Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Morning After The Bony Blithe

Jamie Tremain made the trek into downtown Toronto to attend the Bloody Words Bony Blithe – Gun Club and Quilting Bee - Gala at the prestigious National Club last night.  Thanks to Pam for doing the driving, but after a whopping parking fee and the stress associated with the drive, we've agreed future adventures into the big city will be done via transit and cabs!

Still it was a most enjoyable evening, good to meet up with some familiar faces, and getting to know other recognizable faces in person.  Facebook allows us to ‘friend’ so many in the writing community before actually meeting so opportunities to make these connections more real is most welcome.  Pam has posted some pictures on Facebook of the evening and I’ve put up a new one of Jamie Tremain taken last night.  See the side bar. Congratulations to Elizabeth J Duncan who took home the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award for her novel “A Small Hill to Die On”.   Congratulations also to the other well deserved finalists -  Janet Bolin, Chris Laing, Karen Dudley, Michelle Rowen and Morley Torgov.

I was quite pleased to be one of several recipients of a door prize, a gift bag stuffed full of books to enjoy over the coming weeks. And of course will be sharing with Pam.  Thanks to all who were part of the organizing of this event – Caro Soles, Cheryl Freedman, Jane Burfield, et al.   Now we look forward to Bloody Words in 2014.

Of course, as often happens after a fun night out, there is a price to be paid. For me its very sore feet – feet that have not been subjected to high heels in many, many moons. Probably wouldn't be such a big deal except that I’ve been making numerous trips up and down stairs today – a brand new fridge supplied by the property management folks just this past September decided it had had enough, and died.  Fortunately an extra fridge in the basement has been pressed into service until a replacement arrives – hopefully early tomorrow.

Tomorrow also marks the end of my vacation time – can someone please tell me why it goes by in warp speed?  I’ve enjoyed catching up on some reading – currently reading “Cheat the Hangman” by Gloria Ferris.  Gloria was last year’s inaugural Bony Blithe winner. A page turning tale, I’m hoping to have it finished before work draws me back into its clutches on Monday  Besides, I have almost a full shelf of “to be read” books awaiting my attention. 

Pam will continue with her interview series later in June by profiling the award winning D.J. McIntosh, who has recently released “The Book of Stolen Tales”, a much anticipated sequel to “The Witch of Babylon”.  Be sure not to miss it!

And now, I must trek once again down two flights of stairs on my tender tootsies to see about supper.

Keep cool – reading is good for that.

Cheers!

Liz




Monday, May 27, 2013

Interview Monday with Mary Jane and Vicki as Victoria Abbott



Please welcome to ‘Jamie Tremain-Remember the Name’ the always funny, author Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter Victoria Maffini as Victoria Abbott www.victoria-abbott.com 

MJ: Thank you, Pam. We are really happy to be here at ‘Jamie Tremain. We will remember the Name’ and we’re looking forward to airing the family secrets.


       PAM: Thank you both for the opportunity to speak with you about your collaboration. I have read “The Christie Curse”, and without giving anything away I found the book to have seamless writing. It’s fast paced with interesting characters. There is an undercurrent of humour in all your writing Mary Jane, sometimes tongue in cheek. Victoria comes by her humour honestly. When you’re writing together, and with the knowledge that some relationships can be fraught with danger, especially mums and daughters; was there more crying than laughing? 

MJ:  There was a certain amount of crying from laughing too hard, but no real weeping. Of course, we kept the tissues close by in case. As we’re sure you know, it is an adjustment to write together, but there was no lasting emotional trauma from the experience. 

Pam: What do you like most about the writing life? Is it the plotting, the first draft, the rewriting and revising, the marketing? Or being your own boss?

Victoria: I hope one day to be promoted to “the boss of me’.

MJ: I really love not getting up early in the morning. Plus I get very excited about the idea for the plot of a new book. The worst part is sweating out the first draft. I love rewriting and revising. Hate (not too strong a word) proofreading. And really, there’s nothing like the thrill of holding the finished book in your hand.

Pam: When starting a new book- Character or plot driven?

Victoria: It’s fifty-fifty for me. What would these characters do in this horrible situation I’m about to drop them into?

