Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dreaming





My Inspiration
I woke up a few days ago dreaming of an outline of the first pages of the new book. I wanted to go back to sleep to keep it going, but of course it started to fade so I hurriedly started scribbling so that I wouldn’t forget. I read it over this morning. Complete rubbish. But...some was salvageable.

This has never happened to me before and I am trying to remember what I was doing before I went to sleep. Was it the overdose of chocolate or the shrimps and dip? Or maybe that extra helping of mashed potatoes with the horseradish and cream cheese that was heaven on earth. Couldn’t have been the wine or the eggnog with a sprinkling of nutmeg and a teaspoon of brandy but the vodka martini’s......Now if I try them one at a time I could eliminate and find the culprit to these nocturnal musings. Liz is not impressed. She says we will start afresh in the New Year minus all of the above. Such a spoil sport.

I have been at my desk most of the day catching up with emails and sending pictures of the family to friends. It’s a winter wonderland outside and very distracting for a writer. Hoards of birds came swooping in reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Birds’ movie but just as quickly left. It’s still snowing lightly and is a good night to stay home.

Santa, as usual, was very good to me but then I am usually a good girl even though I do enjoy vodka martinis. I have four books to read and not sure which one to start tonight.

I have Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Flight Behavior’. Barbara of the Poisonwood Bible fame. This is a favourite book so I am looking forward to this one.

I was given Hilary Mantel’s ‘Bring up the Bodies’.  Winner of the 2012 Man Booker prize. It is not my usual fare but I am all for an education. Tudor England, Anne Boleyn, and that rascal Thomas Cromwell. This is the second book in a trilogy so may start with the first. I’ll let you know if I become a fan.

Peter James latest book ‘Not Dead Yet’ is a police procedural and to quote his website, is the first book to knock 50 Shades Trilogy off the top of UK paperback best seller list!

Rebus is back. ‘Standing in Another Man’s Grave’. After a hiatus into retirement the Edinburgh CID’s most famous cop is back. Ian Rankin captures Edinburgh’s gritty side and for me it’s a trip down memory lane as we traverse the streets of the old and the new town. Not that I frequented the pubs that Rebus seems to spend his time in but I love hearing about my home town even through the eyes of fictitious characters.

Liz and I want to wish all our followers and friends on facebook a happy and prosperous New Year.
As they say in Scotland...Lang mae yer lum reek! (Long may you always have coal for your fire).

Slainte, ( meaning Health -a drinking toast)
Pam

Friday, December 21, 2012

What a Snore!


Hopefully no one’s surprised that we're still here despite the Mayan calendar prediction.  Although 2012 is certainly winding down as we come into the home stretch before Christmas and will soon be one for the history books.  A few snowflakes have been falling today, but it’s not looking hopeful for a truly white Christmas.

This past week I kept my scheduled appointment with the sleep clinic to determine if I have sleep apnea – any bets?  Arrived at the clinic just before 8:30 p.m. and was admitted by a very personable technician who would be on duty all night.  She showed me to my spartan accommodations for the next few hours; told me to change into my jammies and relax for about 40 minutes.  Glad I brought a good page turner with me – Kathy Reichs’ 206 Bones.  I'm a big fan of her books.

When the tech returned about an hour later, she rolled in a trolley full of electrical leads, and pre-measured dollops of goop.  She’d obviously done this procedure hundreds of times and like an airline steward informing passengers what to do in the event of an emergency, she made it sound very routine, but yet personal at the same time.  I think I was one of 6 participants that evening, although I only briefly saw a couple of other folks upon check-in and my ‘instructor’ was responsible for all of us.  It must have taken a good 15 minutes to apply all the electrodes atop my head, some beside my eyes and along my jaw.  A couple more on each leg just for fun.  Then two Velcro straps across my upper chest and abdomen.  An oxygen tube found its resting spot and was taped into place.  And last but not least, the oxygen/blood pressure monitor doo-dad was clipped onto my finger. Visions of a restful sleep were fast disappearing!

By now it’s about 10:00 p.m. and as I was instructed no nap during the day, I was pretty tired and longed to lie down and see about sleeping with all the paraphernalia attached.  Yes I could lie down now, but I was NOT to go to sleep just yet.   I was told once everyone was hooked up, there would be some testing via the camera and intercom to ensure we were all recording as expected.   That was a very long few minutes and I had to fight not to nod off.

Finally her voice!  Blink your eyes, move your legs this way and that, try to snore, etc.  When she was satisfied all her class were behaving, she finished up by saying – “You can now go to sleep and may sleep in any position you like (right!), but not on your head or at the other end of the bed.  Good night”

Wasn’t the most restful of sleeps and I had to make a washroom trip only once.  Very hard time falling back to sleep after that, but when the door opened and the lights flew on at 6:00 a.m. I was sound asleep.   Time to change my clothes and was very grateful to have heeded advice about bringing a ball cap!  My hair had gobs of what felt like toothpaste in several spots and stood up like demented porcupine quills.

So now I await results and will see if I’m in need of a CPAP machine – if it means an end to dreadful snoring and exhaustive fatigue, bring it on!

And now the gift wrapping is done and in a couple of hours I’ll gather with family for our early Christmas gathering. Wonder if anyone seriously didn’t do Christmas shopping thinking the Mayan’s had it right?

My thoughts turn to the families in Connecticut whose Christmas is now forever changed.  There are no words to describe the sadness that one feels during these horrible events, but with so many little ones lost it’s beyond understanding – my thoughts and prayers continue to be with that community.  Please hug your own little ones more closely this Christmas and enjoy your family and friends – no one knows what tomorrow will bring - truly life is precious and vulnerable at the same time.

