Sunday, November 4, 2018

While We Wait...




…for the edits to come back from the publisher for “Lightning Strike”, I thought this would be a good chance to catch up on what’s been happening with this side of Jamie Tremain.

Summer came and went and now Christmas isn’t far away. Time seems to move at breakneck speed and is gaining momentum the older I become. I keep searching for the handbrake, but can’t find it!

Pam and I have been working through a third book involving Dorothy Dennehy and crew, the plan is to have it as close to ready as possible so that when the edits arrive, we’ll be able to provide the third, and perhaps final, installment in the series, back to the publisher. 

Eyeing retirement from the business world in about eighteen months has me chomping at the bit to have more time for this craft of writing. So many ideas and thoughts swirling around, but free time is precious and many demands take their portion.

I enjoyed a wonderful week at my favourite spot, beautiful Sandbridge Beach,Virginia, in early October. We spent a day in nearby Jamestown, site of the earliest English settlement in North America. I found it fascinating and sobering. Jeff Probst’s Survivor contestants would pale at what these early immigrants endured. Even my 11 year old grandson, who first chafed at the idea of the trip, admitted he had been really interested in what he learned and couldn’t wait to share with his teacher.





Pam and I are always interested in where others like to vacation – what’s been your most memorable vacation, or do you have a place that is your number one go to?

Not all the family could be there this time, and they were missed. To compensate, we are planning an all-in family trip to Cuba next year. Waiting on some family members to determine if the week we’ve chosen will work for their vacation choices. Fingers crossed!

Four of us from our Genre5 writing group had a fun evening last month. We enjoyed a dinner out and then attended an “Elvis” concert with Elvis impersonator Steve Michaels. Performed in a lovely church, the music centered on Elvis gospel favourites. I’d definitely make the effort to watch him again.  It would have been a perfect evening if our other G5 member, Donna Houghton, could have been with us. But for some reason she felt it was more important to continue with her trip to Sicily – imagine!

A week ago I had to bite the bullet and go car shopping – ugh. I’d been trying to baby my aging Caliber to make it through to retirement from work and the commute, but it was not to be. However, I’m pleased to say I’m now the owner of a pre-owned late model Nissan Sentra, with only 8,000 km and so many bells and whistles I’ll never figure them all out! And the car has been carpool approved, especially once the back seat passenger discovered the fold down cup holder.

Last night I had a dinner date with my oldest son grandson, Michael. He’ll be sixteen soon (there’s that time thing again) and it gave me a chance to see what’s happening in his world. How proud I am of that young man, he has a maturity and insight one doesn’t often see in one that young. He’s had some, ahem – learning experiences, shall I say – and I’m sure there’ll be more, but I’m confident he’s making a positive difference in many around him.

And now it’s nearly Remembrance Day and this year will be especially poignant being the 100th Anniversary. The world is in such  turmoil these days and so much as the result of human behaviour. Makes me wonder if all those who sacrificed so much would think what they done had been worth it.

I still say yes. We have an abundance of blessings to be thankful for, despite the negativity and horror around us. I wish my father were still alive so I could once again listen to his war stories. As a kid, I didn’t pay nearly enough attention, to my everlasting regret.

Do you mark Remembrance Day and if so how?

I’m sure I’ve missed other events of the past months, but these are the highlights which come to mind readily.

We would love to hear from you!
Cheers!

Liz

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

*** Gin O'Clock***



In late July Liz and I had our monthly chin wag to sort out the problems of the world, but mostly we plot and plan our work in progress, namely book number three, 'Beholden to None'. No writing is done that day as we catch up on our lives and add to our storyline. Characters change or new ones appear as we build the story and leave ourselves with a schedule to work on.

My schedule was a little different from Liz's as I was traveling overseas. I left her holding the reins while I flew off to England to quench my homesickness. As my siblings live in different countries I planned my route. First Peterborough, about an hour out of London to visit sister #1 for five days. Then a flight to Amsterdam to see sister #2 for four days and then another flight to Edinburgh to see my brother and the rest of the Blances. Planes, buses, taxi's and walking for miles as I navigated with my suitcase and backpack. As a woman of a certain age, (old), traveling alone is not for the faint of heart. I thought a backpack would be a good idea but I forgot I was not seventeen and hitchhiking as I did back in the sixties.