MJ: I enjoy a good plot (reading or writing), but my first love is character. The right characters can make any situation interesting – say, a trip to the mailbox, opening the fridge, you name it.

Pam: As this experience was a learning curve for both of you what did you learn most about the other that you will treasure?

Victoria:  She's my Mom, so I would like to think I already treasured quite a lot about her.  I've always loved reading her books, but it's nice to have her guidance while writing my first.
Mary Jane: I learned that Victoria is even funnier than I realized (although I’ve known her for ages) and very quick with ideas even under difficult circumstances. She’s a bit wicked too. Shhh.

Pam:  Many authors use music as a theme throughout their books. Cooking and recipes, and food in general play a big part in yours. Who is the better cook?

MJ, Victoria: MJ really loves to cook. Check out her recipes every second Saturday on www.mysteryloverskitchen.com

Victoria would rather grow the food and eat it. She’s in charge of all greenery in the book collector mysteries.

Pam:  Jamie Tremain is also a collaboration; can you give us some insight into your writing process?

MJ:  So far it’s been whatever works whenever we can fit it in. There’s been a certain amount of drama in the last couple of years and we’ve had to be flexible to get the job done. The main thing is that the book doesn’t belong to either one of us, so it’s key to listen, accommodate and compromise.  What works best is sitting across the table from each other (or on speaker phone) and working through scenes, plot points and character development together. We each have our domains: Victoria does all the research on antiques, vintage wear, locations, and big old houses. MJ reads the biographies of the author we’re focusing on (Christie, Sayers) and rereads their books. Well, maybe not all the Christies!

Although we create many scenes together, Victoria writes the action with Jordan’s friends, Lance, Tiffany, and, of course, Walter the Pug. MJ writes the literary fantasy scenes, the meals, and (for her sins) scenes with Vera Van Alst.
Our process is a work in progress and who knows what we’ll do in book three.

Pam:  Your next book in the series is coming out this December. Does this mean you have started on the third? 

MJ:   Yes! The Sayers Swindle will hit the shelves (and e-readers) in December 2013. We’ve just seen the cover. What do you think? Hint: we love it.

We have started on the third book collector mystery. The Wolfe Widow (an outing for Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin) is scheduled for September 2014.

Thank you both for being our guests today. We wish you well with your new series.

Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the always very funny and creative artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories. Their miniature dachshunds are understandably outraged that a pug and some Siamese cats have wiggled their way into the series.
The first in their new book collector series is The Christie Curse, March 2013 and The Sayers Swindle, the second in the series, is due out in December 2013.


Find Victoria on Facebook www.facebook.com/bookcollectormysteries
Or follow them on twitter @abbottmysteries  They’re dying to tweet you. 

If you've enjoyed this interview please subscribe to the blog by leaving your email address at the top of the page. Stay tuned for next months surprise author interview.

Talk soon,
Slainte,

Pam and Liz

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Bandit strikes again.



Birthdays come around every year like clockwork but still I agonize over a gift to celebrate this momentous occasion for my husband. Birthdays are important. It’s your special day even if you do share it with billions of others in the world. As we have both been around since the year dot and married almost as long there is not much that he needs. (I always need something).

He buys his own clothes, music and books. Art supplies-that’s his department too. He hates technology so...what does that leave me. As he is a collector of anything that takes his fancy I was really stumped, then I had a brainwave. They don’t happen very often. What he needed for his perch on the deck where he spends many hours keeping out of my way is.....A bird feeder.

We went to the usual big box stores, Canadian Tire, Home Depot and a specialty store. Scottish by nature I was not prepared to spend fifty dollars on a bird feeder. Back to the drawing board. A visit to the flea market the next day and the birthday boy had found himself two very nice feeders for a total of thirty dollars.

One he filled with black oil sunflower seeds and the other a gorgeous copper affair has still to be hung.
Yesterday he spent the day watching two American red squirrels have their lunch and dinner. They are quite rare around here as we usually just have the greys and blacks. Nary a sign of a bird. A few robins showed up, and one lonely cardinal but they didn't go near the feeder. Are we supposed to put up a notice? Come and get it.

