Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out with the old year and in with the new!

I have been giving this post a lot of thought. 2011 has been an exceptional year in the sense that madness appeared everywhere. Uprisings around the world and dictators dethroned. The miseries of dealing with an earthquake/tsunami; along with extreme weather everywhere. (One of my favourite towns, Goderich, on the Bruce Peninsula in southern Ontario, was decimated by a tornado last August.) Monetary woes have affected many parts of the world and if the pundits are right it is not going away anytime soon. I could go on and on about the hardships, but in my own world things were balanced by the birth of five babies to friends and family. There is nothing better than a new baby to keep everyone smiling. We attended three weddings and it was great to see that love and commitment is still alive. There was also the death of a few friends in our immediate family who will be sorely missed.

The past year was also a year of celebration. Milestone birthdays and my retirement. I am finished, I think, of my period of adjustment to this very different way of life. It is what I dreamed off. Finally having the time to concentrate on writing and doing the things I want to do. Yesterday I visited Liz at my old office for lunch and we were joined by two friends. I was going to visit my old office but I felt it was time to step away and get on with the rest of my life. Liz and I made a few dates for our get together in a few weeks.

The Bloody Words conference in June is big on our agenda. http://www.bloodywords2012.com/ also joining Crime Writers of Canada. http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/ The push to have our book Body Perfect is officially in high gear, so watch this space for news.

Santa was good to me this year as usual but receiving gift cards to Chapters is among my favourites. It took me three days to read Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light. Brilliant! If you have not read this author I advise you to get a copy of her seventh novel. http://louisepenny.blogspot.com/ I also read The HELP. By Kathryn Stockett. Another book that was hard to put down. Look forward to seeing the movie.

On my bedside table is the third in the series of Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs. As I am a knitter I picked up the first book as general interest and found the characterization was terrific. Not usually the genre I read but good writing is good writing http://www.katejacobs.com/bio.html

I also have Getting Rid of Rosie by Lynda Simmons. Lynda is my college instructor in novel writing and she has another book out I will get to shortly called Island Girl. http://www.lyndasimmons.com/

Liz and I hope to get together with another Oakville writer, the indomitable Melodie Campbell in the near future to pick her brains. Her latest book is Rowena through the Wall. http://www.melodiecampbell.com/Home_Page_2YMR.html

Thanks to everyone who has supported us in our writing efforts this past year. Jamie Tremain wishes you all the best of everything in 2012.

Happy Hogmanay. Google it if you don’t know what it means!
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 Here We Come


Tick, tick, tick...the minutes are slipping away faster and faster as 2011 draws to a close.  We live in such a fast paced world and our days ahead seem to get pre-planned with meetings and events and things to do.  More than one person has recently commented that this past Christmas seemed to arrive and depart at break neck speed – not always leaving time to nurture and enjoy the spirit of the season properly.  Although health issues with close friends are a good reminder that we do need to treasure the moment we live in and that blessings that surround us amid  challenging times.

For Jamie Tremain, this past year saw the biggest change with Pam’s retirement and her opportunity to attend writing classes which have benefited us both.  We look forward to Bloody Words2012, held this year in Toronto and are definitely planning on attending! 

Polishing Body Perfect as much as possible is the goal in order to have it appeal to a publisher or agent to work with.  While we do have a second story involving Paul and Dorothy brewing (four chapters and more already) and are anxious to get into some ‘new’ writing, we both feel it is worth investing time and energy into an already well-liked story so that it sells!   We are very grateful to our loyal readers who have read both Madelaine and more recently Body Perfect.  Their feedback and suggestions are taken most seriously and always welcomed.  But if we have entertained any readers with our tales then that is a source of pride for sure.

Pam is planning on joining up with myself and a couple of good friends for lunch today so it will be nice to wish her Happy New Year in person. 

My wish for all of you as we close the door on 2011 and open up 2012 is to count your blessings, be kind to one another and have a safe, healthy and Happy New Year!

Cheers!

Liz

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Five More Now!


Yes, Christmas is nearly upon us!  Unlike Pam I can find little enjoyment in rushing from store to store, enduring line ups and parking woes. To be fair though, I’m sure there is a huge difference when the work day is not part of the picture, but I will have to wait a few more years to find out for myself.  Seems we get so caught up in all the bustle of the season that we often lose focus on the real benefits; time spent with family and friends; a time to reflect on the meaning of what we are celebrating and what is really important in our busy lives.

Having said that, I made a quick stop on the way home from work yesterday to pick up one last minute item for little ones on my list and one other  gift.  Otherwise all is done, and wrapped and ready for giving.   Our family get together will be Friday evening in order to accommodate one and all with work schedules.

At work, the food and toy drive surpassed last year’s by leaps and bounds, with the Salvation Army being very appreciative of the number of gifts donated for children age 10 and older – this is an age group which doesn’t get as much attention as younger tots.    Kudos to all who took the time to think of others they will probably never know and help make their Christmas day a little nicer.

But like Pam, I do bemoan the lack of snow for Christmas – none in the forecast either.      I know its better for travellers, but there’s nothing like seeing soft snow falling on a Christmas Eve to set the mood.   Forecasts have been known to change, right?

Work loads are easing somewhat in these few remaining days of 2011, giving us a breather of sorts.  Who knows what the New Year will bring – so time to do some desk cleaning and file organizing while the opportunity exists!   Taking some Christmas music with me this morning to listen to while I work.

Along with Pam (and Jamie Tremain) I wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas – be safe, enjoy family and friends and remember why it is that we celebrate Christmas.

Cheers!

Liz


Monday, December 19, 2011

Six more sleeps!

Only six more sleeps to go!
Christmas this year is very different for me. I honestly enjoyed the rushing around and trying to shop after work, scrambling to get that elusive toy for one of the kids. The traffic was always horrendous, and the line ups long as tired sales clerks stuff your goods in a bag. I usually lost my list so I always forgot something, then it was a mad dash back to the store before it closed. But, there was a sense of accomplishment. Exhaustion...even!

