Saturday, 22 October 2016

4Q Interview with Gerard Collins of New Brunswick.

Gerard Collins is a Newfoundland writer, now living in New Brunswick, where he has recently received a generous grant from ArtsNB to write a novel manuscript entitled Black Coyote and the Magic Café.  His first novel, Finton Moon, won the Percy Janes First Novel Award, was longlisted for the 2014 Dublin IMPAC International Literary Award, and was also shortlisted for both the 2014 NL Heritage and History Awards and the 2013 Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Before that, his debut short story collection, Moonlight Sketches, which features a number of individual prize-winning stories, garnered the 2012 Newfoundland and Labrador Book Award.
Gerard’s short stories have won literary prizes, been adapted for a university radio play, and been featured in anthologies, journals, television, newspapers and on CBC radio. He has also published creative nonfiction, newspaper articles, journalistic pieces and academic book chapters. University courses have featured his short fiction, while the NL Department of Education has purchased Finton Moon for all high school learning resources centres across the province. He has a Ph.D. in American Gothic literature and has taught at Memorial University and University of New Brunswick. 

Gerard regularly presents workshops throughout Atlantic Canada and recently hosted a writing retreat in Saint John. In April 2017, he is offering a retreat in Ireland that includes a five-night stay in a Dublin castle, an extensive tour of Yeats country in the West, and two nights in London, England. He has served as faculty at the prestigious Piper’s Frith writers’ retreat and as a mentor at the Write Stuff program for high school students in Saint John, and the New Brunswick Writers in Schools Program (WiSP). Besides private mentoring, he also has mentored for both the WFNB and WANL mentorship programs. He often edits manuscripts and serves on arts grants and awards juries. You can contact him at or on Facebook.
4Q: Thank you Gerard for being our guest on the 4Q. Before we discuss your writing, it is well known that you have assisted many authors through mentoring and workshops. Please tell us about the upcoming workshops you are working on and the benefits to writers.

GC: Thanks for inviting me, Allan. I’m planning a couple of workshops in the Maritimes, but I’m most excited about the creative writing retreat in Ireland next spring, April 20 to May 1. 

After the Saint John retreat last winter, which was a major success, a local travel company asked me if I’d be interested in taking the retreats overseas, and I immediately said yes. Last March, we sat down and designed what I think is the “perfect writers’ retreat”. Because this one is in Ireland, my first thought was that we should stay in a castle. So, for the first five nights, we’re staying at the Clontarf Castle hotel, which has a history that goes back to the thirteenth century. After five nights there, we’re heading over to Ennis, on the west side of the island, to stay at the 12th century Old Grounds hotel, and there’ll be visits to Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, a boat tour that includes a jaunt to the gravesite of Ireland’s most famous poet, W.B. Yeats, and a lot more. The tour company has managed to put all of this together – including lots of great meals and a two night stay in London, plus a panoramic tour of that city – for a great price that includes an extensive writing component. 

On the retreat, I’ll be giving three creative writing workshops, providing written feedback on a ten-page writing submission, and consulting with each participant one-on-one. I’m most proud of that part because not many retreats do that – provide quality time with, and direct feedback from, the writer-in-residence. There’ll be plenty of time for writers to do walkabout tours, especially in Dublin, and to have long pockets of free time to do some writing on their own. I think that’s essential, as lots of writing actually occurs in the afternoons and evenings, after the workshops. The idea is that, in addition to the writing workshops and feedback, the surroundings – the culture and history of Ireland and of London – will inspire some creative thinking and research for years to come. It’s the kind of writing retreat that can influence a person’s whole approach to writing for a long time. 

At the “A Winter’s Tale” retreat in Saint John this past February, we had a packed house for the weekend, and it was about the coziest, most inspiring atmosphere you can imagine. Many of the participants are still in touch with each other, as well as with me, and several have asked if we can do it again some time. At least one, and likely more, of those people are coming to Ireland with us, in fact. Mostly, it’s the individual attention to their writing and the uninterrupted time for writing that people enjoy, but the workshops and even the reading on the last night were pretty special, I’ve been told. One writer said on the feedback form, “This retreat has changed my life.” Pretty big compliment, but I can see how it’s possible. If you’re devoted to becoming a good writer, there’s nothing more valuable than having someone with experience tell you what’s missing from your writing, and what you’re doing well.

