Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pen Pal

What does a writer like to do?  Write of course.  But every now and then the path takes a turn unexpected.  For me this week, my road to writing has taken a side street in connection with my oldest grandson, Michael.  He’s not quite ten and having some struggles with school work.  His teacher suggested having a pen pal might be a good way for him to become familiar with writing structure.  She’s had some success with other students using this idea.

So I was truly honoured when Michael’s mother approached me to see if I’d be interested in becoming Michael’s pen-pal.  Would I?  What a terrific idea.  Even though we live in the same part of town this could still be fun.  So I began watching the mail box for his first letter.   A few days passed and I began to wonder if I was supposed to send the first letter.  Checked with his dad, my son, and no, Michael was working on a comic strip that he wanted to send.  It was almost done and would soon be in the mail.

Today it arrived, addressed to Nana Lindsay.  Couldn't believe how excited I was to open this up and see what the envelope held.  A notebook page entitled Best of Food Friends, with a comic strip detailing an adventure between an egg yolk and a pickle.  Good imagination and it’s still making me smile.

When was the last time I actually put pen to paper and wrote a longhand letter?  Usually I’ll whip up a letter on the computer and print out and off it goes.  But this called for a much more personal touch, so I started printing, and keeping in mind I'm corresponding with a ten year old.  The process led to memories surfacing.  Of having pen-pals in grade school; at one point I had two at the same time.  A girl in France with whom we took turns writing in both French and English, and also a boy in Scotland.  Ironically his name was Jamie!  I had totally forgotten about that experience.

Not that I’m about to start writing anything Jamie Tremain in long hand, but the process forced me to really think about what I was writing and not just key words as fast as I can think them.  So I’ll have to thank Michael for this little side benefit.

Who knows how many letters we’ll exchange, or if this idea will fizzle, but for now I’m quite excited to continue sending letters and will work to make them interesting and at the same time hoping he’ll also be learning a little about grammar and sentence structure along the way.  And I’ll gladly write to the rest of my grandchildren as they get a little older if the desire is there.   If you have grandchildren, nieces or nephews, I’d recommend this exercise – its sure to benefit all involved and strengthen bonds and create some special memories.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Busy Saturday

No sleeping in this Saturday –  up early and on the road to spend the day with Pam.  After some catching up it was down to JT business.  We now have a mentor provided through our membership to CWC and she has reviewed our synopsis.  We agreed with her questions and suggestions and spent a good part of the day re-working it.  Later today I’ll be sending it back to her, along with about 50 pages of Body Perfect for her to review.  Next up will be a meeting with the three of us and we’re hopeful of some positive feedback.

Seems that many of we writers are like a dog with a bone when it comes to our writing – we just can’t leave it alone!  After some of our mentor’s comments, we’ve decided a small re-work of the last few pages is in order.   All to the cause of strengthening our characters and wanting future readers asking for more.

We paused from our musings to enjoy a delicious lunch – Pam had baked a scrumptious onion pie and added a tasty salad.  (Oh and I DID bring the almonds) Another couple of hours spent on all things Jamie Tremain and I believe we had a productive day. 

From Pam’s it was only 5 minutes over to visit with my sister and her husband.  Today is her birthday so it was nice to hand deliver a card instead of previous years sending in the mail.  Enjoyed a nice visit, reminiscing over childhood memories.   Another very nice meal enjoyed – chicken cacciatore.  How nice to have had two yummy meals in one day that I didn't have to prepare.

As well we bemoaned the sad state of disappearing language skills. My personal pet peeve?   Garnish vs garnishee – how annoyed I am when newscasters report on “his salary was garnished”….really.  Personally I’d welcome a garnish – something extra – on my pay instead of a garnishee.   I'm continually grateful to my father who was a huge stickler on grammar.

Then it was time to hit the road at about 7:00.  The sloppy weather forecast for the day had held off, until I was just reaching the highway...then the rain and incredibly high winds hit.  I watched the temperature drop and as it neared the freezing mark the drive became a little nerve wracking and I was quite relieved to reach my exit.  No doubt the tulips I saw peeking out of flower beds outside my sister’s building are in total shock this morning. 

This morning it’s quite evident winter has returned, with a blanket of snow and dangerously high winds. 

