Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lovin’ it!

Six months into retirement and I am lovin’ it. I fought it, whined about it and trod very slowly with the idea of being home each and every day with my beloved. We still have a few kinks to work out but on the whole have reached a place where we each have our own space to work and now when we get together we actually listen to the other. We were always too busy and after forty five years we had stopped listening. Now over a leisurely breakfast reading the papers, (yes we still get two newspapers) we discuss the state of the world. We don’t solve any of these problems but just talking about them makes some of them appear to be not such a big deal anyway.

My husband supports my writing and that’s important to me and he is also a good editor. An artist of pencil drawings and portraits he did one of me years ago.... I haven’t changed a bit! And I don’t smoke. Really!!

The picture is not in a jpg format so.... help!!! I will try later.

As Liz mentioned in her last post we are quite gung ho about things happening this year. We are now members of Crime Writers of Canada http://crimewriterscanada.com/ or associates until we are published. Looking forward to the support of this super organization.

On my agenda today is some research and plodding along with a line edit before we enter a couple of contests for first manuscripts. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Lots of snow yesterday but the sun has been out all day and it is melting away. All the better for driving to meet Liz tomorrow at the office. I suppose she wants to show off her new net-book. The one that she can stick in her handbag. Such a braggart! But seriously it will help us put a few things together as her fingers fairly fly over the keys while I am still a two finger typist. I have other talents but that is for another post!

Talk soon,



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Forecast - Blustery and Productive

Earlier this week I determined to set aside most of today for working on Body Perfect.  And for the most part  I've met with success.   The weather actually helped.  A blustery and snowy Saturday meant it was much easier to stay inside.  Add some freshly brewed coffee and that’s all I need in the way of motivation to sit and write. 

Pam and I are really in a “get her done” mode.  Some major revising of the opening scenes, including a newly written prologue. Name changes as mentioned earlier are not set in stone and are yet to be finalized, although I think we are closer.  We’ve been encouraged to enter a writing contest, deadline of April 30 and also want to have Body ready for a manuscript evaluation at Bloody Words.  The pressure mounts!

As a means to ensure more frequent writing and discussion get togethers, I’ve decided to purchase a web cam (hopefully tomorrow).  That will help give Pam and I more ‘face to face’ time if we can’t actually get together.  All to the good!

As I write, the aroma of a pot roast is drifting up the stairs..thanks to M&M its one of the easiest things going and tastes divine!  Not having to use time in meal preparation is always a bonus for me!

So for now, I’m putting my newly revised thousand plus words aside and will have a good supper.  Somehow I neglected to stop for lunch  - now that’s dedication!



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Robert Burns Immortalized our Liz!

It’s January 25th in Scotland so as I write this here in Canada I can now say' Happy Rabbie Burns' day.

Liz was quick to get on the blower to let me know that a friend had sent her the poem by Burns called “Leezie Lindsay”. My writing partner was quick to point out –“I don’t suppose Burns has immortalized anyone called Pamela!! Well no, that’s quite true but I was called “Jamie” in high school as my maiden name was James. And as the Jamie in Jamie Tremain I did find a song by Burns called “Jamie, come try me”.

Chorus.—Jamie, come try me,
Jamie, come try me,
If thou would win my love,
Jamie, come try me.

IF thou should ask my love, 5
Could I deny thee?
If thou would win my love,
Jamie, come try me!
Jamie, come try me, &c.

If thou should kiss me, love, 10
Wha could espy thee?
If thou wad be my love,
Jamie, come try me!
Jamie, come try me, &c.

Leezie Lindsay
by Robert Burns

Will ye gang to the Heilands Leezie Lindsay
Will ye gang to the Heilands wi' me
Will ye gang to the Heilands Leezie Lindsay
My bride and my darling to be

To gang to the Heilands wi' you, Sir,
I dinna ken how that may be
For I kennae the land that ye live in
For ken I the lad I'm gaun wi'

Leezie, lass ye maun ken little,
If sae ye dinna ken me
For my name is Lord Ronald Macdonald
A Chieftain o' high degree

She has kilted her coat o' green satin,
She has kilted them up to the knee,
An she's aff wi' Lord Ronald Macdonald
His bride and his darling to be .

