Saturday 17 February 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Diane McGyver of Halifax, NS, Canada.

 


It is with great pleasure we welcome Diane back for the SBTS. This week she will be telling us about her newest novel. 

If you missed her first visit, please go HERE.

Read on my friends.


 

Lady Diane McGyver fell in love with the fantasy genre when at the age of 13 an awesome Dungeon Master introduced her to Dungeons & Dragons. From there, she landed in the world created by Terry Brooks, then journeyed into the realms crafted by Mercedes Lackey. By the age of 16, she was truly lost to magical lands and dreamt of one day living in one or two.

Her future goal is to write fantasy stories until she’s 100 years old. She’s already made plans to retire–at an early age–to write by the sea where she spent her childhood. There, she will live in a peel tower or a stone cottage and raise chickens, commune with trees and find adventure.

 

 

Title: Dragons in the Dungeon


 

 

Synopsis: Ryan McCormac is addicted to playing Mediaeval Dungeon Adventures with friends every Friday night. He’s so consumed with the role-playing game that he wishes he could find a spell to transport him into that world where he could create his own campaign. One day, his wish comes true. But his friends aren’t there, and the world is nothing like he thought it would be. Every day he fears for his life. The people are soulless, the landscape is colourless and the magic is nowhere to be found. The only way home is to find another like him and sacrifice them.

After five years, he’s finally found someone from his world. Now he just has to get her to the wizard who can perform the spell. Simple right? Except she’s a gatherer and before he reaches the wizard, she’s gathered several friends who plan to save her.
If you played Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980s, you’ve got this. You know the feeling of joining friends on a quest, choosing your race, be it dwarf or elf, your profession, possibly fighter or thief, gathering your gear and exploring endless dungeons. This story is a tribute to those days when life was good, music was better and days were endless.

 


 

The Story Behind the Story: When I was 13 years old, an amazing Dungeon Master introduced me to the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. While I had dabbled in fantasy worlds before this and had dreamt of magic, fairies and dragons, D&D was the beginning of fully understanding and immersing myself in such fantastic places.

The idea behind Dragons in the Dungeon developed when I was a teen and playing Dungeons and Dragons. My daydreams were filled with the possibility of finding a spell and being transported into that fantasy world I ventured into with my friends every Friday night.

While my friends and I discussed the possibility of living in that realm, I could see they were joking, not taking it seriously, whereas I was giving real consideration about actually doing it.

Feeling a little silly about genuinely thinking about entering the fantasy world, I never voiced my honest opinion, and I never wrote a story about the possibility because I feared my friends would learn just how crazy I was. Like most young writers, that fear of readers thinking I was all that I wrote about limited my stories.

Fast forward 30 years, and now I don’t give a second thought to if readers think I’m crazy. In 2022, the idea for a story focused on a player of the game finding a spell and being transported into the fantasy realm came to me in dream. It was time to write it, and write I did.

I started May 7, 2022, and completed the first draft on August 5, 2022. My goal was 100,000 words, but it ended at 154,122 words.

While I may never find that spell to transport me into a magnificent fantasy world, complete with dungeons and dragons, it doesn’t stop me from dreaming and looking for one.

 

 

Diana's Website: Go HERE.



A couple of questions before you go, Diane:

 


Scribbler: What is the perfect setting for you when you write your stories?

Diane: I write my stories directly onto the computer. I took typing for three years in high school, so I’m able to type quickly and blindly. This means I can close my eyes, visualize a scene and write it. Adding to this, I like to be in a quiet space, familiar music playing quietly in the background and a cup of tea on my desk.

 

Scribbler: What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?

Diane: My favourite part of publishing is designing the cover. My least favourite part is the technical side of designing the interior, ensuring everything lines up and is accepted by the publishing platform, which for me is Amazon.


