Saturday 20 July 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Paige LePage of New Brunswick, Canada.


Let’s welcome Paige, another newcomer to the Scribbler.


She has kindly accepted our invitation to share the SBTS of her latest work.
Read on my friends.



I started writing later in life, I have always been an avid reader. The first books to really leave an impression on me as a younger reader were The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I read and re-read those books a few dozen times.

As I got older my mother shared her Harlequin books with me and I read them all, even purchased more on my own. My mother also shared her love of mystery and thrillers, sharing her Steven King books, Nora Roberts, Sue Grafton, and many more.

I blame my love of reading on my mother... giggle it is always the mother’s fault.

Pre-Covid I was doing a lot of reading, and I stumbled across some really poorly written books and had the thought that I could do better. So, I challenged myself to write a romance novel just to see if I could really do better. And … so began my writing journey. Much like the heroine of my first book, I wrote in secret. Once I was done, I sat and stared at it, dumbfounded that I … wrote a book! Now what?

First thing I did was send it to a few trusted friends to read and give me their honest opinions. Then I spent 2 years trying to get traditionally published, but I kept being turned down because the book did not fit into specific categories that some places wanted.

At the urging of several people, I turned to Amazon and became an "Indie Author."

My first book, Her Hero's Revenge, is a steamy romance.

I then decided to try a slightly different genre with Is It In The Cards, a paranormal mystery.

I am currently working on book 3, another romance; the female antagonist from the first book needed her own story.


Title:  Is It In The Cards


 

Synopsis:

Angela started life off as a well-rounded child; smart, athletic, pretty … a tiny firecracker of a kid. It seemed she was on every sports team going. She did well in school. It seemed she had it all. Until she didn’t when her life changed. Drastically changed.

Puberty, some would say, is rough on everyone, but in Angela’s case it was horrible. It brought on a “gift” she never asked for that forced her to quit most activities. Sports were out of the question for the most part. She gave up on hanging out with her friends. She spent her evenings mewed up in her room, studying … but really just trying to shut out the world that seemed to be out to get her. Trying to shut out all those voices that swirled around, shouting at her from some unknown dimension.

Fast forward to university and cut to an unexpected and rare outing to play poker with acquaintances. The cards brought a gift of calmness and revealed a new best friend who helped her make sense of it all, opening her world up to a brand-new future full of brand-new possibilities, bringing her out of her self-imposed isolation.

Another twist brings her into contact with a skeptical but open-minded local police Captain, leading to another way to help others in need, but bringing her face to face with new dangers and a fight for her very life!

Come join Angela in a paranormal tale of mystery, romance and unexpected dangers. Follow her to find out what is in the cards for her and those around her …



The Story Behind the Story:

Well…. they say write about what you know.

When I was younger there was a period of time where I seem to have flashes like the character in the book.  I would use a plain deck of playing cards and would tell people about their past and future.

I often wondered what would have happened had I honed my talents… aside from freaking out a few friends as I had.  LOL

So, this was my interpretation on what could have happen had I wanted to go down that road.

 

 

Website – please go HERE.


A question before you go Paige.




Scribbler: What is the ideal spot for you when you write your stories? Music in the background or quiet. Coffee or tequila? Messy or neat?


Paige: Messy or neat? … If you could only see my computer desk at home. LOL

Coffee or Tequila? … I don’t drink coffee… do with that as you will. 😊

I wrote the majority of my book in my down time at work. Several times I had supervisors and co-workers stop by my desk and say, “What are you doing? Writing a book?” The look on their faces when I actually said, “Why, yes, I am” was priceless.

I wrote at work because of my busy family life at home. I had 2 young children, a husband and a dog that all needed attention. So … free time and quiet were hard to find.

When I did write at home … mostly the spicy scenes … I would usually have music playing in the background, something that I thought would fit the situation I was writing about. Sam Smith, The Weekend, Barry White… etc.



Also by Paige.





An Excerpt from Is It In The Cards:

 

She could smell the smoke and coughed trying to clear her airways but the phantom smoke choked her, burning her eyes, and she gasped for breath, panicking more when the scents of burnt rubber and leaking gas and oil was added to the mix.  She saw the blood of the other driver coming out of his nose, mouth, and ears.  His airbag had not deployed.  He wasn’t moving and his skin looked ghastly pale, almost a greenish hue.  She could hear the moans of her instructor, his shouts for help as he was stuck in the gnarled mess of the car.  She could hear the panic in his cries when he caught the odor of the gas leaking out of the car, terrified it was going to blow up.  She could hear the approaching sirens of firetrucks, police cars and other rescue vehicles, but she feared they wouldn’t make it in time to save him. 