I do private mentorships as well, and it’s pretty much the same. I love teaching, and I guess it shows. It’s really gratifying when someone tells me I’ve had a positive influence on their writing.

4Q: I am presently reading your novel Finton Moon and am enjoying it tremendously. Can you give our readers a brief synopsis and tell us what inspired this story.

GC: Finton Moon is the coming-of-age story of a young boy raised in a strict Catholic family in small-town Newfoundland, and people come to believe he can heal with his hands. It’s a funny book, in some ways, and it’s also dark in places. There’s are a couple of mysteries at the heart of the novel, with quite a few interesting characters – my favourite probably being the witchy neighbour Bridie Battenhatch, whose daughter Morgan is a bit of a wild child. He has a best friend named Skeet, and there’s a girl named Mary he is in love with, and another girl named Alicia, from a very poor family, who loves Finton from afar. She even stalks him a little, but she’s a good and kind person. There’s a murder in the town, and Finton’s father gets accused of being involved, and this traumatic event affects Finton’s faith – and social life – quite a bit. It’s a pretty complex, but lighthearted novel. Every day, someone writes or says how much they love Finton.

The inspiration for Finton Moon is my own upbringing in small-town Newfoundland, to some degree, although it’s not autobiographical. I think anyone who reads it will see that there’s a balance between reality and fiction – drawing on what you know in order to create something magical and new. Finton’s ability to heal was inspired, in large part, by some time I spent in the Fraser Valley in B.C. where I was first introduced to spiritual activities like reiki and touch healing that are partly matters of faith and partly quite real. I’m not a great believer in many things, but there’s no denying the physical effects of touching, hugging, therapeutic massage and that sort of thing – for Finton, he doesn’t know if it’s real or not, or where it comes from. He just knows that it seems to work, and that ability makes him an outsider. I know a little bit about that, and I’m sure lots of people can relate. On some level, we’re all outsiders, I think, or at least have known times when we felt like strangers in certain surroundings, among certain people. 

4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or memory.

GC: Most of my best memories are stories I was told about myself, and I’ve told them so often, they seem like memories, even though I actually have no true recollection. I once called out my grandmother because I was displeased with something she had done. I was only four, but, according to family legend, I stood on her front door, in quite the huff, and told her: “You bastard, Nanny!” It must have looked pretty funny to her, although appalling, too, I’m sure. I also, apparently, got chased all the way home by a huge moose, after I’d wandered into the woods near our family home. One of my favourite memories is of skipping Sunday mass to go out on the bay in “Uncle” Rich Power’s dory with him. He said, “Your mother won’t mind, b’y.” He was an old man, who taught me a great many lessons, like how to make a whistle from a dogwood tree, and I believed every word he said. But, apparently, my mother did mind. 

4Q: In addition to your novel, you have a collection of short stories called Moonlight Sketches, both of which are available at Chapters. What are you working on now and what’s in the future for you Gerard?

GC: Primarily, I’m working on a novel called Black Coyote and The Magic Café, set in modern-day Sussex. I’m enjoying writing that one. ArtsNB has helped me out with a generous grant for writing it, thankfully. As a full-time writer, that financial boon helps a lot, especially because it’s so competitive and so many writers are worthy. I’m also working on a short story collection called Dying of Exposure, and I recently finished a new novel called My Sister’s Walls, which, although I’m still tinkering with it, I’m hoping will see publication in the near future.

As for the future, I’ve made a shift away from university teaching and towards full-time writing. I’m also doing some mentoring – although I’m pretty selective, being careful of my writing time – and I’m finding that I enjoy giving workshops and, especially, writing retreats. The future looks pretty bright, I must say. The ideas are flowing, and the writing gods have been kind. The time off from teaching right now should yield a pretty good crop of new publications over the next few years. Writing plus travelling makes for a pretty good life.

Thanks again, Allan. I’ve enjoyed this series you’re running on local authors, and I’m proud to be a part of it.

It is our pleasure to have such a distinguished guest on the Scribbler and the thanks are all ours Gerard.

**And the good news is that Gerard will be back next week with an excerpt from his novel Finton Moon. This will be the first back-to-back guest appearance on the Scribbler.

Please leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Work In Progress by Allan

On the 13th of August I posted the opening section of my WIP, The Alexanders. An historical fiction that begins in 1911 in Govan Scotland.