Not so circa, December 2011. Now that my school classes are over I have all the time in the world to shop. ( I should be writing but I am on a small hiatus) This morning I rose at 8am, had breakfast and drove to the mall. Absolutely no traffic. Lots of parking. Hit two department stores, the bank, drycleaners and a sporting goods store. I still had my list stuffed in my coat pocket. I could go to the book store and buy all my grandchildren their age appropriate books because I had them on my list. Very pleasant sales associate who was helpful as well. I was done out of my usual rant to the person in line beside me about how rude the sales people are. No, it was all very pleasant. No pushing and shoving, no children crying because they are tired and hungry. Where is the fun in that? It’s only 11.30 and I am now home. The wrapping should take all of an hour and then I am finished except for the knitting.I promised a few people I would knit them a Christmas present, Liz included. I did not say what year they would receive my homespun creations!

And what is with this green Christmas thing? I can’t even complain about the freezing temperatures or the slush and mountains of snow. Sun shining and dry roads. Wheese! Maybe I will leave my grocery shopping until Friday or Saturday and there should be a nice line up at the liquor store by then. I can hear you saying... “Get a life woman”. I know, I know. I am still in a period of adjustment to this retired life.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas however you wish to spend your time preparing for it. Enjoy your time with family and friends and spread lots of good cheer and remember the reason for the season.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Monday, December 5, 2011

That Feels Better!


No work until December 12; no alarm clock and no lunch to pack.  No competing with aggressive 18-wheelers on the highway, or ignorant 4-wheelers either.   My last few vacation days of the year are now here.

Don’t be misled – there are quite a few items on my ‘to do’ list for these days.  Dentist and Doctor appointments and Christmas shopping.  Ideally I hope to have the shopping all wrapped up tomorrow.   Oh, and some reading.   Currently I have three books on the go.

Here at home I’m reading “The Help”, borrowed from a co-worker and want to be able to return it to her on Monday.  Enjoying it very much and want to finish reading it before watching the movie.  Also, I’m nearly at the end of “Scarpetta” – Patricia Cornwell is one of my favourite authors and while this one took a little longer to get into than normal, I’m loathe to put it down now.    At work, I always keep a book in my desk drawer, for those lunch times when I find I’m on my own.  For now I’m reading my first Jodi Picoult –" Nineteen Minutes".  I’m taken with her writing and the topic is so timely – I’d highly recommend it.

Pam finishes up with her writing class this week I believe. We are both very much looking forward to the New Year and focusing on getting back in our own world of writing.  She has brought some good insight and techniques learned from the class from which we will both be able to benefit.  We have tentatively scheduled a full day of writing soon after the New Year. 

Next week begins a round of get togethers and luncheons marking the Christmas season.  And as the time gets closer to Christmas more and more staff will be on vacation, which equals  fewer problems to deal with for yours truly!   The Food and Toy drive as mentioned earlier is in full swing and we are optimistic to more than surpass our goal from last year.

As well today marked my meeting with my manager for the final year end review of accomplishments, challenges and everything in between at work.  The rating given on the review affects any year end bonus and so it is eagerly anticipated by all; a necessary evil for a well earned reward.  But now it starts all over again for 2012 – oh may there be a book deal in the works for Pam and I! 

And now its time to relax as the evening winds down and I’ll put away my list of what needs doing for now.....tomorrow is another day.

Cheers!

Liz

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Countdown


One month till Christmas – yikes!  Put that panic button away!

Amidst 9 – 5 work, household chores and writing (most favourite on that list) comes the realization of how the days are closing in on the big event. 

Decorations are up at work and thanks to special elves on my own team who always come over and decorate my little corner spot, I came in Monday morning to see the first signs of Christmas on the floor.  That was the first reality check.  Since then there have been several this week.  Our work place is glad to support the Salvation Army in their gift and food gathering efforts for the Christmas and holiday season and so plans are now underway to surpass last year’s generosity.  Pam and I had a great day with others last year, helping out at the gift distribution centre sorting donations and marvelling at the generosity of kind-hearted souls who give so much to those less fortunate. Rumour has it that Pam has been called upon to lend a helping a hand and it will be great to see her at work again - she has a heart and flair for these activities, as well as a very 'motivating' attitude!

At home, I made a head start several weeks ago and ordered some special customized gifts for most of the adults on my list; they arrived safely last week and so I am able to cross off a huge chunk of names and breathe a little easier.  All that remains are presents for the grandchildren and one or two other gifts.

Today, though, is “Deck the Halls” day.  Plans are to get the tree up and all the surrounding decorations and then hopefully be able to sit back and enjoy them for the rest of the month!  However there is one four-footed curiosity driven creature living here who might not allow for much relaxing.  Last year, while he was still a kitten, Winston was found nestled fast asleep on one of the tree’s boughs mid way up it!  Being a little heavier this year might not be so good for the tree – which will come out of its box later today and not from a parking lot.

Pam and I plan to meet again this Thursday for one last writing get together before Christmas.  We are both very excited about where this newest adventure is going with Paul and Dorothy; new characters are on the scene and they will all have to dress very warmly!  As well, meeting Pam will officially start Christmas gift giving for me as I have had her gift for several weeks now, just waiting to be wrapped and presented.

I put coffee on to brew before I started writing this morning and my nose tells me it awaits , the first of many today no doubt!  Whatever you find yourself doing this week, if its Christmas related I hope its enjoyable for you.  With this time of year comes a lot of frazzled nerves as well and those who work in bustling retail are no less prone to it...perhaps more so because they have to deal with the public all day long.  We consumers at least can come home when we want and escape the fray.  So try and keep a kind word and patient spirit as the order of the day for those who are in need.

Let the countdown begin!

Cheers -

Liz

Monday, November 21, 2011

Love 'em or hate 'em

You either love them or hate them. Canadian indoor shopping malls. Personally I like them. When I worked in the retail sector for fifteen years, I rarely ventured into the mall except for a cappuccino or a lunch time dash to the bank or to pick up a sales item.

This morning I arrived at the mall early after dropping off my husband to pursue his own interests. Easy to park and in bad weather I can go underground. I made my way to the food court and bought a large coffee and Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich. Oh I know, it’s not gourmet but it’s adequate as all I intend to do is sit with my nose in a book for a while.

