July bestseller!

Safe Harbor was Imajin Books’ bestselling ebook in the month of July.

And I was its bestselling author.

Not bad for an old gal and a 5-year-old mystery novel!

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Co-writing means ‘knowing you’re not on this ride alone’

I’m excited to have Jamie Tremain on Moving Target today. Jamie Tremain is the pen name of two Canadian authors, Liz Lindsay and Pamela Blance. Their debut mystery, The Silk Shroud, was released this past winter by Black Opal Books. It’s a page-turner involving stolen art treasures, kidnapping and murder.

Q. Pamela and Liz, whatever motivated you to co-write a mystery novel? It’s something I cannot imagine doing!

Liz: It’s all Pam’s fault. When we were first acquainted she was attending writing workshops, and had an assignment to come up with a couple of opening lines for a novel. I gave her two different ones. She liked both of them and started writing separate storylines, then handed them back to me to add to them.! One of them became The Silk Shroud, and the other is a completed manuscript that is waiting for us to revisit and revise.

Pam: Okay, I’ll take the blame.

Q. You should send a copy of The Silk Shroud to the writing instructor who gave Pam that assignment. Did you come up with the storyline together?

Liz: Should we admit that we didn’t have a clue when we started? That random opening line led to a central character, then to another character and then to a storyline. We really enjoyed the fact that the story revealed itself to us as we went along. Mind you, before The Silk Shroud started making the rounds with query letters, there were countless revisions and drafts.

Pam: Creating characters are a favourite part of the process for me. Each character adds his or her own twist. We each have our favourite characters and tend to lean toward them, and give them a voice. Liz is the devious one, so she gets to plot with my help. Plotting is her strong suite.

Q. Is your protagonist, Dorothy Dennehy, a version of either of you?

Liz: Dorothy is my alter ego in a lot of ways. She’s far more adventurous than I would ever dare to be. I love that she’s creative with disguises. And I’d welcome living on a houseboat similar to hers. Oh, and I do like those chocolate almonds.

Pam: Dorothy is definitely Liz. Although I could handle the houseboat and the chocolate almonds!

Q. How do you decide who writes what?

Liz: For The Silk Shroud, we took turns moving the story along, then handed it over for the other to review, tweak, and carry on with. That seems to work for us. But the other manuscript that we’ve finished and are eager to return to was done differently. We each took a character and alternated chapters in that character’s first-person voice.

Pam: I’m looking forward to getting back to that book. Quite a different way of working, and it would probably suit most writers who are considering collaborating. The manner in which we worked on The Silk Shroud and its sequel is not for the faint of heart.

Q. Tell us about your writing schedules.

Liz: I wish I had one. I’m still working 8-4 for a large bank and I try to carve out Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings to catch up with Pam. And we try very hard to have a face-to-face one Saturday each month.

Pam: I try to keep to Liz’s schedule but life often gets in the way. I am usually desperate for our monthly get-togethers as that’s when we look over what we’ve written and plot going forward.

Q. Do you impose deadlines on each other?

Liz: Maybe we should! I think we do, but in a very informal way. As in, “Hi Pam, have you finished up yet so I can get started on my section?”

Pam: Doesn’t she sound bitter! The shoe is on the other foot at the moment as it was I who was waiting for Liz. She could hear my frustration from Oakville where I live all the way to Guelph. Yes, deadlines are good. We will discuss them at our next meeting.

Q. Were there any scenes you were in disagreement over?

Liz: One in particular comes to mind: The scene in The Silk Shroud where Dorothy brings Paul to meet her father, Max Dennehy. I included an explanation of where Max’s cat, Houdini, came from. I don’t think Pam was keen on it, but it was important for me because it showed a side of Max that might not otherwise have been revealed.

Pam: Hmm, I conceded that, but I still don’t care for it. Our relationship is one of give and take so I let it pass because Liz is a crazy cat lady. I mean cat person.

Q. What scenes were the most difficult to write?

Pam: I found the love scenes and other intimate encounters difficult. I will have to research those topics!

Liz: So you can deduce who took care of those scenes. Thinking back, I don’t recall having difficulty with any particular scene.

Q. What are the downsides of co-writing a novel?

Liz: As we often say, we have to leave our egos at the door when writing together. We may have to defend something we’ve written if the other doesn’t see it the same way. But if the reasons are legitimate, a compromise can be reached. Honestly, I don’t see any real downsides. Other than—and I think Pam would agree—our writing times often don’t coincide, which can be frustrating.

Pam: I certainly agree. Mostly it’s being available at the same time. I’m doing a home reno at the moment and we both have large families, so time and life gets in the way.

Q. What are the pluses of co-writing?

Liz: Too many to mention! It’s marvelous knowing you’re not on this ride alone. I don’t know if I could write completely on my own. To have another person on the same page—literally—and offering encouragement, inspiration and motivation has become a standard for us. Two pairs of eyes to critique and catch errors and make suggestions. Wonderful!