This week I'd like to share a little more of the story. You can check here - The Alexanders - if you'd like to read the beginning.

                  Section 3

Danny Alexander is buried on a hilltop not far from the Firth of Clyde, near the community of Saltcoats.  He died three weeks previous by drowning. He and two drinking buddies in a stolen dory, none of them could swim. Reckless fun turned deadly peril when the boat was swept asunder by a rogue wave. All three perished. He left behind a defeated wife, seven children, a legacy for drink and the cards, and no money. The rent was four months behind, unable to find work, not enough food for her children, his wife Lucretia relented to the inevitable and moves to Kilwinning to live with her widowed father and accepts charity.

The ancient farm provides a meagre existence.  Old man Brodie has two draught horses, Clydesdales named Charlie and Belle. The horses plow fields, haul fodder, yard logs and whatever he can do with them to earn a living.  His parcel of land is only big enough for a small garden, a woodshed and his two bedroom house. Living alone for the last nine years, he welcomes his daughter to stifle the loneliness but is adamant that there is not enough room nor food for eight more mouths.

The two youngest bairns, Paul and baby Sheila, could stay but the rest of her lot would have to find other lodgings.  The two oldest boys, William and Thomas went to live with Lucretia’s brother and his wife in Newtongrange where they would earn their keep by toiling in the coalfields at the Lady Victoria Colliery where he worked. Her brother Robert was childless and the boys were most welcome. 

Mary, the eldest girl, went to live with Molly MacDougall, her deceased husband’s sister, in New Lanark. Molly’s husband, Geoffrey is the floor manager at the cotton mills and was more than willing to have Mary as a domestic to earn her keep until she is old enough to be employed at the mills. The second youngest girl, Lily, went to live with Lucretia’s sister, Victoria, in Dumgoyne.  Victoria and her husband, Willard have a daughter the same age and both work at the Glengoyne distillery.  

Every time Lucretia left one of her children with a relative, she did so with a heavy heart. Her determination was a thin string holding a dead weight when she turned her back to leave on each occasion. Fortifying herself with the thought that each one would have a better life. She loves all her children but especially Dominic and this will be the most difficult. She kept him until the last and decided that he would be better off with his uncle Duff. 


Duff tries to focus on the pair that sits across from him at the table.  The boy is looking around the kitchen, eyes wandering back and forth to the fishing rod leaning against the icebox.  Lucretia is glaring and tsk-tsking at the empty crock on the cupboard, brown sauce drying on the top. Several errant beans are poised along the rim like sure footed bugs. She turns to stare at him directly. She says, almost a whisper,

“Your brother Danny is dead.”

Duff sits straighter, a bit more stable.  Shock causes him to blubber loudly. Dominic stares at him with wide eyes, surprised by the outburst.  He sits back in his chair.

“What! Little Danny! How? When? Why wasn’t I told...?”

Lucretia has both elbows on the table when she leans forward and points a finger at him.  It’s no nonsense and freckled like her brow.

“You wouldn’t have come anyway. You didn’t even like him.”

Accused he relaxes back into the seat. One hand rubs worried fingers unconsciously through his beard.

“Well, I didn’t hate him.”

“You haven’t spoken to him since your Da died. It must be what…almost four years now?”

Duff answers affirmatively by shaking his head. He’s looking at the boy. He’s not totally sober yet. The body glow is still active but the head cleared a bit.  The lad doesn’t look troubled, makes him curious.  From the corner of the table he picks up his mug, the tea Lucretia made still steams. Settling both elbows on the armrests, he cradles the cup in both hands.

“Tell me what happened.”

“Him and his two mates…”

Lucretia relates the past 20 days of her life. There are tears, there is anger. Her voice raises in emphasis at points. Flat when in denial. Faint when she speaks of sorrow and loss of which Lucretia has plenty. Dominic watches intently, fascinated by his mother’s admissions. Alcoholics and cards, other women, hard worker when sober, always fed his kids, a wild man under the sheets.  Dominic blushes, hangs his head. Both hands under his bum on the hard chair, he wiggles to get comfortable as he thinks about that, staring at the knee of his wool pants.

