Thursday, June 16, 2016

Fifty Years a Canadian


We were very young. I was twenty and my new husband twenty-two. Twelve days married and we were flying off to a new country that we knew little about. We were told it was cold in the winter and hot in the summer but not much else. After our wonderful wedding, we said our goodbyes to our family and friends.

We were supposed to sail but a boat strike was on so we flew on a Boeing 427 or maybe 707, I think. What did I know about planes as I’d never been on one? Peter had to drag me over the tarmac. I think I cried for a solid hour before I was introduced to a Manhattan cocktail. Now that perked me up as it sounded so exotic. I’ve loved them ever since. I had a look out the window and saw a Rolls Royce symbol on the wing and felt safe so I settled down for the rest of the journey.

Why Canada you ask? Why not? We were young and wanted to see the world. Hitchhiking in Europe had given us the bug to do something different but no one had prepared us for the June heat in Toronto.
We landed in Montreal and took the train to Toronto to be met by my cousin Joe in a ’57 Chevrolet. It looked like a bus as we climbed into the back seat. White with big wings on the back. Red terry toweling covered the seats in case we stuck to the vinyl upholstery. No air in this car.

Peter was wearing a three- piece suit with shirt and tie. We didn’t clue into the fact that he could have removed his tie at least. I was wearing a wool (going away suit) that’s what brides wore from the honeymoon. Pill box hat, (I thought I was Jackie Onassis) and patent leather shoes. We must have looked odd to everyone else wearing sandals and shorts. We adapted fairly quickly after I got over the heat prostration.

We both landed jobs quickly. Peter in the Metro Police department and I in an office as a switchboard operator. After a month, we had our own apartment.
Culturally Canada was different but we soon came to love everything Canadian. There was the usual comparison about how people live, music, politics and other aspects of life. I took to it like water. Not so my husband. He became very homesick. After seven years he wanted to go home. So we did.
This time, we sailed to Southampton on a Polish liner with our first child Erik who was two. It was an expensive move. We were back in our condo apartment in three months. Fortunately, it hadn’t sold.

No, you can’t go home again. The family is the same but all your friends in the meantime have gone on with their lives without you. Some have moved away and others talk about things you’ve never heard of.

New jobs, two more children, a new home in the suburbs and many friends to share our lives.
Canada has been good to us. Its our home and we love it. Yet we still call Edinburgh, Scotland, home. I think that is true of anyone who is an immigrant. I like to visit my home country and see family and old friends but when I come back to Canada it feels good to be ‘ home’.

Our three children gave us five terrific grandsons. Watching them grow up in this wonderful country warms my heart.

June 16th/1966-June 16th/2016. Here’s to the next…
Slainte,
Pam



Sunday, May 15, 2016

Green River Falling



Introducing R.J. MCMILLEN -  

The Author Behind the Dan Connor Mystery Series




Jamie Tremain is pleased to highlight R.J. (Rachel) McMillen on the blog this month. We are eagerly anticipating the release of her third Dan Connor Mystery on May 17 – “Green River Falling”





Set along BC’s remote central coast, Dan Connor is asked, by his friend Walker,  to discover the truth behind the brutal murder of five pipeline employees. A Haida man is suspected of being the one responsible, and may also be connected to the disappearance of a journalist. This is Walker’s friend and he insists he is innocent. Dan investigates, Walker goes missing, and then Dan is attacked and left for dead. Can no one escape the path of the real killer?

Rachel McMillen is a nomad of sorts who divides her time between Canada and Mexico. Born in England, and raised in Australia, she spent 3 years working in Greece before meeting her Irish-Canadian husband (they were married in India) and moving to Canada to raise her family. She and her husband spent many years exploring the beautiful west coast of British Columbia, on board their sailboat, Maquinna.

She has written numerous magazine and newspaper articles, as well as a travel guide to Baja California,  Mexico, titled: "Driving Baja". 

