Saturday 26 August 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Luc Desroches of Moncton, NB, Canada.


It’s a pleasure to have Luc as our guest this week.

He’s got something to tell us.

 He too was a participant in the GMRD Book Fair, as was our previous guest, Jan Hull.

What a fun time.

Read on my friends and discover his book.



Luc Desroches was born in Edmundston, NB (Wolastoqey territory) and lived most his life in Moncton, NB (Sikniktuk) where he studied and was called to the New Brunswick Bar Association as a lawyer, although not currently practicing.  Luc has worked with the Canadian federal government since 2004, building and maintaining positive relationships with Indigenous communities.  Working from his home office since 2016 has allowed a more harmonious life with his lovely wife (Nathalie), three daughters and Labrador retriever.  Luc is a strong advocate for teleworking by adamantly writing and speaking about the subject.  Luc also enjoys running, motorcycling and spending quality time with family and friends.


Title:  Working From Home for a Harmonious Life



Synopsis: I am delighted to have authored a book that can help people find more harmony in their lives with our current ways of working.

Since I began working from my home office in 2016, I have been writing about how the move has allowed me to create a more harmonious life for both me and my family. This book was mostly written pre-COVID-19, when working from home was more the exception than the rule. I delve deep into my personal experience and reflect on the values and teachings of the Mi’kmaq people who have worked from their homes for over ten thousand years.

The deeper messages of my book are perennial, which is what we need as we face unprecedented challenges.

The Story Behind the Story: After graduating from law school in 2003, I worked in a law firm and became a lawyer, worked with the federal government, and had all kinds of ambition, promotions and had no intention of working from home. Without those first years in office environments and superb colleagues, I almost certainly would not have been ready to be on my scary own self. It took many years of inner work to get to a point of being “alone but not lonely”.

After 13 years of cubicle work, I realized that the intensity and flow needed for my best work does not require commuting, preparing a daily lunch and unnecessary distractions.  My very early morning journaling helped me make sense of why working from home was working for me, and I knew other people could relate to this same experience.  I have a very predictable start to my day with minimal decisions to deplete the psychic energy to perform at my best, to be “in the zone”.

I am an avid reader of nourishing books of all kinds of genres and topics.  I was particularly attracted to self-help, spiritual, health, leadership and philosophy.  I had major realizations reading “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari from Robin Sharma” in 2004 and was inspired by Eckhart Tolle’s deep spiritual messages in his book “The Power of Now”. 

I have a library of over 200 books that have nourished me.  Without this reading, I would almost certainly not have written a book, and it would definitely not have the same depth and favorite quotes.  Reading helps to write and live with more meaning, I even read books-on-how-to-write-books including “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron which I highly recommend to spark creativity, which is often just a matter of creating the habit of doing whatever artistic magic calls you. 



Website: Luc Desroches

A couple of questions before you go, Luc.


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?


My most inspired and deep writing happens in a quieter and more isolated environment.  I developed a habit/ritual of waking very early before everyone else in my household (and most of my community), usually at about 5am. I prepare my clothes in the evening and try to get 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I aim to do 10 to 20 minutes of exercise (includes planks, push-ups, stretches) to get a sweat going and all the good body hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.  I then meditate a few minutes before diving into my 1 to 3 pages of writing in my designated journal. I have my favorite quiet place, which is sometimes where the warm rising sun can shine on my face.  I then finish my morning routine with 30 to 60 minutes of reading a nourishing book.  At 5am, my environment is serene and there’s no coffee or tequila, but definitely some Oolong Tea later in the day!



What’s next for Luc Desroches, the Author?


I continue to journal and enjoy writing what wants to come through.  There is no compelling subject these days like the subject of my book.  I mostly write my experiences, insights and some poetic/philosophical pieces.

I write to heal, to deconstruct, to contemplate, to meditate, to listen to what wants to come through me.  The writing helps me make sense of what is happening, and when it makes sense to start sharing, the writing becomes more focused for the book writing process to begin.  One friend told me she loved my book to remind her of why she likes working from home and to better explain it to people and her employer.  Just the act of writing helps me to take the time to remember what I'm grateful for (I try to do this daily) and better welcome my emotions and entanglements.  I really enjoy my time both alone and with people, but recharging is usually better done alone for me, and with lots of space.


