Tuesday, November 10, 2020

A Writer's Rambles

 


Writing – it’s what writers do. If we’re gifted in our craft, diligent, dedicated, and lucky, we manage to get ourselves published. Since the age of eight, it’s what I’ve wanted to do. And even though it didn’t happen overnight, I’ve managed to find myself now as a published author.  Thanks in no small part to my talented and persistent writing partner, Pam, and our “Jamie Tremain” identity.


 

Today I find myself in a reflective mood. Generated in part remembering it’s my Mother’s 107th birthday today, and that tomorrow is Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is poignant and I’ve posted the reasons why last year.   101 Years

But this year, this roller coaster of a year – 2020! It’s been written to death, and the political circus that has engulfed America has only added to the stew. I’ve been journaling since the virus took off back in March and find that’s been therapeutic, as well as a personal record of the world we’re living in. And I like statistics, so every day I’ve been recording virus numbers. Hey, routine is good, right?

I’ve been trying to avoid social media. It’s exhausting and frustrating. Everyone believes their opinion, and rights, are all that matters. I’m tired of the nastiness and seeing the very ugly side of human nature. Yes, we all know it’s there, but until recently, we’ve managed to be mature and keep it under control. It makes me so sad to see how angry everyone is. I think if I were God, this planet would have been toast quite some time ago!

Aside from the above, on a more personal note, Jamie Tremain’s writing progress has been halted at times this year for various reasons, not the least of which was Pam breaking her arm early in January. A portent of the year to come!  But despite setbacks and detours, the third book in our Dorothy Dennehy Mystery Series - Beholden To None -  is now with our publisher. 

Unfortunately, at times, the publishing process is slow – which is likely an understatement! 

In the meantime, Pam and I have had frequent video meetings with our Genre5 Author group, which have provided support, structure and one or two laughs. We’ve had a writing project on the go for the past few months. Imagine five authors working together on one project!  As if this year wasn’t crazy enough, but in fact it’s been a source of stability, at least for me. Can't say enough about these ladies and so grateful our love of writing has led to a wonderful circle of amazing friends.


Donna Warner   Pam Blance   Gloria Ferris   Liz Lindsay
Donna Houghton

Despite not being able to have in person book launches or book club meetings, writers tap into their creative side to find ways around it.  More online interviews, more video hook ups and chats mean we keep our presence out there. And we continue to write. Will we write with stories around COVID or totally ignore it? Opinion seems evenly divided, but regardless, stories will continue.

And before long, we will say adieu to 2020 and I wonder what the next year will bring? I only ask for the health and safety of my family and friends – this year has shown how terribly important those two elements are. Truly, no man is an island. Family and friends provide a foundation, roots and a fortress at times against the world. 

But for now, another glorious, and highly unusual, November day calls me to get some fresh air. We’ve enjoyed, here in southwestern Ontario, remarkably warm days; 18 - 22 degrees celsius! If not for the barren trees, you could be tricked into thinking early summer. It won’t last, of course, so as with all things, make every day count.

Cheers and thanks for listening!

Liz

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Author Jacqueline Seewald - Highland Heart

 


We are pleased to welcome Jacqueline Seewald to our blog, whose book, Highland Heart is being released today, November 1, by Luminosity Publishing.










Seewald is the author of twenty published novels, including five mysteries in the Kim Reynolds series. The newest release is Blood Family.  A review from Amazon.com  “Ms. Seewald has been known for her strong characterizations and tight plotlines and Blood Family is certainly no exception.”  Lelia Taylor   



              



Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository, and technical writing at Rutgers University, as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Twenty of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including books for adults, teens and children. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews and articles have appeared in hundreds of diverse publications and numerous anthologies such as: The WriterLA TimesReader’s DigestPedestalSherlock Holmes Mystery MagazineOver My Dead Body!Gumshoe ReviewLibrary JournalPublishers Weekly, and The Christian Science Monitor.

JT:  It sounds like you’ve had a love of writing all your life! How long did it take for your first book or article to be published?

Jacqueline: My first professionally published work was a short story that appeared in the now defunct London Mystery Selection, a quarterly print publication. By that time, I’d had my first child and taken a leave from teaching. So I was thrilled.

