Saturday 27 January 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Em Whelly of Saint John, NB, Canada.


E Whelly is an award winning, Amazon best-selling author and avid coffee drinker. She is the author of best-seller, My Beautiful Ghosts, The Mindless Ramblings of an 18-Year-Old Girl, award winning, The Rise of Vardya and coming January 24th, The Imposter Author.

When not surrounding herself with books, she spends her time with her supportive husband, David, their adorable son, Grant and their zoo of pets at home. A dog, three cats, two guinea pigs and 9 pond goldfish.



Working Title: The Secrets of Austerland, book 2 in The Rise of Vardya series.



Synopsis: After the fall of the Neroso Tower in Enross, Satcha finds herself more alone than she’d ever been before. Betrayed by Dominic and her long-lost family, she sets her sights on revenge, the only thing she knows.

Dominic and Lennox rally the rebel soldiers and make a run for Austerland, their last hope of standing a chance against the Enforcers.



The Story Behind the Story: The Rise of Vardya started like all my books. From a dream. I have very vivid dreams and can remember every detail. There are some dreams that I just can’t shake and those are the ones I tend to write about. My Beautiful Ghosts was my debut novel and came from a nightmare I had back in my freshman year at college in 2010. The entire prologue of the book was my dream. I couldn’t shake it; it scared me more than any other dream. I couldn’t let it go and I couldn’t let it end on such a heartbreaking note. I decided to write the rest of Alyssa’s story. Whether or not it was a happy ending or not.

Something similar happened with Satcha in the Rise of Vardya. I dreamt about a woman trying to survive. She was trying to escape a town being bombed by soldiers. I couldn’t let it end there. I had to know what happened next. I start off writing my stories about what I imagine happening and as I write, the characters come alive and change everything on me. They become real people for me.


Website: Go HERE.


A couple questions before you go, Em:


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?

Em: My perfect setting for writing, depending on the time of day, I like to sit down with a drink. If it's early, it's coffee with two sugar and a splash of Cinnabon creamer. If it’s in the evening, it’s probably a glass of whisky. Either Writer’s Tears or a MacCallan. Neat. I put a drop of water in my glass, swirl it around to cover the bottom and pour it out before I add my whisky.

When I am sitting down to write, I have my notebook where I keep my ideas and plotline, my world bible that has all my character bios and world building details, sticky notes, and different colored sharpie pens for making notes in my notebook.

I must have absolute quiet and no one around for the most part. I can tolerate my husband in the room if he’s quiet, but I get distracted very easily. I will listen to music before I start writing to get myself in a certain mood to write certain scenes.


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

Em: This is a loaded question. I have been sitting here thinking on how to answer this and its only confusing me more, because I honestly don’t remember how or why I picked the titles I did for any of my books. The more I think about it, they kind of manifest themselves as I write as working titles and I just go with a gut feeling.


Scribbler: I struggle sometimes with a title also, Em. It probably gets changed a few times before the story is finished.


Thank you for being our guest this week. We wish you continued success with your writing.  See you July 27th at the GMRD Book Fair in Riverview, NB.



And another GIGANTIC Thank You to all our fantastic readers and visitors. Don’t be shy, leave a comment below.

Saturday 20 January 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Sheryl Doiron-Powers and Joe Powers of Maugerville, NB, Canada.


For all you fantastic visitors and readers – you are in for a treat today. Something different as we feature a husband/wife writing team. Each with their own thrilling stories. 

Joe has been a guest previously and if you missed it, please go HERE

This is Sheryl’s first visit so read on my friends.


Sheryl Doiron-Powers is a diverse Canadian writer who dabbles in many genres including horror, romance, young adult, science fiction, creative non-fiction, and everything in between. She currently lives in the small community of Maugerville, New Brunswick, with her horror writing husband, Joe Powers, and their assortment of pets.


Joe Powers is a Canadian horror writer, a native of Fredericton, NB, and long-time fan of all things scary. From his introduction to the genre on a stormy Saturday night at the age of six - his first viewing of Bride of Frankenstein - he's been hooked. Hundreds, or maybe thousands, of horror movies later, that one still ranks among his favorites.