Wishing everyone a very Merry and Blessed Christmas – and don’t forget – books make great gifts!

Cheers

Liz

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Flurries


A gloomy overcast Sunday afternoon finds a scattering of flurries softly making their way earthward.  Temperatures have begun to take up permanent residence in the zero neighbourhood and Christmas lights are becoming more prevalent.  Yes, I think winter is approaching.  Can it only be another month until Christmas?   The answer brings harbingers of panic….decorating to do, gift lists to compile and cards to write.  My to-do list grows in direct proportion to the time remaining.

September and October have flown by.  No doubt my three-times a week visits to a chiropractor at the end of the work day and trying to maintain a walking schedule the other two week nights have something to do with that.

Pam and I have also decided to enter the CWC Debut DaggerCompetition with Body Perfect and have been polishing and working on the dreaded synopsis, so this weekend there's been a flurry of activity to work on that.  We have until Feb 2 2013 to submit our entry, but certainly would like to have it sent across the pond long before that date.

Keeping Jamie Tremain to our self-imposed December 1 deadline seems to have worked, because I think we're ready to start with query letters and/or submissions.  Lots of lessons have been learned this past year, but by no means do we feel we know it all.  I doubt anyone ever does.  Writing seems to be a never ending progression of skill and experience – and we never underestimate the wealth of advice so easily found on-line or in our circle of acquaintances.

The next few weeks brings a flurry of seasonal gatherings and other events (I have my sleep clinic date set for December 17) so my written list of upcoming dates to remember sitting on the desk before me will be invaluable to keep me on track.  But when I stop and think that the reason I'm involved in so many events means I'm very blessed to have a loving family and strong circle of friends – how can I really complain?  For that is where true wealth lies, not in possessions or a pay cheque.

As the flurries – whether snow or activities -  continue I wish you a happy and productive week.

Cheers!
Liz

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ramblings


I have shut the blinds in my office as I am spending too much time watching those bushy tailed rodents called squirrels fly through the air in death defying leaps and try to figure out the names of some finches that have been eating berries from my cherry tree. At least I think it’s a cherry tree. Are they even finches?  What I should be engaged in is writing my synopsis or query letters. My middle name is ‘procrastination’ and so far this morning I managed  some housework, ( a very rare occurrence)  booked an eye appointment and yearly physical, checked FB and email and now I have another pot of coffee to keep me company while I get to the task at hand. Writing the blog is another method of avoidance but at least I'm writing.

I received an email last week from a lovely lady I had met at the Bloody Words conference in June and then again at a book launch. She invited me to lunch and a chinwag with a few of her writing pals. I think she mentioned wine... We met on Tuesday at Moxi’s. What a fun lunch. It was just what I needed to get my juices flowing again. The discussion ranged from honey and apple farming to different sites to help in the publishing of our books. Social media..do we need a presence on it?  Rob is the only one on FB but they all use Twitter. Perhaps if I used it more often I would get the hang of synopsis writing. We drove the servers crazy as the group likes to chat for a long time and then eat. We were there for four hours and I learned so much. Thanks guys.

Denise Willson hails from Kilbride and writes paranormal romances. Her query letter went off this week in search of a publisher. Good luck with that Denise. Rita Bailey, a Hamilton writer has a work in progress. Her genre is Historical for young adults. Lots of research tips there. Tanis Mallow (Caledon) and Rob Brunet (Toronto) both write crime fiction that may be darker than mine as they offered to teach me a few swear words!! I told them I could manage that quite well. Liz Lindsay (Guelph) the other half of Jamie Tremain would have liked to have been there but has a problem leaving the office. Maybe a Saturday get together!!

Missing in action was D.J. (Dorothy) McIntosh author of the Babylon trilogy. http://babylontrilogy.com/author.php  Her first book ‘The Witches of Babylon’ has now launched in the States and she was on tour. I look forward to meeting up with her when she’s back. I do have her book and it’s in my pile ‘to be read’. I’ll move it to the top.

I look forward to another meeting and the ‘literary ramblings’ of this fun bunch. If I misquoted anyone I apologize. It was very noisy for a while and I had a problem hearing. Liz usually interprets for me.

The sun’s still shining and the colors filtering through the ravine are glorious. A few trees still have leaves especially a large weeping willow that graces the pond. When we moved here twenty three years ago my son Erik worked with the builder at a summer job. One of his jobs was to plant this tree. I have great affection for this tree as it now stands at least 50-60 ft. Erik has come full circle as he now works as an arborist with the City of Toronto.I think I’ll take a walk and visit the tree before I start the synopsis. No procrastination here. I just need to clear my head.

Stay tuned for an update as the deadline (self imposed) for sending out Body Perfect is only two weeks away.
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam


Friday, November 9, 2012

Remembrances


Recently Pam let me know of a site she’d just heard about called Storylane, “People Sharing Things That Matter”.  So I had a look, liked what I saw and have decided to give it a try.  I copied a handful of this blog’s posts there, but have also added three short articles of my own.   The most recent was on Wednesday and deals with my feelings on Remembrance Day.    Having received a great deal of encouraging feedback, I decided to re-post it here with some additional comments at the end.
   
November 11 – Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day – whatever you call it, for me it holds deep and very emotional feelings.  My father served as an artillery gunner in WWII, posted overseas from his birthplace of St. Catharines, Ontario to England and then into Italy and Northern Africa.  Each year as I see the rolls of proud service people grow ever smaller I find I cannot control the tears.  Tears for a time in history that was unique, tears for sacrifices made and lives lost and perhaps in a way, tears for a time of innocence, ironically, lost forever.  I was born a decade after the war ended, but its stories as retold by my parents have made it a vivid and entrenched part of who I am.