Many lovely lasses influenced Burns work, none more than his mother Agnes Broun. As Agnes is my middle name I feel immortalized as the lovely Clarinda. (Read below)
Robert Burns was born on 25th January 1759 and, naturally enough, the first of the fair sex to enter his life was his mother - Agnes Broun. It was from Agnes that Robert inherited his love of songs and rhyme as she would sing to him when he was nocht but a bairn on her knee. She had learned these songs while working in the fields as well as at the threshing. Many of her songs were learned from Will Nelson, her old boyfriend, singing them after him line by line until she got the tune right and knew all of the verses.

During Robert's sojourn to Edinburgh in 1787, he met with Mrs. Agnes Craig or McLehose, the daughter of a Glasgow surgeon and the wife of James McLehose, a writer in Glasgow. She was born in the same year as Burns and was living in Edinburgh with her two surviving children, having been deserted by her husband in 1780. They corresponded as 'Sylvander' and 'Clarinda' and their writings to one another could fill a volume on their own. These letters were written in impeccable English grammar and the use of the English language is outstanding. Some of Burns' finest songs were written with Clarinda in mind, the best known being -

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, and then for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee,
Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

You can just call me ‘Clarinda'


Pam Clarinda Blance

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Northern Lights and my whiskey marmalade!

I have returned from a visit to snowmobile country. I am not particularly an outdoorsy kind of person as I wimp out if it is too cold, but when you are wearing those suits just made for the weather it’s great. No matter that I looked like a blimp in an XXL size. I sat around a fire with a group of hardy souls outside hoping to get a glimpse of the Northern lights we were told would appear. After about an hour the kids were getting antsy and the fire was burning down so we took ourselves inside for hot chocolate.

In this part of the world, Kincardine on Lake Huron, there are probably more snowmobiles than cattle. I was staying at a friend’s lovely 1897 yellow brick farm house. No longer a working farm apart from a large vegetable garden, they are surrounded by Soy fields. But they have their priorities straight as they have planted grape vines with the intent on someday making a bottle or two. As we were celebrating four birthdays we cracked some store bought plonk instead. As a surprise my friend set of some fireworks that took us all by surprise, especially the dog. It took a while but we finally managed to coax her back inside.

Sunday morning I decided to write this blog sitting at the most amazing desk. It is a beautiful antique that is shaped in a semi circle. I have designs on this, but ... not for sale. It sits in the bay window of the dining room looking out onto a long driveway and then over fields with fresh layers of snow. I have not had breakfast yet and the sun looks cold, weak and bone chilling. I can smell the coffee and the bacon cooking. We are waiting on fresh arrivals to bring home made scones. Does it get any better than that? Unless it is the sauna I have been promised before we drive home! Nine for breakfast around a large country kitchen table. Bacon, eggs, home fries, toast with my whiskey marmalade, left over steak and onions from the night before and of course the scones warmed and dripping butter. With pots of good coffee and then conversation the guys and the kids were ready to go off again with the snowmobiles.

Not so the women. After eating as if we were diggers of ditches we talked a great deal about what sort of diet we should start...again.

I hope to get back here in February to spend some writing time. Not many distractions unless you count the occasional drive by of Mennonite farmers with horse and buggy. Or the red and yellow finches at the feeder just outside the window crowding the umbrella tree

Sun is up and it is brilliant. It doesn’t tempt me outside today and after helping with the dishes it’s off to the sauna before the drive home. Lovely.

What did I learn about writing this weekend?...Nobody is ever as serious about your writing as you are, so never ask friends to suggest anything regarding your work!

Meeting Liz after she finishes work tomorrow. Always glad to speak to her face to face to iron out any issues and in this instance it is the opening chapters we are attempting to change. And names. They are not agreed on yet.

Our snow is almost gone here as it rained all night but that’s always better for driving.