It was all too much, too overwhelming, and she gasped and fell to her knees, shaking, coughing, crying with smoke filled eyes and shock as she had never seen anything so gruesome in any of her previous visions. 



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


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

Sunday 14 July 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Stella MacLean of Riverview, NB, Canada.


 The Scribbler has another first-time visitor as our featured Author this week.



Stella has kindly accepted our offer to share the SBTS of her  latest project.

Read on my friends. 

 

 Stella MacLean is a story teller. Simple as that.

An author of many books, both fiction and nonfiction, she has served as Writer in Residence at Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has been a board member of Romance Writers of America and is member of Writers Federation of New Brunswick and Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada. Her short stories have won several short story contests, most recently The Letter Review Contest.  Stella relishes the hours she spends hiding out in her office making up stories about the lives of imaginary people.

Having found love again in the third act of her life, Stella enjoys telling stories about people who find love elusive and complicated, but still try with all their hearts.

Stella's past includes being a registered nurse, from which she has drawn story ideas for several of her books. She went back to university when her children were older and was granted a Commerce Degree, majoring in Accounting, from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada.

 

Title: Family Ties, Family Lies

 


Synopsis:

It's New Brunswick in 1940. Jessie Perry loves to teach. She and her husband, Walter, and daughter Sarah, live in Saint John. Jessie teaches and Walter has a good job with the railroad. But when a news photo of a social event in the city shows Jessie and Walter drinking, her parents object, calling their behaviour immoral. Her father, Adam, is furious that his granddaughter is being raised in a place like Saint John, a city of philanderers and criminals. He offers Walter a loan to buy a farm. Despite Jessie's objections, Walter accepts.

Jessie leaves her teaching job, moves to the farm, a life she hates. Then she has to protect her family's reputation by taking her sister Pauline's illegitimate baby. Once again Jessie has to give in to her family's wishes. She raises Marguerite, keeps the secret of the child's parentage, allowing Pauline to return to her life.

Determined to get back to teaching when her children are in school, Jessie secretly uses birth control, a decision that nearly ends her marriage. When Jessie finally gets the chance to teach she grabs it, creating an emotional separation between Walter and her.

Marguerite never felt a part of her family. Jessie is emotionally distant, and she is treated differently from her sisters, Sarah and Beth. To compensate Marguerite becomes a very successful woman, working in marketing in Toronto. In 1986, a year after her mother's death, she seeks the help of a psychiatrist to resolve her lack of feelings around her mother's passing, and learn why she can't maintain a relationship with the man she loves. Her efforts to find the truth lead her back to her family, her aunt Pauline and the parents shed never known.

 


The Story Behind the Story:

Although this book is fiction this story has consumed me for a very long time. My mother was a very private person, sharing very little of her life before she had a family. She taught during those years when women were not recognized for their abilities, where working outside the home was frowned upon. In this story I have tried to showcase what her life might have been like as a wife, mother, and teacher who lived on a dairy farm in Southern New Brunswick, and the price she paid in her family relationships in order to find her way in the world. It is also about the dynamics of a second-generation Irish immigrant father who couldn't accept how much the world changed during World War II

If I were to write the blurb it would be something like this;

A mid-twentieth century story about the force of love, of family demands for obedience to the past, and the soul's need to find acceptance in the space and context of family. Most of all it's an exploration of the complex relationship between mother and daughter, the shifts and changes, the words said in anger, the words not spoken, opportunities lost to fear of rejection.

 

A photo taken next to the full size sculpture of Shakespeare in Stratford Upon Avon in England




Website go HERE.

 

A question before you go, Stella.

Scribbler: What is the ideal spot for you when you write your stories? Music in the background or quiet. Coffee or tequila? Messy or neat?

Hi Allan, my favourite spot is wherever I find myself. I have an office which serves for all the routine writing work related to book production, marketing and assorted other duties involving the time needed to keep my writing career going. But I am always taking notes, either on my phone, on paper, or making a mental note about something. For instance, I'm working on a new book, Gone World, simply known as an artificial intelligence tragedy. I have made copious notes on my phone about the space in which my characters live. When I settle at my desk to do what I call formal writing, I will write the pages needed to incorporate these ideas into the stories. I am also gathering information about Marguerite from Family Ties, Family Lies, to write her story. I have note pads all over the house to allow me to work on a scene, to write the dialogue of a character that comes to me when I'm doing some non-writing activity.


