Saturday 30 December 2023

The Story Behind the Story with JP McLean of Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada.


We are pleased to have JP McLean as the last guest of 2023.

She is no stranger to the Scribbler. This will be her fourth guest visit and we hope it won’t be the last.

The most recent post featuring JP can be found HERE.

She is sharing the SBTS for her newest novel.

Read on my friends.



JP (Jo-Anne) McLean is a bestselling and award-winning author of urban fantasy and supernatural thrillers. Reviewers call her books addictive, smart and fun. Raised in Toronto, Ontario, JP now lives with her husband on Denman Island, which is nestled between the coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking dishes that turn out looking nothing like the recipe photos or arguing with weeds in the garden.


Title: Scorch Mark (A Dark Dreams Novel)



Scorch Mark is the third in the Dark Dreams novels and continues the story of Jane Walker, a woman born with prominent blood-red birthmarks that snake around her body. Jane also suffers debilitating nightmares wherein she dreams of the past. In this new installment, Jane is enjoying a reprieve from the dreams and on a road trip with her partner Ethan, when a group of tailgaters she doesn’t know seem to recognize her. Their recognition can only mean that they’ve seen her in a dream she has yet to experience. While she slips away to await the dream and learn how she’s connected to the group of strangers, her BFF’s boyfriend, who is a cop, starts digging into Jane’s history. He stumbles across inexplicable deaths in her past and the cop in him sends him searching for more. And when his current investigation into illegal firearms crosses paths with Jane, she must convince him of the supernatural forces at play before he gets himself killed and causes the deaths of his entire law enforcement team.


The Story Behind the Story:

After writing seven books in the Gift Legacy series, I was ready to dig into something different. I wanted to stretch my writing skills and find a project that would challenge me. Little did I know how challenging this new project would be.

I knew the characters had to be markedly different from those I’d written previously. I also wanted to try a new style of writing. All my previous books were written from one character’s first-person point of view. I decided to try my hand at writing in third person from multiple characters’ perspectives.

The inspiration for the Dark Dreams novels was an NBC show called Blind Spot, which starred Jaimie Alexander. The opening scene of the first episode has a bomb squad tech approaching an abandoned duffle bag in an eerily empty Times Square. Emerging from the bag is a woman (Alexander) covered in tattoos from the neck down. The woman doesn’t remember who she is or how she got the ink. When I first saw that woman with the tattoos, it stirred my imagination. I wondered what it might be like to have to live with markings that weren’t of your choosing.

That was the seed for Blood Mark. The events that unfolded in Blood Mark were the catalyst for the second book, Ghost Mark, and the events from Ghost Mark spurred my newest release, Scorch Mark.

I was pleased to hear from readers that Jane Walker, the protagonist in the Dark Dreams series, is nothing like Emelynn Taylor, the protagonist in the first series, so I checked that box. But writing three characters’ stories and weaving the narrative together to get the timing of events right from each of their perspectives was a huge challenge. Writing the Dark Dreams books has stretched my skills and helped me grow as a writer.






A couple questions before you go, JP:


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?


JP: I’m so very fortunate to write from a cozy home that overlooks the ever-changing Pacific Ocean. In warm lazy weather, I open the doors to hear lapping waves and birdsong. In the colder stormy months, even with the doors closed, I hear crashing waves, howling wind, and some days, a crackling fire. Though I prefer the sounds of nature, I can also write with quiet music in the background as long as it’s instrumental. I find lyrics distracting and have to work hard to tune them out.

I’m most creative in the morning, so coffee is my bevvy of choice. If I’m still writing in the afternoon, I’ll make myself a big mug of tea. Once in a while, I’ll write in the evenings, and on those occasions, I’ll usually have a glass of red wine.

As far as notes go, I’m a bit of a neat freak. I keep a notebook beside my writing chair and take it with me when I travel. But despite my best intentions, I inevitably end up with notes on napkins and scraps of paper, which I tuck into the notebook. But I find searching through written notes takes too much time, and sometimes I miss what I’m looking for. So eventually, everything gets transcribed into a searchable Word document.

But I do use written notes when I’m plotting. I’ll write scenes on sticky notes, color-coded by character, and move them around the timeline until the order of events makes sense.


Scribbler: How do you decide on the titles for your novels? Do you have one when you start a new story or later?