Among his many inspirations he lists Stephen King, Jack Ketchum, Michael Crichton, Vincent Price, Peter Benchley and Richard Matheson. He enjoys introducing the reader to flawed, believable characters and leading them on dark journeys with an unexpected twist. He isn’t afraid to mix and match genres, fearlessly weaving horror into noir, western, or sci fi.

His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and collections, both at home and abroad, as well as two novels – the horror/western fusion Terror in High Water and paranormal thriller Seventeen Skulls – and his latest release, Old Bones, which is a collection of some of his own short stories.

In his spare time he's an avid hockey fan and dog lover, and still finds time to teach several classes at UNB's College of Extended Learning.

Joe currently lives in Maugerville with his wife and fellow author, Sheryl, and an ever-growing assortment of creatures.





Sheryl: The Maugerville Monster


Joe: Putting Down Roots




Tori and Travis Anderson’s move to the small community of Maugerville promised the young couple an idyllic setting to grow Tori’s furniture business and start their family. Short commutes for Travis combined with lower real estate costs and picturesque views of the Saint John river were the cherry on top that sealed the deal, and they moved out of their cramped Fredericton apartment into the large duplex outside the Maugerville flood line.

Maugerville has been known to get a little wet from time to time, but the community had a way of planning, of sticking together, and of making it through the rough times with a smile. Or it always used to before the flood of 2018. That flood brought something different. Something far more dangerous than the rush of the Saint John River, and nothing the Anderson’s or anyone else could have planned for.


Matt Bailey and his family have just relocated to the Maritimes from the west coast. It’s a beautiful house on a huge corner lot, at a price they couldn’t say no to. But there’s more to the idyllic property than meets the eye. A dark and deadly secret lurks at the far corner of the lot.

An ancient, twisted and gnarled tree stands ominously at the back of the house. Its sole purpose is to kill and consume anything that gets too close. It is patient, methodical, and emotionless.

The body count is rising, but Matt is as powerless to stop it as he is to convince his wife and kids of the dire peril lurking just outside their back door.

The deeper Matt digs into the situation, the more he realizes how much danger he and his family are in. He knows what his family is up against, but can he protect them? Can he stop the ancient evil before it destroys everything he loves?



The Story Behind the Story:


Sheryl: I really enjoy writing stories about locations in Canada, but especially love writing about New Brunswick. I tend to look for old mythological creatures and try to bring them into the modern world so they’re not forgotten. Sometimes my creature will be of Canadian origin, but I’ve also been known to go looking for one from somewhere else that suits a particular story setting.

I’m originally from Dalhousie, NB, but moved my way down the province and finally settled down with Joe in Maugerville. Serious snow accumulation and frigid weather were commonplace in my hometown, but I’d never experienced a Spring flood when all that snow melted. The Bay of Chaleur doesn’t really cause any major flooding like what happens here, so this was an entirely new experience for me. While talking about the flood of 2018 with Joe one day, I got the idea for The Maugerville Monster and brainstormed the idea with him, then set out to find the perfect creature for my story.


Joe: I, too, like placing my stories in Canadian locations, whether real or fictional. Some are based on real legends and stories, some I fabricate or alter to suit my own needs. But Putting Down Roots is entirely fictional, and while most of the places are real I’ve taken some liberties with the details. One day a few years ago I got the idea from a nonsensical conversation that, at one point, touched on the old Peanuts comics. Specifically, the kite-eating tree that tormented the kids. Some part of my brain whispered, “what if the tree ate the kids instead of their kites?” I kind of chuckled at that, but the seeds were planted. I wrote a short story about it, but it didn’t really do the idea justice. It has just grown from there.


Website: Sheryl - Go HERE.  Joe - Go HERE.



A couple questions before you go folks:


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?