Fiercely Canadian and proud of it, my father enlisted within days of war being declared that September of 1939. Did he have any idea of what he was facing – that the struggle would last almost 6 years?  In hindsight the stories he told, within children’s inquisitive hearing, were mainly of humourous events and the camaraderie enjoyed.  No doubt, that only scratched the surface of what his memories held. The demons were there and mostly held at bay over the years.   But I remember my paternal grandmother saying that her “boys” (three in all) were never the same after they came home from war. Two served in World War II and the youngest in Korea.

Probably the most relevant and endearing story of that time is how he and my mother met.  Katie was a very independent and single, bank teller living in London with her widowed mother.  When the call came to offer billets and friendships for newly arrived Canadian soldiers the two women readily agreed to do their part for the war effort.  The fact they would have trained and brave Canadian soldiers in the home surely had nothing to do with their offer of accommodation.

The afternoon arrived for their first meeting and my mother and grandmother prepared to welcome my father, Ralph, and his soldier friend into their home where all was set for afternoon tea.  No sooner had introductions been made than the all too familiar whistle of a falling bomb was heard.  Taking it in stride the women were relatively nonchalant and prepared for the ensuing explosion.  When the dust settled the brave Canadian soldiers had disappeared, only to sheepishly emerge a few moments later from underneath the dining room table.   Brave soldiers indeed!   Fortunately Katie and Ralph got past that awkward moment to begin a relationship that led to marriage after the war and life for my mother here in Canada. But that’s a story for another day.

Both have passed on now and some days, especially at this time of year, it would be wonderful to hear their voices again and listen even more attentively to their stories and the unspoken words between the lines of those days.

I wear the red poppy with pride, and even if I lose a dozen of them over the next few days, I’ll never begrudge dropping coins into the box held by a veteran or other representative of the Royal Canadian Legion – its but a very small homage to my parents and others of their generation for putting their lives on hold so that my generation could have a life of relative peace.  Likewise I offer my full support and thanks to our service people of today and agree with the bumper sticker – “If you don’t want to stand behind our forces, feel free to stand in front of them.”

To all of you I say Thank You and God Bless.

Then I provided the link to a small circle of family and friends, and of course posted it on Facebook.   Last night when I logged on to my email, there was the most amazing message in reply from my oldest son with his own comments and feelings and to be truthful it made me cry.  Tears of a very proud mother that her son “gets it”….. and his regret at not hearing the stories from his grandparents.  My parents would be so incredibly proud of him.

Others on Facebook today are posting their thoughts on this solemn day of remembering.  One status update reads:  I caught part of comments on a radio station yesterday which disturbed/infuriated me. They were relaying sentiments of a pocket of individuals who wish to sanitize Remembrance Day and not focus on war or the sacrifice that was made by men and women during both World Wars in either serving or the ultimate giving of their lives. 

Wake up people!! The sense of freedom we enjoy today is a direct result of the countless people who laid down their lives in those wars and that price continues to be paid even today!!

I will be remembering those who served/died in the wars and want to thank the men and women in our armed forces who are serving today. As the saying goes, if you don't support our troops ... feel free to stand in front of them!!!

So while my post here today has nothing directly to do with Jamie Tremain, or writing and reading – indirectly it does.  Because perhaps without the sacrifices made in the past and ongoing today, we might not have the freedom to blog, post, or surf the world with such liberty.  And history teaches that if we don’t remember the past we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes – what we have is precious and fragile.  Thank a vet, wear a poppy, remember -  and beware the dangers of apathy.

Thank you, Dad, Uncle John and Uncle Bruce and all your comrades - past and present.

Liz




Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nothing like an old friend.


I am at the end of a three week break from writing, revising, email, twitter, linkedin,  and of course FB. Oh how easily we get attached to this form of communication. I occasionally checked email and FB and deleted most as I wanted to spend the time with my friend of......let’s see.... Glynis and I met in 1962-63(you do the math) at our first jobs as telephonists or switchboard operators for the GPO. At sixteen we were civil servants working the old plug type switchboards in a room with another hundred operators. I loved the job and would be a telephonist for the next 20 years. But most of all I loved the fact that Glynis was staying in a bed-sit with another girl and she was away from home. She was from the Border country in Scotland and it was quite usual for girls to go to the big city to get work.

I begged my parents to let me try living on my own but at sixteen they would not even consider it. Glynis and I became fast friends and I visited her home in the Borders and she visited my family in the tenements. We were both with boyfriends who would become our husbands. Joined at the hip, Glynis and I became engaged the same year and married the following year and I was her bridesmaid. That’s when I broke up the dynamic duo. My husband and I immigrated to Canada and Glynis and her husband settled in the Border country. We corresponded for years, ( yes, we even wrote letters) and had our first children five years later in the same month. Glynis had a girl and I had a boy.  When the children were little we visited back and forth and they stayed with us about four times over the years. As often happens life gets busy and complicated so the Christmas cards were few and far between but we always knew we would be there for each other.

Last year was one of those times. Glynis called to say Alistair, her husband was very ill. We talked constantly on the phone and finally she took him home to die. When he passed away this January we didn't hesitate to ask her to come and be with us for as long as she wanted.  She made it and spent Thanksgiving with us. Glynis is very close to her two daughters and their families but I hope she enjoyed the time with her old friends who have known her forever and could share stories about Alistair.

We introduced her to our friends here and went to a fall fair and we also visited old friends she had met on previous trips. A drive in the beautiful fall colours to Kincardine to friends for a few nights, visits to Goderich on Lake Huron and then Stratford with stops along the way. We had long talks into the night with a few gin and tonics to loosen the tongue as we caught up with the intervening years. We laughed, we cried and it was as if we had never been apart.