Talk soon,



Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Plane Weekend

So nice to see the days lengthening – amazing how a few extra minutes of daylight can lift the spirit. Now if only one could figure out how to lengthen a weekend!  

Hopefully Pam has been enjoying her weekend away and didn’t become snowbound in the process.   We are scheduled to have a mid week get together on Tuesday and compare notes on our progress with the changes to Body Perfect.

Yesterday I visited the Canadian War Plane Heritage Museum and spent an enjoyable afternoon there.  They are doing a remarkable job of keeping history alive; maintaining these vintage aircraft to keep them participating in air shows as well as being loaned out for films.  While there I picked up a couple of DVD’s; one of which was lengthy documentary on the Battle of Britain. 

My mother lived through the Battle of Britain and I grew up hearing stories of her war time experiences – spending nights in the bomb shelter, food rationing etc. And the older I become the more interested I have become in that part of history, with a special appreciation for the sacrifices made.  A favourite recounting was of how she and my father met.

He, a Canadian infantryman, was assigned a billet in London, where he was stationed.  The billet was with my mother and grandmother, who were willing to share their home with one or two soldiers, in return for the comfort of having  trained soldiers nearby during these scary, but exciting, times.

Early evening and a knock at the door announced their arrival.  My mother went to the door and was happy to see two handsome soldiers.  As introductions were made, my mother commented on how these two single women were glad to know they would now have a couple of brave Canadian soldiers on the premises.  And then the nightly air ride siren screamed into life – a routine occurrence for residents of the times.  The women prepared to trek to the shelter in the backyard and turned to get the men to follow.  They had disappeared from the doorway! Quickly glancing around the room they were soon spotted – cowering under the dining room table.

He must have redeemed himself at some point as they were married some years after the end of WWII, and he brought her to Canada to begin a new life.

There were countless other stories, most amusing in one form or another. Both my parents often said it was still the best time of their lives, and I wish now I’d paid more attention to the stories they loved to recount. Even my oldest son now has remarked he wished Grandpa was still alive so that he could learn firsthand of a soldier’s experience.

But back to the present and with it another work week.  A week of vacation in February is just around the corner and that helps me stay motivated on those cold and dark mornings when its so difficult to throw the covers back and start all over again.

Registrations are done for Bloody Words and we are excited about that. For my part, I’m still inspired to get the work done on Body Perfect that we vow to complete.  But oh, the distractions – I’ve just started A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny and its promising to be a page turner -  I must be strong!

Have a good week



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No MUSE at 5.30am!

Liz and I have made headway with the changes that we decided must be made before we look for a publisher. We each wrote the opening chapter, or at least the first scene and we seem to be on the same page. Not quite in agreement with the new names of our protagonists but we are agreeing to disagree. Just like any partnership compromise is necessary.

What does happen is like a game of dominoes. Shift one tile or sentence in this case, and things start tumbling. Nothing world shattering and can be fixed. These changes will make the story stronger. So, we are still a work in progress.

Searching for a publisher when all I see on most Websites are, we are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time. can be very frustrating. Jamie Tremain and thousands of others. Perseverance is my middle name so I will keep searching.

Researching yesterday for some information on the place our book is set; I came across some gold nuggets. It was just the thing to add to a chapter near the end and now it makes more sense. Love when that happens.

My partner in crime writing is so busy at work I have not heard a peep from her today except for corrections she wrote at 5.36am this morning. You really do have to just write when the MUSE is with you or you have a few minutes to spare. My MUSE never visits at 5.30am!

I have decided to visit friends in snowmobile country this w/e. Not sure they have enough snow but just need to escape for a couple of days. Lake Huron here I come. I will take my travel drive with me and bang out a few more paragraphs while I am there.

Keep warm wherever you are. Spring is just around the corner.



Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year - Fresh Start

Happy New Year to one and all!

Enjoyed a very productive day with Pam today – well it was productive after we spent some time organizing files and folders.  Once that was out of the way it was down to business.   Earlier this week we received some writing advice from Melodie Campbell and after some discussion Pam and I decided to go with a couple of her suggestions.  One, and its a major one, is to rethink the names we have given our main characters, Paul and Dorothy.   

