Saturday, November 9, 2019

101 Years

101 years since the guns, great and small,  fell silent. 101 years since the promise that war would never happen again. Like so many promises – a well-intended resolve but sadly never realized.

My father, Ralph Tremain (Welland) Stoner, who grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, proudly served with the Canadian forces. Initially stationed in England (where he met my mother) he then saw action in Sicily, Italy, and Holland.

A Certificate of Honour he received at war’s end soberly proclaims the presentation of the certificate

by the Citizens of the City of St. Catharines in grateful recognition of his patriotic service and sacrifice, and in tribute to those sterling qualities which prompted him to accept the hazards of war to preserve the liberty and freedom of mankind from the forces of tyranny and aggression which threatened the world”

Time may have faded the inscription, but its impact is no less

A lifetime away for me, even though I was born a decade after the war ended, but with each passing year the observance of November 11 grows more poignant. The emotion is mixed with an incalculable amount of gratitude that I have never experienced the horrors of war in my own lifetime. Other than reading and trying to grasp what so many parts of the world continue to endure.

My own children, likewise, have grown up free of war’s terrible price, and daily I pray my grandchildren would never have to experience it either. But in recent years with so many instances of the darker parts of history being removed, along with  statues and memorials, I fear history will repeat because the lessons will be lost.  

My parents would grieve and wonder if what they sacrificed was worth it.  I still say yes, and am gratified that my grown children respect and honour this day as well.

I wear my poppy with pride and humble gratitude and earnestly wish my father were still alive so I could say “Thank You” to him in person.  I confess that while he was alive the significance of November 11 was not forefront in my thinking. The passing of time seems to have fixed that.

It may be cliché, but if you value the freedoms you enjoy today, please be thankful to those who served in the past, those who serve today, and those who have yet to answer the call.  This catch phrase always comes to mind. “If you don’t want to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them”

If November 11 is special to you, I'd love to hear your story, or your family's.

So thank you Dad - this post is in honour of you, and your brothers and fellow comrades, and may you know that your sacrifice of precious time and mental well-being are appreciated by your daughters and grandchildren. Until we meet again.

Love you always

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Four Favourites

As a writer, one piece of sage advice stuck with me; to write well, one must also read. If you know me already you know that books are my passion. I have changed genres over the years but usually arrive back at crime/ mystery/thriller/suspense. After I retired, not surprisingly,
my to-do list was to read all the classics. That never happened. By then I was writing with Liz Lindsay as Jamie Tremain.

This week on Jamie Tremain's blog I have featured four different authors. Two are crime/mystery fiction, a comedy/farce series and a literary drama of the domestic and family life genre. I don't discriminate. These books all had a different location so, I travelled vicariously with these characters.
Reviews are not my forte, so I keep them short and sweet. If you see a book here, you know I like it. I hate to give too much away as that annoys me when I spy a spoiler for a book I want to read. But saying that, reviews are so crucial to a writer so please let the author, or where you purchased the book, know you enjoyed the book or didn't. Feedback is important.

Launched a few weeks ago, the always funny Melodie Campbell has one more in the Goddaughter series. 'The Goddaughter Does Vegas.' This time Gina Gallo has eloped from 'the hammer,' Hamilton, Ontario to Las Vegas. What could possibly go wrong after they discover a double of Gina is front-page news where fraud and her wacky family is involved.
For a fun and quick read try The Goddaughter Series from Orca Book's Rapid Reads.

The next book I enjoyed is a prequel to the first in the Austin Starr Mystery series. The first two were placed in the sixties, but this book features Austin’s grandmother at twenty-three in prohibition America. ‘After You’ve Gone’  written by Kay Kendall takes place in fictitious Gunmetal, Texas. Bootleggers, flappers, and floozies with lots of adventure for Wallie McGregor when she lands in the sin city of Galveston. Loads of characters with shady pasts, an ornery aunt, and a romance. Oh yes, and a couple of murders. Published by Stairway Press.

Louise Penny can do no wrong in my book. Pun intended. We all have our favourites, and I have been in love with Chief Inspector Gamache of the Quebec Surete for many years. But is he still the Chief Inspector? You will have to read the 'Kingdom of the Blind' to get the answer to that question. I want to live in her fictitious town of Three Pines. Her understanding of human nature and interpretation of the foibles of her characters is brilliant. This is the fourteenth book in this series. Did I mention I loved Louise Penny's books? There will be a new book out this fall.

This author is new to me. We met at a book signing for her book "Neighbors" that launched in 2018. Hannah Mary McKinnon is from the UK via Switzerland and now lives here in Canada with her family. "Neighbors" is her second book with a soon to be released book  'Her Secret Son' next month.
'Neighbors' deserves all the accolades it has been getting as this is what I would call a domestic suspense novel. Loads of twists and turns and the edge of your seat prose. And that surprise ending. WOW! Looking forward to her next book.

Published by Mira Books.

Next month I will have four more books for you. I have quite a pile on my bedside table. Not the least will be Jamie Tremain's new book in the Dorothy Dennehey Mystery series. 
"Lightning Strike" was a labour of love for Liz and I as we continue with our protagonist, Private Investigator Dorothy Dennehy. As soon as we receive a release date from our publisher, Black Opal Books, we'll let you know. Stay tuned for an invite to the launch.

I think Spring is finally here. Enjoy the sunshine.



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.



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!


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,

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,