For today it will be a chance to review notes from yesterday and get back to our mentor.  Also have some ‘housecleaning’ to do on Jamie Tremain documents in order that everything stays organized.

Birthday wishes again for today to my sister Michele and to a good friend at work, Stephanie!



Friday, January 18, 2013

Away with the Faeries

I have been charged with being, Away with the Faeries (fairies) many times and for a writer that’s not a bad thing. When I have that look on my face it means; Do Not Disturb, or, Don’t ask me anything important as you may be surprised by the answer. It’s my time to write and plot and develop characters. I have been accused of being aloof or even rude. My apologies if I appeared that way. My husband refers to me, to anyone who asks, “Oh she’s off again” as if I was some mouldy cheese. So I go away with the faeries but they keep bringing me back.

Let them fill your dreams with wonder, fever, pain and passion 
Let them fill your head with thunder

Taken from Away With The Faeries Lyrics

 Performed by Inkubus Sukkubus

I am meeting with Liz tomorrow for an all day session. Brian storming the new book, query letters, onion pie and Portuguese custard tarts in any order we choose. I hope she’s bringing some chocolate covered almonds. I think better with them, hint, hint. I promise to have the faeries bring me back.

Snow is back and very cold. Safe driving Liz and don’t forget the almonds!

Talk soon,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet

I’ll attribute that quote to Will Shakespeare in case you thought it was an original. As plagiarism is at the top of the news it’s prudent to make sure as writers that we only use our own words and if we quote others we give them the recognition.

As Liz and I are in the planning stages of the new book, names are always being discussed and we find it an important part of the process. Along these lines are discussions of E.L. James’s phenomenal success with her ‘Grey books’. No, I have not read them and have no real desire to do so but we do share a name. 

James is my single (maiden) name. Initials P.A.M. to be precise. Not sure if my parents were aware of the P.A.M being what most people have called me most of my life. My middle initials were my grandmother’s names. I only get Pamela if someone is mad at me! I wonder if maybe I am a poor cousin to Ms. James.

Of course there are many people in history called James and I am not about to claim a relationship to Jesse James the outlaw. Jesse and his brother Frank are best known for robbing banks and murdering folks. Then there is Henry James the nineteenth century writer... Maybe he was a GGGG uncle!

More contemporary is P.D. James that wonderful crime writer who is still going strong at ninety two. There is hope for me yet. Geraldine James a British actress is a favourite of mine and I can watch her portrayal of Sarah Layton in “The Jewel and the Crown” many times over. It was taken from the “Raj Quartet’ books by Paul Scott. And I always enjoyed Sid James the comedian who played alongside Tony Hancock... that was in the dark ages.

But my favourite James was the writer and poet Alister William James, my father. He had a small amount of success as a writer but mostly as a poet.
He often signed his name A.W. James. Is that the secret?

The name Jamie Tremain is a concoction of Jamie for James. I was Jamie in high school. Tremain is a family name for Liz.
So as the blog name says, 'Jamie Tremain, Remember the Name'.

I have just finished Ian Rankin’s latest book ‘Standing in another man’s grave’. Excellent read as usual. He uses lots of details and there are surprises when you turn every corner. Highly recommended.

Last night I started a novel by author PETER JAMES. There’s that name again. He has at least twenty two books to his credit, none of which I have read before. The book is called ‘Not Dead Yet’. I’ll report on it later.

It’s been very balmy weather for the last couple of days but tomorrow back to the deep freeze. Better bring out the long johns.

Talk later,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Belated Happy New Year

The Christmas season is now finally over for yours truly.  One last family get together yesterday at my sister’s lovely new home in Oakville.  A chance for this side of the family to gather and exchange gifts and a whole lot of food.  Hor d’ouevres and snackie food to start.  Later followed by a non-traditional holiday meal, it was pure comfort food!  Baked macaroni and cheese, some meatballs and salads.  All so delicious and set out buffet style.  Pies and brownies were among the finishing touches with coffee and eggnog.

Two of the grandchildren brought along their new Furbys.  Made for some interesting conversation among the adults and one of the resident cats didn't quite know what to make of them. A lot of Furbish dialogue between the two toys only made sense to them.  The better discovery of the day was learning my granddaughter appears to be a budding chess player, and she’s not eight years old yet.