She tells Duff about the funeral, the dreaded landlord, her dire straits, the parting of her children. It goes on for forty-five minutes. He’s had Dominic fetch two more teas in the telling. He’s as sober as he’s going be. Watching the woman in front of him, he pities her but lets her speak. She pauses frequently, something personal arresting her thoughts. He follows her hazel eyes as they change from dark to light, perhaps a memory sweet.  She finishes with the parting of her kin and the people who’ve helped her.

“…and they’ll always be my angels.”

Duff is sitting up, elbows on the table, hands clasped about the empty tea mug. He knows what’s coming. Tilting his head at his nephew, he sees his brother’s eyes looking back at him. Same brownish center and green outer ring, same depth.  Beginning to think of his lost freedom, Lucretia interrupts his thoughts.

“I need ya to help raise my Dom.”

There’s quiet now as everyone settles on the statement. Lucretia pulls her shawl tighter while fighting back her tears. Staring at the table, she only sees the blurry surface, wanting Duff to say no…and wanting him to say yes. Dominic is shy of his uncle’s direct stare, the bushy eyebrows look stern. He glances back at the fishing rod in the corner. Duff notices where Dom’s eyes travel.

“Do ya like fishing?”

The head bobs up and down in quick answer and he speaks to the rod, still shy.

“Aye, though I’ve never done it. I know I would though.”

He chances a glance at his uncle whose brow is unknotted. A slight grin makes the cheeks pudgier. He returns a weak smile watching Duff push the teacup aside. One hand begins grooming the beard trying to grasp what raising a boy entails. Lucretia knows she must remain silent while Duff considers her request. She understands how disruptive a child can be. She brought Dom here because the boy usually does as he’s told. A bachelor can be set in his ways.

Dominic has already shed tears over the parting, mostly on the wagon ride, but is warming to the idea of maybe his own bed, probably lots of food and hopefully a new pair of boots. His gaze returns to hands clasped in his lap, red behind his ears because his uncle is still staring at him.

The ticks of the big clock in the entryway grow louder in the silence.  Duff is wondering what Adairia and his buddies will think?  He resents being forced into this situation. Breaking his gaze away from the boy, he looks back at the rod. He put it there last spring, promising himself he’d get out. He sees the dust bunny swirled about the end of the handle resting on the floor. It convinces him that a change might be needed. Sitting up abruptly, he claps his big hands, startling both of his visitors.  Dominic jumps in his seat, Lucretia gasps and Duff waves a hand at Dominic.

“How old are ya lad?”

“I’m…I’m eleven.”

“Have ya had any schoolin’?”

Dominic squirms in his seat, the flushed cheeks, embarrassed at his lack of education. Lucretia attempts to speak for him.

“He’s good with….”

Shaking his head at her, Duff keeps his eyes on his nephew.

“Let the boy answer.”

Dominic may be pliant, an eager to please fellow but he’s never been known to back down from a challenge. He looks directly at Duff.

“I know my numbers and letters but have a hard time putting them all together. I…I don’t know what to do with them.”

Looking at his mother, the same Watson half smile as her as if they’ve had this discussion before. That moment Duff sees another facet of Dominic.

“Please don’t ask me about fractions, or tell me I’m gonna like girls.”

Duff chortles, slaps his thigh and breaks into a laugh. Relaxes back in the chair. Lucretia, about to scold Dominic, is softened by the innocence in his eyes. She too begins chuckling, a rare occurrence of late. Dominic becomes shy and drops his gaze.

The revelry is short and quiet returns. Momentarily, Duff sits up in his chair, brushes his beard, and straightens out his suspenders. Looking at Dominic, his face is stern.

“You’ll have to earn your keep. You’ll have to learn how to arrange those numbers and letters properly and you’ll do as I tell you. Is that understood?”

Dominic has warmed to his uncle. He likes the bushy beard and bristly eyebrows and eyes that looked like his Da’s. Trying to make himself look bigger, he straightens out from his slouch.

“I’m a good worker, uncle. You can ask Mr. McLaughlin, I worked on his farm for two summers. Isn’t that right Ma?”

“It’s true Duff, lad may be skinny but he’s tough enough, good as any man. Gets that from you Alexander’s. ”

Lucretia feels a warmth descend upon, knowing Duff has agreed to take Dominic. It is soon replaced by melancholy that she must leave one more child in the hands of a relative. Her emotions are a mixture of pain and comfort.

“You’ll not be sorry Duff, he’s a good boy,” she says.