The sun warms me as it streams in the large picture windows and skylights light up the vendors offerings. I managed to bag a lounge chair overlooking the QEW and the parking lot. The sounds are muted but I can still hear soft music and murmurs of conversations. Not enough to disturb my reading. Christmas decorations are everywhere but not many people have started filling up the lots or in a spending mood just yet. Once Santa arrives tomorrow things may change but the retailers will have a hard time this year, not just with the economy in the dumper but they have to contend with the Internet shoppers.

The mall offers many amenities in a small village like atmosphere. A selection of good eating places, clean washrooms and concierge service. Carts for the wee ones and wheelchairs for those in need. A lottery booth for the “dream of millions” addicted and a fine group of stores to fill your every need. I may partake of the early morning walking group when the snow starts to fly.

Well the sun has moved so it is time to give up my comfy chair to a real shopper who needs to rest. Unfortunately there is no yarn store here so I must find my way to the local shop that has the nerve to be on a main street. Hope I can find a parking spot!

Liz and I had a good meeting last Thursday with coffee and bagels to keep us company.It's good just to chew the fat with her and then we got down to business. Will try again in a few weeks before we are both busy with Christmas.

I have a new great nephew and his name is Finlay.Isn't that a grand name? My younger sister is a first time grandmother. Best to them all.

School is going well and I have another three more classes. My book review of Gold Fever .......TaDa.... I was given an "A". Need some work on my story before my final mark so here's to my new book. No details as yet.I'll keep you guessing.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winters' Harbingers




Earlier this afternoon I caught site of the first Junco of the season.  This little slate-grey and white bird usually arrives from the Arctic to these areas just ahead of winter weather. (The photo above is borrowed from Google - no snow yet out my window!)  A small flock of them were industriously pecking away on the front lawn.  So even though this November still sees us enjoying warmish temperatures, the white stuff is probably not too far away. This afternoon is very dreary and windy – the sky is so heavily overcast I would expect snow, except that the temperature is hovering around 13 degrees Celsius!

I am glad to report that my eye seems to have settled back to normal, although I must be religious now with the nightly regime of ointment just before bed.  And I find when I wake during the night for that trip to the bathroom, I’m also putting in some drops to keep my eye from getting too dry.  Another follow up appointment with the eye doctor is scheduled for Tuesday so I’m hopeful for a good report.

Tomorrow will be back to work after a few days break – no more planned time off now until early December.  It felt so good to not be up so early in the morning.   Pam has been busy writing up a storm for her class room assignments.  As mentioned earlier we’ve decided to base our next Paul and Dorothy instalment on the framework of what her assignment has been.   We are anxious though to concentrate solely on the new adventure, but I have been unable to sit still and have drafted roughly five chapters and find I could just keep writing, but I must restrain myself and wait for Pam!

Hopefully this week our planned meeting will not be disrupted and we can outline some more for this story – tentatively entitled “Murder Most Conventional”.   And even if winter weather decides to make an appearance on Thursday, I’m ready because that other harbinger of winter – snow tires – were installed last week.

Cheers!
Liz

GOLD FEVER

Usual November weather but good on the whole. At least here in Southern Ontario. I hear it's snowing out west.

Liz is feeling better and her eye is healing as long as she puts the ointment on it. We are having a get-together on Thursday to do out usual plotting and planning.

I watched the Remembrance Day ceremony from Ottawa on Friday and as usual I find it very moving seeing all the old soldiers. When it came to have the "Going down of the sun" it was spoken in three languages. English, French and First Nations. As I am hard of hearing I always watch television with the captions on. Some are better than others. CBC is the worst and this was a perfect example. When it came to the First Nations speaker the captions read.....get this..foreign language!!!! I was insenced but like a lot of things I probably will not do much about it. Glad I got that off my chest.

As promised, a review of Gold Fever

Gold Fever

A Klondike Mystery

By Vicki Delaney

Rendezvous Crime, 290 pages, $18.95.

Reviewed by Pamela Blance November 3rd/2011

Vicki Delaney is a critically acclaimed Canadian author. She has settled into rural life in Prince Edward County to continue writing three different genres of fiction. Her first three novels of suspense were published by Poison Press of Scottsdale Arizona. She is now writing her fifth police procedural featuring Constable Molly Smith. My favourites by far are the Klondike Mysteries published by Rendevous Crime which is set in Dawson City, The Yukon Territory, in the late 1900’s.

When Chloe, a Savoy dance hall girl, is found stabbed to death in the narrow, muddy, poverty reeking, Paradise Alley, the North West Mounted Police are called in. Sent to investigate the murder scene - an alley lined with the mean cribs of prostitutes - is Constable Richard Sterling. Then a high roller named Jannis becomes the second murder victim, and the red-coated Mounties are determined to get their man...or woman.

It’s the summer of 1898 and Fiona McGillivray had come to the Klondike gold fields in the Yukon Territory the year before to set up “the finest, most modern establishment in London, England, transported all the way to Dawson.” She is the proprietor of the Savoy Saloon and Dance Hall with her Glaswegian partner, Ray Walker, another of the many characters who found their way to the Yukon with dreams of getting rich. There were many such saloons on the main street of Dawson City, but none like the Savoy. It was Fiona’s own private gold mine.

Fiona was born on the Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland. Brought up in the “big house” as companion to the local Earl’s daughter, she educated herself on the speech and mannerisms of the gentry. She was often called Miss Muckety Muck by those who did not like the way she led her life. Leaving Scotland under questionable circumstances for the streets of London, Fiona would be looking over her shoulder for the law for years to come. She was very beautiful and learned to live by her wits. Well aware of her appearance and the effect it had on others, she took every advantage it provided.

Dawson was teeming with tens of thousands from all over the world that summer. They put up with the poverty, dirt and mud; being rich one day and broke the next. As quickly as they found their nuggets of gold they spent them on drink and women, or lost their bags of gold dust at the gambling tables. They had been lured there by the promise of ‘lumps of gold are as easy to pluck as potatoes from a well-tilled Ontario field’. Many were there with families who tolerated the ramshackle huts or tents they lived in, with the promise of riches beyond their imagination.

This novel is the second in the Klondike series and is full of interesting and well rounded characters. The era shows the hypocrisy of the Victorian age laid bare for all to see-just as it had been in London. Women could not even show their ankles and always deferred to men. But not so the “percentage girls” who spent long hours dancing and putting on theatre shows for the miners as well as being available to dance with them for the price of a drink all night long.