I was up at six thirty this morning sipping my coffee before I went out for my walk. Bleary eyed I did notice most of the blossom had been blown of the trees and was covering the patio in a lovely shade of pink. Out of the corner of my eye this is what I saw.
Hey, What's for breakfast?
Oh, It's a self service buffet, Yum
I suggested it was the seed as some little songbird would surely choke on these big sunflower seeds, and we would also have the healthiest racoons and the rodent population in Oakville.Hope the neighbors weren't watching. So now the feeder has been filled with songbird and finch seed and his Nibs is patiently watching with his binoculars for some action. I will keep you informed of any sightings.

On the book front I have recently finished The Poisoned Pawn by Peggy Blair. After the success of her first Inspector Ramirez novel The Beggars Opera, I found Ramirez is the kind of detective that grows on you. I'm looking forward to the next in the series.  

I attended the Toronto launch of Barbara Fradkin's new novel The Whisper of Legends. This is ninth novel in her Inspector Green stories. You will find this an exciting read and a keep you up at night kind of book.

Preston and Child's latest book in the Prendergast series Two Graves is a thriller not to be missed. Great characterization and the pacing is awesome. 

And to make a shift from crime fiction, I am presently reading Rod Stewart's autobiography. I am a big fan from way back, and I'm now immersed in the music of the sixties and seventies while I read of Rod's exploits in the UK and the U S of A. I'll blog about this later.

Enjoy the nice weather and talk soon.

Slainte,
Pam






Saturday, May 18, 2013

Star Trek


Star Trek – Into Darkness was dazzling!  Stupendous!  Enormously entertaining!   Yes, I liked it…and would love to go and see it again.

My oldest son and I are Trekkies – it must be in the genes.  For several years we’ve taken in the opening night (or as close to as possible) of all things Star Trek (and Tolkien too!).    William’s not a fan of 3D – he’s truly a movie aficionado and feels its nothing but a gimmick, which I tend to agree with.  However, 3D was all that was available last night, but at least it provided for reserved seating.   The special effects combined with the 3D certainly gave you moments to jump or duck, and overall I don’t feel it detracted from the movie….but I’d love to go back and see it again, without the 3D.

And on a side note, I find Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto (Kirk and Spock respectively) very easy on the eyes too!   Seriously though, their portrayals of the original characters are brilliant, as are the ‘young’ Bones, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and of course “Aye Captain” Scotty.   Benedict Cumberbatch as the nemesis Kirk must battle was captivating.   

So would I recommend this movie – you bet I would!   It can stand alone as an amazing summer blockbuster action movie, but oh, how much more enjoyable if you know your Star Trek history and have those “YES!” moments when watching.

It was a great way to kick of the first long weekend of the summer.

This morning I’ll head over to our local Chapters where Alison Bruce, Gloria Ferris, and Michelle Wan, all local mystery authors, will be available for “Mysterious Guelph”.  No doubt I’ll not be leaving without one or two new books to take with me for this long weekend.

After the “Mysterious Guelph” event, I’ll be heading down to the Paris area for a couple of days R & R at a friend’s trailer.  If the weather forecast holds, there will be time to relax on the deck and dive into some serious reading! 

As a bonus…my long weekend will extend for another two weeks!  My first long holiday from work in quite a few years, but with long overdue chores to catch up with, I need to ensure I also get one or two “me” days and indulge myself with serious down time.   And some much needed writing time as well.

One evening out is scheduled and that, of course, for the Bony Blithe Gala – being held downtown Toronto the evening of May 29.  Pam and are looking forward to it.  And as I'm often time constrained from attending so many writing events, I'm really happy this coincided with time off so that I can go!

And now I must finish my packing and be ready to hit the road within the hour.  Enjoy your long weekend.

Cheers!

Liz

Monday, May 6, 2013

Full of Promise


Margaret Selkirk Hay & Alister William James at the Glasgow Exhibition
They were full of promise that summer. The year is nineteen thirty eight. I imagine they are on a first date. She is nineteen, and he is twenty seven.  They looked so dapper in matching trilbies.