JP: I’m terrible at coming up with titles. Case in point, my working title for Blood Mark was Witness. It would have been difficult for the book to standout in the sea of books already titled Witness. Happily, my critique partners are much better at brainstorming titles. I’m so grateful they’ve had a hand in almost every title I’ve published.


Excerpt from Scorch Mark

Jane stands alone between a powerful

artifact and the wrong hands.

Jane Walker is in a race against time to recover a powerful artifact that’s fallen into dangerous hands. But first, she must convince a skeptical cop of the supernatural forces at play before a lethal chain of events engulfs them all.


1   |   Jane

Now that Jane Walker knew where her mother had been laid to rest, she felt drawn there. It wasn’t out of respect or duty—she’d never met her mother in the flesh—it was simply the only thing she could do as the daughter she was never allowed to be. The visceral loathing she felt for Rick Kristan, the man who’d taken her mother away from her, grew deeper as the day of his trial approached.

Heat rippled off the asphalt parking lot. It had already been a long, hot ride, and they had two hours yet to go. Jane dismounted her Honda Rebel, glad for the opportunity to stretch her legs. Ethan Bryce pulled in beside her and killed the ignition of his Fat Boy. Across a swath of summer-scorched lawn, Windermere Lake sparkled like a cool oasis. This was their last stop before the final leg to the cemetery on the outskirts of Canmore, Alberta.

She removed her helmet, shook out her dark, cropped hair, and brushed the road dust from her jeans. Ahead, just before the path to Kinsmen Beach, a tailgate party had taken root, spilling onto the lawn behind a row of pickup trucks. The tailgaters, mostly young men flaunting their abs and red Solo cups, had confiscated a collection of the park’s picnic tables. Music pounded out of speakers, and the scent of barbecue made Jane’s mouth water.

After the helmets were locked, Ethan pulled their towel rolls from one of the saddlebags. He stretched his neck and raked his fingers through his comically flattened hair. “Ready?”

Jane let a saucy smile cross her lips. She’d happily watch Ethan Bryce’s backside all day long. “Lead the way.”

Ethan came to stand toe-to-toe with her, his light brown eyes sparkling with mischief. He leaned down and kissed her. “I love it when your mind’s in the bedroom.” He started across the parking lot and Jane held back a moment, admiring his swagger and the broad shoulders under his leather jacket. She quickly caught up and matched his stride, looking ahead to the lake, anticipating the splash of relief from the cool water.

Her focus was on the lake, so she wasn’t paying attention to the tailgaters as she and Ethan passed. But when Ethan took her hand—an unusual gesture for him—she glanced at him, and then at the men who had stopped their partying. One by one, they nudged each other and, in turn, stared at her. Startled, Jane looked away.

“You know them?” Ethan asked.

“No.” Goosebumps skated across her arms. Jane surreptitiously checked her boots and jacket, smoothed her hair, searching for something—anything—to explain their attention. Anything other than the one thing the goosebumps foretold.

Ethan’s carefree smile hid the tension she felt in the firm grip of his hand as he wove his way through the families who’d laid claim to patches of sand with beach blankets and umbrellas. They followed the shore to the thinning edge of the crowd, far from the tailgaters.

“That was weird, wasn’t it?” Jane said.

“Depends.” Ethan kicked off his boots. “Regular weird or your stratosphere weird?”

She’d already considered how a handful of men she’d never met looked at her like they knew her. Like they’d seen her before. Or met her ghost.

“They know our rides now,” she said.

“We can’t change that. Let’s cool off and get out of here.” Ethan kept an eye on the distant parking lot as he stripped down to his boxers, but he left his T-shirt on, unwilling to endure the stares his burn-scarred stomach would draw.

Jane removed everything but a tank top and bikini bottoms, an unthinkable disrobing had she still borne the blood-red birthmarks that had haunted her until the year before. The final birthmark had disappeared on her twenty-fifth birthday.

She glanced back, relieved the tailgaters hadn’t followed. “Race you!” she said and took off for the water at a run. Ethan laughed, a competitor through and through. She rushed into the lake, high-stepping until the water was above her knees, and then dove under. The water felt like an ice-cold beer on a sweltering day, a delicious quenching for her overheated skin.

They kept to the shallows, sparing an occasional glance at their belongings. Afterwards, they lay on their towels, drying off.