Constable Richard Sterling, the tall and handsome Mountie is enamoured by Fiona, but his feelings are not reciprocated. He is also very fond of Angus the twelve year old son of Fiona who would like to be a Mountie one day and follows him everywhere. Young Angus has befriended Indian Mary, a native woman accused of murdering Chloe. Her necklace was found at the scene of the dance hall girl’s murder, but did she kill her and Jannis as well, and why?

The build up to the conclusion has all the elements of tension and conflict that a good mystery should have. It also has a surprise ending. Delany has woven characters from Fiona’s past into the story and I was completely captivated to see how the to see how the characters evolved. It is obvious to the reader the amount of research used in this novel.

The third book in this series “Gold Mountain” will be out in April 2012. I look forward to more from Fiona MacGillivray.

Vicki is a member of Crime Writers of Canada, and Capitol Crime Writers. She is also on the board of Wolfe Island’s Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ouch, ouch and more ouch!!





Liz has been such a brave soul with her eye problems. Just thinking about it.....more ouch. Hope it heals soon and she is back as good as new.

Homework is piling up and I am putting it off until I can wake up. I forgot about the “fall back” an hour last night and I was up at seven am. Could not understand why I was dropping off to sleep at eleven am. Managed a two hour nap and I am good to go. Well almost.

Learned how to add tension from my novel writing class this week. We are half way done but I still have to beef up my story some more and also write a book review. If I get an “A” on the book I am reviewing I will post on here. If not then you will never see it!

I picked up our new business cards last week. Liz and I have decided to share a card as Jamie Tremain only needs one card. They look smashing.

Waiting today for my great niece to have her first baby. My sister, the baby of five siblings will be a grandparent for the first time and she is so excited you could peel her off the ceiling. There are, I think, fifteen grandchildren and Caroline’s will make sixteen. I wish my parents could have seen them all together but we are now scattered to the winds. England, Scotland, Holland and Canada.

When I took a walk on Friday morning the leaves were still hanging on to the trees but dropping. A lonely discarded pumpkin had been thrown away and bunches of what looked like wild blueberries but it could be anything. The birds will love them.

We have been fortunate with the weather as other parts of the country have bitter cold and snow. It will come soon enough. In preparation for the weather my knitting needles have been clacking as I try to get a start on some Christmas presents. Scarves, mitts and Cowl neck warmers are about the extent off my repertoire.

If Liz is feeling up to it maybe we can meet later in the week for a brainstorming session.
Have a good week,
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Eye'm Relieved


Corneal abrasion – two words that have been with me for about 12 years and which reared its very ugly and painful head this past week.   Ever since first scratching my eye several years ago, I've had to be careful when waking up, that I don’t open my eye lid too quickly because the abrasion has never totally healed and if I'm not careful  and spring my eyes wide open its akin to ripping a band-aid away from an unhealed wound – major ouch!

This has happened on occasion over the years and usually the discomfort settles down by the time I’m dressed and ready for work.  Not so much this past Wednesday.  With left eye watering, I made the drive into work, hoping that it would ease off.   Imagine a pin scratching your eye with every blink, that’s what this feeling is for me.   By mid morning it was minimally bearable and I hoped that a good night sleep would give it time to heal up enough to be ‘normal’ – for me.   And sure enough when I woke Thursday morning, there was no discomfort and I began to feel very relieved.

Off to the office.  If only I didn’t need to use a computer for work!  As soon as I logged on and the screen came to life the pain was back in full force.

For those who know me well, they are aware of 2 things: - 1) I don’t run to the doctor and will put up with a lot before making an appointment; and 2) I am extremely squeamish and cowardly when it comes to anything ‘eye’ related.

By 9:00 I had called my eye doctor and secured an appointment for just after lunch, assured they would refer me to an ophthalmologist if needed, but that I would be seeing an intern and that the visit wouldn’t be covered by OHIP.   By this point I would have paid anything, been seen by a robot and gone to anyone they recommended.

The intern, Violet, was an absolute angel; very kind, understanding and gentle.  She confirmed the abrasion had enlarged and needed to be covered.   Says me, “Not like you can put a bandaid on it.”   

“Oh but we can.”

That’s when the major apprehension kicked in.  At first I voted against the contact lens band-aid, hoping a treatment of drops would suffice.  Then my own eye doctor came in just to double check Violet’s diagnosis and plan of treatment.  After talking to her I hesitantly agreed to allow her to put in, and then remove, a contact lens after a 24 hour period.  Antibiotic drops and other eye drops were prescribed and off I went.

Without going into a lot of detail, let me say the next 24 hours were the most painful I have ever experienced and would not wish it on my worst enemy – while the contact lens did alleviate the scratching sensation, the drops stung like blazes and there were times I wanted to put my head through a wall to stop the pain.     I was very anxious to return on Friday to have the lens removed!

Poor Violet, she had a real problem patient on her hands with me when it came to taking that sucker out of my eye.  Every ounce of determination was used up to not bolt from that chair and/or be sick to my stomach.  Finally, it was out..relief!    Until I blinked a couple of times and there it was..the scratching sensation.

Diagnosis...very small improvement in the size of the abrasion – treatment moving forward – another contact lens for 72 hours and back to see them on Monday (tomorrow).   Fortunately, this time, the lens was a little smaller and more comfortable and when I worked up the nerve to put in the antibiotic drops, it didn’t sting!!!

So by the very appearance of this blog, it must be apparent that my vision is much improved and there is no discomfort.  I will actually be glad to be back to work tomorrow and catch up on Friday’s undone tasks.   And at day’s end it will be off the eye doctor once again and hopefully there will be a major healing going on with the scratch and no more contacts will be needed.

I do want to say a big thank you to the team at my optometrist's office - Brisson Leis, Violet, Dr. Thomas-Parel, Dr. Leis, and the staff behind the front counter - for excellent care and concern.

Unfortunately, this whole episode meant a cancellation of a planned meeting with Pam Thursday evening to move ahead with Paul and Dorothy, but ‘eye’m’  sure we’ll soon be back on track!

Cheers!

Liz

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Eight weeks today!