One of the main advantages is that we each have our own strengths. And as we’ve learned, there’s more to writing than just writing. Promotion and marketing go hand-in-hand with editing and character development. Pam has a background in sales, and she isn’t shy about approaching people to promote Jamie Tremain. That’s not something I’m comfortable with. I bring the technical side of things to the table. Maintaining websites, Twitter and Facebook accounts, and I love dotting those i’s and crossing those t’s.

Pam: Again I agree with Liz. She is analytical and a technical person. I am neither of those. And she corrects my POV errors. I add the fluff, and marketing and promotion is part of my background so it’s up to me to get out there more.

Q. What would you suggest other writers look for in novel-writing partners?

Liz: You need to at least like the other person. Having similar interests, writing styles and creativity processes are good. But the most important thing is respecting each other, and being able to listen to—not react to—suggestions or criticisms of what you’ve sweated over to get onto the page. The story has to come first.

Pam: Ditto.

Q. How did you come up with the pen name Jamie Tremain?

Pam: My maiden name is James, and I was called Jamie in high school.

Liz: Tremain comes from a family surname—Tremaine.

Q. Did the novel require a lot of research?

Liz and Pam: We would both have loved nothing better than doing hands-on research in Portland Ore., but, alas, our bank accounts wouldn’t back us on that. Thank goodness for the internet which provided interesting details. And reading online newspapers in the area was a great way to determine weather conditions and local events.

Q. Why a mystery novel, and not a mainstream, historical, romance or fantasy novel?

Liz: I prefer to write the type of story I like to read. And while I do enjoy hefty historical fiction, I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to tackle writing a historical novel.

Pam: Like Liz, I write what I enjoy reading. I like thrillers and crime/mystery so that is where our writing has taken us.

Q. What was the best writing advice you’ve received?

Liz & Pam: From author Louise Penny on showing vs telling: She suggests when writing a scene, closing your eyes and imagining you are seeing it on television or on a movie screen. How are characters interacting? What’s going on around the edges? Write what you see, and how it makes you feel.

Q. What was the worst advice?

Pam: There is a plethora of advice out there. Most of it is written from one person’s experiences so I take most of it with a pinch of salt. But I can’t think of any really bad advice.

Liz: I agree. You can drown in advice and guidelines, and become paralyzed with fear that you’re not doing something right. I suggest knowing your grammar and then finding your own style.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from The Silk Shroud?

Pam: I hope they’lll be entertained and read right to the end. And beg for more stories from Jamie Tremain.

Q. Will there be a sequel?

Liz: We are hard at work on the sequel, which is tentatively titled Cut Short. And as our minds work faster than we can get ideas down, we already have one or two ideas for spinoffs. So much to write, so little time!

Thank you, Jamie Tremain!

Follow Jamie Tremain on her blog, on her website  and on Facebook.

And you can download The Silk Shroud (Kindle version and paperback) at the Amazon store in your country.

Liz Lindsay, left, divides her time between a career in banking and fiction writing. She lives in Guelph, Ont. Pamela Blance grew up in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in the 1960s. She now lives and writes in Oakville, Ont.

 

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How I spent my summer vacation

Eight days in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands, revisiting some of my favourite spots:

The Haliburton Sculpture Forest near Haliburton Village is an outdoor collection of 35 sculptures by Canadian and international artists. My favourite is A Conspiracy of Ravens (bronze and steel, 2012) by Canada’s John McKinnon:

Road Sign for the “real” Raven Lake on Highway 35, south of Dorset. Setting inspired my 2016 mystery by the same name:

Abbey Gardens, on Highway 118 between Carnarvon and Haliburton Village, is a community-based effort to promote sustainable agriculture. A spent aggregate pit has been transformed into a viable 300-acre green space:

Checking out the “pond” at Abbey Gardens:

Canoe Lake in Algonquin Park, 100 years after the death of artist Tom Thomson:

Tom Thomson memorial in Algonquin Park:

My guy Ed, “Captain For Life,” at the SS Bigwin on Lake of Bays in Dorset. The steamship ferried guests to Bigwin Island Resort for 45 years starting in 1925. It sat, partially submerged on the bottom of the lake, for years until its restoration that began in 2002. It was relaunched in 2013:

View from friends Linda Cahill and Gordon Barthos’s screened porch on Raglan White Lake in eastern Haliburton County:

This summer vacation really rocked!

(Photos by Ed Piwowarczyk)

 

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Imajin’s #CANADA150 giveaway

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, Imajin Books is giving away 150 ebooks to Canadian reders and 150 ebooks to readers outside of Canada. To enter, all you need to do is subscribe to Imajin Books Inner Circle (newsletter). Winners will be selected from subscribers, and they can choose their eBook prize.
Rules: Must be age 16. Must subscribe to Imajin Books Inner Circle. No returns or substitutions.
No purchases needed. Event runs through July 31.
Click here to enter!
AND Imajin’s Summer Sizzles eBook sale runs through July 15. Novels are $1.99 USD, novelllas  and Ogopogo children’s titles are 99 cents USD, and trilogy bundles are $2.99 USD.
Click here to see Imajin’s Amazon’s sale page and the entire Imajin sale inventory!
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Pat Tierney Mysteries sale!