Random excerpt from journal:

(…) "From a certain perspective, I would be said to be lucky. Lucky to be alive, healthy and wealthy in so many ways. In this moment, I see it. Coming back from 3 days of almost no electronics, time (both psychological time and clock time), to-do lists, arbitrary lines and other people's agendas. I come back to a me-day “off” to journal in a coffee shop at 10am and ponder, saying no to the thousand other good ideas and experiences to stick to this, this window of focus with no particular agenda”. (…)

Random excerpt from journal:

(…) "The mindset of a crisp new weekend, on this Saturday morning, is soothing, relaxing, enlivening. Once I write down my latest worries, my next weekly tasks, I feel lighter with my monkey-mind on paper. I can enjoy this moment of a whole day with plenty of unplanned space, and better yet, planned "unplanned" space. Weekends are our broader society's way of finding rest, rejuvenating." (…)

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



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

Don’t be shy, tell us your thoughts.

Saturday 19 August 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Jan Fancy Hull of Lunenburg County, NS, Canada.


Jan was one of our participants at the GMRD Book Fair last April and we had a ton of fun. 

She kindly accepted my invitation to be a guest today so, read on my friends.




I didn’t find my writing (or thinking) voice until after retiring in my mid-fifties. I worked to soften my sharp humour, to eliminate maudlin phrases and passive sentences, and to learn how to tell an interesting story interestingly.

My first novel was a bloated 120k words. It’s good for parts; I’ve cannibalized it for characters, settings, and back story for the novels I’m writing now.

My advice: write your junk: nothing’s wasted. Writing is the best job ever.



Titles: Funny story: I thought I was going to write about a murder in the choir loft, and that someone would “sing”, i.e. squeal, so the working title was “Sweet Singing in the Choir”. But the story didn’t go that way at all. It was set in January, so my new title was January: Code. On a whim (I love whims) I added “A Tim Brown Mystery” on the title page and sent it to the publisher (Moose House Publishing). The editor asked if I meant it to be a series and would there be twelve in all? And that’s how it happened. The right title matters. May: Facades will be released in September 2023.



Synopsis: In the current novel, April: Sweetland, Tim is bamboozled into searching for a lost cabin because he was mis-introduced as a Private Investigator. He shilly-shallies past the opportunity to decline, so he complies, but only “for practice”. What he finds in the woods back of Sweetland is illegal, and beautiful. Can he catch a wily culprit and satisfy his client at the same time?




The Story Behind the Story:

Tim Brown is publisher / editor of the weekly newspaper in South River, a fictitious town on Nova Scotia’s south shore. He inherited the paper from his hard-charging late mother, who raised him on her own and under her thumb in the newspaper office. Now forty, he has taken this year (1999) as a sabbatical from the job.

He believes his community paper had been coasting, taking direction from the advertisers, and skimming the surface of goings-on in the town. He states that he will use the year “to delve” but lacks a strong concept of what he means. He is bullied into investigating the coded contents of a file he hasn’t seen (January), puzzles about a woman unconscious on a trail (February), is moved by a dear friend’s death to research his murky family history (March), inadvertently agrees to search for a missing cabin (April) and faces public misconceptions (May). In June, he supervises long overdue home and garden improvements and—wait for it!

Every day is a chapter in each month’s book. We must live each day as it comes, I thought, so why not have my protagonist deal with the speed of real life, too, not only the highlights, but also the haircuts? Consequently, we get to know Tim Brown and his unorthodox methodologies very well. Read them all so you’ll be ready for the great December conclusion in 2027 dea volente. People do seem to like them.




 A question before you go, Jan:

Scribbler: 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?



Jan: At home in my chair next to the wood stove, while autumn leaves, cold rain, and snow swirl around outside my windows. (Sunshine is distracting: summer is for outdoor pursuits.) The days grow short and lengthen again while the hours and words fly by. My daily word count is 1500 - 3000.

I have classical music playing softly. If I detect something especially beautiful, I’ll take a moment to listen. It helps me ignore ambient sounds or unhelpful thoughts.

Coffee till noon. Tea till 3. Water if I remember. Maybe a martini, but not while writing. Never tequila, not since that one time…

Mostly neat. The laptop computer was invented for me. I write notes on scraps of paper, mostly reminders of things my characters or I must remember to do (which one of us is out of milk?) or maybe a better word to go in Chapter 10. Once the task is done, the note is tossed. I keep a “story bible” in which daily actions and new characters are recorded, and I may tuck a note or two in there for future stories. There’s no storyboard with colour-coded sticky notes. Seat of my pants all the way!