It’s a beautiful day, sun shining with a light breeze. Frost on the car this morning but it is to be expected. I have moved my desk again and left the bedroom for sleeping, dressing and..... well you get the drift. I had given up this large desk in a fit of generosity. My husband declared he needed more space. That was months ago and he still works at the dining room table. Things move very slowly in his world but not mine. So I tossed him out and dragged all my paraphernalia back to the front room with all my books and binders and of course my printer/copier/fax/scanner/web contraption that is the bane of my existence. Well it looks beautiful in my new headquarters so I decided to give it another try. I started from scratch and read all the directions. Who knew you had to follow to the letter? Well low and behold I now having it working wireless. What a joy. I will leave the fax to another day. I don’t think any agents are trying to get me by fax just yet.

Today I am working at my new desk on the revisions from night school and writing the next couple of scenes that are due. Hope to stay with it until I finish as I have been leaving it two days before class and that is not a good plan. I don’t need oodles of stress in my life.
I had a long chat with Liz yesterday and she is writing the same book and plot and when we get together we will combine our efforts. We are both excited to be back writing on a consistent basis. I will meet with her on Thursday to catch up on our progress with the synopsis and query letters.
I now have three months of retirement under my belt and I have never been so busy. It’s just how I like it. I fought it at first and old habits die hard but, I admit the pleasure I get from just doing my own thing over takes the need to jump to attention in the morning and go off to the office. Maybe I will even get organized for Christmas this year (eight weeks today)but that’s very unlikely as I like to shop closer to the day. Never could understand the people who shop months in advance, wrap and have it all done by the beginning of November. Where is the fun in that!

Enjoy your day and talk soon.
Slainte,
Pam

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fired Up & T'd Off!

Ok..normally I’m a pretty even tempered person and not much really gets me riled...but today was one of those days!  At 2:30 the PA system crackled into life – “Over the next several minutes we will be having an evacuation drill for floors 2, 3, 4, 5, & 6.”  A mighty collective groan was heard as computers were locked, phones hung up and jackets and car keys grabbed.  I work on the 6th floor (there are a total of 9 floors in my tower with an average of 400 people per floor so you can do the math) and have come to dread these routine exercises.  Not that I begrudge the time away from my desk, but because of the behaviour one must endure as you work your way down several flights of stairs.

Keep in mind this is a building full of (mature?) adults, not high school students, who have been well versed in the procedure...make your way to your assigned exit, walk down the inside of the stair well, keeping the wall side free for emergency personnel to make their way upwards.  NO talking – you’d think that would be logical so one could be informed with further PA announcements wouldn’t you.  But perhaps staff feel they will be more up to date if they keep checking their Blackberry’s, or maybe even the person next to them can reveal something new in between giggles and jokes.  Why, one women even felt it was necessary to drag her wheeled carry-all behind her on the stairs!   And, hey..how are those spiked heels working for you?

I long for stationed fire wardens to grow some stones and address these inconsiderate, immature people who put my life at risk, and in a real emergency if their selfish behaviour gets me killed, I will be some T’d off!  If not for the fact that I would put floor searchers at risk, I’d stay behind at my desk and let the herds go first.  I think I am more fearful of being trampled than an actual fire or explosion.

There is some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one who feels this way; as I left one of my managers commented she had already received several email complaints about the exercise.  But nothing ever gets done!

I have a few suggestions:

Have the fire department attend one or two of these drills and just as in real life, they need to make their way up the stairs, with all their equipment  - no doubt they know very well how to treat these situations with the seriousness and respect that is so sadly lacking.

Confiscate phones, ipods, coffees, etc on the spot.

Repeat the drill over and over until we achieve a passing grade

Confiscate the security pass card we all have to wear at all times and tell the offender they will have to see their manager to get it back.

Surely there must exist an educational video of the aftermath of an actual large scale evacuation that was not successful- required viewing for offenders.

Phew...I think I feel somewhat better getting that off my chest!   I live in hope to see some improvements with these drills, but seriously I believe grade school children do a better job.   Sorry for the rant, but maybe, just maybe, someone reading this will see how deadly serious these practice drills are, and maybe, just maybe, they see where they can make a difference...and save a life.

Thanks for listening...

Cheers!

Liz

Friday, October 14, 2011

A thing of beauty!



At least to me it is beautiful. Black and shiny and lots of buttons. If only I could get it to work properly! I bought the printer, copier,scanner, fax and web connector last Saturday and I have still not hooked it to the Wireless. But if Blackberry are having problems.... well what chance do I have!

Liz I need you. Come for a visit, stay a week or a day but fix the bleep, bleep thing. I have it plugged in so I can print but that's about it. All in good time. I really needed the copier for my studies at College where I am taking a novel writing course to help with a few issues I can't get into my thick skull. That was proven when I had some of the class read my work and .... well it was a wake up call but I think it is all fixable.

Today I went off to a coffee shop and read books on POV. Point of view. I apparently don't know enough about them. So it is back to the drawing board and some studying.

I am meeting Liz next week to have a session with her to plot and plan the next book. I miss my writing buddy and the long chats we had at work. Email is fine and all the other ways to communicate but face to face is always better.

My sisters and I use MSN regularly and have the camera on occasionally. Not sure why we need to see each other getting older but it just gives you a feeling of being connected

I am attempting to add some pictures. It has been a while. I have one of my shiny new printer and a masterpiece.... a Cardinal sitting on a tree outside my window.
If I don't manage it then you will have to use your imagination!

Talk soon,
Slainte,

Pam

Friday, October 7, 2011

Forget retirement!

Retire (verb) intransitive verb to leave a job or career voluntarily, at or near the usual age for doing so

Retirement (noun) a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life

The verb retire is correct in the Dictionary as I did voluntarily give up work. But retirement, a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world is so wrong. I was certainly busy in my former life but now I am even more so, but, the difference is, I get to choose how busy I want to be and I am doing something I want to do. So I have decided to come out of retirement and go gangbusters with my new career as a novelist.

My husband of many years has not shown up with any cruise tickets or even maps to go travelling so I must travel in my mind and Google where I want to go. I had a jab at the housework when I started on the journey of retirement and have decided it is not for me and never will be. The necessary will be done of course for decencies sake but if I see a couple of cobwebs as I gaze at the ceiling looking for inspiration, so what?