Glynis has gone home now and I gave myself another week to enjoy the fall colours and plan. Liz and I are on the last leg revising Body Perfect. You may have read that here before but I am always tinkering with it; but enough is enough. It will be ready by Dec 1st.

I have read some great Canadian crime writing this summer. One of my favourites is Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay. I entered a contest on Linwood’s facebook page with Orion Publishing and I won a signed copy of his book.  Lucky me.If you like thrillers this is the one.

Next on my list to read: Peter Robinsons- Watching the Dark: A DCI Banks Mystery and Giles Blunt- Until the Night. Those should keep me going for about a week.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sweaters and Scarves and the Furnace Oh My!


Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada and the weather truly feels like Autumn.  This past week I've enjoyed my westerly drive along the 401 because the colours of the trees on both sides of the highway just past Milton have been truly magnificent. So vibrant this year, with the late afternoon sun bathing the hills in the glorious Canadian sunshine of Fall that will too soon give way to gloomy and wintry drives home.   Widespread heavy frost is in the forecast for tonight and the skies today have been heavy with dark clouds that gave way to a small downpour.  Tis the weekend for turkey, ham and pumpkin pie and gathering of friends and family.  Thankful?  Yes indeed, to live in this beautiful country and enjoy freedoms and bounty denied to many around the world. 

Heavier sweaters and scarves have begun to be part of the wardrobe this week as well, and the furnace has been called to duty a time or two this weekend.  One of the reasons I love this country is to have distinct changes to the seasons.   This afternoon it was a treat to snuggle under a comforter and finish reading R.J. Harlick’s “A Green Place for Dying”. Set in the wilderness of Western Quebec it’s a very good tale that the author uses to highlight the all too real serious and sad problem of missing aboriginal women. Woven into the mystery are well written descriptions and insights into native traditions.  A really good read that I’d highly recommend.

Next on my list to read is Vicki Delany’s latest “More ThanSorrow”. (see Pam’s last post below)  I'm especially eager to read this as it centres around United Empire Loyalist refugees from the American Revolution of 1784 – stock from whom I'm descended on my father’s side of the family.

At work I always keep a book in my desk drawer for those times when I lunch by myself.  Well this time I made a mistake in my choice of reading material.  "Damaged", by Pamela Callow was definitely the wrong story to bring to work because I didn't want to put it down! It’s an engrossing thriller and may be the only thing that makes me want to get back to work on Tuesday!   In fact I have the other Pam to blame for not being able to finish it this past Friday as planned.  She decided to pop in and meet me for lunch that day and introduce me to her friend Glynis who is visiting from Scotland.

And as for Jamie Tremain – we're still doing some minor revising and tweaking on the latest draft – our goal is to be finished by December 1.  We decided on a deadline date if for no other reason than we will never be done tinkering if we don’t stop!   The ongoing challenge for me is always time, although Pam will bemoan the fact that she seems even busier now in her days of retirement than when she was working.  My own after-work schedule is busy for the next few weeks; I've been seeing a chiropractor three nights a week and I'm also trying to be faithful to Tuesday and Thursday nights walking the indoor track at our local ‘Y’.   Soon the chiropractor visits will reduce though and that will free up my hours after work to devote to Jamie Tremain business.

As I glance out my window at the grey skies it feels like a very good time to make a cup of tea – so I’ll leave you with best wishes for a Happy Canadian Thanksgiving.  Enjoy!

Cheers!
Liz

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Moonshine Cafe


Sunday afternoon at the Moonshine Cafe, Kerr Village in Oakville was the venue for the launch of Vicki Delany’s new mystery More Than Sorrow. Vicki read from her book, a modern Gothic suspense while the audience ate pizza and samosas and quaffed G & T’s or your libation of choice. Books were for sale along with a cheery note from the author. A good time was had by all.

Vicki telling us not to have too many G & T's.













Vicki reading from More than Sorrow.

Vicki and Pam

Michelle Patterson, Pam Blance, Liz Lindsay and 
Susan Agnew

Yes, There was a fire sale on glasses with dark frames!! Only Susan is young enough to go without.








The lovely Linda Simmons

And last but not least is Jamie Tremain
AKA as Pam Blance and Liz Lindsay


Its been another glorious w/e although cooler. This is much to my liking. The trees are slowly turning a lovely golden colour and should be in full autumn glory by the time my friend arrives from Scotland on Oct 2nd for a visit.  I will endevour to keep to my writing schedule as we have a deadline of the first week in December for THE BOOK to got to market. Enjoy this beautiful time of year and if you need a good book pick up Vicki Delany's More than Sorrow. I know what I will be reading tonight.

Talk soon,
Slainte
Pam

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cruising the Grand


What a beautiful day to spend a few hours slowly cruising up and down a small section of the Grand River near Caledonia Ontario.   We arrived just before 11:00 a.m. and enjoyed a coffee and muffin, then viewed a video presentation of the history of the Grand River in Southwestern Ontario - from its humble beginnings in the highlands of Dufferin County to its entrance into Lake Erie, almost 300 kilometres from start to finish.    Then we were treated to a live performance from The Blazing Fiddles – an energetic and enthusiastic group, playing violins, cello and piano.  My favourite was a medley from The Sound of Music and when Edelweiss was being played it wasn’t long before a gentle undercurrent of voices from the two hundred or so folks in the room softly joined the strings’ refrain.   Fortunately the group have just released a new CD, which was later played in the car on the way home.   Take a moment to view their website and if you’re a fan of violins I'm sure you’ll enjoy their music.