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



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

So, tell us something in the comment box below. Don’t be shy.

Saturday 12 August 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Lisette Meuse-Manuel of Moncton, NB, Canada.


Let’s welcome Lisette to the Scribbler.

She is excited to have her new book in her hands and is ready to share her story with everyone.

Watch for her debut book signing at Chapters in Dieppe, NB in October.

Read on, my friends.



Lisette is originally from Baie Ste-Anne, NB and now resides in Moncton, NB where she has been working in the beauty and wellness industry for over 35 years. She owns a skin care clinic that specializes in advanced facial treatments, reconstructive tattooing, menopausal skin concerns and nutrition coaching.




Working Title:    Prepare to Pause. A wellness guide for women.



Synopsis: This is an informative self- help book written to help and empower women to stay strong, healthy and confident at middle age. By the year 2025, there will be over 1 billion women going through the menopause. Nutrition, sleep, skin care and stress are some of the subjects covered in this book as well as mindset and motivation to help women understand and prepare their mind of body for this hormonal transition.



The Story behind the Story: This book was not planned at all! It just kind of happened as I was preparing a draft for a printable pamphlet to give out to my clients during consultations. As I started writing, my own story started to unfold and write itself as I experienced a very difficult menopause. Daily conversations with female clients going through the same thing made me realize how thirsty for knowledge, support and solutions we all are. I started doing tons of research and compiled my knowledge and experience on various subjects and suddenly chapters started appearing. I soon realized this was no longer a bullet form pamphlet... haha. I started feeling out the territory to see if women would be interested in such a book as it is a bit of a taboo subject. The response was phenomenal, so here I am.






A question before you go, Lisette:

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?


Definitely Coffee. Preferably  organic dark roast with a splash of almond milk in my favorite ceramic mug that was gifted to me years ago. This is my first book and I wrote it during my work day in between clients as a lot of the content ideas came from conversations that happened in my treatment room. I usually have soft, ambient music playing that puts me in a kind of zen state of high focus.  I wrote this mostly on my laptop, but also used a voice recording app on my phone to quickly capture ideas before they slipped away. But honestly, I am a pen and paper girl. I love the feel and sound of a heavy pen on a crisp, blank piece of paper. For the next book, I am imagining myself sitting on my comfy couch staring out the window on a stormy day, with a fancy notebook, a good pen and a steaming cup of coffee. I have no idea what the next book will be about or when that will happen, but it definitely will.





We live in a time where ageism is real and the search for the eternal fountain of youth is alive and kicking. Women after a certain age often feel, and sometimes do, become invisible. This happens in the workplace and even on the big screen where famous actresses just suddenly disappear. A certain very competent woman news anchor comes to mind. Not long after letting her natural silver hair grow out, she was quickly replaced. Our society celebrates youth, which has become synonymous with competence and sexiness.

However, in many cultures around the world, matriarchs are celebrated and revered. They do not try to change their appearance and hide their age. They are looked up to by the younger women for their wisdom, knowledge, and life experience. They have rights of passage ceremonies and special herbs and remedies for various symptoms, information which is passed on through generations. Older women teach and guide younger women, so they know what to expect when changes start happening. Here in North America, we pretend this middle phase of life does not exist. It is like a big secret that no one feels comfortable talking about. Throughout my life, I have done a lot of reading and observing of older women for cues on what I should be experiencing and how to prepare my mind and body during this life stage. Our bodies go through an incredible change physically and mentally, and not many of us are prepared for it. We are taught about puberty in school and learn very basic skills to deal with that. But when menopause hits like a hot freight train, we are often left confused, sweaty, dizzy, and utterly exhausted.






Thank you for being our guest this week Lisette. Wishing you all the success you deserve.



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

Sunday 6 August 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Jeff Kelland of Miramichi, NB, Canada.


Scribbler readers already have connections to Miramichi, a beautiful area of our province. Sandra Bunting, James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader, Chuck Bowie have been welcome guests. This week we can add one more.

Let’s meet Jeff.

Jeff R. Kelland is a 64-year-old Canadian who possesses a genuine concern for the welfare of people and society as a whole, and he has a fierce passion for the written word. Jeff is a talented, experienced writer of innumerable essays, magazine articles, editorials, poetry and prose that have appeared in a variety of publications over the years. He holds a first-class honours B.A. in philosophy and German, a Master of Science in Community Health from the School of Medicine at Memorial University, and he has published a ground-breaking thesis. Jeff is also a sought-after public speaker for various causes and conferences, a visual artist, and he has been a veteran singer-songwriter and entertainer for over 40 years.