Also now coming to an end are the recent shortened work weeks – not sure how I’ll cope with a full week as of tomorrow.  No doubt the traffic volumes will be back to their usual capacity.  The past two weeks have been so enjoyable with very light traffic, but all good things…….

Speaking of good things – unlike Pam I'm thoroughly enjoying a new Tassimo.  Last month I had the good fortune to win one at our work Christmas luncheon.  Experimenting with different styles of coffee and hot chocolates; its only limitation in my opinion is tea.  Nothing beats a good pot of tea made with freshly boiling water and being allowed to steep.  Just can’t duplicate that with an instant coffee machine.  The kitchen table is currently doubling as a T-disc dispensary, with a multitude of different coffees to choose from while the novelty is new.

Another highlight, for me, over the past month was taking in the première of “The Hobbit” with my oldest son.  He and I share a great love for Tolkien’s work, as well as all things Star Trek – the next film coming in May by the way.  It’s become tradition for the two of us to take in new releases at the cinemas whenever possible.

As Pam mentioned ‘Jamie Tremain’ plans a get together later this month on a Saturday to brainstorm ideas for book number three.  We are excited to start something fresh.  At the same time Body Perfect will be set loose now upon publishers and/or agents in the hopes of finding the right connection for us.  I've been using my excel skills to create spreadsheets for keeping track of resources, potential agents, our favourite authors and other useful information to store all in one place.  Keeping it revised and current is now much easier than hunting for a multitude of different files.  A fresh start for 2013.

Hoping that all of your fresh start resolutions are manageable and that 2013 brings you all good things and success in your endeavours.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Edit , edit edit.

It has been  pointed out by a friend reading my last post that said I heated my posterier with a cup of coffee. Well that is clearly not true. So to clarify. I had meant to say that I was heating my posterior while drinking a java and reading the latest crime/mystery. And that is all we will speak of my rear end from now on.

Bitterly cold day and biting wind. A good day to stay by the fire. Liz I am sure will be glad its the end of the week as she has a family gathering this w/e.

Making headway with the plotting of MMC our next book. When we meet on the 19th we should both have loads of different scenarios to compare. Then we will eliminate and add as we mould the new story together. We have learned a lot in the last few years and doing chapter summaries is one of them. Keeping track of timelines is another. Oh and editing before sending is another. Maybe my friend would like to edit for us!

Are you all caught up with series one and two of Downton Abbey? Series three starts Sunday night. There are more plots and goings on at Downton to choke a horse. Nobody does it better than the Brits for period drama. Fantastic cast and Maggie Smith is superb. I believe we will be seeing Shirley Maclaine in this third part. Should be interesting when these 'ladies' get together.

On to more plotting and editing!


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Two Dinosaurs

Today I had lunch with two friends in Toronto. I made lunch and took it to them. One is a very sprightly ninety six year old and the other her daughter my friend who has Multiple Sclerosis. It was a combined Christmas, New Year and birthday celebration. We had a lovely time over some wine and finished our lunch with some coffee. Now, as I was in charge of the lunch I was informed that I could make the coffee in one of these new coffee makers with the pods.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my incompetency with anything of a digital nature so after calling my husband into the kitchen to help he kept muttering...'I wouldn't give this house room’ we finally managed to produce single cups of coffee. It’s too bad if they wanted another. I was too intimidated and my husband not much better.

I put my husband to better use as my driver.  On the drive from Oakville to Toronto I continued reading my new Ian Rankin, “Standing in another man’s grave”. He has another winner on his hands. For Rankin fans his Rebus creation is just as sexist and he still manages to put away large amounts of Glenlivet single malt and cough up his lungs on his fags. Personally I would like to smack him about the head but his ex-colleague Siobhan Clarke appears to tolerate him. Good stuff. I love how he mentions the street where I grew up-Broughton Street.

Now how do I get my husband to keep driving around as I am enjoying another new invention? I’m not a complete dinosaur. Heated car seats are the best thing since sliced bread, especially when it’s -4 degrees. If ever I am missing in action you will find me in the driveway, heating my posterior with a cup of coffee and the latest crime/mystery novel.

Had a good session with Liz last night and we are meeting all day on the 19th to have our first brainstorming of 2013.  We will have sent out a pile of query letters for Body Perfect by then and we’ll wait on all the offers of representation!! or contrary, rejection letters.

Talk soon,

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