Sheryl: I tend to write more in the morning and early afternoons. My brain seems to go on standby mode the closer it gets to the end of the day, so writing anything later than about 4pm is just not going to happen. I usually write in my living room on the couch surrounded by animals, a cup of coffee, and creativity boosting music playing in the background. I could always write surrounded by chaos with toddlers and people talking around me while something blared in the next room, but I struggled to write at all for quite some time due to worsening rheumatoid arthritis. Now that I’ve been forced to retire early to focus on my well being, I’m getting more mobile both physically and mentally. Rheumatoid and fibromyalgia can cause issues with brain fog and concentration, and they’ve definitely affected mine at times over the years.

Now that the flare is subsiding, my brain is stretching its withered synapses, and I’ve managed to write a short story and start The Maugerville Monster. While it’s still early days, generally once the writing bug bites me, I take off like a dervish and knock out a manuscript in a short time frame. The stories are piling up in my head now, so I’ll hopefully be back to my regular speed in no time. I could have opted to finish a horror manuscript I had halfway finished, but decided it would be easier to start something new than to re-familiarize myself with an older piece when I haven’t been writing regularly.

As I’ve been struggling to write after an extended period of increased disability, I’ve now come to associate the living room with only leisure, so will be forcing myself to sit in my office, which I no longer use for work. The ergonomic setup probably isn’t a bad idea either, I suppose. A planned routine and dedicated space should help me get into the habit of writing frequently again. I tend to work best when I have a looming deadline, so I’m going to get Joe to give me word count deadlines to help me get back into the swing of things. We tend to do well when we’re pushing each other along towards the finish line.

I’m 100% pantser. The only notes I make are the ones to help me keep track of character and setting details for continuity after I’ve already written them into the story. I don’t think I’ve ever had more than a page of notes. I never have an outline, web, or handwritten notes scrawled on napkins. Well, that’s not true. I have a manuscript on the back burner that is quite complex and required a detailed plot outline for continuity and development of the plot, which has several story arcs. I’m so much of a pantser, that fantastic manuscript has been sitting in a folder for several years because I struggle to work from an outline. I write stories in order, as the details occur to me, and let the characters and plot carry me where they need to go. Joe thinks I’m crazy.



Joe: Historically, I’ve written anywhere and everywhere. When the mood strikes and inspiration hits, I just know I need to get it down on paper before it’s gone. I have a ton of old handwritten notes and story ideas scrawled on everything from notepads to the back of the program of a convention I was attending when my muse popped in for a visit. I tend to write my notes because I can write faster than I can type – a lot of it is barely legible, but it gives me something to work with and transcribe from!

As I always tell my students, story ideas are everywhere. Some are much stronger than others, granted, but there are always new ones coming along. Once I settle on one that I like, I work it through in my mind until I’m pretty sure there aren’t any glaring holes that would derail the story. If it seems workable, I’ll write out a loose outline, hit the highlights... I call it the ‘skeleton’ of the story. Once I have that in place, I’ll start adding ‘the meat’ and flesh the story out. During this part of the process I’ll spend some time on my characters and really get to know them. This is a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it makes my characters more realistic and relatable, but on the other hand, as a result they often derail the story I had so meticulously plotted out. I realize I could save myself a lot of work by changing the order in which I work, but I’ve never been accused of doing things the easy way!

As far as my actual process goes, I do my best work when there’s nothing to distract me from my train of thought. I don’t always like to have music or other noise, but I will say that certain music sparks certain... types of creativity. Alice in Chains Unplugged, Heilung’s LIFA, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Skynyrd, Voiceplay... each sets the mood in its own way without being intrusive. With a longer work like a novel, I tend to jump around within the story a bit and write some of the “highlights” of the story. Then I’ll go back through and fill in the gaps, smooth over the rough edges. It sounds chaotic, and I guess it can be. On the other hand I’ve tried just writing from start to finish, and it did work out well – that’s how I wrote Terror in High Water, my first novel.