Working Title: The novel: The Dying Party

The free prequel novella (available on all major platforms): Two of All People


Synopsis:  The Dying Party, along with its prequel novella Two of All People (available for free on all major book-selling platforms), asks the question: ‘What happens when they tell us it's too late to stop climate change; when we are forced to face a future that will be increasingly hellish, and an horrific end that will come within our lifetimes?’ The novel answers this question with two parallel story lines that alternate from chapter to chapter and eventually merge – one about how the poor will deal with the advancing crisis, and one about how the rich and powerful will fare.

The former story line, starting a few years earlier in the prequel novella, focuses on two main characters. It is late in the 2040s, and Lizzie and Donnie are two of only six people left alive in a residential complex that had been built into the side of Newfoundland’s Gros Morne mountain in the 2030s, now the only piece of habitable land left above water in all of what was once eastern Canada. In the second story line we follow a group of humanity's richest and most powerful, the super-elite, as they try to establish an off-Earth colony for themselves.

The Dying Party and the prequel novella explore in fascinating detail the complex brutality of what having to accept such a fate would mean for human civilization; what it would look like on a global scale, in a local context, and from a variety of personal perspectives. The author’s extensive research shows that if we stay on our present course of inaction, confusion, and complacency, such a declaration will come sooner than we think. The thrust of the novel, however, is to illustrate the under-appreciated impact that passing the climate change tipping point will have on the human psyche; an impact that will further complicate and accelerate what is happening on a number of levels.

This is not fanciful speculation about the near and distant future, but rather the logical extension of the current course of humanity if we continue to fail to up our game. The Dying Party is a courageous, unflinching depiction of the worst-case scenario with a measure of redemption. It is, therefore, a cautionary tale to end all cautionary tales.


The Story Behind the Story: My approach to writing novels is simple and straightforward – I identify a topic that needs more awareness on the part of the general public, research all there is to know about the topic, and then write a fictional story with a dynamic set of well-defined characters that shines a bright and revealing light on the topic.

For example, even after all the shocking revelations regarding the clerical child sexual abuse in the Catholic church over the last thirty or forty years, there is still little or nothing is being done to help these children, which made my first novel, Grace Ungiven, necessary. Similarly, my research into the climate change crisis, and into what we will need to do to successfully address the crisis, revealed that little or nothing is being done to meet the substantial challenge of climate change to date either, making it necessary for me to write and publish my second novel, The Dying Party.

As soon as I completed my research and realized that we have failed to make any meaningful progress in combating climate change, I immediately knew that the best story I could write to raise awareness and spur action would be one that takes the current reality and brings it to its logical and troubling conclusion. I decided I would depict human life on planet Earth as the consequences of our complacency and inaction unfold over the coming few decades; to show the as yet underappreciated impact on the human psyche of passing the climate change tipping point, as individuals and as a race, and how it would only worsen and accelerate the decline.

Aware as I am that the contemplation of such an apocalyptic scenario for humanity will be quite challenging and unsettling, the book includes an advisory/warning at the outset that asks readers to seriously consider their spiritual and psychological fitness before reading the book. I would also like readers to know that the disquieting results of my research was very difficult for me to deal with over the course of the almost two years it took to write, and living with this knowledge since, as I watch ongoing news reports clearly showing that my fictional story may well become true, is onerous. I honestly believe that the results of my research are accurate and, if nothing changes, human life on this planet will unfortunately come to closely resemble what I have laid out in The Dying Party, and this will happen sooner rather than later.

With all that said, I must confess that I have never wanted so badly to be wrong about anything in my life.





A question before you go, Jeff:


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 most important factor in my perfect setting for writing would be having complete and uninterrupted solitude. It would also involve a lot of tea and classical music on a low volume setting. And it would be easier to say that my workspace is anything but neat and tidy, than it would be to describe what it looks like. It’s not pretty!



An Excerpt from The Dying Party.


          Elizabeth Antoinette Flint was born the only child of two stereotypical hippie-types from Washington State. Among thousands of people on the flights forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, bright-eyed newlyweds Chet and Amelia Flint were heading to Europe for their honeymoon. Instead, they ended up making the best of it where fate had put them – on a rugged pristine island in the North Atlantic they affectionately call “The Rock”.