JT: Your market reaches all ages, adults, teens and children.  And not just books but poems, and plays! You are multi-talented and must have ink in your veins. What is your favourite genre to work with?

Jacqueline: Thank you for the compliment! I’d have to say mystery and historical romance for adult readers and picture books and YA novels for children and teens are my favourites, although I read a great variety of fiction and nonfiction and like to write in a diversity of genres. I don’t write as much poetry or nonfiction as I did at one time.

JT: Where do you draw inspiration from for your novels?

Jacqueline: I get many ideas from real life. Listening and observing provides inspiration for writing.

JT: As an author, do you have a favourite character among the many you’ve created?  And if so, why?

Jacqueline: Kim Reynolds, university reference librarian and reluctant sleuth, has been the main character in five of my mystery novels. She and I share that occupation. Of course, my sleuthing is limited to writing.

JT: You also have co-authored a mystery – The Third Eye.   As you know Jamie Tremain is a partnership collaboration and we love to know how others find the process. Is this something you enjoyed, or did you find writing solo works better for you?

Jacqueline: I’ve written two novels with my sons and very much enjoyed the process. They brought a lot to the work that was unique. But mostly I work on my own.

JT: You are a wife and mother and have had a busy career including being a teacher and librarian. How did you ever find the time to write?

Jacqueline: The truth is that I’m now retired. That’s given me time to write.

JT: Speaking of time to write, how has COVID affected you? Do you find it’s given you more time to write, or is it a non-issue as far as being creative? 

Jacqueline: Unfortunately, I’m writing much less these days due to my husband’s continued health issues.

JT: Sorry to hear that, and we wish him well. Your dream was to become a fulltime professional author, which you have achieved. Well done. A good segue now for you to give us a sneak peek at your newest book, Highland Heart. Tell us about it please.

Jacqueline:  Highland Heart is a sensual historical romance set in England and the Scottish Highlands in 1745 at the time of the second Jacobite Rebellion. (Think Tom Jones by Henry Fielding!) The romantic involvement is between a French aristocrat who is part Scottish and a British army officer who finds her as desirable as she finds him. Try as hard as they might, their overwhelming passion for each other cannot be denied. But people and events come between them nearly destroying their relationship since they are politically on opposite sides.

Here’s an excerpt:

“What will you do with him?” Madeleine asked, her face pale, lower lip trembling.

“He’ll be our prisoner until we’re well out of here. I’ll not be hung as a traitor by the English.”

Andrew turned to Gareth. “They say you’re a brave soldier and that your men respect you. We’ll do you no harm. Unlike your people, we’re not butchers.”

But Gareth wasn’t accepting what her cousin said. It took the same four men to subdue him, and finally, the giant, Fergus, rendered Gareth unconscious with a hard blow to the jaw.

“Is he all right?” she asked with a wavering voice.

“He’ll be fine, lassie,” Andrew reassured her.

“There was no other way to get the bonds on him,” Fergus said. “The mon has the strength of a demon.”

She remained in the cave, waiting for Gareth to regain consciousness, unable to bring herself to leave until she knew for certain that he would truly be all right. As he began to moan softly, she brought a cloth and some water to wash the blood from his face.

When his eyes opened, Gareth at first looked puzzled. Then a flicker of memory came into those glittering sapphire eyes and he seemed to recall the circumstances which brought him into his current situation.

“Untie me,” he demanded of her in a soft, urgent voice.

She shook her head. “I cannot do it. They won’t hurt you. Andrew promised.”

“The promise of a barbarian? And what’s that worth?” He sounded bitter and cynical.

“At least as much as yours,” she countered, pressing his bruised face a little too gingerly with the cloth. “My cousin is a man of honor.”

“Careful!” he said, squirming from the pain.

“You’ve nothing to fear.”

“As if I could trust you!” he spat out angrily.

She stared at him in surprise. “You think I betrayed you in some way?”

“Didn’t you? You knew I followed you here and you told them.”

“I did no such thing! I never dreamed you’d follow us. Why would I? And why did you follow us anyway?” She eyed him suspiciously.

“I thought you might be coming to your cousin.”

“How clever you are,” she said.

“Not near clever enough.”

Her heart hurt; she felt a deep sense of regret and disappointment. He obviously held a low opinion of her.