Welcome, Rachel, to our Blog

JAMIE TREMAIN:
The spectacular west coast of Canada is the setting for these stories, and you have a current running through each book, the environment. This must be important to you because you’ve ensured its woven throughout. Can you provide our readers with a little background on why you decided to make this an integral part of your story telling?

RACHEL:
Well, first of all, I think the west coast of Canada is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and yet it is mostly unknown, even to the people of British Columbia. Using this area as a backdrop for my stories gives me the opportunity to introduce this magical place to those who have not experienced it. Secondly, it provides me with the opportunity to indulge another one of my passions, which is sailing, and that, combined with the environment, helps me weave the twists and turns of my plot.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
After three books, and I believe a fourth is in the works, do you have a recognizable routine for your drafts? Are you more prone to get the plot down first, or develop character profiles?

RACHEL:
I start out by putting my main characters, Dan Connor and Walker, into a particular location, and then I add a current political or environmental issue and develop both plot and characters to go with that. While I always have a plan for where I am going, the details get filled in chapter by chapter. New characters often seem to appear along the way!

JAMIE TREMAIN:
How long have you been writing?  Which is not the same thing as how long since you were first published. Jamie Tremain is well aware of how long it can take from the first draft to a contract.

RACHEL:
I have to say I’ve been writing all my life. In Grade 10 I won a state-wide essay contest (this was in Australia), which came with a prize of $50 – a seemingly enormous amount in those days. I continued on to publish various articles, poems and short stories in the Melbourne University newspaper and the Literary magazine the Arts Department put out, and then when I moved to Canada I started contributing to magazines such as Pacific Yachting and B.C. Outdoors on a regular basis. Writing novels just seemed to be a natural progression.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
You are a member of CWC. Are there any other writing/author organizations you belong to? What are benefits to belonging to a writing association?

RACHEL:
I am also a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada as well as the Federation of B.C. Writers. Each of those serves a different but equally valuable purpose. The Writers’ Union is the most political, and it works to protect not only the rights of all Canadian writers, but also to keep us informed of what’s happening in the world of publishing, copyrights, contracts etc.

The FBCW is really Writers helping Writers. It provides workshops and organizes events where writers can improve their craft and share their stories and it does a great job of letting members know when there are opportunities to get together. Writing is a lonely occupation, and it is easy to become isolated. Organizations like this help ensure the free flow of ideas and knowledge.
Crime Writers of Canada is, of course, specific to those of us that write mysteries, and it not only provides me with a way of promoting my work but it also hands out the Arthur Ellis awards – the Oscars of Canadian Crime Writing!

JAMIE TREMAIN:
By the time you’ve completed the last page of the last chapter, is there something you hope the reader feels about the story or characters?

RACHEL:
Oh, yes. I think more than anything, I hope the reader feels that he/she has been involved, not only in the story itself, but also in both the environmental and cultural setting. I had one reader tell me that she was actually “a little bit in love with Dan Connor,” and I thought that was wonderful because it meant that Dan Connor was real to her.  Another asked me if I was ever going to find a woman for Walker to marry because he deserved to be happy, and again, I was delighted by the question (although the answer is ‘probably not’). And I think the greatest compliment I have ever received, and one that gave me an enormous amount of satisfaction, was when a Haida man stood up at the end of a reading I did on Haida Gwaii, and said that I was one of the few non-native people who, in his words, “got it”.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
Is there anything about this third Dan Connor story that sets it apart from the previous two?

RACHEL:
I think that over the course of the three books, each has become more tied to current events and to environmental and political issues. All of those things are certainly featured more strongly in Green River Falling. The plot is loosely tied in to the northern pipelines and the environmental protests that have gone along with them, and there is reference to the Residential Schools and their legacy. Of course there is also reference to the history of Cow Bay, and to a certain café that sells the most amazing cinnamon buns!

JAMIE TREMAIN:
You’ve also mentioned that you are careful to check and verify cultural references in your books. Is this done before the story is finished, or do you wait until it’s complete?