An Excerpt from Dragons in the Dungeon:

Cormac steered his horse along the street and took the third lane on the right. It was lined with two-storey shops. The standard for most of this land. Businesses on the bottom; living quarters on the top. It was all so typical. The structures were the same just like the new subdivisions being built where he came from. Every house had the same design. So what if they were different colours. Walk in one, he walked in them all. There was nothing architecturally interesting about any of them. Nothing magical. Nothing special. That monotony was repeated here.

“A music shop,” said Nimble. “Let’s visit it later.”

“Yes,” said Loggie. “I would love to.”

“A magic wand shop?” Her voice rose. “Incredible. Lucinda’s Enchanted Wands. Let’s go there, too! We’ll see what they have besides wands.”

Cormac stared at the shop. He’d never seen a magic wand shop. He hadn’t even seen a magic shop. A wooden sign with an image of a caldron, a cat and stars swayed in the breeze above the door. The edges of the large picture window had been painted with lines swirling around the moon, the sun and stars. Beneath the darkening sky and through the drizzle, the deep greens, browns and purple gave a magical feel to the place. He wondered if they really sold magical wands or if they were like the witches’ shops at home, a place of high expectations and no return. They sold trinkets to decorate a room but held no real magic.

“Now that’s a sanctuary.”

He turned to Loggie’s voice and followed his line of sight. The impressive stone structure was a mini castle complete with a turret for a bell tower. The three-storey structure was only about 75 feet wide, and the elaborate entranceway took up half of it. Carved stone statues of knights stood guard on either side of the doorway. The wooden doors leading into the sanctuary were each six feet wide and 14 feet tall. Wide black iron hinges secured the doors, and a ring as large as a basketball hung on one of the doors and encircled a dragon’s head with its mouth open wide. No one stood outside or sat on the stone bench resting near the doorway. It looked vacant, abandoned, but the single light flickering in the round blue window above the entrance indicated otherwise. Below it, carved into the stone, read NORN SANCTUARY. He’d never seen anything like it in this realm nor his home realm.

“We need to go there, too,” whispered Nimble.

“We don’t need sanctuary,” he said.

“Yet we’ll go anyways. It calls to those it wishes to see. And I hear it whispering to me.”

He swung around. Her expression was one of awe, as if she’d seen the most magnificent sight in her life, and that what she most desired rested behind those doors. Granted, the sanctuary was a great looking building, but it didn’t entice him to enter. “We should stay out of sight.”

She frowned. “Do you fear living?”

“Dying.”

“If that is where you focus your energy, you will never live. In essence, you’ve already died inside.”

He turned back around. What did she know? Every morning, she was reborn; her history, all of it, good and bad, erased from her memory. She saw this world with new eyes daily. She felt the same every day as he had when he’d first arrived: inspired, hopeful, fascinated. Reduced to hunting and grovelling for survival forced him to see how silly he had been to believe in an enchanted fantasy world. If there was a hell on Earth, this was it.

 

 


 

 

Please note that Diane will be participating in the GMRD Book Fair to be held in Riverview, NB, on July 27th, 2024

Go HERE.


 

Thank you for being our guest this week, Diane. Your novel sounds appealing and I’m looking forward to reading it. We wish you continued success with your writing.

And a GREAT BIG thank you to all our visitors and readers.

Tell us what’s on your mind in the comment box below.

Saturday 10 February 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Suzanne Casey of Moncton, NB, Canada.

 


One of our most popular guests has a new book out. Suzanne is with us this week sharing the SBTS of her novel.

This is not her first visit to the Scribbler and I invite you to take a peek from our archives at her previous visit. Please go HERE.

Read on my friends.

 

In my office closet, I have binders upon binders of stories that I created during elementary school.  I've been writing since I was 9-10 years old.  That passion has been burning in me for many decades.  However, regular life got in the way.  Marriage, raising two daughters, work, and other regular obligations came first.

When my parents died 6 weeks apart several years ago, I decided to stop finding excuses and follow my dream of becoming a novelist.  Life was too short not to live it with complete passion.  Surrounded by the love and support of my family and longtime friends, I've never looked back.