My adventure began at Heathrow Airport. At least 500 people in front of me to go through security and Border patrol. No exaggeration. I arrived at nine expecting to catch a train at 11.30pm for Peterborough. Two hours later, hot and tired I made it to the train station, picked up my ticket. Walked another two miles to find the platform and watched the train pull out of the station. Did I mention it was still 28 degrees? To add insult to injury they had the nerve to ask me for 30 pence to use the necessary facilities. This is common in Britain. Travel agents take note. Keep change on you.
I waited in the middle of the night for the next train and arrived at my sister's at 3.15am. Had a lovely visit, shopping, and eating, visiting the cathedral, did I say eating? A couple of G & T's and lots of gossip and reminiscing. Just what I needed.




The next step of the journey was a short flight to Amsterdam. It took longer to get to the Airport than the flight. Taxi to train, train to Nottingham and taxi to East Midlands airport. On this leg of my journey, I was not expected. My sister was having a surprise party for her husband so I turned the tables on her and told her I could not attend. I mean, who travels from Canada to The Netherlands for a party? Well, apparently I do. I checked into a hotel for four days and visited with her friend. Showed up at the party. Wish I had a picture of her face when she saw me there. Lots of beer, wine, gossip and meeting friends. The weather was more comfortable than in England. Next day another party at Sis and B-I-L's home to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Loads of neighbours and of course the grandkids. A short visit but memorable.

The next day was Sunday and I left on the last leg of my trip. Are you falling asleep yet? I left Almere by train to take me to Amsterdam. Edinburgh, my hometown, here I come. I don't believe them when they say they had wonderful weather this summer. So why is it raining now and windy and cool? I really expected no less. Was met by the family who turned over a flat for me to stay in right in the center of town. My son and D-I-L arrived the next day. More eating, drinking, visiting and walking. This time the walking was up hills and over cobblestones. How did I ever do it in stiletto heels when I was... younger.

The Internation Festival/Tattoo and the Fringe were in full swing as was the Book Festival where I spent a couple of afternoons. Up to 1000 authors from around the world were in attendance at different venues throughout the city. Readings and book signings galore. I only bought one book as they are too heavy to carry back. Ann Cleeves  Dark Water, one of her books from the Shetland series. I could walk to this festival in Charlotte Square from the flat I stayed in. Also, my favourite stop was at Waterstones bookstore overlooking the castle. Most civilized place as they serve Prosecco, Gin and tonic, and coffee. Gin and tonic appear to be the drink of choice for many young people in Britain today. Old ones too.

I had my fill of a few tourist traps like the Royal Yacht Brittania, Interesting. The Caledonian Hotel There is a story here, walks on Princes Street and of course a visit to Marks and Spencers. A drive to St Abbs on the coast with my nephew was, shall we say ..bracing. Felt like gale force winds propelling me along but really was most enjoyable.

It was wonderful to see my family and visit familiar haunts but its time to go home. Home is Canada where my children and grandsons stay. Did I do any writing while away? No, I did not. Did I get lots of ideas? Yes, I did.

The trip back was not without its moments. At the airport for 6am. Flight delayed and we did not leave until 1pm. I was spitting nails by this time. Lots of time to people watch but most were in the same position as I was. Cest la vie.

Watch out, Liz. I'm back and raring to go. Edits for book two Lightning Strike are due soon so a busy fall is on the agenda.

Talk again soon,
Slainte,
Pam




Sunday, June 24, 2018

It's a Journey

It's been eleven years since Liz and I started this journey of writing stories and wishing the publishing fairies would pick up our book. Through dogged determination, we found a publisher.

Black Opal Books published our baby in 2017. The Silk Shroud is the first in a series starring intrepid Private Investigator Dorothy Dennehy. Book number two  Lightning Strike is in our publisher's hands and we are waiting on the edits. (No pressure Black Opal).

