Saturday 24 June 2023

The Story Behind the Story with MJ LaBeff of Arizona.



Good news!

MJ LaBeff has a new Rachel Hood thriller and everybody’s talking about it.

MJ is a popular guest on the Scribbler and we’re happy she’s back to tell us the SBTS.

She’s been here before and if you missed the last post, take a look here.

Read on, my friends.





MJ LaBeff is an American author best described as the girl-next-door with a dark side. MJ grew up in northeastern Ohio but traded snow for sunshine and moved to southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She’s drawn to writing suspense novels, featuring complicated characters and twisted plot lines that will keep readers turning page after page. When she’s not writing or plotting her next novel, MJ enjoys reading, running, lifting weights, and volunteering for the American Cancer Society.

Working Title: Murdered Last Summer is book #5 of my Last Cold Case and was released in April this year. 

Synopsis: I’m not invisible…

Someone is killing the most vulnerable residents of Snug Harbor, Ohio. Overdoses and murders plague the city. A serial killer prowls the streets in search of drug addicts. There are three victims in one week—a drug addiction specialist, a down-on-her-luck former teacher, a recovering drug addict. All of them are missing their eyes. Does the signature have meaning? That’s what Homicide Detective Rachel Hood, a psychic empath and FBI agent Nick Draven, an occult crimes specialist need to find out before more people die.

You look…

The killer sends a string of messages. An envelope addressed HOOD contains a picture of two boys. A detective working undercover has gone silent. Another woman is murdered.

But you don’t see me…

The last victim haunts Homicide Detective Rachel Hood. The woman’s spirit seeks forgiveness, but all she conveys to Rachel are these two words: See Me. Rachel suffers through this unidentified woman’s pain putting her through the rigors of the addict’s hell on earth that eventually led to her death.

Like so many families experiencing various addiction crises, I have a family member who struggled with drug addiction. When I set out to write a thriller around the subject, it was originally intended as a single title, stand-alone, but I soon realized this was a Last Cold Case story and featured a crime that only Homicide detective Rachel Hood and FBI agent Nick Draven could solve. 

The original story changed a lot at that point. Perhaps it happened because of two reasons: the first, because I had set out to write this fictional tale many years ago with an attempt at literary fiction (I think I’d been reading a lot by Mitch Albom at the moment); the second, because I wasn’t ready to tell it; the story was too close to home and too personal.

There were a couple of real-life incidences that inspired Murdered Last Summer. Many years ago a grade school teacher relayed a story to me about how a student brought drug paraphernalia to show and tell. I was aghast. The student was either first or second grade and had no idea what he’d brought into the classroom. Several years ago, I was watching the local news and there was a piece about a small child who ingested drugs and was removed from the home by child protective services. Like any writer, my mind began spinning with “what if”. Those two stories inspired my fictional characters Dylan and Harley and the dysfunctional Zenyatta family, including the subplot. And that’s the story behind the story!






A question before you go, MJ.


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?

After years of writing at the kitchen table and then at a small desk located in our master-bedroom, we moved a few years ago and I finally have a lovely home office which we call the library, with a wall of built-in-bookcases and a view of the Catalina Mountains and desert. I tend to keep a neat desk with a file folder of notes and a notebook all about my work-in-progress; the file folder has quite an array of notes. Hey, when inspiration strikes I’ll make a note on darn near anything! At least, I keep a pen in my purse, gym bag, and tote bag. Music tends to distract me; I’ll wanna get up and dance or sing! I either write in total silence or with the TV on but the volume is low. Don’t ask me about what I’m viewing because I’m not paying attention. It’s background noise. I usually write at night, so there’s a chance I might have had a glass of wine before my fingertips hit the keyboard, but there’s always a Tervis tumbler filled with water on top of The Haunted Showboat Nancy Drew Mystery coaster.

Thank you so much for inviting back to the Scribbler. I always enjoy telling you and your readers about my latest book adventure and the story behind the story.




The pleasure is all ours, MJ. You’re always a welcome guest. 

Wishing you much success with the new book.



Big thanks to all you visitors and readers.

Saturday 17 June 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Poet Claire Conroy of Sanford, Maine.


One of our former guests, Donna Allard, introduced me to Claire and she has agreed to be our guest this week.

 Discover Claire’s world of poetry.