I am a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, loyal friend, and supporter of the underdogs.  I prefer one on one lunch dates over large gatherings.  I like making food for people, a trait I got from my mother.  Spending time with my two daughters rejuvenates me.  Spending time with my grandchildren is beyond precious.  Spending time with my siblings feeds my soul.

 

Title  BIRCH ISLAND And The Secrets It Held

 


 

Synopsis:  Leo Clement makes the acquaintance  of Peaches King while staying at Birch Island Resort.  An odd friendship ignites between the young reporter and the enigmatic owner of the quaint vacation spot.

Leo starts coming to the island every Tuesday for lunch and a game of Scrabble with the eccentric octogenarian.  He listens to Ms. King reminisce about her eventful past while nibbling on Neapolitan wafer cookies.

Peaches shares details about her upbringing, her schooling and her marriage.  However, the more she talks, the  more questions Leo has, including the disappearance of several staff members.

Hired by Peaches' own daughter to uncover the truth, Leo goes on a fact-finding mission that takes him from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts.  By doing so, he uncovers more than he expected.

 


The Story Behind The Story:  A few years ago, my husband and I took a road trip that included a ferry ride from Saint John, NB to Digby, NS.  Our plan was to follow the south coast up to Halifax.  Getting off that ferry, we discovered this surprise resort called Digby Pines, an older but majestic place I'd never heard of.  Then two years ago, we took the ferry again, this time following the opposite coastline.  We also booked two nights at Digby Pines.  Having instantly fallen in love with the charm of the place, especially the sitting rooms, I decided to use this as the base of a book one day, not knowing it would become my very next novel as the fictitious Birch Island Resort.

As for the plot itself, I am part of the 67% of writers whose characters wake them up in the middle of the night to tell their stories.  All three of my novels were written that way.  They will share their physical attributes, or give me a paragraph, a sentence or a scene.

As far as composing the storyline, I always seem to know the beginning and the end of the story, including novel #4, which is in the works.  Filling the 200+ pages in between is always my challenge.  Those 2-3-4 o'clock wake up chats with my characters eventually fill in the blanks.

I also love to put in personal stuff, people's names or events, that only people who know me personally will get.   Things like Scrabble is one of my top 2 games...Backgammon is the other.  One of my friends has a very young grandson named Leo.  And if one looks at my other novels, The Quilting Bee or Danny And MJ, my mother was an amazing quilter and the initials of my daughters are M and J.





 

 

A couple of questions before you go, Suzanne.

 


Scribbler: What is the perfect setting when you write your stories? 


Suzanne: To get inspired, I need a touch of nature.  A drive following the coast, a walk in a nature park, a few hours sitting  in my hammock under the umbrella of maple trees while watching yellow finches flutter around our bird feeder or laying in bed in our camper and hearing all the sounds of nature around me.

Once that part of my soul is fed, I go into my office (or camper kitchen table) and write in a completely silent house.  Even when my children were young, I'd wait until they were sleeping at night before digging out the typewriter while my husband was working evenings.

 



Scribbler: We asked you this question before and wondering if anything changed. What's your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?   

Suzanne: I detested editing, but I'm getting better at it, and I trust my instincts with acquired experience.  Now that I've found a graphic artist who's really good at editing, I let her do the very last round for me.  But I'll still do between 10 and 15 rounds myself, first.

So now, my least favourite part is waiting for the publishers' approval.  And my favourite is receiving the email saying it's been approved.


  

Excerpt from Birch Island

 

Susannah received burns to most of her body.  Her screams echoed across the Halifax harbour.  Horrified by the sounds coming out of his mother's mouth, Finn ran away.   He ran and ran until his legs gave out.

Then he hid.

For the next several months, the young lad continued that pattern.  He would run at night, then hide during the day.  Nobody really knew Finn Walsh existed, except the barmaid who helped deliver him.  Not once had the boy ever stepped into a classroom.  His entire education had come from the streets.