Pushing her chair away from the table, she stands and waves to Dominic.

“Come along then Dom and get your bag from the cairt.”

Thanks for dropping by the Scribbler today. I hope you're enjoying the Alexander story. I would appreciate any comments and you can find a spot below to leave some.

Next two weeks on the Scribbler will bring you guests
*John David Buchanan of Texas, USA

*4Q Interview with Gerard Collins of New Brunswick, Canada.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Guest Author Dori Ann Dupre of North Carolina.

Dori Ann Dupré was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in History and is a veteran of the United States Army. Dori currently works in the legal field in North Carolina, where she resides with her family.

Scout’s Honor is her first novel. Copyright is held by the author. Used with permission.

Scout’s Honor – a novel

My debut novel, Scout’s Honor, is an epic tale about a young girl named Scout Webb, who suffers a profound emotional trauma at the hands of an older man in a position of trust and then how that experience affected her life as she went away to university as a young woman and then later in her life as she faced middle age.

Scout’s Honor is written in first person by multiple narrators, who fill each chapter individually. While the story is Scout’s story and she is the protagonist, it is told with several perspectives, including her best and closest lifetime friend, Charlie Porter, showing that life isn’t necessarily always how we perceive it. People come into our lives, some stay and some go, and each one affects it for better or for worse. While we might think that we know what others were thinking or feeling, the truth is, we most often do not.

Scout’s Honor is both a coming-of-age and self discovery tale, dealing with many human relational issues such as self acceptance, self identity, faith, forgiveness, trust, family, secrets, betrayal, and love. But it is mostly about love. Scout’s Honor fits best in the contemporary fiction and southern fiction genres; however, it is for everyone and anyone who enjoys a good story.

Lastly, and most importantly, Scout’s Honor’s book launch occurred as I sat in the chemotherapy infusion center at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, where my husband is being treated for Stage 4 Colon Cancer. I wrote a blog post on my Launch Day experience, located at Finding Dori. He was diagnosed with this most devastating disease in February, the day before his 47th birthday. To say in words just how much this tragic diagnosis has destroyed our lives would take many books. Anyone who has been a similar experience knows what I mean.

There are not enough descriptions to convey the pain, suffering, fear and horror that is a terminal cancer diagnosis at any age, but certainly when you are still in the prime of your life. Because of what has happened to my husband and my family, and because I refuse to accept that he is just going to die, part of the profits I receive from the sales of my book and any royalties I earn from my publisher, will go toward my Scout’s Honor 2016 fundraiser which directly funds Colon Cancer Research at UNC Lineberger.

People can donate to the fund directly and do not have to buy my book at all. There has been so much progress in cancer research lately, and the only hope that I have left is that there just might be a breakthrough in time to save him. If there is not, I know that the funds raised through my book’s launch will be used to save someone else.

In addition, I use my book events to educate people on the need for a younger screening age for colon cancer. My husband is under 50 so he was never screened. Ten percent of new colon cancer cases are in people under 50, and because there are no symptoms, the cancer is usually found in a more advanced stage. Stage 3 colon cancer is a seventy percent survival rate after five years. Stage 4 is a death sentence. Ten percent of good, hardworking, younger people diagnosed with this cancer are apparently acceptable collateral damage in our broken healthcare system. And that is wrong.

Enjoy this excerpt from Part 3 of Scout’s Honor:    


It’s always weird when I go back home to Haddleboro. Every time I go to my parents’ house, I feel like I’m fourteen years old again, just a little girl with a daughter of her own. A child with a child. I sat on the bed in my old bedroom with my white dresser still in the corner. Jemma’s duffle bag sat on the floor with a black dress lying over my old desk chair. The room was still the same pale pink color that it had been when Jemma and I moved out for good back in 1994 and into our first little above-the-garage apartment just a few miles away.
Jemma was outside with my brother Jonny who brought over his new dog, Leo. She hadn’t seen her uncle since Christmas and, since he was moving to Atlanta next month, she was trying to make up for the time ahead that would no longer be.
Tomorrow was Ms. Porter’s funeral. She would be buried at the First Baptist Church’s cemetery, and Pastor Dan, the new young pastor who took over for Pastor Rhodes when he retired last year, would officiate. Charlie’s been staying at his mom’s house this week, trying to deal with some of her paperwork and the many details of an untimely death, when someone you love dies from an errant blood clot.
The day after I had been blindsided with the discovery of what exactly my “friendship” actually meant to Thom Robinson, I was at Paw’s trying to get a fecal sample from Mr. Moody’s German shepherd named Venus. My cell phone rang and, seeing that it was my daddy’s number, I let it go to voicemail because I was holding a Popsicle stick smeared with dog poop at that particular moment.
Several minutes later, when I listened to Charlie’s very deliberate voice tell me about what was going on with Ms. Porter, I finished Venus’ exam as fast as I could and told Paw that I had a family emergency and needed to get to Harper Hospital down in Fayetteville as soon as possible.  