RACHEL:
Before I start to write a book, I visit the place(s) I want to use for the setting (usually places my husband and I sailed to in earlier times). While I am there, I explore the area and learn as much as I can about the culture of the folks that live there. Then I find someone from the local band who is willing to edit the story from a cultural accuracy point of view. For the first book, Dark Moon Walking, I was blessed by meeting a man who was both from the local band and an ex-RCMP officer. With Black Tide Rising, the son of the only remaining family on Nootka Island (who happens to be a well-known carver), agreed to work with me. For Green River Falling, a Haida weaver, who also works at the Haida cultural centre as a cultural guide, was my cultural editor. Most often, I will send those folks one or two chapters at a time, and then follow up with a bigger section once any necessary changes have been made.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
Jamie Tremain creates in depth profiles for our characters, but not everything we know about our character makes it into the story. Is there something about Dan Connor that your readers might not be aware?

RACHEL:
Dan Connor is the mirror-image of Walker. He ‘s white, and he started out as a carefree, confidant young man who had the world by the tail when he joined the RCMP. He did well, got promoted, met a girl, fell in love, got married – everything in his life was perfect, until it all fell apart. His world collapsed and he tried to lose himself in the maze of islands that form the west coast of Canada.

Walker was a Native youth who was disenchanted with his village and his culture, found his way to the big city, met up with the wrong crowd, and got into trouble. When things go terribly wrong for him, he goes back to his village, in that same maze of islands, in order to find himself.

It is the interplay between these two that forms the backbone of all the books.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
Do you have any plans to move away from a series and write a stand- alone mystery, or another genre?

RACHEL:
I am currently writing the fourth book in the series, Gray Sea Running, and I have been invited to visit the Makah in Neah Bay, Washington to research the setting for the fifth, so the series will continue, but I have also started a Literary novel, which is about a young Afghani boy who is orphaned in the war with the Taliban, and who is found by a medic at the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar.

JAMIE TREMAIN:
When you’re not writing, or travelling, how do you like to spend your time?

RACHEL:
Well, there’s not a lot of time left after all the writing and travelling, but I do love to join friends for a coffee in the park, and I walk my dogs every day, and if I can squeeze it in, I like to weave on the lovely 8-harness loom I keep set up in the spare bedroom!


Thanks, Rachel, for being our guest today. We wish you much continued success with Dan Connor and can’t wait to read Green River Falling.


Reviews for R.J. McMillen
“McMillen is a solid plotter and there are no extraneous clues. What really makes Black Tide Rising zing is her love for the scenery and setting. You can almost smell the salt air and feel the trees. That, along with some interesting characters, makes for a terrific weekend book. This is a perfect cottage hostess gift.”  Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail

Goodreads Readers’ Reviews for Dark Moon Walking
This is an excellent well-written mystery novel set in the coastal islands of British Columbia. The story brings together real modern day threats with believable characters and modern day First Nations circumstance and lore” - Al

“I love the idea of a mystery series based right here in BC. This first volume was a great start. The author is obviously well-acquainted with the coastal waters of the Inside Passage, and her vivid descriptions of the natural landscape were enthralling.”   Joanne

And for Black Tide Rising
“This was a pretty good mystery/ thriller. I loved the location: Nootka Island on the isolated West Coast of Vancouver Island. The story mixes in parts of West Coast Indian lore, RCMP activity and the BC criminal elements. The main characters doesn't ride to the rescue all the time but actually requires and gets lots of assistance. I really enjoyed the geography aspects of the story. The place names keep me looking at maps and visualizing what was there. Excellent read!”  - William
               
                                   
                                                     

Be sure to watch for Green River Falling due to be released  May 17 2016 from Touchwood Editions.
And you can follow Rachel on Facebook   https://www.facebook.com/DanandWalker/




Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A day in the life of debut author Dee Willson

  Welcome Dee to Jamie Tremain’s blog on the  launch of
your book  A Keeper’s Truth

                  

                                     

Every one of us has a soul. 
Some are new, some old, and a few, the dangerous, are lost. 
But only twelve know why we have a soul at all.
Only twelve remember mankind’s forbidden past.