I am four weeks into my night school class and it is so much fun. Writers are an insecure lot. We were in groups this week and were critiquing the others attempts at an opening scene. I was very nervous but they seemed to enjoy what was written and gave some good pointers. I was very relieved. Of course the only critique I need to count on is my teachers. I will keep you posted as to my progress.

Last Friday I interviewed a Private Investigator and his business partner for the better part of two hours. I had written up about 20 questions to ask pertaining to what the job entails. As our books take place in the States we needed to clarify many things for authenticity. This was an International company so I was made privy to many things I had not even thought off. I was given contacts in different places in the US to confirm details. It was very interesting to see how much technology is used in apprehending the bad guy. There is a lot of poetic licence in writing a PI novel and the day to day working of a normal Detective office would be just plain boring and surveillance duty can be very long. But that’s the writer’s job, to give that life some , romance and excitement. My friend Jim would laugh at that.

Thanks guys for your input.

I am in the market for a new printer. I priced one today and was about to buy when I added the cost of the inkjets and it came to the same price as the printer!!

Any suggestions out there? Wholesale cartridges anywhere?

Slainte,

Pam

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thank you ....

....to Terry from Forensic Science Technician who was checking out the blog the other day and noticed a broken link for Crime Writers of Canada.  In appreciation, a link to his site has now been added and I hope you will check it out.  I think it may be a very useful resource tool for Pam and I in future writing!  The broken link has now been repaired.


Pam has been quite busy with her writing class and is picking up some very useful feedback and tips; need I say that I am more than a little envious!  The beginnings of our second story with Paul and Dorothy are germinating and I'm anxious to start fleshing it out.


At the moment I am thoroughly enjoying Linwood Barclay's The Accident - another satisfying page turner! With a long weekend (Thanksgiving) approaching I'm hopeful that I'll be able to enjoy reading straight through to the end.  Although I'm going to have to spend some time on a spreadsheet or two from work, so I should probably get that out of the way first so that I can enjoy just relaxing with an engrossing tale.


Hopefully Pam will drop in soon with her own update on what's been happening; for instance she told me she had quite an exciting time near Costco today..perhaps she will share.


Thanks again to Terry for reporting the broken link and sharing his in depth web site!


Happy Thanksgiving to all our Canadian readers.


Cheers!


Liz

Sunday, September 25, 2011

.....But make time to read this one!

Home again after a weekend of much needed down time.  On Friday I was worried I might not feel well enough for a girls weekend as I had to leave work early Friday morning with a booming headache and some chills.   But getting caught up on some rest and the prospect of time spent with friends helped ensure the get together kept on track.  Four of us hooked up early Saturday and spent a great 24 hours together.  Thanks to Cathy, Donna and Bec for lots of laughs and good discussions!   Two rounds of “Sequence” kept us all in stitches as our two teams sparred for supremacy.  Great fun and hopefully a rematch in the near future!

I also managed to finish reading a wonderful book – “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay, recommended to me by a fellow book lover at work – thanks Maureen!   Normally I find it very difficult to read stories built upon World War II’s inhumanity to the Jewish people,  and this story was heart breaking at times and tears were shed more than once.  But at the same time this is the type of event re-telling which can bring these horrendous experiences to life and give honour to so many lives needlessly lost; I'm glad I read it.    The writer expertly crafts her story by switching time frames from Paris in the present day to Paris of July 1942 and weaves together the lives of young girl Sarah and grown American journalist Julia.  I highly recommend it, but keep some Kleenex handy and at the end of it you may want to read up on the events of Vel d’Hiv.

As well during the weekend I jotted down some notes and thoughts for our upcoming third book, the second centering around Paul and Dorothy. So, fear not Pam, thoughts of our next collaboration are never far away.

Speaking of Pam I see some email from her sitting in my inbox, so I should see what she has been up to; although I’m sorry she wasn’t able to make Word on The Street; I know that’s a favourite event of hers.

Have a great week and make time to read!

Cheers!
Liz

Saturday, September 24, 2011

So many books...

So many books to read and not enough time. Tuesday evening saw me at the library for an event that was just my style.

“An Evening for Book Lovers”. This event was facilitated by the librarians from different libraries. They introduced eighteen books that they recommended for either personal enjoyment or book clubs. There are quite a few book clubs in Oakville. Of the eighteen books I would read at least ten of them. But when would I get any writing done. I am half way through the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. Good stuff.

Wednesday evening I am attending Sheridan College from7-10pm and I have loads of homework. Super teacher and I enjoy her style. I have a book review due November and the book I have picked is by Vicki Delaney. GOLD FEVER. Really enjoyed it so must read it again to get all the details for my review.

Journaling and writing 5-10 pages every week for reading to the class is also on my agenda this week.

Liz has solved all her computer issues and is taking a well deserved girls weekend vacation. We are planning in October to try and meet weekly. At least that is my plan and I am waiting to see if Liz agrees. We need the time to move things along a little quicker. Easy for me to say when I don’t get up at the godforsaken time of 4.30am that Liz is wont to do!!! I am not sure who her psychiatrist is!!

Tomorrow I wanted to attend the Toronto “Word on the Street” festival that is held on this w/e every September at Queen’s Park. I have poured over the schedule in the newspaper and see dozens of booths I would like to attend but I can’t make it this year. I will just have to get my homework done instead.... Linwood Barclay will be there and Vicki Delaney and loads of super writers I want to listen to.

Ok ,I have stopped whining.

Talk soon,

Slainte,

Pam

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Technical Problems are Temporary - Please Stand By

Yesterday I planned to come home after work, put finishing touches on Body Perfect and then ship it off to have some bound copies printed up.  


Well, things didn't go exactly as planned.  Instead of sending printing electronically to Staples, I had to physically visit Staples and buy a new PC!   The dreaded blue screen of death finally became permanent yesterday.  


So now I am adjusting to a new computer - Windows 7 - and keyboard (not sure I'm in love with the keyboard, too reminiscent of a laptop  keyboard and I'm not a fan of those.  And now I am attempting to get my Office Suite 2007 re-installed, but having some problems there as well. 