An Excerpt from Family Ties, Family Lies

This is an excerpt from the scene on which the story turns:

It's 1944. Life in rural New Brunswick, Canada is very traditional, very strict. At the insistence of her parents and her husband Walter, Jessie gave up her high school teaching position in the city of Saint John to move to an isolated farming community.

She was trying to make the best of her new circumstances when she got a call to come to her parents' house.

Her sister Pauline is pregnant and the man responsible has moved back to Montreal.

******

The door opened and her dad came in. "You told her?" he asked, as he sat down heavily in the chair next to his wife Maeve.

Jessie saw the harsh redness of her father's cheeks, the dark circles under his eyes.

Her mother nodded, leaning across the table toward Jessie. "We talked to Pauline about going to the home for wayward girls near Moncton. It's far enough away that no one will know, and we can take her there and have them look after her until the baby is born."

"But she won't know anyone there," Jessie said.

"And that's good. No one will know about the baby and she'll be able to move on with her life after it's born," her father said.

"You mean she'll come back here to Apohaqui?"

"Where else can she go? She won’t have a job in Saint John anymore," her father said as he stared at his hands. "She was damned stupid to let this man anywhere near her without his agreement to marry her."

"And now she must be really scared. I would be. What about the child?" Jessie asked.

Her father glanced at her mother, then at her. "Because my family were Irish immigrants to this country, we had to learn to survive. I've lived most of my adult life wishing my family could have stayed together. Not a day goes by that I wish my parents had not taken my sisters and moved to Boston. When I was younger I didn't understand why having no money meant we couldn't stay together. But I grew up. I saw what was needed to make my way in this world. And in time I forgave my parents for leaving Tom and me here to be indentured to a mean-hearted farmer who simply wanted us to work hard while he got all the benefit of our work." Her father fisted his hands. "I never forgave old man McNutt for what he did to my brother and me. He hated us because we were Irish. He was cruel and mean and we had no choice but to put up with it." He raised his head and stared straight at Jessie. "And that's when I decided that no blood of mine will ever leave the family. I won't have it happen again."

"What are you saying, Dad?"

He leaned his elbows on the table. "When Father and Mother left Tom and me here, I vowed…." His jaw clenched. "This baby is my blood. Our blood. We will not abandon the child."

"But Dad, how does Pauline have this baby and keep it? Mom says she can go to a place near Moncton to wait for the baby, but what happens after she has it? She can't go back to work in Saint John with a child to care for." She looked from her mom to her dad. "Surely you don't think you can raise the child? You've already raised your family."

Her father leaned back, the chair creaking under his weight. "Jessie, we want you to take the child."

"What! No! I don't want to do that!" She jumped out of the chair, her face reddening in disbelief. "I have a child."

"But only one," her father said, dropping the words into the silence of the room.

Jessie grabbed the back of the chair for support, her glance swerving from her father to her mother and back to her father. "Walter and I will have more."

Her father turned to her mother. "Maeve, tell her what we talked about."

Maeve swallowed. "Jessie, you only have one child to care for. You have a big house, a good farm. Walter's a good husband. The child will have a good home."

"Jessie, this wee baby will have no place to go if you don't take it," her father said.

"What about Edward and Vera? They don't have children."

Her father winced. "Jessie, this has to stay inside the family. Everyone has to believe that this child was born to a woman in our family--a married woman. Edward lives on the homestead in Sussex Corner. It would be very difficult for Vera to pretend to be pregnant with her neighbors and friends all living so close. But you live in a small community, and you don't have neighbours living close to you."

"And I could make you a couple of loose-fitting dresses," her mother said.

"And I pretend to be pregnant?" Jessie felt her voice rising, tears threatening. "Mom, Dad, you can't be serious! I can't pretend to be pregnant for the next five months. That would mean I couldn't go anywhere or do anything."

She thought about her friend Maggie Ingalls who’d promised to see her this summer. She thought about her plan to convince Walter to let her visit with his sister Evelyn in Saint John over the next few months. She thought about how hard it would be to raise another woman's child, especially her sister's. She thought about her plan to return to teaching in two years when her daughter Sarah was old enough to go to school.