Download by clicking on: Safe Harbor, Black Water and Raven Lake.

Sale on through July 15!

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Author James Moushon: “Don’t hide from your readers!”

James Moushon spent most of his adult life developing computer systems—and thinking about writing mysteries. He finally took the plunge into crime fiction, and is now the author of the Jonathon Stone Mysteries: three novels titled Black Mountain Secrets (2012), Game of Fire (2014), The Cajun Ghost (2016); and a collection of six short stories, Operation Alpha Dog (2015).

And he’s launching three more Jonathon Stone stories this summer:

James is a great example of an author who goes out of his way to help fellow authors get exposure. He has interviewed and showcased hundreds of writers on his blog, HBS Author’s Spotlight, and more than 1,000 mystery writers on HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle. His eBook Author’s Corner offers writing and marketing news and advice.

James lives in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Q. Who is Jonathon Stone?

A. CIA agent Jonathon Stone lives in Long Beach, Calif. Belmont Shore, to be more specific. He is what his fellow agents call an Asset-On-Call; he may show up anywhere in the world. But he’s not a Bond type of guy. He uses his mind to solve the situations he finds himself in.

And like many single men, Jonathon likes gambling and drinking and the ladies.

Q. In what sub-genre would you classify the Jonathon Stone stories?

A. Murder mystery, thriller, intrigue, espionage and politics. I’d include cozy on the list, although the standard definition of a cozy specifies small-town adventures. I made a pledge when I started writing that I would not include bad language or sex scenes. I want my grandkids to be able to pick up a story and read a clean copy.

Q. Your stories cross into many genres. Is there romance in them?

A. I make references to romance, although it’s not a focus of the stories. Jonathon has an on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jill, who works as a barmaid at the casino he frequents. He also has some close encounters with FBI Agent Jodi Shannon, but business always gets in the way.

Q. James, how much of yourself is in Jonathon Stone?

A. We are complete opposites. Jonathon is tall, dark and handsome. I am…well, not that. But he does use logic to get though most of his operations, as I like to do.

Q. Do you put people you know in your stories?

A. I use the names of some people I know or close variations, but I don’t focus specific persons. I try to create characters that are tailored to the jobs they have to do.

Q. Perhaps you use situations you’ve been involved in in the stories?

A. I have lived or been in most of the locations where the stories are set so I’m familiar with them. I let my imagination do the rest.

As I said earlier, Jonathon finds himself all over the place. Some operations are in southern California, some in Arizona and some in the Far East. And I get some help from my family. I have a son living in Singapore (Operation Asian Tiger), a brother-in-law who worked at the Camp Navajo weapons and training site in Arizona (Operation Camp Navajo), and I’ve lived in southern California and Arizona for many years.

Q. How much research do you do?

A. I do a lot of research. Google helps a lot, and I use Google Earth to actually view the locations I am writing about. As a side note, if Jonathon visits an unusual location or I use a unique term, I include the Wikipedia text in the appendix for the reader.

Q. What scenes do you have the most fun writing?

A. I enjoy writing scenes with two of Jonathon’s cohorts, Chuck Chun and Wiley, his tech guy. They both like to give him a hard time, and he returns the favor.

Q. Are you a plotter or a pantster when it comes to constructing a story?

A. I am a plotter. And I like to base my stories on situations currently in the news such as sanctuary cities (Operation No Sanctuary), hacking (Operation Listen Close, to be released this fall) and missing airplanes (Operation Asian Tiger, to be released in August).

Q. Do you have advice for writers who are just starting to write crime fiction?

A. Study the top crime writers. They are successful for a reason. Spend time learning your craft; this is not an easy job.

And don’t hide from your readers. I do a lot of blogging to help other authors gain exposure, and some of the areas that need improvement are:

  • Provide a way for readers to contact you: either an email address or a website with a contact form.
  • Have an easy way for readers to interact with you on social media.
  • Develop a basic, consistent profile or bio. Amazon, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, etc., allows you to present yourself to your readers free of charge.

Q. What actor would you like to play Jonathon Stone in movie adaptations of the stories?

A. Jonathon is in his forties so an actor of approximately that age: Jim Caviezel (Person of Interest TV series), Rob Lowe (Code Black medical drama TV series), or Michael Weatherly (Bull TV series).

Thank you, James. Looking forward to more Jonathon Stone adventures!

Follow James on his website and on his blogs, which are linked to above.

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Summer Sizzles sale!

Today, Canada Day, is the first day of Imajin’s Summer Sizzles sale that runs through July 15.

Novels are now $1.99 USD. That means my three Pat Tierney mysteries – Safe Harbor, Black Water and Raven Lake – are available for $1.99 USD each for the next two weeks!

Novellas are 99¢ USD, Ogopogo children’s titles are 99¢ USD, and trilogy bundles are $2.99 USD.

Click here to see Imajin’s Amazon sale page and the entire Imajin sale inventory!

Happy summer reading!

 

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