Then it was time to board our vessel – The Grand River Princess. One of a fleet of three boats owned and operated by Grand River Dinner Cruises. The theme song from Gilligan’s Island greeted us.   If I remember correctly the boat was approximately sixty feet in length and about twenty two across.  We were served a full roast beef dinner and could either sit inside or enjoy the view from outside on the promenade deck.  If you’re looking for something a little different and live in or visit this part of Ontario it’s worth the drive.  And I look forward to a return trip next year.

The only downer to the day was discovering my camera was not working and most of the photos are useless.  I’d really wanted one or two to post with this blog.  Although the trees haven't yet started showing their fall colours, there were herons and even a pair of egrets to capture digitally.  Beautiful willows and other trees hanging at the river’s edge, their roots like elongated toes dipping so daintily into the water.  Mostly blue skies with a scattering of small clouds meant enjoying the warmth of the sun when sitting on the deck.  Our captain/tour guide provided commentary when needed, but mostly it was very peaceful as we drifted slowly along the river.  Now that the height of summer has passed, water traffic has diminished, but no doubt a few weeks ago it was a much noisier place.   One or two solitary fishermen dotted the shoreline at times and a Labrador retriever was enjoying a swim as his master waited on shore.

All in all a lovely start to a week’s vacation and I’ll not complain that the higher temperatures have moved on – love the cooler nights and being able to snuggle under covers while enjoying the fresh air.

On a side note, I’m finally enjoying the third instalment in the Millenium series – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  And as it’s a read I’m finding hard to put down, that’s where I’m headed now. 

Cheers!
Liz

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Labour Day Weekend


Or as we usually think of it...the end of summer!

Never mind January 1, I still find myself in a New Year frame of mind when Labour Day rolls around again. Who knew those few years spent in the school system would leave such a lasting impression? So its more than appropriate that I find myself ready, and even somewhat anxious, to get back in the writing mode again.   As Pam mentioned we took a short breather - at my request.  So feeling refreshed, and with a new sense of purpose I feel more in the write frame of mind than a few weeks ago.

Yesterday found me strolling around the Paris (Ontario) Fairgrounds.  Love watching the horses – such beautiful noble creatures.  Wandered around a display of poultry for a while.  Wow, I never realized the diversity and size of chickens which abound.  I have to admit not being able to distinguish a Bantam from a Leghorn, but certainly admired the display of size and feather colourings.  The clucking and crowing was non-stop – and then the fowl started up as well.  Ducks and geese were also on view.  And that other mainstay of agricultural fairs – the crafts and homemade foods and preserves, along with an assortment of unique vegetables rounded out the displays.  The Fair looked to be well attended, no doubt the beautiful sunny day helped.

My sister and her husband have made the move from downtown Toronto to Oakville which makes me happy and more inclined to go for visits.  I’ll drive any highway, but downtown Toronto makes me shudder!  Their new location is an easy stop on the way home from work and not far from where Pam lives.  Pam and I are planning to take her with us to Vicki Delany’s book launch – More Than Sorrow -  later this month in Oakville as well.

This weekend also means the good news learned of an old friend moving into the neighbourhood.  I was delighted to learn (through Facebook – where else?) that a former co-worker and friend whom I’d lost touch with several years ago is moving into the complex where I live.  Welcome to the neighbourhood, Lori!   I'm looking forward to hooking up with her and catch up on what’s been happening with our lives over the past years.  We used to attend a reading group together as well and share a love of reading.

Earlier this month I consulted with my doctor over concerns that I’ve had with my sleeping, or lack of.  Tired of being tired, and based on comments from those who’ve heard – or been subjected to - my sleeping, I decided it was time to see if I’ve got a sleep disorder.  So an evening with the sleep clinic has been arranged and I’ll give your more details on that after it’s done.  Pam, there’s hope yet that I may regain energy to pick up the pace on writing J

So that’s what’s been happening with this half of Jamie Tremain.  Did some revising earlier today and sent to Pam for review – I’ve made a commitment to Pam (and myself) for a minimum time spent on writing throughout the week.  But for now, it’s time to enjoy the remainder of this Labour Day weekend.

Cheers!
Liz

Monday, August 20, 2012

The other woman!


There are three of us in this marriage. Yes, another woman travelled with us all the way back from the Kawartha region of Ontario where my son’s family have a trailer. We had spent a lovely w/e with them. I don’t even know the woman’s name but she spoke in a plumy English accent and I was ready choke her if she didn’t shut up. No respect for me at all. Just as I was nodding off to sleep for the three hour journey home she would tell us where to go. I was ready to tell her where to go as well but I knew she wasn’t listening.

Of course I am talking about our TOM-TOM GPS system. I have had it for a few years as my sons were concerned with the fact that I tend to get lost quite a bit. As I am the navigator when we go on trips we usually end up not speaking and late as I can’t tell north from south etc.

Our eleven year old car with the 308,000 kms and no electrics, so rusty it was embarrassing to be seen in it; finally gave up the ghost last week. It was still running but even with my hearing loss  I could hear some suspicious noises.

We settled on a new to us Hyundai Santa Fe with lots of bells and whistles. Leather heated seats, no rust, sunroof and rack and only 75,000kms. It’s our first SUV and I feel like king of the castle driving it. Did I tell you it has a compass!! My husband was not happy when I installed the GPS for the trip home. Being of the male species he does not need any woman to tell him how to get from A to B.

After an hour of MS. Plumy voice telling us which hwy to take and when we would arrive at such and such and I was ready to commit hara-kiri, the Mr says.... “She really knows where she’s going doesn’t she!"

So while I plotted how to get rid of her by not boosting her battery next time or maybe getting confused by adding the wrong address, he sang her praises all the way home. I want a divorce before they put me away for murder!