Our work in progress will be the third in the series, yet to have a title. We're in the planning stage with plots off in left field and doing profiles on our characters. Writing collaboratively means the work gets finished quickly. Right? Wrong. Liz still works in the corporate jungle and commutes daily to her job. (Might I say, her paid job)

I, on the other hand, am retired from the said jungle, but started a home renovation a year ago and all that entails. It is now finished and I should be able to concentrate on writing. I say should be but I'm easily distracted. The garden is finished, paperwork and filing accomplished. The car has been serviced and there is little to do in my reno'd home. 

So what's holding me up? Apart from the usual insecurities that writers have! I think the problem is my computer. I know, I know. Never blame the tools. 
I have worked on a Microsoft laptop for years and it is always breaking down but it still works. When I fixed up my office just the way I wanted it I bought a lovely Mac desktop with an extra monitor that is perfect when you write collaboratively.

I should have taken lessons when I bought it. It looks beautiful! But there are a few different bells and whistles on it. Grandsons will have to come to the rescue. So until I figure out how to work it I will plod away on this old computer. 

Did I tell you I am a rotten typist? Liz on the other hand types as her stream of thoughts pours onto the screen. I give my two pointing fingers a good workout. 

One of my jobs in our partnership is marketing. I have been slacking on the job so need to get the lead out. Promotion and getting the word out about your book can be daunting and there is always the fear that you are annoying people with your constant exposure. I enjoy book signing where I can meet the reader and chat with them. So I will concentrate on this form of promotion for now.

While waiting on the edits from Black Opal books I have fun putting a face to a couple of new characters. Finding images on Google for a fifty-year-old male, George Clooney  kept appearing. This helps to get a handle on your character but as my guy is a killer perhaps I'd better try another! 

There are many conferences we would like to attend this year and next as they are a wonderful source of contacts and networking opportunities. I have bought tickets to a writers festival in Prince Edward County called 'Women Killing It" held on the Labour day weekend in September. Killing two birds with one stone as I will be visiting an old friend who lives in that neighborhood.Looking forward to meeting one of my favourite writers, Gail Bowen of the Joanna Kilbourne series.

My favourite new author  is Deborah Crombie. I picked up one of her books at the Bouchercon conference last fall. My to be read pile is huge but I am getting through them.
Now I want to read them all. For a native Texan, she has British police procedural down pat. What a gift. And the tension. Fantastic stuff. The book I read is called 'To Dwell in Darkness'. Only sixteen more to go.

Ok, enough procrastinating. Back to finding another George Clooney.

Talk soon,

Slainte,

Pam




  










Monday, February 5, 2018

Hola!


How Do You Spell Paradise?   CUBA!

Returned home yesterday from a weeklong stay in beautiful Cayo Coco, Cuba. Six family members, including my granddaughter Makenna and grandson Max and their parents, have enjoyed a most memorable week in sun-soaked Cuba. This was my first trip, long a contender for top spot on my personal bucket list and I can say I was not disappointed.     No jet lag, just weather lag having to return to that other “s” word – SNOW!
My first view of the beach when we arrived


My son and his wife have been before, and my daughter let us know that she had previously stayed at Memories Flamenco and gave it a very high rating compared to other Cuban destinations she’s been.



While some days were not as sunny as others, we certainly managed to spend quality time pool side and on the beautiful beach.



Accommodations were comfortable, if a little spartan, but spotlessly cleaned daily.  The buffet provided an astonishing array of tempting dishes. Learning to arrive early each morning for breakfast ensured a short wait for yummy omelettes made to order. “And some hot sauce SeƱora?”  Absolutely!
  
Cold cuts, pasta, salads and countless vegetable sides meant no one left hungry. As well most nights we were serenaded by singers with amazing talent.  Assorted pastries, cakes and ice cream covered any dessert requirements as well.

For those times between meals, a 24-hour snack bar provided pizza and French fries among other staples.

Drinks of all varieties were plentiful, of course rum being the mainstay for the island! In reflection, based on how busy the many bartenders and wait staff were I’m amazed that I don’t recall any unpleasant inebriated behaviour during the whole week.