“Another dream’s coming. I feel it.” Jane hadn’t had a visiting dream since the night she’d learned what had become of the man she’d once known as Buddy. A man whose life she’d accidentally and irrevocably altered. He was now Dylan O’Brien, an undercover cop. That was five months ago. But her reprieve was over.

“Because of the tailgaters?”

“Why else would those men behave like they’d seen me before?”

Ethan scrubbed his face with his hands. Accepting Jane’s visiting dreams was easier for him when the dreams were dormant. Once they started up, they didn’t stop until whatever events Jane was destined to witness had finished playing out. There was no avoiding it: Jane’s dreams identified her as una testigo, a Witness in the Inca tradition.




Thank you for being our guest this week, JP. It’s always a pleasure to have you visit the Scribbler. Wishing you continued success with your writing and clever stories.


And another HUGE thank you to all our visitors and readers. Wishing you all the very best in 2024.



Saturday 23 December 2023

2023 was Fantastic!


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Scribbler.


2023 has been nothing less than Fantastic.

Over 80,000 visitors.

How long they stayed is only a guess but I expect there were many who gave it a read.

For all my visitors, readers and guests, I am eternally grateful.



Forty-six guests.

Top 3.


Lisette Meuse-Manuel



It’s been an exciting year for Lisette since the publication of her self-help book, Prepare to Pause. Read more HERE.


James Fisher

Editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader.



The original post dates back to October 2018, in earlier days for TMR. One of our most popular interviews with 9685 page views. Wow!

Check it out HERE. Check out TMR HERE.


Luc Desroches.



Like Lisette above, this is Luc’s debut book. It’s been making a splash with the changing work dynamics of so many people working from home.

Have a look HERE.




2023 saw the creation of the first Greater Moncton Riverview & Dieppe Book Fair.

April 22nd.

The event was a terrific success. Readers roamed the aisles all day from 10 until 4.

Authors from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia met each other and connected with many new readers.

Find out more HERE.


Next year is in the planning stages but the date is set.

July 27th, 2024.

Same location: Lion’s Community Centre, Riverview Dieppe.

Same fantastic collection of stories from every genre.





I had the pleasure of participating in book and craft fairs throughout the province and venturing as far as Halifax and Truro during the year.

It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet new readers. Some books travelled to different parts of Canada and the US.


Another thank you to all who took a chance on my stories.





I am excited to be a contributor to the latest Anthology of the Path Series.


Springs Paths


Join eight other authors and me as we weave different tales of springtime paths. You can discover more HERE.






I introduced two new titles to my readers.

The Alexanders Vol. 2. 1921 – 1925


The continuation of Dominic Alexander’s life in Canada. From a fourteen year old immigrant to a successful young businessman.

More HERE.


Shattered: The Final Act.


The finale of the Shattered Series.

Discover more of Jo Naylor HERE.



Thank you again faithful and new readers and visitors.



Saturday 16 December 2023

The Story Behind the Story with S. C. Eston of Fredericton, NB, Canada.


Steve is back.

His most recent publication is generating a lot of excitement amongst his many fans. He’s going to share the SBTS with us this week.

He was a guest a short time ago chatting about his contribution to the popular Spring Path anthology.

If you missed it, please go HERE.

Read on my friends. 



Steve C. Eston is the author of four books: The Burden of the Protector, The Conclave, Deficiency, and The Stranger of Ul Darak (Book 1 of The Lost Tyronian Archives).

He has been a lover of the fantastical and the scientific since he was a young boy. He wrote his first story by hand while still in elementary school — a five-page fantasy action/adventure about a tiger-masked ninja fighting mystical monsters that included his own illustrations.

When not spending time with his family, Steve try to make time for one of his numerous hobbies, which include reading, listening to music, playing video games, watching movies, making puzzles, and playing hockey and tennis. He also love to travel and have developed an obsession with New Zealand after traveling there in 2015 (visiting the set of Hobbiton and hiking alone the slopes of Mount Doom may have something to do with it).

For more information on his current writing projects and for free short stories, visit him at


Title: The Stranger of Ul Darak


In an age long forgotten, nineteen hundred and eighty-three Seals were forged—magical disks placed around the world to repel the cosmic chaos beyond.

In the centuries that followed, the Sentinels were tasked with protecting those Seals. For countless generations, they succeeded.