I hope you're all having a good summer. Liz and I are having a short sabbatical and will get back to the writing after Labour Day. Feeling a tad burned out with demands at work and her commute, Liz needed a break. I wanted to soldier on by myself but find that working in tandem is what we do best. Come September we can get back to the final revision of Body Perfect with new eyes. The new book will get started in 2013.

I have ordered my fall reading from Chapters. One by Vicky Delaney called More than Sorrow. The other is Louise Penny's latest The Beautiful Mystery and if you like suspense you can't go wrong with Linwood Barclay. I believe it is out already  in Britain. It's called Trust your Eyes. I recommend all these authors and I'm sure they won't disappoint this time.

Enjoy the waning days of this hot dry summer and I’ll speak to you in September.
Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Different Perspectives!


I try to keep away from the weather pronouncements but it’s inevitable. While other parts of the world are sick to death of the rain we are parched as are many parts of the US. The rain came in the night and the lightening was spectacular. It has not cooled down any but as I look out the window I can see a bird hauling out a worm... well it looks like a worm and the rain has started again and is filling up the puddles in the driveway.

Enough about the weather as we can’t do much about it or all the other things that have been filling the news lately. Too many distractions to write, with, the Euro cup, Wimbledon and now the Olympics from London. We are not particularly athletic in our house but enjoy watching others. I especially like the track and field, swimming and other events. GO CANADA! As Britain is five hours behind I will not be getting up at 4am to watch the tube. I’ll catch up later in the day.

So what does all this television browsing do for my writing? I could say I am doing research into characterization! Or I am working on my dialogue. This is all quite true as every experience we have, cerebral or otherwise is fodder for the book. I quiz my husband about a recent stay in hospital for minor surgery; about his roommates and the experience itself. A visit to a long term care facility to visit my old friend of ninety six gives me another perspective of how many people live. (She misses her glass or two of sherry every afternoon.)

From the middle aged to the elderly and back to the young in the shape of my five grandsons. The ages run from three to sixteen. What can I learn from them?  When I spoke to the youngest last night he only wanted to tell me he had a lollipop and his mouth and teeth were now blue! His Mum can deal with that one! His brother who is ten is having the time of his life at the trailer with his Dad and as boys are want to do he is gone all day swimming , biking, skateboarding, more swimming and arriving back home for food when he’s hungry. He has his priorities straight with no thought of anything except “summer fun”.

The six year old is all about YMCA and summer camps and ‘what will I be getting for my birthday next week’.  He has boundless energy that he uses for soccer and swimming. I’ll see him this w/e. I wonder if he’ll sit long enough to read a book.

The oldest two... well they are thirteen and sixteen. Teenagers!! Cousins and best friends they are like chalk and cheese. One is studious, one not. One is athletic, the other.. walks. Both spend a copious amount of hours playing computer games. They’re planning a trip with their father and uncle to Scotland next month. I am so envious but I look forward to hear their perceptions of my home town through their eyes. So, they’re  all right on track.

In between revising and working on query letters I managed to read two books.  Written by..can do no wrong... http://www.harlancoben.com/   I picked up this book in a used book store for .50cents. Someone was enjoying it in the bath as it was bent out of shape. But, a book is a book and this Myron Bolitar book is called LIVE WIRE. Love that character and Harlan never disappoints with the suspense and new revelations.
The other is the third and last Charlie McKelvey mystery by C.B.Forrest  http://www.cbforrest.com/  called “The Devil’s Dust”. A former journalist he is making his mark as a crime/mystery author. I bought this book at the launch last month and maybe should have waited to read the others in the series but the story was very well rounded and full of tension-It stood on its own. I look forward to others from this super Canadian author.

First year of retirement will be under my belt next week.  I’m still not sure how I ever went to work every day and still got everything done.

Liz and I will get Body Perfect up and running soon as I have to read the articles in this month's Readers Digest...Seven strategies for more productive writing..  Revision Made Easy! Your step-by-step guide, and How to get(& keep) an agents attention.   That should do it!

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sultry Summer Days


Perfect for reading, or writing of course.  Energy expended in other pursuits, gardening, housework and the like are far too tiresome when the humidex reads in the 40’s!  A shade tree, comfortable chair and a glass full of something cold are worthy companions for an afternoon spent lost in a book. Oh. Wait.  I forgot - I have to go to the office and work instead.

Last week I finished Gayle Lynd’s “The Book  of Spies”…wow..what a ride!   So many ways to kill a person – and at the heart of the story, a fantastic legendary library dating from antiquity.  So appropriate.   This tale would make a fantastic movie thriller and I hope to see more of Eva Blake and Judd Ryder.  Have to agree with the London Observer who says “she’s a kick-ass thriller writer”.   I closed the back cover on that book and then opened Deryn Collier’s  “ConfinedSpace” after a glowing recommendation from Pam.  It would appear the story will live up to her enthusiastic review.  

Pam and I continue to tinker with Body Perfect;  re-writing scenes and pumping up dialogue and description.  We feel we only need to tweak the first 3 or 4 chapters (I hope!) and then will be able to mesh everything with the remainder of what’s already written.  Pam, in her spare time, compiles lists of agents and publishers.  And I try to  keep pace with her revisions and suggestions.  The challenge is to not have this become drudgery – after sitting at an office desk for eight hours, I don’t want to feel I’m coming home to put in more hours of work.  We’ve looked at Body Perfect so much, it’s hard to keep it fresh.  But we will soldier on.

I recently joined “The Hungry Bookworms” page on Facebook.  Great place to share book suggestions and hear recommendations from other readers and writers. Lots of enthusiasm and friendly discussions. If you’re looking for a place to get ideas on what to read, check it out!

