Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Books, Old and New




I cannot live without books. 

I've always been surrounded by books of all kind. My father, Alister William James, wrote poetry and many articles. 







I cherish his Writers and Artists Yearbook, circa 1974.



My H.G.Wells "The History of the World" volumes are falling apart but still have a place in my many bookcases. Our home always had a set of encyclopedias ( you know, the Google and search engines of the day) and we used the library often.


In 1963,  my boyfriend, (later my husband)  gave me a gift of a copy of NJAL'S SAGA. It was a Penguin Classic costing 5 shillings.


In the introduction, it claims to be the mightiest of all the Icelandic Saga's. It was written by an unknown author in the last quarter of the thirteenth century- somewhere around the year 1280. My copy is brown with age and the front cover has torn off. No, I've never read it. At seventeen I was not so interested in the middle ages. My interests were in the Beatles' latest song. But after thanking him profusely I stashed it in my bookshelf where it has languished for fifty-six years.










 I did read with great delight the latest book from 
Gail Bowen
 "A Darkness of the Heart"

The Queen of Canadian Crime fiction is a well-deserved title. I have read many of the Joanne Kilbourn books in this series and you will not be disappointed. As a master storyteller, the tension builds with many references to contemporary Canadian life.

I adore her husband (Joanne Kilbourn's husband) who always has a martini ready for her at the end of the day after she has been out sleuthing. She trained him well! This is Gail's 18th book in this series.


My next author is the irrepressible Ian RankinHis latest book in the Rebus series "In a House of Lies". The author of twenty-three books in this series alone, I was expecting Rebus to be put out to pasture. But no, he is now in retirement but still manages to interfere and get himself involved with the cops in the Leith and Gayfield Square police stations. I am always intrigued by his books as he wanders around my home town of Edinburgh and mentions many landmarks and pubs I know well. (Not the pubs so much but I know of them) Gayfield Square police station was a walk away from where I was brought up and my husband was a policeman at Leith station many years ago. This book is a trip down memory lane for me.
An award-winning author, he has done it again with a thrilling story right to the end.


Barbara Fradkin is a fixture as a  Canadian crime writer with her award-winning series featuring Inspector Green. Her new series,  the Amanda Doucette Mysteries are equally compelling. I have just finished Prisoners of Hope. The location is the beautiful Georgian Bay and the Thirty Thousand Islands area of Ontario. An intrepid amateur sleuth, a handsome RCMP boyfriend and some interesting characters make up this mystery and highlight the plight of foreign domestic workers. Oh yes, and a murder. 






The Girls Whispered Murder is the 2nd book in the Izzy Walsh Mystery series. Set in the '50s this cozy mystery is well researched for accuracy and is a fun read. We can look forward to more Izzy escapades from Lynn McPherson in the future.






While working on book three in the Dorothy Dennehy Mysteries, Liz Lindsay and I, as 
Jamie Tremain are looking forward to launching book number two Lightning Strike soon. Date to be determined. 

Check back next week for a few more books and their authors.


Slainte,


Pam











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