Jamie:
These words from your book certainly got my attention. Would you share with us a little about these souls and how they feature in your story?

Dee:
Absolutely. I am fascinated with the idea that almost every practiced religion speaks of human beings having souls. It would seem, should one investigate further, that there are new souls, souls with very little past, and old souls, souls who have experienced many lifetimes. There are myths abound about the soul, where it comes from, how and why it returns, but I am most fascinated by the souls that fall off track, the ones who lose their grip on humanity, their purpose. And I love connecting the dots to fantastical details within mythology and folklore, to ancient history and theories. Whether you believe in the concept (of a soul) or not, it’s certainly something wondrous to ponder, and A Keeper’s Truth will get you thinking.


Jamie:
A Keeper’s Truth was not written overnight. For most or us, writing is a long journey. Can you tell us about your road to publication?

Dee:
I wrote the first draft of A Keeper’s Truth in 10 weeks. Don’t be impressed, it took me over 2 ½ years to edit. Writing is one thing, writing well is another. I had a lot to learn. I still do. Writing is a constant process, a lifetime of trial and error, of studying our craft, of finding our (writing) voice.

After A Keeper’s Truth was edited, I took a year to write my second book, GOT (Gift of Travel). It wasn’t the second installment in the Keeper’s series, but a whole new story, and I needed to write it. I needed to know I could take what I’d learned and apply it to a new body of work. And I needed to prove (to myself) that I could write and edit a book within a year, which I did with GOT. Only then I felt I could return to A Keeper’s Truth and see it with fresh eyes.

Even after I agreed to give A Keeper’s Truth to Driven Press, my publisher, the process took almost two years. A cover needed to be created, editing done, marketing organized. Publishing is not a fast game. That said, it’s well worth the wait. A Keeper’s Truth has been 7 years in the making, but I’m proud of what it’s become.


Jamie:
Giving birth to a novel is daunting for most of us. Will you do anything different for your next book?

Dee:
The first draft of A Keeper’s Truth was written quickly, on a high. The story poured onto the page, and I didn’t take a moment to consider structure, plot, character development, etc. I didn’t even know what these things were at the time. For those in the industry, you’d say this makes me a ‘pantser,’ meaning I write by the seat of my pants.
With GOT, however, I’d learned my lesson. I planned ahead, spent months on character development, scene structure, description, dialogue, plot connections, and research to substantiate the details that bring a novel to life. Before I wrote word one of GOT, I had hundreds of pages of notes and research. I’d become a ‘planner.’


Jamie:
You wear many hats: wife, mother, business woman, and now a published author. When do you find the time to write?   

Dee:
Sometimes I don’t!  I try not to beat myself up over it. The guilt is brutal.
When I’m running my business, there is a part of me screaming to write. My characters can be relentless. And when I’m spending time with my kids, there is a part of me missing, my head in my work-in-progress. The housework falls behind.  We eat whatever can be defrosted.
All I can do is try to stay focused. When I’m writing, I attempt to give it my all. When I’m with my kids, they have my utmost attention. When I’m running my business, my writing laptop is tucked away in another room and social media is turned off.
Of course, in reading this back, I notice I didn’t mention my role as a wife. I guess my husband gets whatever is left.  LOL.  Poor hubby.


Jamie:
The road to publication can be fraught with pitfalls. Query letters, the dreaded synopsis and finding an agent or publisher. What have you learned in your quest to be published that you would avoid the second time around?

Dee:
Hmm… I don’t think I would change anything I’ve done or not done. I’ve learned from each experience. Publishing was never an end-goal for me. It was never a quest. I write because I love to write, because there is no other way I’d rather spend my time. Being published is just icing on the cake.
That said, I wish the agent process made more sense. Agents have become the gatekeepers, filters for editors and publishers. This is fine, I suppose, but the system is lacking. For example, an author is told to target specific agents most interested in their work, but it’s almost impossible to find what an agent wants and likes. The limited information out there tends to be vague, not to mention outdated. 