Andrew joined them at that moment. “Madeleine, I think we might try a bit of a ploy. Tell my mother what has happened. Ask her what she thinks about telling the English soldiers that we hold Eriksen. We could promise to return him if they leave here.”

“They have orders, MacCarnan. If I die, the next man in line will take command, and so forth. It will never end until you’re taken into custody or dead. I’m a worthless hostage to you.” Gareth’s voice was quiet and tightly controlled.

“We’ll see,” her cousin said.

Madeleine saw that Andrew’s face had grown paler and he looked very weak. Gently, she helped him to lie down. He pressed his cheek to hers and kissed her affectionately on the lips. She felt Gareth’s accusing eyes upon her and could hardly breathe as if a granite weight were pressed against her chest.

“Someday, there will be a time for us. I promise ye that, my bonnie lass.” Andrew’s smile was warm as the sun on a summer’s day.

“Rest now,” she said. “Grow strong that you may leave this place.”

His hand held hers until he finally slept. Turning away from Andrew, she saw Gareth’s eyes coldly watching her. His expression was so closed, she hardly knew what he was thinking. The extent of the control he could exercise over his emotions truly amazed her. It also frightened her. He gave away nothing.

“Come here,” he said in a voice that was deadly calm. His hooded eyes possessed her own the way a cobra would mesmerize its victim.

She did not want to move, yet her legs seemed to carry her of their own volition.

“Tell my men where I am,” he said quietly. “Help me escape from here.”

“I cannot do that and you know it!”

“I know nothing of the sort. If you care about me at all then you must help me escape.”

She shook her head. “I do care, but what you ask is impossible.”

“Talk softly. They are paying no attention to us at the moment, but if you raise your voice again, you’ll alert them.”

She pressed a compress against his face and then to his lips which were also badly battered. His lips kissed her fingertips, sending queer little quivers through her belly and heat through her blood.

“Help me,” he whispered. “You must.” He began sucking on her fingertips.

She quickly pulled her hand away.

JT: From the except it sounds like Highland Heart will be a favourite of historical romance fans! Future writing projects for you? 

Jacqueline: I’ve been working on a new novel that’s part historical, part mystery. It’s different from my other novels, more literary.

JT:  Before we finish, do you have one piece of advice for anyone who feels they want to be an author. Or what was the best piece of writing advice you ever received.

Jacqueline: I know everyone says this but if you want to be a good writer you first have to read a lot. I’ve always enjoyed reading. Writing is hard work and reading is fun. But reading a variety of written works teaches us about writing well. Also, it’s important to write and re-write. Self-editing is a skill that needs to be developed. First drafts are rarely good.


 

Thank you so much, Jacqueline, for being with us today. We wish you continued success with your writing career and look forward to seeing Highland Heart on the best seller list!


Review for Highland Heart - "I enjoyed this book."  Vicki, reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More


For a full list of Jacqueline's works, please visit her blog.  Jacquelineseewald.blogspot.com

Her books can also be found on Amazon and at her publisher Luminosity Publishing.          

   

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Into The Unknown/ Change Is Inevitable



Not unknown exactly, as I have reinvented myself a few times before. We take on many personas as we women go through life–daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, friend, fiancĂ©, wife, mother, grandma.

The moniker I don’t like is a widow. Its almost four years since my husband of fifty years died and left me to carry on without him. 

Family and friends here and abroad have been my rock and are so important to me and I cherish them all. The house I am living in right now, Peter and I bought over 30 years ago. Lots of memories with the three kids who are now adults and have families of their own. They have given me five wonderful grandsons. I’m a lucky lady.

So why, In the middle of a pandemic would I sell my house and buy an apartment? It didn’t just come to me as my kids thought. Oh, mum’s bored. So she’s gone out and bought a house!! One even said that’s my childhood home you’re selling. Hardly, they were all teenagers when we came here.

I’d been searching for a smaller place on one floor. When time creeps up on you stairs become a big nuisance. And bingo! The perfect garden apartment was found. Not far from where I now live, so a familiar neighborhood. No elevators to deal with. Beautiful grounds that someone else will look after. A walkout to a beautiful terrace and lots of room for all my books and writing paraphernalia. How perfect is that?