Until now.

At six years old, Shéana is recruited to the order of the Sentinels. A decade later, she displays powers unlike anything any Sentinel has shown before. When she feels the world stirring in pain, she knows the shield surrounding Tyronia has been breached. The great chain is broken. And the order of the Sentinels lies in discord.

In the isolated village of Valdur, young Arth struggles to belong. Spurned by the other children, he ventures south to the endless mountains, and the strange barrier marking the edge of existence. The Final Horizon. Here he witnesses the impossible: a man emerging from beyond the veil—where nothing can possibly exist. A man Arth knows he must protect.

Now the fate of two worlds rests on a knife’s edge. Only the courage of a village boy and the power of a fledgling Sentinel can save them.

But to save their worlds, they must reject all they’ve been taught, leaving behind everyone and everything they’ve ever known.

Because sometimes saving a world means rebelling against it.



The Story Behind the Story:


All the way back in 2003, my brother Mathieu, my friend Gaetan, and I, created the basis for a new imaginary world where two divinities were caught in an eternal battle against each other; one being the master of frost and ice and living in the west, and the other being the queen of fire and flame and controlling the east. Back then, I was just exploring writing as a hobby, and I remember asking Mathieu and Gaetan if they would be all right with me expanding the world by writing a few stories in it. They both welcomed the idea.

The first draft of the story was about 15,000 words, written in French, and titled “L’étranger” (The Stranger). It introduced the world and some key characters, but left many questions unanswered, teasing the reader’s imagination more than anything else. Still, both Mathieu and Gaetan enjoyed it and I ended up writing two more novellas following this one (also written in French).

When I started writing more seriously about ten years ago, the first story I ended up publishing was The Burden of the Protector, which covers some of the events leading to those taking place in “L’étranger”. Burden was in fact a prequel and although it stands well on its own, its epilogue hints that more is too come.

Exploring the world a second time sparked a series of new ideas, and more importantly, it re-awoke my interest in this world. I wanted to travel there, discover its realms and countries, meet its inhabitants and heroes. I needed to learn what had taken place, why, and more importantly, if the events destroyed the world or if it was, in the end, saved.

The Stranger of Ul Darak expands on what is presented in The Burden of the Protector. It dives into what took place and starts to expose the crisis facing the world, bringing to light a series of new characters. It is the first in an epic high fantasy series, inspired by some of my own favorite series, including The Death Gate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman,  The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson, and obviously, The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. It has many of the classic fantasy elements, including powerful magic, a struggle between good and evil, a world on the cusp of destruction, and the unlikely heroes who will have to save it. It is filled with mystery, intriguing characters, and takes place in a wondrous and unpredictable world.

It took me more than 20 years to bring The Stranger of Ul Darak to the book it is today. Surprisingly, most of the work I did does not even appear in this story (but will eventually come to light in the next installments of the series). It was a new and daunting experience for me to write the first book in a long series. It was also a LOT of fun. After reading so many epic stories, it’s quite special to finally write one of my own.



A question before you go, Steve:


Scribbler: How do you decide on the titles for your novels? Do you have one when you start a new story or later?



Titles, in all shape or form, have been the bane of my existence as a writer. Especially chapter titles! I wish I had a strategy, something, anything, to help make the decision of picking titles easier. But no, it is mostly a struggle.

I like to choose a title early on when writing a story, because I find it acts as a guide, or put another way, it gives me a target to aim for. That said, it happened on a few occasions that I had to change the title once a story is completed because it didn’t fit with the text anymore.

The title for The Stranger of Ul Darak came from the original story. “L’étranger” became “The Stranger”, and the stranger is a key character in the story. I also wanted some consistency with the titles in this series. It was important to me that this title went well with The Burden of the Protector. This is why I added “of Ul Darak” at the end, giving it the same structure.

Now, here is an exclusive that I haven’t shared anywhere else: in the same way, the next book in the series is titled “The Bridge of Carcia”. It picks up right after The Stranger of Ul Darak and it is what I’m working on at the moment.


Thank you Allan, for having me on The South Branch Scribbler once again. You’ll have to let me know what you think of The Stranger of Ul Darak once you get a chance to read it!



My absolute pleasure Steve. Thanks for being my guest this week. And for sharing the news of the next title. 