Read on, my friends.




Claire Conroy has a deep affection for words and their effects on readers. Be it quietly read in one's head from a page or launched from a stage though a microphone, she is willing and able to provide poetic prose. .

Having self-published two books of poems (“Listen” 2018 and "Silent" 2022) Claire has also been published in the following anthologies: "Poetry as a Bridge to Japan", "Remembering Jack Kerouac", "Goddess Anthology 2022", "New Generation Beats", “Ship of Poetry", " Natural Words” and “Beat Style Love Poems”. She was thrilled to have four poems from her first book translated into Hindi and published online by Devesh Path Sariya in 2019 on

Claire collaborated with the dance troupe Sisters Phoenix and her cousin Erich Kenison on guitar for the book launch of her second book “Silent”, combining music, dance and poetry.

She’s a proud board member of the Portsmouth Poet Laureate Program and active in many open mic poetry readings. Claire is also involved with the National and International Beat Poetry Foundation and the Portland Poets Society. You might find her at a coffee shop twisting words around while high on caffeine.

Working Title: Of my next book?  Well, with my first two books, the titles have something in common.  “Listen” and “Silent” are anagrams!  They share the same letters!  Words are fun.  So my next book might be titled “Inlets” or “Tinsel”.  I did compose a chapbook in January of this year that is titled “Rumors From Dead Lips”.



Synopsis: My first two books are random, free form poetry.  Many different themes throughout both.  The chapbook is about Goddesses visiting while we sleep to tell us the secrets of life, told in Haiku form.  My next book will have a focus on format poetry, which I love.



The Story Behind the Story: Alright.  Although it’s no secret. Poetry is my therapy.  It’s my safe space to share the things in my head.  I needed an artistic outlet to explore my feelings in my late 30’s and came back to my childhood/adolescent passion for writing.  Now I can’t stop.


Website: Facebook



From "Earthly Delights in the Dirt", in my first book "Listen".


Perfect setting for writing?

Most common is all set up in bed, surrounded by cats.  Sometimes I will sit at a desk.  I also enjoy taking a hike w/a notepad to see what happens.  Very much enjoy stealing a spot in a favorite coffee shop for hours and feeding off the vibe of people, sights, sounds, smells.  Let my senses take the keyboard.


Music or quiet? I’ll often have a documentary about the topic I am writing on in the background.  I really enjoy writing while listening to jazz.  But I can appreciate the quiet of the woods or the sound and smell of water while I create.


Coffee or Tequila? Water, coffee, tea, wine…in that order.  I do enjoy a vodka drink.  Tequila in moderation (so usually no).  I like port, but that’s a treat to celebrate completion of a project or publishing.  I love cannabis.


Neat or notes everywhere? I would have to say notes everywhere.  But I almost always write on my laptop, so my “mess” is having far too many open tabs.  Often followed by a traveling thoughts notebook nearby.  Maybe a few notebooks.  A few loose leaves from an older notebook getting further crumpled and marked.

When I am formatting my books, that’s a paper nightmare.  I spread out all my poems all over the floor and slowly put them in the order it decides to become.  I get frustrated, step away, cry, blast some aggressive music.  Perform acts of divination for the love of my cats.  Play in the dirt.  Rinse off and make food.  Try it again.

That’s all we can do, right?




Thank you for being our guest this week, Claire. Wishing you continued success with your writing.



And another BIG thank you to all our visitors and readers.

Saturday 10 June 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Tawnya Torres of the Pacific Northwest.


Tawnya is no stranger to the Scribbler.  We're glad to have her return.

She’s excited about her new book and kindly agreed to share the SBTS with us.

If you missed her first visit, please go HERE.

Read on, my friends.




Tawnya Torres lives in the Pacific Northwest near the ocean. The endless rain and evergreen forests influence the dark romantic mood of her stories. If she's not at her desk surrounded by angel wing begonias you can find her by the beach or on a hike with her beloved little black dog.