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

Sheryl: I struggle with titles most of the time. I usually end up with a fantastic one right out of nowhere before I start writing, or I take longer to choose one than I did to write the manuscript. When I’m struggling to find one, I reread the story and look for some nugget that’ll work. If that fails, I send my manuscript to Joe and ask advice, then turn to my beta readers if we still haven’t come up with anything. I then overthink it for a bit and try to think of something better. I usually don’t and end up going with the original.

Joe: I hate to admit it, but I really have a tough time with novel names. Short stories? No problem, most of the time the title becomes really obvious by the time I’m finished with it. But novels? I’ll use a working title during the writing period, knowing full well it’s not what will appear on the finished product. Then, I’ll spend an inordinate amount of time searching for just the right fit. We joke that I spend more time writing the title than the book! Often, Sheryl and I will throw ideas back and forth in the hope something inspires me. Eventually the right title will reveal itself to me, and I’ll wonder why it wasn’t obvious the whole time.




An Excerpt from Putting Down Roots.   


Joe: This is a short snippet from what is still very much a work in progress, so it’s pretty rough. In this scene, the main character wants answers about the spooky (and, he suspects, deadly) tree in his back yard, so he seeks out the former owner of the house and pays her a visit. The woman matter-of-factly tells him the story of how she used the tree to kill her husband’s mistress, which confirms the MC’s worst fears and reveals what exactly he’s dealing with.


"So as I said, I pointed the gun at her. She wasn't smiling then. She wasn't upset, exactly, but maybe a little less sure of herself. I told her to walk out the back door onto the patio. She did, and I followed behind her. We got outside and she stopped and turned around to look at me. She asked me what now, and I said keep walking. Walking where, she asked. Over there, over by the tree, I told her. I may have waved the gun at her to get her moving. She gave me a funny look, but I think she saw I was serious, so she walked." 

"She kept talking, the entire time. Asking stupid questions, telling me my marriage was over, that my daughter would go and live with them, how pathetic I was. But I didn't say anything, and she kept walking." 

"Just before she got to the tree, she turned around and looked at me again. Right in the eye. She had this look on her face that made me want to shoot her right then. But I didn't do that, I waited and watched. She was in the middle of insulting me when her voice caught in her throat and she made a funny sound, almost like a cartoon character. She looked down at the ground, I looked down too, to see what got her attention. One of the tree's roots had broken up through the ground and had wrapped itself around her leg. Then a branch came down and... grabbed her, I guess you'd say... by the neck. She almost screamed, I think. But then that branch had her and she couldn't make any sound other than a whimpering moan. I'm not sure she really grasped what was happening to her. I can understand why. It's not the sort of thing you can really prepare for."

“What did it do to her?” Matt asked. “Did it pull her apart, or eat her, what?”

"To be honest, I can’t say for certain. I didn't stay to watch what happened. I'm not a violent person, Mr. Bailey. I don't care for scary books or movies, I'm generally a nice person. I knew something very bad was about to happen, and I didn't want to have nightmares over it. So I lowered the gun and went back inside." 

"I went back outside later that afternoon. Ashley was due home an hour or so later, so I wanted to see if there was anything I needed to clean up before she came home. But there was nothing. No sign of the woman, or that anyone had been in the yard at all that day. For a moment I was afraid she'd gotten away somehow. She'd escaped and was on her way to the police to have me arrested. I couldn't shake the feeling that it had gone wrong and that I would be in a lot of trouble."

"But nothing happened. Nobody came, she never showed up with the police in tow, not even a threatening phone call or email. She was gone, I was sure of it then."

"What happened then?"

"I had the strangest sensation of relief. I knew I’d just gotten away with murder. And because it was justified, I felt no remorse whatsoever. And that's when I decided to kill my husband next."


 What a teaser!


This has been fun and we thank you both for being our guests this week. We wish you continued success with your writing journeys.


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

Saturday 6 January 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Hannah State of Fredericton, NB, Canada.


Hannah is our First guest for 2024.

She been here before and it is a real treat to have her back.

If you missed her previous visit, please go HERE.

She is sharing the good news of her new book.

Read on my friends.