And now its time to have a bite to eat.  One side benefit when the weather is this warm, not too many heavy meals are on the menu – and I’m very grateful for air conditioning.

Stay cool – beat the heat with a good book.

Cheers!

Liz


Thursday, June 21, 2012

What’s a girl to do?



I left my air conditioned house and ran to my air conditioned car. It’s 34 degrees and the humidity makes it feel like 40+. I am not a happy camper in the heat but the garden centre has a 50% off sale on bedding plants and baskets. I still need a few flowers to complete my tiny patio and garden. So, what’s a girl to do? Did I tell you 50% off! I grabbed my reusable bags for groceries and if I remember them in the car it’ll be a miracle.

So the plan was... select a few plants for a song and hit the grocery store where I might stay for the rest of the day as its usually cold enough to hang meat.

1 hanging basket; 1 clematis to plant under my Corkscrew Hazel tree that has died, and a large container of Basil. The plants and I were wilting after twenty minutes in the sun so the garden centre watered them before I stashed them in the trunk. To cool off I walked the 50 yards to the mall where I knew I could cool down and have a drink.

Sufficiently refreshed I started to wander when I noticed signs that said...Sale 50%off. So, what’s a girl to do? One can always find something at 50% off!
So I wandered some more and tried on a few things but everything I liked was not on sale. When I had satisfied my retail appetite I had some lunch in the food court and then made my way home.

My husband helped me unload the car of plants and then asked....Where are the groceries?

Well, what’s a girl to do? I mumbled something about.. it would be better to do one thing at a time in this heat. It’s now after six pm. The groceries have been put away and as I write this in my office I watch out the window as the trees begin to bend. Yes, yes, a storm is on the way. Liz has just reported thunder in Guelph so we won’t be far behind. I’m not cooking dinner in this heat, so, what’s a girl to do?

As I post this the rain is lashing the windows and I feel like taking a walk outside just to feel cool.Perhaps a walk to the fish and chip shop is in order?

Talk soon,

Slainte,

Pam

Thursday, June 14, 2012

We're off to see the World!



We didn’t get any further than Toronto. It was June 16th, 1966 and 12 days married. We were full of the first throes of marital bliss. After spending our honeymoon in Burntisland, an 11km train ride from Edinburgh; we said our goodbyes to friends and family and shipped our worldly belonging to arrive by ship after the boat strike. Hugely disappointed we would not be sailing, Peter had to drag me across the tarmac for my first plane ride.

As I recall it was a Boeing 707 with a Rolls Royce engine. Not that I paid much attention as I cried for the first two hours but perked up when the ‘stewardess’ offered me a Manhattan. Not knowing what it was but liking the exotic name, I managed to quaff a couple before I fell asleep much to the relief of my new husband. We arrived in Montreal tired and excited to brilliant sunshine. Before long we were on the train travelling west to Toronto and our new life as husband and wife.

Culture shock hit us like a blast of heat. Just like the temperature at Union Station. It was in the mid twenties and humid. We felt it even more as we were both wearing wool suits! One did not Google the temp. or traffic problems in the dark ages. My cousin and his wife, suitably dressed for the weather, were there to meet us in a large white ’57 Chevy with red terry cloth covering the seats. No air.

We oohed and aahed over this and marvelled at the overpasses and the wide lanes of traffic. It was all so different. We made our way through the city and arrived at the Golden Mile and soon arrived at my cousin’s apartment in Scarborough. They had been in Canada for ten years so we chuckled at them when they mixed Canadian slang with a Scottish accent. We stayed with them and their children for a few weeks until we managed to rent our own place.

June 1966 : Lynden Johnson was president of the USA and Lester B Pearson was prime Minister of Canada.  So many changes but how prophetic is this song written and recorded by the Beatles the week I arrived in Canada. Here are some of the lyrics. It’s just taken me forty six years to get here!!

Paper back writer (paperback writer)
Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book?
It took me years to write, will you take a look?
It's based on a novel by a man named Lear
And I need a job, so I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

It's a thousand pages, give or take a few,
I'll be writing more in a week or two.
I can make it longer if you like the style,
I can change it round and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

If you really like it you can have the rights,
It could make a million for you overnight.
If you must return it, you can send it here
But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer.