And, oh...just to make it even more fun, the flash drive where I keep ALL of my writing, plus other important documents,  won't register on this new computer.   Ask me how panicky that makes me feel!


I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to try before I end up having to upgrade to Office 2010 just to get back in business.  Fortunately, I store very little on my actual computer, aside from some computer games, so I should be able to restore things, IF my plans work out!


Enjoyed a much too brief coffee break with Pam today; she stopped by work this morning.  Attending a writing class and actively networking are agreeing with her!  More excitement in her step and I dare say she looks as if a few years have disappeared!  Have to admit she did pale considerable when I had to 'fess up about the problems with the flash drive!


So stay tuned for updates and I'll do my best to be back in business as soon as possible!


Cheers!


Liz

Monday, September 19, 2011

The cart before the horse!

I just love autumn. Cool nights but amazing sunny days. The trees are just starting to turn, but very slowly this year. I like fall clothes and making soup and stews and the new shows on TV will get a critique as to whether I will waste my time watching or not. The new books are in the stores and libraries and authors are on book tours.

Liz emailed last night to say she was finished with the revisions for draft three. Yipee! but, it seems writers are never satisfied with their work, nor should they be, so another read through for typo's or anything that is glaringly awful and then it is off to the printers and I will send out some query letters. We have a few readers lined up to give some much needed critiques.

I still can't get used to the fact that when I get up in the morning I don't have to go to work. I still read the paper with my breakfast and then..... I have to think about what day it is. I finish cleaning up by 9am and the kettle is on again for another coffee. I could weed the garden or wash windows but that does not appeal to me. I maybe need a dog to walk or take up swimming. Last week I did start an evening course at the local college. So the next fourteen weeks every Wednesday night from 7-10pm I will be learning "Crafting a novel". I always did put the cart before the horse. So, better get my homework done now that I am back in school.

Talk later.
Slainte,

Pam

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Productivity of a different kind!

Yes, it was a very productive day although I was not so productive as Liz needs to be!!

We both had our hard copies of changes all ready to compare and change and I must admit Liz had been more observant that I. Once we leave our ego's at the door we have no problem telling each other that we don't like a particular word or sentence. All in all a fine day. We have decided to keep going with this but it will most likely be online as it gets really difficult getting together. We will start this week and see how it works out.

The synopsis is coming along but slowly and my list of agents is a work in progress. Need much more research.

I have been following Louise Penny's blog covering her book tour. Her new book that I posted here last week (A Trick of the Light) has made the New York Times best seller list at #4 and the Canadian Globe and Mail's list at #7. Congratulations Louise. We are all so proud of you.

Weather still warm for September. Long may it last.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Half Way There!

Its just past 5 pm on a glorious sunny Saturday.  Pam has been here most of the day as we spent several hours revising the 2nd draft of Body Perfect.  The day was extremely productive – most have been the yummy Greek yogurt Pam brought along -  we managed to review half the manuscript.  So now there is even more of a push to get to the end of this revision and then send the manuscript for binding.

On a different note, this week saw me pay a visit to my doctor for a prescription renewal…a deed I had been delaying for as long as possible in order to avoid the dreaded words, “You’re overdue for a physical.”  Before we got to that stage though, I was informed it was time for a tetanus shot.  Not a problem; it was even combined with a pertussis vaccine.  Vaccination needles I can handle, preparations for a physical are another story.

Scrolling through my electronic chart on her Mac computer, my good doctor realized it’s been nearly three years since the last tune up – er check up.  I’ve almost perfected the avoidance technique where that is concerned, if only I didn’t need a prescription renewed!  The check list started; mammogram, bone density test, and then with a glint in her eye – and I knew it was coming – she handed me the poop package for the colon cancer check test.   She tried to be empathetic “You really don’t like this do you.”  Don’t know where she got that impression. They make it sound so easy – a test you can do in the comfort of your own home without the need of a hospital colonoscopy.  Really.  Have you read what’s involved?   At least with a colonoscopy there are sedatives and I don’t have to look!

Place several layers of toilet paper in the toilet bowl to collect the you know what.  I don’t know about you, but if the idea of using a blanket of toilet paper to ensure the deposit doesn’t sink to the bottom of the bowl seems unlikely, you need an alternate plan.  Suffice it to say that after 2 previous rounds of this fun , I’ve become adept at using disposable pie plates……

 Use the applicator  (??? – its not make-up we’re talking about here) stick to collect a small sample.  Oh, but wait, not just one little dab, but two!  From a different location – like next door?     Smear a sample where indicated on the handy dandy little collection package.  And just in case you forget, you are reminded to flush the toilet when done.   Finished now?  No, you get to repeat this process two more times!  Then you plop – why not – the whole thing in an envelope, dutifully signed and sealed and put it in the mail.   This is a new feature since the last time – I have to admit its preferable to dropping it off at a lab where all in the waiting room know exactly  what you’re handing over.   So, deed is done and the poo goes in an envelope to a PeeOh Box somewhere in a big city.  Glad I don’t have to work in THAT mailroom.

Well that’s my tale of woe for this week, now I just have to decide when to begin the test  and, of course, book the appointment for the physical.  The mammogram, like the poop test, is a necessary evil and a tool to help me stay healthy and while I  am trying to make light of it, really I am grateful we live in a country where these tests are readily available and paid for by the government.

By now Pam should be home; hope she’s not too pooped from our day of writing!  :-)

Cheers!
Liz

Monday, September 5, 2011

The rose of all the world....

I have never been a great lover of poetry or been able to write it. I feel it is on a level with algebra. Never could quite understand how letters could equal numbers. Now before you start saying “What a Philistine that woman is” there are a few poems that have stuck with me through the years and this one by Hugh MacDiarmid 1892—1978 a significant Scottish poet, is a favourite.

The rose of all the world is not for me.
I want for my part
Only the little white rose of Scotland
That smells sharp and sweet -- and breaks the heart
.

-- Hugh MacDiarmid, "The Little White Rose"


I am not in favour of MacDiarmid’s politics as he was a communist and maybe a Nazi sympathizer, but he did have a great love for Scotland.