When I got there almost an hour later, my parents were both with Charlie and I had never in my life seen him in such a state. His face was ghostly white, like life itself had disappeared from his body, and when he saw me, he grabbed onto me like he was a little boy again. Sandy-haired little Charlie with the big toy dump truck that we’d push around in the sun yellow kiddie pool.  

Eventually, I got him to sit with me on one of the hard plastic chairs in the waiting room and my daddy told me that he and my mom were going to head up to Raleigh to let Boo out and go to Jemma’s game. They would get her some supper and take her home afterward and would even stay the night if I needed them to, so I could tend to Charlie.In my emotionally frazzled head, from both the bizarre drama the night before with Thom and his daughter and now this horrible tragedy with Charlie’s mom, I hadn’t even thought about the fact that Jem had a game today and that my parents were planning to come up for it. 

“Will you call Stephanie?” my mom asked me. “We don’t have her number and Charlie forgot his cell phone in Raleigh.”
“Yes, of course,” I said, my hands tight on Charlie’s shoulders as he sat in the chair, frozen, paralyzed, by the horrible shock of his loss.  

Charlie has dealt with a ceaseless amount of crime scenes and victims over the past several years — all kinds of deaths, murders, rapes, shootings, suicides, stabbings, and some of the ugliest things that human beings do to each other or do to themselves. His mother died of natural causes on an average sunny spring day while working at the hardware store and, instead of the thoughtful and stoic SBI agent, he just turned into that sad little boy again, the one with no father, the one who had come up to me at the church Easter egg hunt when we were five years old and asked me if he could have one of my eggs.  

I remembered it like it was yesterday. I found ten plastic eggs during the hunt and each one was supposed to have jellybeans in it. A towheaded boy in desperate need of a haircut with a red and white striped shirt, blue shorts, and bare feet, walked up to me as I sat by myself under an azalea bush near the steps of the church’s entrance. My mom had given me a plastic pastel-colored basket she bought for a nickel from a yard sale and I used it for this egg hunt, my very first one.  

Eyeballing this scrawny boy who I had never seen before, and who had ketchup smeared on the sides of his mouth, I asked him who he was.  

“Charlie Porter,” he answered.

“Where’s your mom and dad?” I asked him, with the authority of an adult.  

He turned and pointed at a young blond woman in a peach colored sundress, sitting at one of the picnic tables by herself. “That’s my mom.” Then he said, turning back at me, “I don’t have a dad.”  

I considered that for a second, realizing that I had never heard of someone not having a dad before. So I handed this Charlie Porter boy one of my eggs. It was purple. He opened it and out dropped three jellybeans and a slip of paper. 

“That’s the special egg,” I said to him, excited that I was the one who found it.

“What’s a special egg?” he asked me.

“It’s the egg with the paper in it. It means you get an extra prize,” I said, recalling Pastor Rhodes’ instructions before the egg hunt began. “Take it over to Pastor Rhodes and he will give you the prize.” 

Charlie held the jellybeans in one hand and the purple egg and piece of paper in the other. Then he handed the piece of paper back to me. “Here, you should have the prize. You found the special egg, not me.”

He was right. I did find it. But there was something interesting about this strange little boy who was shorter than me and who made me feel like we had been friends before, once upon a time and in a land far, far away.  

Not long ago, when I was in a drug store, I read something on a greeting card that said, “Souls recognize each other by vibes, not by appearances.” That was the best description I ever came across about what transpired between me and Charlie Porter on that warm spring day so long ago.  

Taking the piece of paper from him, I grabbed his hand and put it between our hands and held them together. I picked up my basket and walked with him hand-in-hand, leading him over to Pastor Rhodes who was standing next to the grill with the sizzling hotdogs.  