Jamie:
Have you ever considered co-authoring a book?

Dee:
No, I’m afraid I haven’t. I’m not against the idea, but I’m not sure I’d make a good writing partner. I’m bossy and I spend way too much time in my head. I’m sorry to say, I think a partner would eventually get frustrated with me.
Kudos to you, Pam and Liz, for working so great together!


Jamie:
Book clubs, writing groups and social media play a big part in the life of an author today. What is your take on these activities?

Dee:
In regards to social media, my stance is to tread lightly. Social media is a great way to connect with like minds, but it will not make me a better writer, and it hasn’t proved itself a great sales tool. I adore meeting new and old friends online, but my writing comes first.
As for book clubs and writing groups, they’re wonderful places to share the love of books with others. And the glass of wine and hearty laughter that usually accompanies these things is an added bonus.


Jamie:
We met at the Bloody Words conference about five years ago. Did you ever imagine this day would come, or did you always believe it would happen, someday?

Dee:
Imagine what, that I’d live another five years, that we’d still be friends, or that my book would be published?  LOL.  Let’s see… I’m glad we’re still buddies, it’s nice to see A Keeper’s Truth hit the shelves, and I’m really happy I’m still breathing. LOL


Thanks, Dee, for sharing with Jamie Tremain and our readers. We wish you well with your launch and all your future endeavors.

Thanks for having me!


 View photo in message
                                
Connect with Dee at the following:

Published by Driven Press: www.drivenpress.net info@drivenpress.net





Check back next month for an insight into how Robin Harlick, author of the Meg Harris series plans her next novel.

Talk again soon,
Slainte,

Jamie

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's all in the Collaboration


It’s been two months between posts and I have no real excuses other than, Christmas shopping, Christmas eating and partying, traveling for New Year and more eating and partying. There is a theme going on here and it’s about to stop. There is only one box of chocolates left in the freezer where I hid them. I do not want them! Really!

When I was not working on the edits of The Silk Shroud I was reading. Collaborating with Liz Lindsay as Jamie Tremain. I am drawn to other authors who do the same. Co- authoring is on the rise and ‘big name’ authors are getting into the act. Writing a novel is a mammoth task and sharing the load makes sense, with a few ground rules.
The books I read during party season were all co-authored.

 Melodie Campbell, an award-winning novelist, and author of ten books, teamed up with Cynthia St-Pierre and created the Fashionation with Mystery Books series published by Imajin Books  
Cynthia is also an award-winning author and marketing professional.




     The first in this series came out in 2012. A Purse To Die For. Anyone who knows me can testify that fashion is of great interest to me and I would rather have a new purse than new shoes. But the book languished on my ‘to be read pile’ until the next in the series was published last year. Killer Necklace. I like necklaces too.
     I am hooked on this series. Great characters and sexy, funny dialogue. Is there another in the works ladies?
"A Killer Necklace does not disappoint...hard to put down..."
Lorna Gray, author of Finding Daylight


Award-winning author Gloria Ferris and debut author Donna Warner  have entered the collaboration stakes with their novella thriller Targeted published by Black Opal Books.  Also available at Amazon.



This thriller has it all. An exciting ride to a beautiful Carribean resort. Blue sea and sky and sizzling sandy beaches, handsome men and those mahitos are to die for. Likable well thought out characters had me zipping along with this tension- filled story. I stayed up until the early morning hours to read the conclusion. Hope to see more of Peidmont and Blair.



  
Two authors I have read over many years are the fabulous Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. 
Both prolific writers having written many books together and alone. I follow the Special Agent A.X.L. ( Aloysius) Pendergast series. Aloysius is a law unto himself.
 