          As the world was dealing with the aftermath of the terrorist attack in New York City, Chet and Millie were catching the spirit of the famously friendly island and soon set aside their disappointment about the European trip. Heartily cheered on by the boisterous, backslapping natives, prodigious drinkers all, they made matrimonial merriment with the locals for ten days and nights. When it was time to depart, their bittersweet sadness surprised them both – a special seed had been planted in their bohemian hearts.

          Back to life on the Pacific coast, they tried unsuccessfully for eighteen years to have a child. Then, inspired by a popular Broadway musical about the homespun brand of hospitality Gander residents showed the stranded travellers that day in 2001, Chet and Millie returned to Newfoundland for a holiday in the summer of 2019 and never went back. Their search for a place where they could live off the grid turned up many nice spots around the province, and they finally settled on a cozy saltbox-style house in the little seaside village of Daniel’s Harbour on the island’s west coast.

          A few months later, just as the Covid-19 pandemic was taking hold around the globe, came an unexpected bonus. The change of scenery had done the trick and Millie was pregnant. As middle-aged flowerchildren who had all but given up on having kids of their own, they were elated. They insisted on an all-natural home birth with a local midwife, a harpsichord, two doves, and plenty of granola. And late in 2020, with the pandemic in full swing, little Lizzie came to be. With the blessed arrival of their long-awaited baby daughter in an idyllic pastoral setting they had both been dreaming about since the sixties, they were all set to start living happily ever after.

          That was almost seven years before The Announcement.


* * *


Lizzie shifts around in her chair, belaboring yet another sigh as Donnie sniffs and snarks his way across a room littered with shadows and random pieces of trash. Barefoot, scratching his ass through grimy gray sweatpants, shuffling through a dank stench that no longer registers, he kicks an oil-stained cardboard box aside and stands before the window. Raising both arms, he slaps his palms flat on the glass and allows himself to look out at it again. Fuck.

Over just a few days, less than a month ago, the day sky went from bright candy apple red to a dull flat crimson, progressively more blood-like in color and texture. All that week it had been streaked with black clouds, scattered, stretching across the sanguine stratosphere like random lines scrawled on a bloody page. He realizes that over the last three days it has been changing even more rapidly, and this evening it has taken on an ominous shade of reddish purple that seems to be deepening before his eyes.

          The horizon has been virtually imperceptible for weeks, ever since the last torrid wave came through, smelting another ungodly layer of death upon death. Now it is just a fuzzy white band of sickening haze that is becoming hazier with each passing day. He can see it through the rippling sheets of heat rising from the toxic soup that surrounds what is left of their shrinking, otherworldly piece of wasteland. There is still some difference between night and day, but not enough to matter much to anyone, and it has been a long time since anybody could go outside and expect to come back. Daytime is dark, the night slightly darker, both somehow strangely backlit. They sleep during the day, leaving the challenge of conscious awareness for the night when it is harder to see what’s happening outside.

          Across the globe the atmosphere is steadily breaking down, increasingly irradiated, no longer a sufficient UV filter for earthly life. With no real polar ice caps left to deflect the sun’s lethal rays, the Earth is superheating, and it is so hot now that its axis poles are just beginning to shift, with widespread seismic consequences. Volcanic activity has been rising sharply, and even long-dormant volcanos are becoming reactivated. Earthquakes flourish everywhere, triggering each other, setting off unprecedented chain reactions in the equatorial regions, the so-called “Ring of Fire” around the Pacific now literally so and visible from space. Thick, merciless waves of impossible heat are sweeping indiscriminately across the world, and dense clouds of radiation have started to form and maraud around the planet, riding the wind-driven air masses, poisoning what little there is left to poison.

Looking out on the relative calm of what was once the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Donnie is starting to worry about the changes in the horizon and sky of late. He thinks about the sickening walls of ever more toxic heat that have been passing over them in recent weeks, six now by his count. The first five were so slow they didn’t see them approach, instead gradually feeling them by the noticeable rise in the units’ temperature. But he remembers that the last one was moving much faster than the others; this time they could see it coming, and it was thicker, almost opaque. He knows it is only a matter of weeks, maybe days, before the worst of it finally gets around to the North Atlantic and finishes them too, taking all they’ve ever known and all they’ve ever been...

Thank you for being our guest this week, Jeff. Wishing you continued success.

And thank you to our visitors and readers. Don't be shy. We'd love to hear from you