"Jessie, I know we're asking a lot from you. But we have to do what your father wishes. We can't let this child go to strangers. We can't." Her mother moved around the table to where Jessie stood. "We'll make it up to you. We will."

As Jessie stared into her mother's tear-stained faced, she knew what that meant. She wouldn’t be able to return to teaching until Pauline's baby was old enough to go to school. That would mean at least another six years. She couldn't survive living on a farm, away from any contact with teaching. She needed it, and she didn't trust that there wouldn't be another demand on her to give up something else she needed. She could hardly breathe through the pain in her chest as she considered her future. "How? How will you make the loss of my plans, the end of my dream of being a teacher, up to me? Tell me!" she yelled as she headed for the door.

"Don't you yell at your mother. You come back here, Jessie," her father said, his tone hard. "We haven't finished talking.”

She reached the door, put her hand on the knob. "We have, if this is how my life is going to be. And God knows what else.  When is it my turn to have the life I want?"

Her father came toward her, placed both hands on her shoulders and squeezed gently as he turned her to face him. "I remember so well when my parents left me and my brother. They went to live in the Boston states where they could find work. They took my four sisters. They couldn't afford to keep all of us, and that meant Tom and I were left to fend for ourselves. I remember all of it. I wish circumstances now were different and that your sister had used her head instead of her body. But there's nothing either you or I can do about that," he said, his voice sad, his expression one of yearning. "I love you. I love Pauline. Your mother and I are trapped by that love and our need to keep our family together. What this situation has done is leave all the responsibility on your shoulders, which isn't fair. But there it is." He kissed her forehead as he used to when she was young, bringing back memories of a father whose love was fierce and all encompassing.

"Jessie, I know you didn't want to move to a farm, give up your life in Saint John. But we often don’t get what we want. What I am going to do is forgive the loan I made Walter to buy the farm. I know it isn't what you need, but it's all I can offer."

Through the haze of regret and disappointment, all Jessie could think was that the life she wanted was over. Once again, she had to give up a part of herself so others could have what they wanted.

Fighting back tears, she looked at her parents. They were getting old, and they were in a very difficult position. All her life, she'd heard them talk about doing the right thing, about being a family with standards of behaviour. And the expectation that she and her sister would marry and have a family had been a very important part of her upbringing. She could understand why they didn’t want Pauline's reputation to be damaged. They wanted her to have a decent chance of marriage when all of this was over. She understood that. Saving face meant everything to her parents.

But at the same time, she couldn't accept this decision without a fight. There had to be another way. It wasn't fair that Edward and Vera, who didn't have children, weren't being considered as the parents for this baby. And most of all, it wasn't fair that Pauline would get to keep her own life while she was expected to give hers up. It just wasn't fair. "I'm going home to talk to Walter."




Your novel sounds like one I need to add to my TBR list. Thank you for being our guest this week. We wish you continued success with your writing. 

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

Saturday 6 July 2024

The Story Behind the Story with Nicola Davison of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada.

 

The Scribbler is beyond excited to have Nicola as our featured guest this week.



Her novel has garnered tons of rave reviews and we wanted to let you folks know.

She has graciously accepted our invitation to tell us the SBTS of the book.

Read on my friends

 

 

 

 

Nicola Davison is a professional photographer and the author of IN THE WAKE and DECODING DOT GREY. Her first novel won the 2019 Margaret and John Savage First Book Award, The Miramichi Reader's Very Best Book Award and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. DECODING DOT GREY won the 2023 Ann Connor Brimer Award for YA fiction and was nominated for the White Pine Award. Nicola is a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada and the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia. In 2016 she completed the Alistair Macleod Mentorship Program; polishing off the umpteenth draft of her first novel with her mentor, Carol Bruneau. Born in Nova Scotia, she has lived in too many places and done just enough world travelling to appreciate home. She lives in Dartmouth with her boat-crazy family and delightfully stubborn Basset Hound.