Ironically Pam and I had just recently been wondering whether to make a change in Dorothy’s surname to better reflect her Irish background, but a whole new name?  Today we mulled over some names, liking some more than others, but waiting for the one which would jump out at us.  Eventually we decided on ......Caitlin Dennehy – “Cat”.  The more we spoke aloud Cat Dennehy the more we liked it and so as of now we say good bye to ‘Dorothy Del Rio’ and hello to Cat Dennehy.   And as for her partner, Paul?   A fresh start for him seemed appropriate and therefore -  we introduce  Gavin Steele of Steele & Associates.   Of course one name change leads to another – but you’ll have to read the book to find out who else has had some renovation!

As well the first four or five chapters are in for some major revising, not changing the gist of the story, just the layout.  From there we decided it was time to add some more depth to Paul’s, er Gavin’s, character; so we added some more details to the man and his life.  Hopefully once we incorporate some of these revisions the tale of Body Perfect will be the better for it.   We have four pages of typed up notes that Pam and I will be using as we both, individually, go about making some changes to the beginning of the story.  We will compare our progress in a week or so and see how close we are to what we discussed and then merge both sets of revisions into the opening scenes of the next draft.    Sounds like a lot of work perhaps, but I for one, feel totally energized by the prospects of reconstructing what we already have!

As well, Jamie Tremain has decided to definitely attend BloodyWords 2012 in Toronto this year; hotel registration is on my to do list before the weekend is over, and we will apply for associate membership with Crime Writers of Canada – indicators of our intention to continue our quest towards becoming published!  We’ve also received some great comments on LinkedIn after Pam requested comments from other writers who have worked collaboratively on their work with other writers.

And so now it will be time for some disciplined writing sessions; not having the luxury of some retired writers, who shall remain nameless, I’ll need to carve out some precious time each day for Jamie Tremain.   Some upcoming vacation time in February will be spent in front of the computer no doubt – vying for time I want to spend cleaning out closets and drawers.

So the day may draw to an end, but it marks the beginning of a new focus on Jamie Tremain and in particular Body Perfect.  The New Year is always a good time for fresh starts!



Friday, January 13, 2012

Such a strange day!

Two phone calls from my past kept me from sleeping most of the night. The first one was an enquiry on face book to become a friend. It took me all of two seconds to remember a colleague and friend I had not heard from in thirty two years. We had met and became roommates at a Sales Training Convention in Dallas, Texas, circa 1980. We were there for a week and had a few fun times at that venue. On our return we kept in touch for while and as happens, life goes on and we went in different directions. I often wondered what had happened to her and what she was doing with her life. Within ten minutes of making contact she called me from British Columbia and before long we had all the details of our lives sorted out and laughed and giggled like two teenagers. With plans to connect through Skype and regular emails it was a lovely way to spend the day.

The next call was not so pleasant. After my critique class at college I was trying to get my computer to shut down... I know, it’s not hard but for some reason mine would not shut off. Then my husband who is even more technology inept than I am told me there were two messages on the phone. As he has not figured out the new phones he could not retrieve them!! My friend of fifty years had called from Scotland . She had called me to tell me her husband had died. Although we were expecting it , it is still a shock. Out came the photo albums along with the stories and reminiscing.

My friend and I are as different as chalk and cheese. She was short, I was tall. She was blond and I was dark. We met in our first jobs working as switchboard operators. Fifteen years old and keen to take on the world. I was a city girl and my friend was from the country. She came to the city to work and lived in a bedsit in town. I wanted to join her as it appeared to me to be so exotic, living away from home and fending for herself. The answer was NO. We both fell in love and spend many good times together as a foursome. We were engaged the same year, 1965, and married the following year. She settled into the Border country and I immigrated to Canada that summer. We stayed in touch and they came to visit a few times. We did the same. Five years later we had our first babies in the same month. And again, as happens, we lost touch except through Christmas cards or the occasional visit or phone call when I journeyed to Scotland to see my own family. We reconnected through Facebook and I occasionally talk to her daughters.