I’m looking forward to the story with great anticipation.



And a special thank you to our visitors and readers.

If you have an extra minute, why don't you have a look at my popular Shattered Series. Just click here

Thank you once more. 

Saturday 9 December 2023

The Story Behind the Story with Charlotte St. James (Vanessa Hawkins) of St. George, NB, Canada.


Let’s welcome Vanessa back to the Scribbler.

She’s going to tell us about the SBTS of her latest novel.

It’s garnering a lot of excitement and high expectations from this talented author.

Vanessa visited us before and if you missed it, please go HERE.

Read on my friends.



A life-long lover of horror, Charlotte wrote her first story when she was in grade five. It was entitled Mutilated and warranted a trip to the school guidance counsellor. Since then she has become enthralled with the vast and untamable world of literotica. With over a dozen publications under her belt, Charlotte won second place in the David Adams Richards Prize for her book Dante’s Inferno last year, to the chagrin of all the faith-abiding attendees that were made to hear her read at the summertime gala. Her books The Curious Case of Simon Todd and A Child to Cry Over written under pen name Vanessa C. Hawkins, have been featured as bestsellers on Amazon and have merited numerous awards.



Title: Dante's Inferno


Synopsis: In the depths of the Inferno the Generals reside, reigning over the nine circles of Hell with lust-filled appetites and desires spawned by moral felony. They are evil. Betrayers! Outcasts that shunned the light of God. But when Seraph Dante descends from Heaven in search of her former lover Lucifer, she begins to question all she has ever known.

One by one she is taken by the Hell Lords, her body and mind subjected to sins that until now only humanity has experienced. Lust, Glut, Greed, Wrath, Heresy, Violence and Fraud welcome her with open arms and willing, eager bodies, but their realms hold many secrets. To find her lover, Dante must be filled with the knowledge of Hell’s Generals. But will she be the same when she finally finds Lucifer? How has Hell changed him?

How will it change her?



The Story Behind the Story: I first thought of the idea when I was teaching in South Korea. A few friends of mine were thinking of cheesy erotica novels and what we’d name them, and I thought up Dante's In Her Now, which… kiiiiinda sounds like Dante's Inferno if you slur the words a bit? Yeah, it was dumb. Anyway, the idea snowballed and I toyed with it off an on for a awhile until inspiration struck and took over.

Also, I'm one of the many thirsty lit majors out there (which is who I dedicated the book to by the way) and the idea of demon boys and ladies doing naughty things in Hell, sounded so delicious and thought provoking that how could I NOT write this book? Hopefully a lot of other people think so too, or are at least curious enough to take a peak. I swear it's not just smut! There's lots of character development and themes of a philosophical nature!

And sex! Sex sells, what can I say… 


Website: Vanessa C. Hawkins Author Page | Facebook



A couple questions before you go, Vanessa:


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?


Vanessa: My couch after my daughter falls sleep? *Laughs* Honestly, nowadays I'll take any setting I can get, but my preferred atmosphere is far from civilization with a kick-ass YouTube playlist and an ocean of coffee.

Actually, every year I try to schedule some time to work away from home, just to hang my mom/wife hat up for a moment and concentrate on my writing. Last summer I was happy to spend a weekend at a retreat set in an old convent house in Saint John. I met with some very talented authors, and wrote some very spicy demon porn whilst in the company of a crucifix and a chapel down the hall. Talk about inspiring!



Scribbler: Introduce us to Charlotte St. James.


Vanessa: Charlotte St. James is my pen name. When you write in an eclectic variety of genres, you want to separate the young adult audience from the literotica. I figure I can spare a few angry emails that way. But the name itself came from my first book staring Charlotte Swanne, a gumshoe vampire on the hunt for a murdering psychopath. It's also slightly inspired by Lottie in the underrated classic, Princess and the Frog by Walt Disney. I don't know why, but I love that character so much. She deserves to get her prince someday. Please give her her prince!

However, the best part about the pen name is that I can write all sorts of spicy scenes as Charlotte and people don't know it's me! Everything goes!

…Well, until now I guess. Ahhh! Don't tell people I write about weird, sexy things… honestly they probably already know…




Your writing is what makes your stories unique, Vanessa. Thanks for being my guest this week. I wish you tons of success with your writing.



And a Gigantic Thank You to our visitors and Readers.