And then, the fire incident changed everything.  Finn Walsh never found out whatever happened to his mother.  As far as he knew, Susannah had perished in the fire and he was to blame for it.  He was the one who had caused the lantern to tip and light his mother's bed on fire.

Finn Walsh would never know that his mother had survived, though severely scarred from the waist up.   And Susannah never went looking for her young bastard son.  As far as she was concerned, that chapter in her life was finally over.

  

 

 

Thank you for being our guest this week, Suzanne. We wish you continued success with your stories. 

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

Don’t be shy. Leave us a comment.

Saturday 3 February 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Katherine Melanie of Atlantic Canada

 



A new Author coming to you this week. 

Katherine is excited about her novel and she is with us today to tell us all about it. 

Read on my friends.



Katherine Melanie is a teacher and a writer originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Inspired by her love of history, Katherine has written her first novel, Her. She is a proud Kelvinite who pursued her higher education at the University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba, eventually receiving her master’s degree at the University of Newfoundland.

Katherine has lived in several provinces as well as spending two years in Japan. She takes to travelling whenever she finds the opportunity, or creating one if she has to wait too long. She has a passion for history and cultures that cannot be satiated. At this point in her life, she has visited much of the world and is planning to visit the rest.

She resides in the Canadian Maritimes with her family. They live alongside several chickens, three dogs, and a few wild turkeys when the urge hits them to visit. She received the Queen’s Jubilee medal for her outstanding contribution to education, community, and volunteer firefighting, as well as for her leadership and convening skills among the diverse peoples of her region.


 

Working Title:  Her

 


 

Synopsis:  In the haunting aftermath of the Second World War, a war correspondent embarks on a poignant quest to understand the woman he once loved and who spurned him. As he journeys through the war-torn streets of Europe, he unravels a tale that she never dared to share. Amidst the backdrop of their passionate love story, he uncovers a harrowing narrative, of brutality, sexual abuse, and the indomitable spirit to overcome such darkness. This tale delves deep into the heart of war's monsters and heroes, exploring the profound impact of their deeds on those in their wake.

This novel is a thoroughly researched and documented historical story written about many little-known moments of the war and its aftermath. This novel also includes with several original literary choices including removal of all names, and a deliberate lack of description of the elusive main love interest. Despite all characters being nameless many of the secondary characters are historical and often speak in their own words. Historical photographs and quotes at the beginning of each chapter anchor the story to real history. Readers with a passion for details can find the name of historical figures and sources at the back of the book. This book is well suited for book clubs with its purposefully open-ended characters, social commentary, and historical details.

 


 

The Story Behind the Story: I am passionate about reading, history, and social issues like feminism. More than 15 years ago, I started to write the perfect novel that I wanted to read. My narrator is British man which seems like an unusual choice for as a Canadian woman. But it is from his point of privilege that what happens to her during the war is interpreted.

I should preface talking about my book by explaining that there are no names in the book which is not hard to read but it is hard to talk about in a conversation like this one. I wanted to emphasize his voice by having all characters labelled by their relationship to the narrator. For example, there is his mother, sister, love but also the general (who is not a general), a lovely fairy flitting away in the morning light, and his butterfly.

I also wanted to write a story that subtly relied on the reader for details. The love interest in the story has not one single word that describes her appearance, her voice, or her nationality except to say that the narrator finds her beautiful. By removing the descriptors, the reader will make assumptions about beauty based on their own ideas.

I read book by Kate Quinn called the Alice Network that I really enjoyed. However, when I read the note at the end of the book and realized it was based on real diaries and letters, I appreciated the story even more knowing that some of the details were true. My head is full of historical facts and anecdotes that I find fascinating. I loved the experience of weaving them into a book. I used journals, interviews, radio recordings, my travel, museum exhibits, and photographs to inspire the settings and events of the story. For example, the three students who stopped the 20th convoy train with nothing but a lamp and a pistol, the mass killings of the Einsatzgruppen lead by a ‘compassionate’ leader, the farmer milking his cows on D-Day, the iceberg aircraft carrier, and the pigeons at the 1936 Olympics are all real-life extraordinary details that are more or less important in my story.