Another item on my bucket list has been the wish to ride a horse along a beach. That wish came to fruition as well. For 15 pesos each, we were able to ride gentle steeds for an hour along the beach. Unfortunately for me as soon as I settled in the saddle I knew it wasn’t going to be all that pleasant. Arthritis in my hips and back meant an uncomfortable ride and the assistance of two very manly cowboys to retrieve me from my perch at the end of it.  However Max and Makenna took to the ride like ducks to water.






The kids were excited with their find of a not-so-empty coconut. It was full of teeny hermit crabs, each sporting the smallest of shells as their first 'home'.





Settling in beach chairs along either the water’s edge or pool side afforded ample opportunity for people-watching behind darkened sun glasses.  And the kids had a variety of activities to keep them interested, although the ocean and pool never seems to grow old for them!




And who doesn't go to the beach to get buried?



But really, it was the Cuban people themselves who made the trip the wonderful time it was. So warm, friendly and genuine. And so appreciative of any gratuities, whether in cash, or gifts of toiletries or gently worn clothing. We certainly take a lot for granted in North America and somehow think those in less affluent areas couldn’t possibly be happy.  These beautiful people may not have the luxuries or incomes we do, but they have a lot more sense of appreciation and humility that we are often sadly lacking.

I managed to read four whole books during that week – an unheard of feat these days when I can barely manage a page or two at bedtime before dropping into a coma!

But now that reality has reared its ugly head once again, I’ll be back to the 8-4 grind on Wednesday and striving to keep pace with Pam and get the sequel to The Silk Shroud prepped and ready to send to the publisher.


¡Aclamaciones!


Liz

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New Year Rant



Its been three months since our last post. The Bouchercon conference in downtown Toronto seems like a dream already. Meeting other writers and readers from all around the world and listening to the different panels from authors we admire kept the fires burning with ideas and plans to finish our next book.

But the best-laid plans... I flew off to Scotland for a wedding and Liz was dealing with some restructuring at work. I had started a renovation of my townhouse in June...and its still going on. Not exactly conducive to writing but the contractor says three more weeks!!

To escape the reno from hell this morning ( they started at eight am) banging, drilling, sanding, yelling to one another, I took myself off to do some errands and pick up a few groceries. Now, what does one buy when you have no kitchen? The old fridge is in the basement with the microwave. Meat from the microwave is awful and just getting through the dirt and dust on the main floor puts me off. So, crackers and cheese, fruit and a few prepared things that don't need to be heated up. I made myself a kitchen in my office. Priorities straight of course. Bottle of water, a bottle of gin, a bottle of wine and a case of tonic for the gin. Kettle for my cup of tea in the morning and Nespresso machine for my afternoon pick me up. And all the leftover cookies from Christmas. This way of living is playing havoc with my diet but he says...only three more weeks. Now if I can only find the bread knife to cut the artisanal loaf with walnuts and raisins!

While I sat in the coffee shop this morning enjoying a cappuccino, I do what I always do and people watch. Lovely pastime...usually. I don't want to sound like an old fart, but people, wake up and see what is going on around you. Make eye contact, speak to one another. Stop ignoring your children. You might learn something.
I am of course talking about cell phones/mobiles.

I gave into pressure last year and bought an iPhone. Yes, there are lots of benefits. Like being stuck in the car, taking a photo of whatever takes your fancy. The GPS is my favourite feature as I get lost easily but... and a big BUT, I bought the phone for my convenience, not yours. I am continually berated for not answering texts or the phone. No, I don't walk around with it in my hand like some new fashion statement. I have to rummage around in my bag for ten minutes until I find it or I have left it downstairs when I am up. I have a checklist when I go anywhere now. Fortunately, my glasses are a fixture on my face. hearing aids are put in my ears as I am leaving the house. Extra batteries check.Wallet with money and cards and my lipstick du jour.Check. Tissues.check. Must be something else. Oh yes, my phone. How did I ever navigate life without one?
In the supermarket today there was a guy taking pictures of the fruit and veg. He would hold one up to his camera on the phone and ask his wife's permission to buy it. Come on!! I'm really on a rant here. I wonder where my phone is right now. Oh yes, I remember. It's being charged. You will be able to get me shortly. If I hear that irritating PING.