What has this to do with writing? Not much really, except...I find all experiences I have had in my life, the people I have met and the places I have been, enable me to become a better writer. The memories that are so sharp like they happened yesterday I hope to use in my future writing.

Cold and snowy today. It is the perfect day for reading and sitting by the fire. Tomorrow Liz is coming from Guelph to spend the day revising with me. Hope the snow tapers off by then.

Keep warm where ever you are.



Monday, January 9, 2012

This and That!

The printer has new ink, I have cleaned my files (almost) and I have a new USB travel stick to keep my writing separate so that it does not choke up my computer. As I came late to the world of computers, I am a work in progress. Technology wise that is. But I have managed to get onto twitter and linkedin and timeline on FB but that’s it. No more fooling around. I need to get in touch with my “muse” or my guiding spirit and find the inspiration I need to get moving with book three. Although I started writing the third book and the second in the Quail mysteries during my college class, I need the input from Liz to round things out. We have chatted along the way but I am so looking forward to spending the day on Saturday to map out the story and create a few new characters. Wish we lived closer.

As amazing as the computer is as a communication tool there is nothing like a face to face conversation. My sisters, Rosemary, who lives in Cambridgeshire in England and Caroline who resides in Almere in the Netherlands find the same problem. We chat on messenger and FB but oh how we would all like to have a real chinwag and natter the night away.

Being Hard of Hearing I don’t usually hear the door bell but the door to my office is open. It could be that I saw a large truck arrive at my front door as I gazed out the window. I was not expecting anything until tomorrow but I took delivery of a new office chair. A lovely ergo chair that is so comfortable I shall probably have my afternoon nap on it.

When I am not deleting files that I had no idea I was holding on to, I am reading. I’ve just finished Knit the Season by NY Times bestselling author Kate Jacobs. Lovely, feel good stories and well rounded characters. No dead bodies. Made a delightful change to what I usually read. Now I am reading Vicki Delany’s Constable Molly Smith series, Among the Departed. I am sure I will find a dead body or two here.

Sun is shining and not too cold. I should go for a walk but my new chair is so comfy. Maybe just sit here and watch Dr Phil or Dr Oz or some other Dr telling me I need more exercise. Or maybe just have a nap.

Talk soon,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Twittering, Linking, and Shopping - Oh My!

The New Year has started and I’m running with new ways to connect and broaden Jamie Tremain’s growing network of those connected with writing, publishing and all things related.

You can now find me on Twitter (pssst look to the right, just above our photo) – ElizabethLindsay@ElizabethLinds5 and Pam has followed suit – PamelaBlance@pblance.   As well we are both “Linkedin” and growing a network base there as well.  We seem to have become energized over the past few weeks and are more than eager to do what it takes to get Body Perfect out there!  Or maybe its just the ever so slightly increasing daylight that has lifted our spirits.  So much good information available on blogs and web sites - how does one decide what is best suited for Jamie Tremain?  Anyone have a crystal ball they’re not using right now?

On a side note, I’m looking forward to the arrival of new living room furniture this weekend!  It will also help provide more of a ‘new beginnings’ atmosphere going hand in hand with kick-starting Jamie Tremain.  As well, I continued with my “Merry Christmas to me” theme and relieved a local clothing outlet of some great bargains this evening.

I’m in the midst of reading Gold Digger by Vicki Delany – there’s something about that Fiona MacGillivray,  I must say, and I’m enjoying the tale, although I don’t know that I would have enjoyed living in that time period; makes me appreciate basic creature comforts all the more!

Oh, and the weather?  Seems like winter’s chill has finally arrived, typical January temperatures – that kind of biting cold that gets right into the bones.  But believe it or not,  rain is forecast for Friday – nothing like variety to keep you on your toes – or on your back if you happen to slip on unexpected ice crossing the parking lot.

As no winning lottery tickets were mine this past weekend, I must once again prepare for the workday tomorrow – but at least a new outfit will help me stay motivated.

If you’re so inclined, follow Pam or I on Twitter – in the meantime,



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