 

When I started writing 15 years ago, I wrote about a quarter of the book then I forgot about it as other parts of my life took over. In 2021, I felt like my life was in a rut and my son suggest I take up a hobby that would make me happy. Soon after, I found my unfinished novel and took it up again. In the following month I wrote 50,000 words and basically finished the story. Of course, I am no Beethoven creating a masterpiece in one go – it did take another year of editing, researching, feedback, and rewriting before I got it to its current form.

 

Website: Please go HERE.

 

 

A couple questions before you go, Katherine:

 



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?


Katherine: I do not have a straightforward answer to this. Mostly, I write on my couch on the porch in the summer and curled up in the chair by the fire in winter on my laptop. Ideas often come to me as I sleep and as I drive so I will take notes on my phone (“Siri take a note”). Also my son, who is also a writer, helps me work through blocks in my story when we walk together in the woods. I do like it quiet to write, as it gives my brain room to follow a train of thought.

Oh, and tea – not coffee or tequila because both keep me from thinking clearly.

 

Scribbler: How do you decide on the title for your novel? Did you have one when you started or later?


Katherine: The title for this novel came to me pretty early on. Though ‘her’ is such a simple word the lack of detail reflects the essential mystery of her past that drives the story. The narrator is completely in love with a woman that he is with for a time but actually knows nothing about. The isolated word ‘her’ all by itself also echoes the single-minded obsession with which he pursues information about her.

Giving a title is a challenging task because you need to embody a whole story in few words. But in general, I would say that I come up with the title once the story has a shape that I can name.

 

 "Eve" by Anna Lea Merrit

 

An Excerpt:

My heart had often lurched in my chest over the last three years as I mistakenly glimpsed a desired silhouette, but this time it was not allowed to resume its steady rhythm. She was actually there in the opera box above me. The cacophony of the orchestra tuning its instruments, and the titillating gossip of the crowd faded to a dry hum. I was only vaguely aware of those around me preening at their very best to see and be seen on opening night. All of it became a monochrome backdrop to the vision of her. My damp palms gripped the wooden arm rest and the faux velvet cushion shifted beneath me. My date was thrilled to be front row centre on such a night and chirped cordially with my mother who eagerly awaited the debut of her prodigy as the Spanish seductress.

Once the lights went down and the brilliant spectacle on stage unfolded, I only looked sideways toward the opera box. For a time, she was obscured by a railing, but as the music rose, she leaned forward into it, bringing her half smile into the warm light radiating from the stage. I could not make out her mouth, but I knew she would be singing under her breath as she knew all the words, having sung them while my sister played the music on the piano years ago. I wished I could make out her eyes which I knew would be sparkling. The orchestra spoke to me of the emotions unfit for words in its notes of anguish, love, and passion.

I soaked in every shaded detail of the way the silk of her azure dress clung to her skin in places and in others floated around barely grazing her shoulders. I was jealous of the fabric that tickled her skin and longed to feel the warmth of her. My gaze remained feverishly riveted to her despite her obliviousness to me. I unsuccessfully willed her to look down at me. Instead, the stocky middle-aged louse next to her sensed my gaze and laid an arm around her shoulders as he scanned the darkened crowd below him. Her date was rewarded for his possessiveness with a smile. He basked in her affection and grasped at her even more tightly.

I had thought that the deep wound in my soul had healed but it split open revealing feelings that were just as raw as they had been when she left me three years ago. The longing was still an unsatiable hunger. My feelings echoed the opera unfolding on stage. I too had willingly given everything to be with the woman of my fantasy. Like the shattered hero, I also watched helplessly as she moved in the arms of another man. Unlike him, I could never harm her, but I could relate to the pain that drove him to kill her. Rejection of such a perfect love is akin to madness. The auditorium felt too hot with a cloying mixture of perfumes.