So what has this to do with writing you ask? It’s really all about change. We have all been asked to change how we view the world. How we travel, interact with each other at a distance. Wearing a mask is foreign to most of us but if we don’t accept the changes in our lives now it will be at our peril. This is one of the biggest changes most of us have had to deal with but stick to the rules folks and we will come through this.

On the Jamie Tremain front, Liz and I are excited about the changes in our working life together. Now that she has retired and left the corporate jungle behind, we can set a working schedule but we are both flexible with our time. 

This is not to say we have been idle. Again, it’s all about change. I started the year off by breaking my arm. Two months later when I was starting to recover we heard the rumblings of COVID-19. More changes and in a big way. You all know the numbers and how frightening it all is. So while in isolation we could Zoom-video chat and use our method of writing on Google Drive to keep us busy.

The publishing industry has changed so we were fearful our latest WIP would be delegated to a desk drawer. We are happy to say Beholden to None, our third book in the Dorothy Dennehy Mystery series is now with our publisher. We will keep you updated on the progress of this book.

So as I dealt with realtors and purging and packing for my new home Liz dug out a book we wrote in 2013. Dusted it off and we worked to clean it up, revised, and added to get it ready for publication. Grants Crossing #1. We are busy now with Grants Crossing #2 and planning a whole new series with different characters. We hope you like them as much as we do.

Stay cool, it’s hot here in Southern Ontario, wear your mask and keep apart as much as you can. We will get through this if we listen to the experts in the medical field.

Slainte,

Pam









Friday, June 12, 2020

Phase 2 - COVID Updates and More



TWO months to the day since the last blog post, and we are only now starting to come out of self-isolation and restrictions here in Southwestern Ontario – otherwise known as Phase 2. Personally, I’m ecstatic because it means I can have a haircut on Monday!

Suitable precautions will be in place, both client and stylist will be masked – not quite sure how the hair washing and cutting will work – and the salon’s waiting room will now be a client’s car. Call when you arrive and they will call you back to let you know when you can enter the premises.

As well, restrictions on gatherings have now been extended to 10 persons, but still maintaining social distancing. How surreal that these descriptions and guidelines have become commonplace in such a short span of time.

I never leave the house without at least two face masks and bottle of hand sanitizer.


But virus aside, what’s new with Jamie Tremain?

We have Beholden To None all ready to be sent to the publisher. Just awaiting their confirmation to submit. Our publisher, as with so many other businesses, have felt the effects of this pandemic. So processes are moving a little slower.

In the meantime, Pam and I have dusted off a book we completed about 6 years ago. Tentatively called “Grant’s Crossing – Death on the Alder”, it is a story in a different setting than Dorothy Dennehy and her team in Portland, Oregon. We had such enjoyment creating the story and characters and found we fell in love with it all over again when we opened it back up to edit, revise, and  polish. So that’s our next assignment. Tidy up, and prepare for publication.

Pam and I still have not been able to meet face to face, but joy oh joy, our Genre5 group is planning a socially distanced gathering next week. Outside, on a spacious deck, we can’t wait to get caught up.

As mentioned in my previous blog, we started a  group project during COVID.  A writing exercise that continues to grow!  I’ve just received the most up to date version of our story and will be adding my contribution over the next day or two. I can’t believe how much fun this has been, and for 5 writers to be collaborating on one story has been an adventure.

My journaling continues and I find it’s been helpful to record my thoughts and document only a tiny fraction of what the world has been coping with this year.

My granddaughter, Makenna, turned 15 this week. Another family birthday we’ve been unable to gather for, but a “birthday drive-by” was arranged by her mother, so a celebration of sorts.  The collection of family cards and gifts are accumulating. We may need more than one day to finally sort through them all – the question remains though of when?

I will continue my daily tracking of virus stats – creating and maintaining spreadsheets is a quirky hobby of mine – as well as journaling.

Stay safe, stay healthy.
Cheers!

Liz

ps - Accessing the blog today, I learned new formatting was being introduced, so excuse anything that looks out of place. I will be "tinkering" over the next few days!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Retirement, The Virus, and Isolation. Oh My!


By now I don’t have to do a background on COVID-19 do I?  We’re probably all weary of the news, numbers, and how everyone is coping with being isolated from family and friends. Basically it sucks!  But if my staying put means I keep one medical staffer safe, or reduce the strain on emergency supplies, then it’s a small price to pay.

So, ‘nuff about COVID – other than to say it took the wind right out of my retirement sails!

No Description Required!



Yes, my long anticipated day of freedom from the corporate world was to be March 31 2020. But global events put a crimp in that date!  Began the first week of March, when our whole floor (approx. 200 people) was quarantined for 14 days due to one staff member testing positive for COVID-19. The push was then on to have everyone geared up to work from home. Something so many of us had wanted for years and if in place earlier might have meant I would have stayed a little longer.

Back at work on Monday March 23 with only a handful of us on the floor. As I was due to be gone the following week it was decided working from home not an option for me.  Vacation time was owed me, so my last official day was Thursday March 26.  Hardly anyone to say good bye to, and definitely no hugs. We all walked around each other at arm’s length and waved goodbye from a distance. A deflated, anti-climactic end to almost 22 years with the bank. The planned retirement celebration lunch was cancelled. Apparently to be re-arranged at a later date – perhaps by Christmas???

And oh the irony. Pam has been anxiously awaiting my freedom from 9-5 so we could have regular “JT days” and now we can’t get together!  We have video conferencing as next best option. And it’s been working with our Genre5 Author group to provide the 5 of us with a weekly chat. Video conferencing has been a great option for family gatherings as well.

Have to admit though I’ve been finding it hard to settle down to write. Our work in progress, “Beholden To None” is under edit now. We’ve had great feedback from two  beta readers and are working through the suggestions for the third draft. I’m grateful that Pam and I do have the ability to work online, but it doesn’t compare to the face to face environment.

It’s so hard not being able to get together with family and friends. But at least my linen closet, pantry, and CD collection are now organized. I may have to do a toothpick inventory later this week – depending on my schedule of course.

Our Genre5 group are participating in a group writing exercise for fun. Will let you know how that turns out. I liked the idea so much, I started a similar activity with some willing family members.

Genre5 Author Group - Donna Warner, Liz Lindsay, Donna Houghton, Gloria Ferris, Pam Blance


And I’ve taken to journaling this past month. Wish I’d started sooner, but am finding that it’s become both a good outlet for my writing and satisfying as a potential documentation of these historic days we are in. And there you have it – right back to COVID-19 again!

I rest my case. This pandemic colours everything we do right now. So I’ll finish by reiterating my appreciation for front line workers. Hospital medical staff, emergency responders, transit operators, truck drivers and retail workers. 



I have a beautiful daughter-in-law who is a nurse in our city's General Hospital, and my wonderful husband drives a city bus here as well. Both literally risk their lives each day they work. Love you both so much.














When will normal return? No one knows, but I will do my part and know that the sun will shine, social distancing will end and books will be read!

Stay safe, keep healthy.

Liz






Saturday, February 15, 2020

Not so Humerous

My plans for the New Year were short-lived when I took a tumble on a sunken living room step and broke my Humerus bone below the shoulder. It was not at all humorous! A visit to the Guelph emergency and an orthopedic surgeon in Oakville with lots of lovely pain killers has had me laid up for the past six weeks.

When I came out of the fog of drugs and self-pity, I soon felt that I was incarcerated for whatever sin I had committed. How humbling it is to be dependent on everyone. Family, friends, and neighbors came to my rescue with food and offer to take me to appointments. I am so grateful, but as someone who has their car attached to the hip, I found it quite frustrating. Then there was the twice-weekly hose down by a lovely PSW who also helped me dress. One night I had to call a neighbor to help me out of my sweater. I was stuck. I have a new appreciation for folks that have to deal with this every day.

Having a writing partner certainly helped me with this situation. I couldn't type and was useless trying to dictate with the microphone. Liz, as always, has my back. We still managed to go ahead with our work in progress. Liz typing and me telling her my take on the story. Today was a good day when she came to visit, and we sorted out some plot scenes. Reading out loud is how we get a feel for the story and spot if anything is amiss. I would say we still have a third of the way to go. But the end is in sight.

My arm has more movement and I should be starting therapy next week. Driving I will leave another two weeks. I hope to be more creative now the heavy drugs are out of my system. Back to reading some crime mystery books and stop bingeing on Netflix.

Liz has some exciting news for you on the next blog post so stay tuned. Jamie Tremain is back and will have a new book for you in the near future.

Slainte,
Pam