The Empire Exhibition, Scotland 1938 (unofficially known as the British Empire Exhibition, Glasgow) was an international exposition held at Bellahouston Park Glasgow, from May to December 1938. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Exhibition,_Scotland_1938

This exhibition was a testament to Britain’s Industrial might. After the long years of the depression the British Empire was on the move again. Twelve and a half million people attended from all over the world.

One year later everything changed. Dad was in the auxiliary air force based at Turnhouse. War broke out, and he was called up. They married in December 1939, and he was sent to different training camps in England before he was eventually shipped to India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for the duration of the war.

My older sister Rosemary was only six weeks old when he left and my mother and sister did not see him again for another four years. There were many such stories during those years of separation. Some did not make it. I am here to tell you that they came through that separation very well. Dad made it home in April,1945 and I was born in January,1946. You do the math.

Rationing of food was still prevalent in the fifties and with two boys,and another girl to feed money was scarce. Cultural activities were an important part of our growing up no matter the scarcity. Piano lessons and dance classes- visits to art galleries and libraries. Books and writing, books and writing were drummed into us. I’m not sure I appreciated those lessons at the time.

Mum was a homemaker and an occasional shopkeeper. Five children kept her very busy but still she found the time to sew and design costumes for our various endeavours on the stage.

Dad, along with working to keep a family of seven in food and clothes and our various pursuits followed many passions. He played the bagpipes, piano and thought he was a good dancer! He bought a horse and took riding lessons with my younger sister Caroline. When he was not involved in his many pastimes you could find him either reading or clicking away on his trusty typewriter.

Dad’s greatest gift was his writing. He had many poems and articles published. The website my sister made a few years ago will give you a taste for his writing. http://awjames.yolasite.com/
This is their birthday week. Mum would have been 94 on the 8th and Dad 102 on the 11th. They are both still missed.

Slainte,
Pam

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Theatrics, Food and Sunshine


Another weekend is fast coming to a close.  Lately they all seem to be going by in a blur – so hard to believe it’s May already!   But at last Spring really seems to have taken hold.  Trees have greened overnight and the lawns are sporting their first crop of dandelions. 

And huge congratulations to Louise Penny - THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY has just won the Agatha for Best Mystery Novel in the US!

Hope you managed to catch the excellent interview Pam had with Barbara Fradkin last week – if not, be sure to check it out and see what this successful author has to say.  Another interview is in the works for later this month – the guest to be announced later.

Pam spent most of the day with me yesterday.  We had some business items to discuss and then set aside in order to concentrate on polishing up our 3500 word short story submission.  This afternoon Pam sent our newest tale away to compete with others at August’s Scene of the Crime.

Aside from working hard – and oh how we suffered sitting outside in the warmth of the afternoon – we found time to enjoy a light summery lunch and shared it with two friends as well.  Pam brought along some delicious treats for dessert.   And for break I supplied scrumptious shortbread cookies produced by Sprucewood Brands.  If you haven’t sampled any of their handmade shortbread cookies, you are missing out!

Shortly after Pam’s departure, two of my grandchildren, Makenna and Max, arrived for a sleepover.  Makenna is quite theatrical and I believe she’d do well in that area when she is a little older.  The genes go back to my mother, who was quite the amateur actress in her day.  Several photo albums attest to her various performances in England prior to her settling in Canada after WWII.

This morning, after a good night sleep, we enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast of French toast, bacon and fruit….marvellous way to start the day.


And too nice of a day to spend inside, it was off to the local park for some playtime.  My son and his wife came to pick them up just after noon, by which time they were nicely wound up after a few rounds of pretend sparring and other gymnastic activities!  Sorry about that – no not really.




Which then left a few hours with nothing specific to do – except head for the outside with a book, sunglasses and the complete intention of dozing off – mission accomplished.

And now as the afternoon lengthens and the sun’s rays sink a little lower in the Western sky, I know its time to start gearing up for the week ahead….a bright spot will be the return of a good friend at work who has been away for a few weeks.  It will be good to get caught up on all that’s been happening and even better, to have someone to share lunch with again.

Here’s hoping your week ahead will be full of sunshine and all things good.

Cheers!

Liz