Finally, the soprano perished in her former lover’s arms and the chorus belted out, ‘Toreador’ once more. I did not even wait for the lights to come on as I bolted from my seat, rudely pushing my way out into the aisle leaving my date gaping like a drowning fish. From the mezzanine, I scanned the lobby below as the audience flowed out the doors. There she was, on his arm, working their way through a throng of opportunists trying to lobby for his attention. The man kept an arm around her, and she was willingly ushered through, flashing a timid smile to those who greeted them.

I worked my way through their entourage dodging and weaving like one of those dancers on stage. Hesitating as I drew near, I realized that there were no words to greet her; yet this could be the only opportunity to ever see her again. I moved closer and tapped her shoulder by reaching around some purple-haired elderly woman. For a brief sparkle in time, her eyes locked with mine. In that moment, the woman I once knew surfaced on her features with a sexy flush and a spontaneous smile. The submissive consort she was now playing was temporarily vanquished by the vivacious woman beneath the illusion. Her shoulders and her chin lifted confidently. However, a breath later she caught herself and rearranged a more timid version of her smile and turned to lavish it on the man at her hip. He blossomed. Those near him tried to hide their awkwardness at his obvious display of affection by looking away. Without a word, I had been dismissed.

Her tense averted posture implied that I would not be allowed any closer, so I retreated to the mezzanine and contented myself with taking pictures of them. My editor would never publish any of the pictures anyway for fear of arousing the man’s wife. Nonetheless, I swallowed my empty jealousy and snapped pictures for my own fix. I considered the new smell of her perfume.

Through the window, I watched him usher her into his car and the chauffeur eased them into the traffic. I feverishly considered, then rejected, the possibility of following them despite her cold dismissal.

Restless and unable to consider either going home or going out, I pointed my own car downtown toward the office without finding my date to even try to offer an excuse. I used my key to get in the backdoor and went straight to the dark room. Closeted with the photography chemicals, I kept vigil around dishes, waiting for her image to appear. Looking at her photograph would be a small dose to feed my snapping hunger. The images on the drying line slowly revealed her as they shimmered into existence. They revealed her hair, her nose, and the eyes that hinted at a depth that cannot be reached. I revisited the details of her not visible in the photographs; she also has a scar that runs the base of her hair line, a burn from some long-extinguished fire. Only one who had run their fingers through her hair would know it was there.

The next day, in the newsroom, her picture triggered little concrete information from my fellow snoops. She was certainly the Lord’s new consort. No one knew where she came from or even her last name. The society columnist thought that maybe they had met on vacation in Rome somewhere. Predictably, the editor was annoyed with my wasting film on a couple whose elicit, though public, image could never be put on record. He considered our newspaper to be above trashy tabloids.

She is pretty but it is not her flesh that rivets people to her presence. Eye colour and lips have little to do with the way people feel her energy in a room. It is something more real than an ephemeral shell of a body. Those who have seen her seek a moment with that spirit. We are moths to a flame. And even though we cannot touch it or contain it, we feel thankful for the full force of the moment that she brings us into.

The first time we made eye contact, I was mesmerized by both her vitality and vulnerability. And yet from that first time we looked at each other until today I have not been allowed to know the parts that she keeps hidden. Her power is the paradoxical joy and pain of being able to mingle breath with that beautiful soul and without the ability to truly hold on to her. She is a star that illuminates the dark.

I gave up my job, my home, and my heart to search for nuggets of her story. It was a journey with little hope of a happy ending but the fantasy of her gave me intention anyway. After that night at the opera, I lost her again. When I finally saw her once more, even though I knew more of her secrets, I was still unprepared for her.

 



Thank you for being our guest this week, Katherine. We wish you continued success with your writing.



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


                          Please Leave A Comment.

**All wording on the blog, including bio, title, synopsis, the SBTS and the answers to the questions has been supplied by the author. Only the intro, the thank you at the end and the questions is from the Scribbler.