“Pastor?” I said, getting his attention. Pastor Rhodes looked down at me.

“Yes, Miss Scout,” he said smiling, holding a pair of tongs in his hand.

“Charlie and I have found the special egg,” I said, unclasping our hands and giving him the piece of paper.  

Three minutes later, we were sitting under a large dogwood tree, sharing the biggest chocolate bunny I’ve ever seen. And now, twenty-nine years later, almost to the day that we shared that chocolate bunny and became the best of friends, I held him in Harper Hospital as he wept the kind of weeping that has no tears or noise, the kind of weeping that a grown man does when he loses his mom forever.  

“Charlie, we should go. There’s nothing we can do here. The folks here have everything under control. I’ll take you to your mom’s house and stay with you ‘til Stephanie can get there,” I said, facing him on my knees, holding his hands as he held his head down in sorrow. “If you’re not okay to drive, I’ll drive you. We can just leave your car here and get it another time.” 

Charlie looked at me, his eyes glassy and full of despair. Then he looked down again and said, “It’s alright. I can drive.”

“Okay,” I said, standing up. “I’ll follow you to Haddleboro


Thank you Dori Ann for sharing an excerpt from your entertaining novel.

Please visit Dori Ann's website to discover more about this talented author.

 Sure, you can leave a comment if you like. Would love to hear from you.

 So long until next week, hope this leaves you laughing.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

4Q Interview with Guest Author Angella Cormier of New Brunswick, Canada

Angella Cormier grew up in Saint Antoine, a small town in south east New Brunswick, Canada. This is where her love of reading and writing was born. Her curious nature about everything mysterious and paranormal helped carve the inspiration for her current passion of writing horror and mystery stories. She is also a published poet, balancing out her writing to express herself in these two very opposing genres. Angella is a mother of two boys as well as an established freelancer in graphic design.

Previous titles include "Dark Tales for Dark Nights" published in 2013 (written under Angella Jacob) as well as "A Maiden's Perspective: A collection of thoughts, reflections and poetry" published in 2015.

For more information, please visit:


4Q: Your latest book is a novel in collaboration with author Pierre Arsenault and it has just recently been launched. Tell us about the novel.

AC: Oakwood Island is our first novel which ironically wasn’t supposed to be a novel at all. It began as a series of short stories written by Angella and eventually Pierre came on board.  Together they merged those original stories and added much more to complete a full novel.  Those three short stories are now part of one bigger novel about strange occurrences on the small Oakwood Island. It is a horror book with some supernatural elements.  Here is a synopsis of the book:

There are many mysterious and evil things lurking on Oakwood Island. Things so strange that the locals are left wondering if their small coastal community will ever be the same. The police are concerned when Maggie, the local waitress, shows up at their doorstep cold, weak and frail, after having escaped a kidnapper that she describes as a monster.  Her strange symptoms of a mysterious illness that seems to be growing stronger baffles her nurses and doctor. What happened to her? 

A few local residents hold some of the answers, but will they be able to save their neighbours, and better yet, do they want to?  What is watching them as they try to hide?  The residents are all part of a much bigger mystery than they realize.

The island holds many secrets, but will they come out in time to save them all? Caught between the past and the present, good and evil both find their place on the island, but which will prevail and at what cost?

What started as a few short stories grew into the much larger story of Oakwood Island.  It is a multi-layered tale with several twists and turns, mystery and intrigue. The authors invite you to join them on the island, for a trip you will never forget. Just one important tip:

Don’t forget to check the schedule for the ferry back to the Mainland.

You wouldn’t want to get stuck on Oakwood Island for too long…


4Q: I always wondered how two people work on the same book. How did your partnership in writing with Pierre begin?

AC: When we first met, our passion for stories is what made us click as friends.  The idea of us possibly collaborating together came up soon after our initial meeting.  Once we figured out what our strengths and weaknesses were as writers, we decided to try writing one short story together to see how it would go.  It was really not hard at all to collaborate with Pierre. Our appreciation for stories and our common goals to create characters and plots was all it took to make it fun and rewarding.  We shared many cups of coffee and time spent discussing our characters and how they would react or where they came from. It didn’t feel like work at all and to share in the accomplishment with a great friend is very rewarding.