I must make a concerted effort to read more poetry.. My father, Alister James was a poet but none of his talents in that field rubbed off on me. He wrote mainly in Scottish vernacular or the Doric .His subject was the family and life as he saw it. http://awjames.yolasite.com/published.php

My sister Caroline Mackie did a wonderful job of putting all his work in a website for what would have been his hundredth birthday earlier this year. Check it out for a good explanation of the Scottish lingo.

Liz and I have been ploughing through our manuscript and I stayed up late last night to finish my corrections and revisions. When we get together on Saturday we can finalize our corrections.

I am halfway through the synopsis and have changed the wording at least ten times. It was explained to me today by Melodie Campbell.( author, humorist, instructor and professional speaker) over a cup of coffee that synopsis writing is a bit like writing a short story. Check out her website and new book.” Rowena through the Wall”
http://www.melodiecampbell.com/

Cooler weather and a hint of fall. Love this time of year.
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week's End


Yes indeed, another Friday and the start of the summer’s last long weekend.  How the heck did THAT happen?   Seems like only last week I was looking forward to the start of Spring!  I’m beginning to understand now the lament of my parents and their peers regarding the ever accelerating passage of time.  And I think Pam’s retirement has brought that into closer focus recently as well. 

Pam is certainly looking more rested and relaxed than a few short weeks ago and I think her idea of some regular time at the local library is terrific.  It will provide a semi-structured routine for her and I’m sure with no interruptions she’ll have that synopsis done in no time!    I’m anticipating sitting down with Body Perfect and re-reading now from the first and, as Pam noted, make suggestions as I go and see how they compare with any notes or corrections she may note.  And as this is a long weekend I hope there will be some time to do just that!

A warm and oppressive day here in Ontario, but looking at the long term forecast we are definitely heading into more fall-like temperatures next week.  With apologies to those who love the sun and heat – I’m looking forward to those days when a jacket or sweater are needed and the sandals are put away for another year.  Fall Fairs abound on the weekends now and school starts up again on Tuesday – definitely signs of the change in seasons.

It will be good to have a day with Pam and get back into the writing groove; we are both more than anxious to see Body Perfect in a bound format similar to Madelaine.  Then it will be available for friends to read and provide feedback – already the waiting list is growing.   You’ll be the first to know when its off to the printers.

Whatever you’re up to this weekend, be safe, count your blessings and…read a good book!

Cheers!

Liz

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Making plans

Today I actually had to put on some regular clothes. Making myself fairly presentable and adding lip gloss I was ready to face the office that I had left only a month before. After the usual Thursday Pizza lunch with Liz and Cheryl we caught up with all the gossip and then I went to visit with everyone I had worked with for the last ten years.

In the preceding month I had agonized about whether I had made a mistake about retiring. I missed the usual routine of going to work every day and being with my friends and colleagues. It was great to see them and catch up but when I left, and I could leave, the pressure was off. What I think I need to do is add more structure to my day.

Driving home, and not in traffic for a change I decided to go to the library. I have not been to the library for many years so I applied for a new card and walked around and admired the changes. This library is very up to date with all kind of events going on. Book clubs and seminars are scheduled in the evenings. Many computers to use for those that don’t have the use of one at home and an area for using a laptop. As well as books you can borrow e-readers and cd’s. I have decided to go three days a week with my trusty laptop and work in relative peace and quiet with no interruptions. I will let you know of my progress there.

Tonight I have started the final polishing of Body Perfect. Liz and I will each correct and make notes on a manuscript and then when we meet on the 10th we can make the changes we need. When I am not doing the revisions I will be working on the hated synopsis. I have done a load of reading lately on how best to tackle writing a 300 page book into a 2 page synopsis that is going to knock the socks off an agent. Wish me luck.

We are now into my favourite time of year and the weather is just fine. Still rather warm but autumn is not far away. Others have not been so fortunate. Tornadoes, Hurricanes, flooding and tropical storms have been raging in many parts of the country. I rather enjoy watching weather but it is best from the safety of my living room on television.

New season, new way of spending my days, doing something I love. Now Liz needs to retire as well so that we can rattle these books out faster. Must be nice to be so young!
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Monday, August 29, 2011

I'm ready to rock 'n roll

After four weeks of this retired life I am ready to ‘rock 'n roll’. I had intended to spend a month of cleaning, organizing and generally getting my life in order but the best laid plans etc. After two birthdays, a visit from two grandsons, a country wedding and helping to look after a 95 year old friend with hospital and doctor visits and numerous chores around the house I am ready to go back to work. I was warned about this but I must say I am enjoying the extra 30 minutes I give myself in the morning.

However, the other half of Jamie Tremain has been busy finishing the 2nd draft of Body Perfect and adding a few finishing touches to the story from our last get together. It is done!!!! Yea! Thank goodness Liz is a great typist as I am a two finger plodder on the computer. Hard to believe I took three years of typing in school. The manuscript still needs some polishing but that should take one more go through and then we can send it to be bound while I finish the synopsis and query letters to send to agents and publishers. Very exciting. A book is really never finished as one can always see something that needs to be changed or added. We will expect our trusty reading fans to give us some constructive criticism as we find that very helpful. We tend to get so close to the story that we sometimes miss things.

I did manage to get a bit of reading done over the last few weeks. It has not all been catching mice and ironing. I sometimes managed to do absolutely nothing. I am not too good at that, but with practice I should be an expert. My husband has it down pat so I will take some lessons from him.

When I was not doing anything constructive, I was reading the new Linwood Barclay thriller “The Accident” http://linwoodbarclay.com/ I have read everything he has written and this one is very intense and nerve-wracking. Check out his website for his other books.

I have a list of books from some of my favourites who have books out this fall. Louise Penny, www.louisepenny.com/ has her seventh book in the Armand Gamache /Three Pines series. “A Trick of the Light”. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The worldwide launch is today.

Also check out John Moss’s new book called “Reluctant Dead” http://www.johnmoss.ca/ new to the Quinn and Morgan series.

The fall line-up of new books is terrific and another I hope I find the time for is by
author D.J. McIntosh and her book is “ The Witch of Babylon” http://www.babylontrilogy.ca/

If I start to read all these I will never get my own writing done. Oh, I forgot I don’t have to go into the office..... Liz will kill me for saying this.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam