Monday, January 25, 2021

The Writing Life

As a follow up to our blog post of readers and their thoughts and opinions of what they like to read, I'll put in my two cents worth here. 

I enjoyed the many suggestions and variety of new and old authors. I have read quite a few of those suggested and I'll add others to my reading list. My preference as a writer is to read what I write but I'm always open to reading other genres. Crime/Mystery/Thriller with a dose of Cozy/Romance/Amateur Sleuth thrown in. Not for me fantasy or sci-fi. My mind does not compute that way. I prefer to read and live in the real world or at least someone's fictional idea of what is real. 

Time travel and historical /romance I have recently taken a shine to but as yet I've not read the books they depict. Namely, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series on, I believe, Netflix. Who doesn't like to watch Jamie Fraser!  But I had a hard time reading the books. Then there was the latest viewing of Bridgerton. A period drama that Wikipedia calls Alternative History/ Regency/ Period drama. The books are written by Julia Quinn and are classed as Escapist Historical Fiction.  Pure fantasy and what I assume is erotica, but I have to say it was entertaining. I will look into reading these if I can keep from getting too hot and bothered!!

I've always believed that most books are better left as books and not reinterpreted into a tv series or movie, but the success of these two books says otherwise. And then there are those wonderful books by Canadian author Maureen Jennings, who has entertained us with Murdoch Mysteries that are shown worldwide. That's not to say Jamie Tremain would not consider our Dorothy Dennehy Mysteries made into a movie. We will help with the casting!

I am a big fan of many Canadian Crime Writers, too many to mention. Check out the CWC website for new releases.

As noted in past posts change is happening in the publishing industry and we must all learn to adapt. I personally believe that reading a book will not leave us whether it be in actual book form, e-readers like KOBO or Kindle, or the increasingly popular audiobooks. I'm a book in my hand kinda person. My bookcases are bulging. Oh, did I mention I like comedy in a book? In these times, when things can get grim and dark, keeping a sense of humour is so important. A couple of writers that can always make me laugh are Melodie Campbell and Gloria Ferris. Check their websites and keep laughter a part of your daily routine.

Talking of routine. Liz and I are back in the saddle with a two to three-hour Zoom meeting every day, Monday to Friday working on our new Grants Crossing series - the first entitled Grants Crossing-Death on the Alder.

It's good to be back and if you wish to participate in our blog with recommendations for other readers like yourself, please be in touch at

Stay safe everyone and keep reading.



Monday, January 18, 2021

Something A Little Different - For Readers and Authors

 Happy New Year!

Who isn't happy to put 2020 behind us? Jamie Tremain certainly is. So we decided to start the new year with a different view point on our blog.  All about books and the readers who give them life.

We are authors, but where would we be without readers? Good question and so we asked a handful of avid readers to see what THEY like. We hope you'll enjoy reading their responses. We've had such insightful feedback from these readers that we may just do this again later in the year. 

To be entertained, educated, or escape - books and the stories within their pages fill many of those needs, and more.

So if you, as a reader, would care to share your opinions in a future post, please email us at and we'll put your name aside for a future blog. Or do you have a question you'd like Jamie Tremain to ask of readers? We'd also like to have input from our reading "brothers".

We are beyond impressed with the responses received from these ladies and are pleased to give them a shout out!

Amy B.Wendy Czelusniak, Carol Fellman, Lesley Lindsay, Susan O'Toole
Jane P., Maureen Paoletti, and Carmela T.
Whether retired, or full time working mom, these ladies lead busy lives (despite COVID) and reading is a big part of their day.

Thank you again, ladies, for taking part! Your insights and comments are well thought out, and from an author's point of view, contain excellent observations we need to keep in mind when we craft a story for you, our readers. 

***Many list thrillers as a favourite genre. Here's a recommendation from Jamie Tremain.  Fellow author, Barbara Fradkin, is launching her newest Amanda Doucette mystery-thriller  - The Ancient Dead - via Virtual Book Launch later this month. January 28 2021. 7-8 p.m. EST. Free tickets are available through Eventbrite

And if anyone is looking for other books or authors, these ladies have provided more than thirty - from current commercial fiction to the classics! Fiction and non-fiction.

What are you currently reading?

Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham
Carol:    The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Maureen: A Promised Land by Barrack Obama (Maureen notes she couldn't get into the book as much as she did with Michelle Obama's "Becoming")
Susan: Rise Again! The Story of Cape Breton Island from 1900 to today. I also have Elton John's autobiography "Me" on the go.
Lesley: Currently, I am on a Liane Moriarty kick as I received a couple of her books for Christmas. I read 3 books over the Christmas break. I have yet to start The Hypnotist's Love Story (shown below) as I have school reading to do.
Jane: The Inn by James Patterson & Candice Fox
Amy: I am reading two books currently. I started reading The Hobbit over the holiday break. I am a first time reader of Tolkien and am really enjoying it. The characters are much more developed than I thought. It is a very detailed book, you really do feel like you are in the hobbit world with Bilbo. Looking forward to the Lord of the Rings series next!   The kids gave me a Twilight novel for Christmas, Life and Death. It's a retelling of the original where the characters are reversed - vampire girl, human boy. Actually most characters have swapped sexes in the book. It is a little hard to keep track of characters when you are familiar with the original, but so far so good. It's not a series this time, but all wrapped up in one novel. I am about half way.   It's not uncommon for me to have multiple books going at once. I leave books all over the house, coffee table, bath tub, night stand. I just pick up where I left off.
Carmela: The Silk Shroud by Jamie Tremain

Lesley says a bubble bath is the next best place to read. First, obviously, is the beach!

What is your favourite genre?  

Wendy: Legal and crime thrillers
Carol:  Historical fiction, which is my way of learning history
Maureen: Suspense, mystery, psychological thriller, such as Mary Higgins Clark
Susan: True crime is my favourite genre
Lesley: Genre?  I call it fluff which is probably a little insulting to the author.  It's easy to read and follow when real life is stressful and dramatic.  I also enjoy a mystery but one's that are a little on the "fluffy" side as well, unrealistic I suppose. I read The Unwanted Guest over the holidays and it was the perfect combination of fluff and suspense.  

Jane: Mystery & crime fiction
Amy: A good old fashion mystery or thriller gets me every time but lately dystopian, mythological and sci-fi have grabbed my interest.
Carmela: Thrillers


What other genres do you enjoy?

Wendy: Non-fiction
Carol: Non-fiction. Biography, Auto-biography, memoirs and self-help
Maureen: A variety
Susan: I enjoy historical non-fiction as well. I'm also a sucker for a series and like to read them consecutively.
Lesley:  I usually read the same genre for a few books then switch it up.  I do enjoy PD books (personal development) especially when they include humour.  Mastering Your Mean  Girl is one I have read most recently.

Jane: Romance and Family. For example Maeve Binchy
Amy: I love a classic old novel. When I can't find something new that interests me I always revert to the classics - Three Musketeers, Wuthering Heights, Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye. All on my book shelf. Hate to admit it, but you'll catch me reading romance novels, historical romances specifically, for the way they describe the time period. I really enjoy the change in era.
Carmela: Mysteries, Historical Fiction, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Tell us some favourite authors, or books, and why they are favourites.

Wendy: John Grisham, Jamie Tremain (thank you, Wendy!)
Carol:  Cathy Marie Buchanan - The Painted Girls, and The Day the Falls Stood Still (Canadian). Abraham Verghese - Cutting for Stone. One of my all time favourites because of the character development. Francine Rivers - The Lineage of Grace (Biblical fiction)
Maureen: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I liked the characters. I will lend books to anyone, but this is one book I want back. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. Almost anything by Elin Hilderbrand, James Patterson, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. For an easy read, I like Janet Evanovich. I honestly like Greg Iles and have probably read all his books, including his trilogy. And Patricia Cornwell, since I like Dr. Scarpetta.
Susan: Some of my favourite authors are JD Robb, Jodie Picoult, Edward Rutherford, Nicholas Sparks, and of course, Jamie Tremain. (Thanks, Sue!)
Lesley: I would say Liane Moriarty is one of my favourites, her books grab you right away and are fun and easy to read.  Sophie Kinsella I have enjoyed as well (more "fluff" books, I read these when my kids were babies and I was home on mat leave).  Another favourite book that I have read more than once is The Birth House by Ami McKay.

Jane: Lawrence Sanders - Archie McNally series. Witty dialogue and interesting characters set in Palm Beach high society. Fun capers!  Jonathan Kellerman - Alex Delaware series. Enjoy the dynamics with partner Milo Sturgis. Adventure and psychology, peeking into the frightening complexities of the mind. Author Harlan Coben - enjoy everyday characters caught up in plausible scenarios and keep me guessing to the end.  Patricia Cornwell - Scarpetta series. Fast paced, mixed bag of flawed characters, suspenseful and amazing technology plus forensic science.
Amy: I'm not sure I have a favourite author, but I certainly have a favourite book - The Count of Monte Cristo. I don't know why I picked up the book, but I am so glad I did. I was young, probably a teenager and thought I'd try it. I was hooked, it was written in a way I never experienced. Dantes is just one of those characters that I loved. The contrast between Dantes and the Count, the conflict as he searched for justice vs happiness is so thoughtfully explored.      I also enjoyed the Harry Potter series. I was an adult by the time it came out and waited for the series to be completed before I read it. It was worth the wait, the story is as old as time, good vs evil but told so well. You grow with Harry, his revelations and decisions. The imagination and creativity was just amazing.   Truthfully, I go through a lot of stages with my authors and novels. I will read one book from an author and love it, will read 5-6 books in a row and move on. Just did that with the Jack Reacher books, think I read about 10 in a row before I thought it was time to move on.
Carmela: James Patterson - The Women's Murder Club, and the  Alex Cross series. Lee Child's - Jack Reacher series. Patricial Cornwell - Kay Scarpetta series.  I love series and these three thriller authors have wonderful series. They are fast paced Thrillers which I cannot get enough of. I cannot wait for their next book(s).   The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff left a big mark in my heart and soul, which made me cry. Historical fiction with a dual timeline, well written with wonderful characters.


Do you prefer an e-reader, or traditional book. Could you tell us why you prefer one over the other?

Wendy: Traditional book
Carol: Currently reading my first e-reader book. May be the way we do book club over the next year due to library closures for those who don't wish to buy hard cover books. It's also a way not to accumulate physical books when you are a senior!
Maureen: Depends on my mood. I still have more than 100 books on my Kobo, but I do buy books when the stores are open.
Susan: I can't help it but I'm a traditional book-in-hand reader. I have a Kobo and enjoy it for trips when you want to keep your luggage light. I like being able to read at night with it too. But there's just something about the feel and smell of a hard copy book.
Lesley: I have an e-reader but can't tell you the last time that I actually read off of it.  I much prefer a traditional book and much to the horror of my husband my books are loved and enjoyed, I am a corner folder and I take my books with me everywhere.  The spines are opened fully.  I have tried audiobooks as well but if the voice isn't just right then it's a distraction.  Alternatively, it can put me to sleep and I have used my audiobooks for that purpose specifically. 

Jane: Traditional book. My weary, aging eyes get enough "screen time" from my phone & TV. Plus I've been an avid reader of books all my life, so I enjoy the holding and page turning.
Amy:  I prefer a traditional book, the feel of the pages and bookmarks, seeing the balance shift as you get mid way and feeling disappointed as you get closer to the end. They don’t say it’s a really page turner for nothing! I do use the e-reader too, I have a few books on my cell - it has its benefits, like when you are in a waiting room! Before that I would keep a book in my purse.
Carmela: As I’m aging I prefer reading with my iPad and use Kindle and Kobo app.   Also wonderful for traveling since I can bring numerous books with no additional weight in my luggage.


As a reader, what are you looking for in a story?

Wendy: To be engaged in the story, or plot. From the first few pages, and be able to dive into the plot. I like to be captivated and curious right to the end.
Carol: I enjoy character development of a few characters, rather than many characters. I look for life lessons and humour.
Maureen: Characters and a good story
Susan: I need to believe the story. Fantasy is not my style because it's too far fetched for me
Lesley: Depends on the kind of mood I am in I guess.  I want it to catch my attention quickly otherwise I have no problem discarding it.  I am the same with movies.  I would say relatability to the characters for the most part, can I picture myself there?

Jane: Good dialogue and descriptive wording to immerse me in the characters and story. Challenging plots. Nice flow. I enjoy reading about tantalizing food & drink. Love descriptive scenery of flowers, trees, oceans, old buildings, furniture, wardrobes etc. In detail, so as to visualize. Colours described as feelings. Sounds and aromas so clear and vivid I can hear and smell as I read.
Amy: Characters, I need a strong main character. A backstory, if you can engage me in their life I’m in. Good or bad guy, you got me if I can understand them. 
Carmela: The story needs to get to me; I need to feel connected with the characters. I need to feel lost within the story.


How do you choose what to read next?  For example - is it based on a recommendation; or a new story by a favourite author. Perhaps the book cover or description sold you?

Wendy: Could be a recommendation from a friend, or recent review of newly published novel, as well as a favourite author.
Carol: Usually, the books I read are chosen as a group in my book club. I love recommendations and other stories by my favourite authors.
Maureen: By author. Once another customer in a Coles bookstore told me
Susan: I will always take recommendations from people. I have a running list in the notes section on my phone. I usually like to read the next book by the same author and I read them in the order they were written, regardless if they are part of a series, or stand alone books.
Lesley: Most of my book choices are from a recommendation.  I have a hard time switching genres, so if the next book I have is a different genre I will wait a while before I start reading it. 

Jane: I follow my favourite authors on Facebook and Instagram. My Saturday Toronto Star has a brilliant section for Entertainment and books, with Bestseller lists and tons of reviews.
Amy: I used to rely on the library, they always had a display feature, the local librarian would have suggestion for me too. Lately, it’s mostly online. Pinterest has tons of suggestions, “if you liked this read this” posts. 
Carmela: I go through my books and try to plan my reading. Since the virus, I have a much more challenging time reading.


As a reader, what could turn you off finishing a book you're reading?

Wendy: Too many narrative moments, although in some situations it is necessary to give a background, to set the stage, but prefer such to be kept right to the point.
Carol: I will skip long descriptions, with too many adjectives and adverbs. If there are so many characters that I need to keep a list, I don't feel that I can get to know each one. The books I most enjoy are the ones whose characters are developed.
Maureen: Too long to get into. Case in point, although I eventually read it over the summer, I had a book by Louise Penny and had to start over.
Susan: If a book is too far fetched, I'm not interested. I will always try to finish it though, even if I'm not really into it. I guess the optimist in me hopes it will turn itself around.
Lesley:   If it's not keeping my attention then I won't likely finish it.  
Jane: Too many overwhelming details in early chapters. As I age, I often have to "flip back" to re-acquaint myself with a character or situation. But no different than rewind on my PVR, I guess! Slow moving plots. Thin plots with predictable outcome, unless the story and writing very captivating and entertaining. Sometimes it's the journey, not the destination!
Amy: Slowness, I give every book a chance but if you can’t hook me in two or three chapters I’m usually out. 
Carmela: Descriptive books drive me crazy and I usually do not finish them. Literary fiction books are not what I like reading.


When all is said and done, why do you like to read?

Wendy: Love good story telling, which can serve as good conversation in social gatherings
Carol: I read to learn history, to experience a location that I haven't been to, to relax and wind down at night, to learn from another person's struggles and as an option to get away from our techie world. I can learn so much about the way the world and people work from reading about their lives.
Maureen: Have done so since Nancy Drew days in grade school.
Susan: . Sometimes I read to learn; other times for a distraction. These days it's harder to read because I don't have as much quiet time to myself. Thanks a lot Covid!
Lesley: I always have, I find it a better use of my time compared to watching TV or scrolling through Instagram. I find it relaxing and an escape from the everyday.
Jane:  It feels like an escape. Everything else falls away. An enjoyable book can be as fulfilling as a trip away, or spending time with family and friends, or enjoying a special meal. Like an adventure where you can make new friends in the characters and spend a couple of days with them.  That's why it's devastating to finish a good read. And definitely why we follow our favourite authors, and sometimes new friends or heroes in future publications.
Amy: I’ve always loved reading, it takes you away. My mom always tells the story about me sitting with a book, long before I could actually read but pretending I could! The pictures told the story! I could always see a description in my mind, the environment, an expression, I love the escape of a book. I think that’s why I’m often disappointed when they turn the book into a movie, my imagination was better than what was one the screen! 
Carmela: I started reading at a young age. I loved going to the library and borrowing books. I feel at peace in a library and could stay for hours. My dream would be to travel and visit as many libraries as possible.

We hope that our fellow authors will find these comments and opinions helpful - knowing what readers like and don't like as your fingers fly across the keyboard bringing new characters and stories to life. 

We have truly enjoyed seeing the variety of book interests and what motivates these readers.

Thank you readers!

Liz & Pam

Popular Posts Viewed This Week