Hannah D. State is an award-winning Canadian author and science fiction/fantasy writer. Her debut novel, Journey to the Hopewell Star, was named “A Must-Have New Brunswick Book of 2020” by Atlantic Books Today and was a Gold Medal Winner in the Young Adult Sci-Fi category in the 2021 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. Hannah has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Queen’s University.

Hannah is bothered by inequality, violence, greed, complacency, snakes, entering a dark room, and not getting enough sleep. She enjoys writing about strong-willed characters who don’t fit the norm and who overcome great obstacles with perseverance, self-discovery, and help from others. Sometimes Hannah can’t keep up with her characters’ ideas and plans, so she takes breaks, drinks coffee, does yoga, and takes nature walks to calm her mind and really listen. Born in London, Ontario, Hannah and her husband moved to the East Coast in 2016.


Title: Journey to the Dark Galaxy




A mysterious signal from deep space. Mischief and murder at a military base.

Earth’s leaders are given an ultimatum: deliver Sam Sanderson to Logom, a planet known to house a hostile AI civilization, or face interplanetary war.

When Sam receives a strange letter drafting her into the Great Alliance for Interplanetary Affairs as a matter of international security, she expects to get answers. But instead of receiving a warm welcome, she finds that most people under the surface are distant, cold, and have built walls of silence. While grappling with her unique power and the consequences of her actions, she learns that the organization she’s supposed to serve has a chilling past and guards a dark secret.

You better wish upon the stars they don’t send you to the Dark Galaxy.

A harrowing journey into the unknown. An uncertain future.

While Earth’s scientists scramble to defend their world and the planetary alliance from the AI threat, Sam is forced on a mission to the Dark Galaxy. A place where dangers lurk, tensions run high, and things are never what they seem.

But will the journey change her forever?

As Sam desperately navigates a maze of lies, dark secrets, and finds herself at the heart of a dangerous journey, she discovers that it will take much more than her courage and power to save humanity.

The Story Behind the Story:

In my second novel, a sequel, I wanted to continue Sam’s adventure with her friends but also explore darker themes. I wrote it during the pandemic, a time of severe isolation and perhaps loneliness, too, and played around a lot with those themes in the book. The stakes are higher. Sam is dealing with both physical isolation (being so far from her grandfather and home) and mental isolation. She’s forced to adapt, question her situation and circumstances, learn what she can, and mature quickly.

If people haven’t read the first book in the series, that’s okay. The sequel is written in such a way that you don’t need to read the first book to understand the story. People can approach these books in whatever sequence they want.

The inspiration for this book came from different experiences. Part of the story takes place at an underwater military base with leading-edge technologies. When I first started my career in the Canadian civil service as a contract administrator over a decade ago, I worked at a Defence R&D laboratory in Toronto, Ontario. The lab has a wonderful history of innovation and bright scientists and staff making medical advancements in the military field, including Sir Frederick Banting, the discoverer of insulin, who established groundbreaking research in aviation medicine. His team included Wilbur Franks, who developed the first g-suit (a.k.a. the Franks Flying Suit), which prevented pilots from blacking out when subjected to g-force during flight manoeuvres. They also developed and constructed a human centrifuge, which was used to train air force pilots and, later, Canadian astronauts.

The technologies in my story are from my imagination, but I was inspired by that experience and loved working in that science setting. Just to set the record straight, in the story, the base and its employees are written in an eerie way (it’s important to give our characters challenges) and in no way reflect my personal experience. The people I worked with were awesome.

With the sequel, I wanted to experiment a bit and bring in new characters with different backgrounds and experiences. I wanted to create a bit of mystery. Kwan was a fun character to write. She has incredible skills but a difficult past. As the story progresses, she realizes her memories are unreliable, and she ends up questioning her own identity. It goes with the darker tone of the book. Memories are an interesting phenomenon. In part, they help us define who we are. But I didn’t realize how fragile memories were until I read Dr. Julie Shaw’s non-fiction book The Memory Illusion. It’s not science fiction. Memories can be tampered with. People can be made to believe they’ve committed crimes. Scary stuff. Building upon that premise, I wanted Kwan, in the course of her journey, to uncover difficult truths about herself and the organization she works for. It’s as much Kwan’s story as it is Sam’s. I didn’t want to place Sam in the role of the sole heroine. I wanted the characters to challenge and support each other, experience (at times shocking) revelations, go through transformations together, and grow from the experience.