Working Title: The Heart of the Machine



Synopsis: After earth was invaded by aliens, notorious billionaire scientist Adam Krim isolated his family in his luxurious lab inside Mount Ontake. He slowly lost his mind to his creation, a human-robot hybrid. Designed for war–extraterrestrials were not fathomed at the time but the machine is capable of killing anything, and everything. His son Bellamy is tasked with the difficult job of waking, teaching, and taming the Ex Machina named Gwen. Living within the confines of the lab for twenty-two years has dulled Bellamy’s social skills. As he attempts to train the machine for her purpose Bellamy begins to understand his father, bringing up past traumas not yet fully explored. While Gwen tests her abilities, killing the vicious Mantodea plaguing earth, Bellamy is forced to test himself. A player in her game, he tries to win but acknowledges his strategy is futile. Bound by something unseen, the two fall for each other, risking the world’s safety. Bellamy’s team expects productivity, they demand a solution to the ongoing battle against the violent aliens, yet he can’t control the machine his father made. She has a mind of her own.


The Story behind the Story: I wrote The Heart of the Machine during the second lockdown for covid. I thought about isolation a lot and was greatly influenced by Grimes’ music at the time. Science fiction is one of my favorite genres and I wanted to try writing my own story. I thought I’d be a horror or suspense author but it turns out I truly love romances. The Heart of the Machine is dark, futuristic, and romantic.




A question before you go, Tawnya:

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?

I like to be alone. I can’t write in a coffee shop or if people are around. I usually write in silence while drinking an au lait with an organized mess waiting for me.



Thanks for sharing the story with us, Tanya. Good luck and happy writing.

And... all you visitors and readers. 

Don’t be shy, leave us a comment.

Monday 5 June 2023

The Story Behind the Story. The Alexanders. Vol 2 1921 - 1925.


This week on the Scribbler, I'm happy to share

 my own SBTS of my soon-to-be-released 

Vol. 2 of The Alexanders.

June 30, 2023.

Please watch for more details.

Growing up in South Branch, Allan Hudson was encouraged to read from an early age by his mother who was a schoolteacher. He lives in Dieppe, NB, with his wife Gloria. He has enjoyed a lifetime of adventure, travel and uses the many experiences as ideas for his writing. 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 Golde
n Ratio and here - South Branch Scribbler.





Working Title: The Alexanders. Volume 2. 1921 - 1925



Synopsis: The Alexander Saga continues.

Dominic has his ups and downs as life continues in his new country. His business is growing. His wife is expecting their first child. He often wonders of the woman he saw in Halifax. The Roaring 20’s bring speakeasys, jazz, flappers, a booming stock market, disregard for prohibition. Everyone who can is investing in the future. Europe is rebuilding after the war and supplies from North America are in high demand. Will Dominic get involved with the investing frenzy or will caution prevail? The words of his late Uncle Duff ring loudly in his mind. “Watch those pennies, lad. Don’t waste your money on foolish things.”

Will Dominic’s decisions keep the business intact?



The Story Behind the Story: The idea of a young boy, maybe eleven or twelve and big for his age, being removed from his family due to poverty and his father’s demise. This was the spark which created Volume 1 of The Alexanders.

“Lucretia Alexander is about to abandon her middle child, Dominic. Poised on the wide front stoop of her brother-in-law's house, she is draped in sorrow. Her father waits in the cairt, which he has pulled to the side of the street. Her hand is raised to rap on the faded wooden door, but she hesitates. Looking at her eleven-year-old son by her side, almost as tall as her, she sees the uncertainty in his eyes. Like her heart, her will is almost broken. She yearns to hold him, to cling to him, to carry him away from the sadness they both feel. Biting her lower lip, her need for him to survive strengthens her resolve. She knocks firmly upon the door.”



The story evolved from there. Forced to support himself and learn a trade. No friends in his new home. Both his bachelor uncle and he trying to adapt to the changes. Other than his loneliness for his siblings, he fares well, learns his uncle’s trade and helps part time with his uncle’s buddy who is a carpenter. The war looms in Europe. Dominic is eager to serve but an accident has left him with a limp and he’s rejected. Unfortunate events change the course of Dominic’s life. Deciding to emigrate to Canada, a new life begins.

Volume 1 ends in 1920. The war is over. The economy is on the rebound.


Volume 2 begins in 1921.

June 30th. Available on all digital platforms. Paperback on Amazon. 

July 31st - Chapters Moncton. Partridge Island Publishing Store in Saint John.

Thanks for putting up with a bit of my self promotion. I appreciate all my readers and visitors. You are all important to me.

Thank you for visiting.