2013
       White Fire is my abosolute favourite.

"The best Pendergast book yet- a collision between past and present that will leave you breathless. " -- Lee Child

2014
"Heart pumping action and an intricate plot that pits a vengeful killer against the most interesting character in fiction". -- Suspense magazine.

 I will get to this one shortly.



With today's technology, collaborators do not have to be in the same room to write let alone be near one another.

Melodie Campbell lives in a different town but the same province as Cynthia St-Pierre. Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner are within spitting distance (well maybe 10-15 km's away) and Liz Lindsay and I are 70 km's apart. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child don't live in the same State. Douglas divides his time between New Mexico or Maine and Lincoln lives in New Jersey.

For Liz and I, using email, Googe Drive to share documents, and Skype is our method of working together.Once or twice a month for a face to face, with lots of coffee and reinforcements also works. 
You do what works for you.  Liz and I had a great day yesterday and have a handle on the edits going forward. One step closer to see The Silk Shroud in print.We'll keep you posted.

Jamie Tremain's calendar is being filled for author interviews  and guests on the blog for 2016. You can look forward to learning all about Dee Willson's debut book A Keepers Truth.

The rest of the schedule TBD.

Talk soon,
Slainte,
Pam


Saturday, January 16, 2016

I'm Sold -

On Cruising That Is

I’ve just returned to winter here in Southern Ontario after a glorious week in the Caribbean, and crossing off the first item on my bucket list – taking a cruise.

Many of you know where I work, and each year, top performers are recognized by earning a cruise. This year, my best friend at work, earned this honour and chose me as her guest! What a fantastic opportunity to try a cruise; all expenses paid!  Technically a business trip, there were mandatory events and learning sessions to attend. Nine hundred top performers, plus their guests, and various executives and support teams ensured we had the entire ship to ourselves.




Celebrity - Constellation (our home for 7 beautiful days)

We set sail from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Jan 7, stopping first at a beautiful beach in the Dominican Republic. Sun, sand, and activities for a few hours and then a return to the ship anchored in the bay.

Dominican Samana Beach paradise


Our next visit was to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I’ve always heard how pretty the island is and the photos I managed don’t do it justice at all! And the shopping – wow! Some day when I’m rich I’ll be back to shop for the fabulous pieces of jewellery on display. Diamonds of every colour conceivable!  My co-worker and I wandered the shops and spent a fantastic day browsing and choosing one or two treasures.






Then it was on to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we visited the famous Castillo, El Morro.  Lots of walking and mostly uphill, which, for me, was slow going. But we eventually made it. The team of organizers, always wearing red shirts, could be spotted on almost every corner ready to answer questions or point us in the right direction.






Our final stop was in Nassau, but unfortunately only for a few short hours. And the weather was grey and cool. However, we were greeted at the dock by a marching band specifically for our cruise. That was special and the private hotel beach where we attended a business presentation was quite magnificent. I can only imagine how spectacular it would have been with full sun.








Our ship, Celebrity Constellation, provided for every comfort and the service was beyond anything I could have expected. We were fortunate to have a balcony with our stateroom and I spent quite a few hours just gazing out to sea and managing to read two full books!   








One being Targeted by Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner. As their book is set in the Caribbean I thought it appropriate to save it for the trip.  It’s a great read and I do recommend it highly.






Overall it was an experience I’ll never forget. The waters were calm and being gently rocked each night while drifting off to sleep is something I’m already missing. Cruising is definitely the way to go. Next up, for me, would be an Alaskan cruise. We’ll have to see what the future will bring.

Palm trees, sun, sparkling blue water – a perfect combination for a wonderfully relaxing time. Even with work being part of the week, the batteries have definitely been re-charged.

But now back to reality and Pam and I have to get in gear and get our first revision completed and back to the publisher. Enough of this lolli gagging about.

Cruising, for me, gets a two-thumbs up and wistful thoughts about another opportunity. If you haven’t tried it and get the chance, go for it.

Cheers and a belated Happy New Year!


Liz