If you’ve read this far and aren’t bored yet, I’ll just include one more note. On the theme of artificial intelligence, I’m interested in how fast it is advancing and how it’s being used. I’ve been reading a lot of AI-related articles in the news lately. Governments around the world are using technology for population tracking, and in my opinion, it’s intrusive and frightening. I wanted to explore AI further, including the ethics and risks. Especially today, when kids are exposed to technology at such a young age, there is so much potential for disaster, vulnerability, privacy invasion, and manipulation. It’s definitely a scary world. At least the subject matter makes for intriguing stories. I want people who read this book to be bothered by the themes. I hope it forces people to question the power and control (or lack of control) we have with these new technologies.


Fakebook link:


A couple questions before you go, Hannah:

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?

Hannah: Coffee and tea all the way! I crave quiet while writing. No distractions. I usually get most of my writing done at home in my office. It’s like I have an invisible sign on the door, and my husband knows when I’m in serious writing mode. He’s so supportive. Sometimes, I’ll go to a coffee shop to change it up. I enjoy listening to music if it’s quietly playing in the background. But if it’s loud or there are lots of people, I get easily distracted.

At home, I type my ideas on the computer. But at the coffee shop, I enjoy scribbling ideas in my notebook. Unfortunately, I’ve developed messy handwriting over the years. One day, I would love to do a writing retreat in a peaceful setting, surrounded by nature.


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


Hannah: That’s a good question. Typically, I’ll choose a title later in the writing process, once I’ve decided upon location, setting, characters, and which themes to explore. In the rare case that I’ve started with a title, it usually changes by the end. Trying to write a story to fit a title can be limiting, in my experience. I prefer to develop the story and see where it goes before choosing a title that reflects it.



An Excerpt:

Tearing her watery eyes from the photo, she turned, glancing out the small, circular window at the unfathomable expanse beyond. Her stomach fluttered. She felt lightheaded. Now she was hurtling through space—ever farther away from everything she knew and loved. Any shred of comfort and safety, all the things she’d clung to and hoped for, were gone.

She’d never felt so alone in her life.

Frustrated, she slammed her fist into the armrest. She hadn’t expected things to turn out like this. They’d barely managed to get out in time. And despite planning for this mission, she didn’t feel ready. None of them were. The attack had shortened their timeline considerably. Getting to Logom, the planet where Duskara lived, would be a long journey in itself, and a dangerous one. But this was only the beginning. They needed a way to infiltrate Duskara’s Malborg army situated on that planet. Their plan of attack on Duskara had not yet been finalized, and the details were hazy at best. They were flying blind.

At least they’d gotten out of range of the Gargol ships. They were now in SWIFT navigation mode—superluminal wayfinding intergalactic faraway travel. But traveling by SWIFT navigation mode wasn’t comfortable or relaxing. In this long, winding wormhole, time was fleeting, and spacetime was distorted. Barreling through a tunnel in spacetime like this—all without registering any movement whatsoever—made it hard to determine what was real and what was not. She couldn’t even look out the windows. The constant stream of strange lights and dizzying tunnels looping in every direction made it impossible to get one’s bearings. It was a weird feeling. It played tricks on her mind. The lights outside could just as well have been an extravagant light show or an optical illusion. But her body felt different, like a constant whirring inside her bones. At the molecular level, it felt like her atoms were racing around sporadically. It felt like being on a ship in the middle of the ocean with hundred-foot waves, except they spiraled in all directions. A person could go mad in a constant state of flux like this.

Maybe she’d get used to it over time. She hoped so.



Thank you for being our guest this week, Hannah. We hope you get to that Retreat someday and we wish you continued success with your writing.



And THANK YOU to our visitors and readers.