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Liz and I met yesterday and found it to be rather frustrating. A few changes have to be made but it has put us out of sinc with how we normally work. However we’ll persevere and will have the manuscript ready in a few weeks to be sent out to publishers.

````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````

Don't forget that the book launch of the year happens tonight in Toronto.  VickiDelany and CB Forrest are launching their latest books, Gold Mountain and The Devil's Dust at Dominion on Queen, 500 Queen St, East, Toronto. As an added treat their editor, Allister Thompson will be providing some fabulous music.  Hope to see you all there.

Slainte,
Pam


Saturday, June 9, 2012

One Week Past Bloody Words


Hard to believe just a week ago Pam and I were at Bloody Words. I’ve been enjoying all the Facebook chatter this week from attendees – all in all it seems as if everyone had a terrific time.

 We’ve managed one quick get together since then and are getting ready to have another look at the opening of Body Perfect, as well as watching for some other pointers throughout the story to continue the polishing and perfecting progress.  

Pam has read a couple of well-written and timely blogs this past week.  She forwarded them to me and I agreed that they needed a mention. The links for these blogs will go up, but the specific posts are what caught our interest:

Of Bodies and Beginnings by Barbara Fradkin is very apropos for Jamie Tremain and offers encouragement for us, and others writers.

Tuesday Brings Trouble highlights the use of marketing via the electronic tools we have available today.

So its back to the drawing board in a way, but thanks to Bloody Words and the information gleaned there, in addition to making some new connections, we are energized and anxious to get on with it.  My personal challenge is balancing writing (which I love) against work (which is a necessity, but I also enjoy).  Anyone know where I can get a clone?

A muggy damp weekend is in the forecast – perfect for writing don’t you think?

Cheers!

Liz

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Lesson Learned..

****** Correction******

Lesson learned. Always double check your work. I had the link to Vicki Delany's site wrong. Please use the following. http://www.vickidelany.com/ My apologies.

I have a few pictures from Bloody Words.
Liz AKA Jamie Tremain
Pam AKA Jamie Tremain









Lorie Lee Steiner and Vicki  Fife
Laughing Buddha

No, the Buddha was not at Bloody Words but was a present from my husband on our 46th wedding anniversary yesterday. He is so happy. Buddha that is, not so sure about my husband!

http://www.thestar.com/news/books/article/1203079--confined-space-phantom-cliff-walk-gone-girl-mini-reviews

Terrific review for Deryn Collier for her new book   Confined Space in the Toronto Star. Check it out.

Liz and I are going to try a few new things with our blog so watch this space. We love to get comments good or bad and if you have not added yourself to our friends and followers list please join us.

Talk soon,

Slainte,

Pam



Monday, June 4, 2012

The Day After


I second all that Liz has to say on her last post. Bloody Words /2012 was awesome. Putting a face to a name from either FB or a book you had read was neat. The panel discussions were great and one of my favourite sessions was the three hour’s we spent with Cheryl Freedman on self –editing. www.crimewriterscanada.com/bios/members-lists. The subject matter was just what we need to get our book ready to roll. It helped that I could hear what was being said. I use a personal microphone and receiver that doesn’t always cooperate. Sitting through three hours at the banquet was difficult but I just laughed when everyone else did and smiled a lot. I could hear Linwood Barclay’s jokes and stories but I missed most of the punch lines from Rick Bletcha who was a super MC.

I was going to add some pictures here today but for some reason I can’t get them attached from camera to computer. I only took a few at the conference, so another time. I intended to add a picture I took this morning of a white resin Buddha. He is about 5 inches high and laughing his head off. He has plentiful breasts and a large stomach. How he manages to cross his legs in the lotus position is beyond me. My husband Peter gave me this .....token this  morning to commemorate our forty sixth wedding anniversary. Yes, forty six years of wedded bliss! Never a cross word or argument. And if you believe that....
So what is the significance of this object d’art you might ask? Was he thinking of me as he gazed upon this Buddha with his ample physique? Or was it the laughing smiley face? I think I’ll assume that he liked it and thought it would give me pleasure. Phew... Another crisis aborted.

We did meet another couple of women at the conference that collaborate as we do. Mary Anne Wollison and Michelle Cooke. They’ve just finished their first book together and we wish them well with it. It was probably the most asked question for us at the conference. “How do you write together?” The writing is still the lonely act it always is but we do get together face to face to iron out any ideas or problems with the plot line. Once we have decided on a general story the characters emerge. We are nearly always in agreement with the characters. Some characters Liz owns and some are mine but we can both write using them. It’s just that; a collaboration (The action of working with someone to produce or create something) We also trust and respect each other. That helps.

Look for these authors new books.

C.B Forrest - The Devil’s Dust- www.cbforrest.com  Dundurn

Mary Jane Maffini – The Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder- www.maryjanemaffini.com -  Berkley Prime Crime

Erika Chase-A Killer Read- www.erikachase.com Berkley Prime Crime

Janet Bolin- Threaded for Trouble- www.threadvillemysteries.com   Berkley Prime Crime

Deryn Collier- Confined Space- deryn@deryncollier.com Simon & Schuster

Vicki Delany- Gold Mountain- www.vickeydelany.com  Rendevous Crime

Happy reading,
Slainte,
Pam

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bloody Words 2012


Home again after attending Jamie Tremain’s second Bloody Words conference; the first being in Ottawa in 2009.  And true to form it was another great weekend – a wealth of information and networking packed into three days.  Terrific panellists and guest speakers; Linwood Barclay and Gayle Lynds were in fine form.  Enjoyed listening to Dr. Peter Collins, whose degree in forensic psychiatry has involved him in many areas of law enforcement and criminal behaviour – it was fascinating and the time went by far too quickly.   My LinkedIn and Facebook contact list has now grown after the weekend.

Pam and I arrived in the middle of a torrential rain Friday afternoon – so much rain that Union Station had been evacuated due to flooding. And then a tragic shooting at the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto (just blocks away from our hotel) on Saturday brought home the fact that any of us can be affected by random violence – although this appears to have been a gang related shooting with one death, innocent lives are changed forever when caught in the crossfire.

Our manuscript evaluation was done by Deryn Collier which was extremely helpful and will keep us on track.  She had some great pointers and was very positive and supportive and we are more than grateful for her advice.  Needless to say you know what that means.....Draft 6 will be started before long.

Thanks also to Jim Shephard for some insight and tips discussed this morning – I’ll be adding his  P.E. Eyes to my reading list.  Along with Deryn Collier, Gayle Lynds and the new Linwood Barclay book due out later this year – just to name a few.

I can’t even imagine how much work and planning went into producing another successful conference and my hat’s off to all who were involved. Pam and I will start saving our nickels (pennies are soon to be extinct) in order to attend the next Bloody Words, which is skipping a year and will be again in Toronto in 2014. 

So after a very tiring but satisfying weekend, I now have to switch gears for returning to work tomorrow.

Have a great week and stay tuned for some new ideas coming to this blog in the near future!

Cheers!

Liz