 

Title: Decoding Dot Grey




Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Dot Grey doesn’t hate people; she’s just not especially fond of their company. It’s 1997, and she’s just left home in favour of a dank, cold basement, where she lives with several small animals, including a chorus of crickets, a family of sowbugs (they came with the apartment), a hairless rat, and an injured crow. Her job at the animal shelter is her refuge—so long as she can avoid her father’s phone calls. He’s trying to get Dot to visit her mother, but Dot knows there’s no point. No one ever understood her like her mum, who helped Dot channel her vibrating fingers into Morse code, their own private language. But her bright, artistic mother was terribly injured a year ago and Dot can’t reach her, even with her tapping fingers. Left with only a father who refuses to face the truth, she focuses on saving the little lives at the shelter. When Joe starts working there, everyone thinks he has a crush on Dot. Dot thinks he’s just awkward and kind. He shows his good heart when they rescue an entire litter of puppies together, and Dot finds herself warming up to him. But Joe waits too long to tell her his deepest secret, and soon she is forced to deal with two losses. In the end, Dot’s weird way of looking at the world is the one thing that will, against the odds, help her connect with it.


With clever wordplay and the most motley of crews—human and otherwise—Decoding Dot Grey is a tender and delightful novel from the award-winning author of In the Wake.

 


The Story Behind the Story:

I grew up in a house full of animals. We had all sizes–from hamsters to horses–and we always had cats and dogs. As a child, I felt more comfortable with animals than people. Still do.

In my early adulthood, just like my main character, I worked at an animal shelter. I witnessed a lot of suffering and was often frustrated by the system and how society treated animals.  Some employees were pragmatic about things while others harboured elaborate revenge fantasies. I’ve frequently thought about those people and wondered what they did after.

I’m a huge fan of coming-of-age stories. Most of the books and films on my re-read list fit that description. I especially like it when there’s a role for a dog/cat/donkey/bird/fish, told with a good dose of humour. Main characters who are decidedly quirky are also a favourite of mine. So, if I was writing a story in an animal shelter, it had to have those elements.

Early in the writing, I knew Dot had difficulty with human communication, preferring the company of animals and a few people in her close circle. I thought of Morse code; and how it could serve as an outlet for her anxiety as well as a secret language with her mother and grandfather. As Dot emerged, her identity wove into her name, like a dot: for her use of code, feeling insignificant, hopeless and unable to get through to the people in her life. But it’s also a source of fun for her, using it to communicate with the crow in the book and a way to make wry comments on things without people catching on.

As soon as Dot took shape and I had the setting of the animal shelter, I was madly typing. The only hiccup I had was that animal shelters have improved greatly in the past twenty-five years (phew!). So, instead of setting it in the present, I switched to 1997. I have since seen the book described as historical fiction. *snort*

 



Website – go HERE. 






A question before you go, Nicola:


Scribbler: What is the ideal spot for you when you write your stories? Music in the background or quiet? Coffee or tequila? Messy or neat?


N: The ideal spot? It’s an island in a temperate climate. Somewhere with horses, donkeys, scruffy dogs, lazy cats and fields of sheep. Early mornings, I’d write at a small table in front of a window with a view of the sea, taking frequent breaks for tea. A small stone pub is a half hour walk away - accessed by cutting through the field of horses/donkeys/sheep. There’d be large open hearth, a good dark beer on tap and locals who know when to keep their distance if I’m typing. But, late in the day when I’m letting the story rest, there could be poets, comedians, sailors who tell a good yarn. Maybe the occasional open mic night for everyone to share their work. A loose sort of writers group. In this scenario, I’d have a pen name because the popularity of my books have made it necessary to retreat from the public eye. The checks roll in and pay the bills while I keep on rolling out the stories.

My actual writing is done at a desk that looks out on a tree-lined city street. When I’m stuck with the story I head out for a walk around the nearby lake and record any flashes of insight on my phone with voice memos. I like working at coffee shops but I’m anxious about taking up table space and nursing a single cup of coffee for hours so I’m usually at home.

Last week I realized my son has outgrown his treehouse so I’ve claimed it as a writing spot. I have to climb a narrow ladder carrying my computer and there’s just enough room to sit with it on my lap but it’s quiet and I can stare off into the fluttering leaves and think. Yesterday, I surprised a squirrel who must frequent the little house, he did a double-take and sprinted off. Sometimes people walk past and I overhear snatches of conversation. We writers are shameless eavesdroppers so I suspect it will enrich my characters, reminding me that people have so many layers.





Your new writing spot sounds delightful, as does your new friend. 
Maybe he/she will be back.

Thanks for being our guest, Nicola. 

We hope you find that small table and view of the sea to write one of your stories.




And thank you, dear readers.