while the air conditioning washed over her, a respite from the mid-August heat. To her horror, it vibrated with notifications and incoming messages for what seemed like eternity.

A hundred and three emails?  She glanced at the parking meter. The handful of coins she’d shoved into the slot before heading upstairs would only buy her another couple of minutes, and notifications were still pouring in.

She scrolled through her mailbox quickly. Junk mostly, save the occasional email from her father. And then lo and behold, she found the answer she’d been looking for: Nick had sent a brief message a month ago. He’d skipped out on the rent—took off to go on tour with his band. She’d need to find a new place to stay when she got back.

“Ugh, Nick, you flake.” Faith glared upward past the lush elm tree toward the bare second level windows. Thank God everything she owned lived in a storage locker in North Buffalo. She drummed the pads of her fingers to her chin. It’d be impossible to find another apartment with the influx of students arriving to begin the fall semester in a couple of weeks. Either she moved into a hotel until she found a place or she crashed at her father and stepmother’s house.

A hotel might be more welcoming.

She moved on to missed calls and voicemails. Some lady named Maureen Carver, a lawyer in Sapphire Springs, had left a message asking if Faith could please contact her. Then there were two more, the urgency factor escalating in each one.

Hmm. Faith tapped her foot and pinched her bottom lip. Her mom had grown up in Sapphire Springs, but other than that, she knew very little about the place. The town had barely been spoken of in the twenty-three years since the accident that claimed her mother’s life.

What would a lawyer want with her?

Curiosity won out and had her clicking on the lawyer’s phone number instead of looking for a hotel. Her heart rate quickened with each ring.

Surely she wasn’t being sued for a yoga injury. She’d made people sign waivers.

Oh! She’d bumped that car a few months back. Nudged it, really—didn’t even leave a mark, and she’d left an apology note with her phone number so they could call her directly. Couldn’t be that.

“Maureen Carver.”

Spoken like a woman who meant business.

Faith drew in deep breath before speaking. “Good morning, Ms. Carver. This is Faith Rotolo. My apologies for the delay in responding to your messages. I’ve been out of the country a couple of months.” That sounded half-assed professional, if she did say so herself.

The cheeky gerbera daisy on her dusty dashboard bobbed back and forth before Maureen broke into a hearty laugh that continued for several seconds.

Faith Rotolo. Well I’ll be damned. I thought you flew the coop, girl.”

The friendly tone had Faith’s shoulders relaxing. “Sorry about that. I’ve been in Fiji teaching a yoga retreat. Cell phones weren’t permitted.”

“Two months without a cell phone? Sign me up.” Maureen spoke over shuffling papers and ringing phones. “In all seriousness though, you became a bit of a fixation for me. I placed bets with the girls at the office over whether you really existed. I even searched for you on social media.”

Seriously? A lawyer creeping her Instagram?

Maureen continued. “Even your father’s receptionist didn’t return my calls. My imagination went wild. Nobody in your life seemed alarmed over where you disappeared to. I actually debated filing a police report.”

Okay, if she was dead in a ditch, somebody would miss her, wouldn’t they? Her father probably would if he took time out of his busy schedule to notice.


 Maureen gave a hearty laugh. “Anyway, all that to say that I’m relieved to hear a voice on the other end of the line. You’re probably busy catching up on personal business, so I’ll get right to the point. Would you be able to come to my office in Sapphire Springs for a meeting?”

Faith drew in a breath. Sapphire Springs had been all but off-limits since the accident. She’d never been back since. Dad either, as far as she knew. The town held too much sadness.

Her eyes travelled past the blinking light on the expired meter, and scaled the low-rise brick building. “I guess so… I mean—”

“I can come to you, if that’s easier,” Maureen persisted.

And meet where, exactly? The back alley where she’d soon be living amongst pigeons and stray cats? A black car pulled up beside Faith’s lime green Volkswagon Beetle. The driver laid on the horn and gestured to her parking. Before he sped off, he flipped her the finger.

She shrunk a little in her seat and eyed the meter reader turning the corner onto her street. What prevented her from meeting Maureen other than this prickling dread over visiting the town where her mom had grown up and being hit with painful memories? She didn’t have kids to think about, or a boyfriend to check in with. Not even a cat for crying out loud. “No, I guess I could come to Sapphire Springs. I can be there this afternoon.”



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




And thanks to our visitors and readers.