Back to the writing. Liz was on a roll yesterday and managed 2000 words. We will be back online Tuesday evening so I'd better get busy with the chapter I'd an idea about. The manuscript is finished except for some additions we feel are necessary. Then editing and more editing until she is all shiny and ready for publishing.

Jamie Tremain will be back blogging and moving along with another book we have finished but need to clean up. If you enjoyed the author interviews we did in the past, drop us a line to let us know and we'll start up 2018 with some authors we met at Bouchercon.

My next blog post will be about books I read recently.

Snow is falling as I write this and it's so distracting and lovely. Be careful if you are out there driving.

Slainte,

Pam






Monday, October 16, 2017

BOUCHERCON 2017 - Passport to Murder

Two years of anticipation and it’s over in a flash!

Pam and I registered back in 2015 and were confident we’d be published authors by the time the conference rolled around. We were excited to be attending a book conference of this calibre and weren’t disappointed. We also determined that we'd have the first draft of the sequel to "The Silk Shroud" done before Bouchercon and that's also been accomplished.

About 700 authors and nearly twice as many readers, aspiring, and nearly-published writers were in attendance. The Sheraton Hotel on Queen St in Toronto provided comfortable accommodations and all the space required to showcase so many participants. We won’t mention the day we had two fire alarms, shhhh! 

The view from our 34th floor room provided a vista of downtown Toronto, and beyond, that I haven’t seen in a while.





















Authors and books and panels, oh my! 
The bookseller’s room held thousands of books for sale. What a great opportunity to pick up books and then have them signed by the author!





As debut authors Pam and I were invited to participate in the Debut Author’s Breakfast held Friday morning, along with about three dozen new authors. It was a fun event as we each had a turn to sell our work within just a minute or two. This is when having a writing partner is invaluable for moral support!
Pam, Liz, Lynn McPherson, Jennifer Soosar

We connected with two other Black Opal Books authors – Lynn McPherson and Jennifer Soosar – who have their debut works published this year as well.


We also took turns promoting Crime Writers of Canada on Saturday, when CWC hosted the hospitality suite. A terrific opportunity to meet fans and other writers.
As well the conference provided the opportunity to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen for a while.

Panels were interesting, informative and fun, but my favourite was the intimate chat between Louise Penny, Rhys Bowen and Deborah Crombie. The ballroom may have been standing room only, but yet the three authors obviously share a friendship and ease with each other which made the attendees feel as if we had joined them for a personal visit.

Rhys Bowen, Louise Penny, Deborah Crombie

Standing room only to listen to the three ladies, but Gloria Ferris and Kay Kendall managed to find two of the best seats in the house!


I was so pleased to be able to hear from the likes of Peter Robinson, Ann Cleeves, and Kathy Reichs to name a few. And so many wonderful, and successful, Canadian authors. If I start naming, I’m afraid I will leave some out! Among them Linwood Barclay, Vicki Delaney, Melodie Campbell and so many more!


Pam with Linwood Barclay


Our Genre5 group have come away with memories, tips and advice. For a while, Genre5 turned into the Magnificent7, when we hooked up with good friends Kay Kendall and Lorie Lee Steiner. I never managed to get a photo with all of us. Lorie is missing from this one.
Donna Houghton, Gloria Ferris, Kay Kendall, Pam, Liz, Donna Warner


I came home tired, but energized, with a new focus on writing. But my writing partner, Pam, left the conference and then headed to Edinburgh, Scotland! I hope she was able to catch some sleep on the flight. She’ll be out of the country until early November, and I have to return to the corporate work world tomorrow.

But on Thursday Oct 19, I’ll be joining  Donna Warner, Gloria Ferris, Alison Bruce and Cheryl Cowtan for our workshop “Conjuring Up a Work of Fiction” at the Elora Public Library. Sure to be another good time!

Kudos and much appreciation to Bouchercon Co-Chairs Helen Nelson and Janet Costello. You and your team provided a memorable event.

And now I think I have a book or two to read.

Cheers!

Liz