As for Oakwood Island, I wrote the first three short stories solo (it didn’t start out as a novel) and shared them with Pierre, and other readers. Pierre and I had already started to work on other short stories together, and he kept asking me about my plans for Oakwood Island. He was enthralled and needed to know more. This led to me trusting him with my Oakwood Island series and its cast of characters.  Pierre started to help grow said cast and aided in the development of the short stories into one larger tale. There isn’t one specific reason why it happened the way it did, it just fell into place that way, naturally.  In 2013, we published our first collaborative book, which was a collection of short stories. Oakwood Island is our second publication that we collaborated on together, but hopefully won’t be the last.


4Q: Please share a childhood anecdote or story with us.

AC: For a writer like myself, that creates monsters out of thin air and settings that would make a reader cringe, my childhood was, for the most part, pretty tame!  So, for lack of coming up with an interesting anecdote, I will share with you why I believe I became a horror writer instead of so many other genres I had to choose from.  I believe that what we choose as our genre, is almost entirely based on a few things: our life experiences while growing up and what we choose to read or watch on the screen. For me, it was a gradual process that eventually made me the writer I am today. You know, the one that enjoys hearing that I grossed you out or that you couldn’t get that one scene out of your head and it haunted you for a while. Yes, that’s me. J

The first book I can remember reading as a young child started it all. There was a large hard cover copy of The Grimm Brothers Fairytales at the St. Antoine Public Library. It had a light blue cover with a very detailed front cover illustration. Each page was illustrated so well and in so much detail, I would look over the illustrations just as long as I would spend reading the stories. I remember getting lost in that book, time and time again. I must have sat at the same back table there dozens of times reading out of that book, taking in every word, my mind aflutter with visions of old witches, big bad wolves and morphing ravens.  I wonder if they still have it on the shelves. J Of course, that was only the first one.

I remember reading The Adventures of Tintin and I would be enthralled by the mysteries he faced and that he had to solve.  Nancy Drew Mysteries was another big one. I also loved TV shows like Unsolved Mysteries, The Edison Twins (who remembers THAT besides me?) and also the popular shows Are You Afraid of the Dark and The Twilight Zone. Movies like IT, Christine and Pet Sematary.

Combine those along with an overactive imagination and lots of free time and you have the beginning pieces in place for a future horror lover. I also believe that certain life experiences, such as the passing of my best friend at 21, as well as having dealt with anxiety and depression through the years has helped me find my most authentic writing voice in the genre that chose me.  These events affected my writing style, especially when it comes to character and the emotional charges that I can personally relate to by having experienced them firsthand.

I enjoy reading and writing mystery and horror stories that have some supernatural or paranormal elements, but I don’t limit myself to any one genre or subgenre for that matter. I especially enjoy reading and writing those that show how the characters will react and deal with being pushed to their most extreme limits and how that will change them after the fact, be it good or bad.


4Q: Tell us about your other work and what’s in the future for Author Angella Cormier.


AC: Previous titles include "Dark Tales for Dark Nights" published in 2013 (written under Angella Jacob and in collaboration with Pierre C. Arseneault) as well as "A Maiden's Perspective: A collection of thoughts, reflections and poetry" published in 2015. 

In 2013, I created and managed an indie magazine (Codiac Chronicles) which unfortunately I had to put on hold indefinitely.  It was a huge undertaking, and one that I did on my own.  It was fun while it lasted, as I was able to meet several local artists, writers and photographers during that year it was published. It may be revived one day, but for the time being, it is dormant. Maybe in hibernation. If it ever reawakens remains to be seen. J

I am currently working on a collection of short stories (solo) that I hope to publish in the future as well as a new blog that I am putting together. That should be set to go live by the end of October, if all goes as planned.

My other love is graphic design.  I have been doing this for over 18 years and enjoy it very much. Over the past few years, I have been targeting my work to help other writers and publishers. I find it very rewarding as it’s the industry I have the most passion for and I know how important it is for writers to have not only the words crafted just right, but also the presentation of the covers and overall feel of the book’s design. I do everything from creating book trailers, bookmarks, posters, business cards, setting up static webpages, as well as consulting self-published authors through the many steps from idea to end product.



Thank you Angella for sharing your thoughts on the Scribbler's 4Q.

For you readers, please check out the links below to discover more about Angella and where you can buy her novels.



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