nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Kaye Eliot Mysteries

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There are now three books to read in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. Set in Nova Scotia, these mysteries feature a mystery-loving family, Kay Eliot and her kids Matthew and Katie. The mysteries they solve are always based on a message they discover from the past: old letters, an old diary, post cards sent long ago.

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How Her Garden Grew

A mystery in a bundle of letters and a weird sea shell in an old garden …

In 1994, when Kaye comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children, she has no idea what waits for her. Instead of passing stress-free days of swimming and hiking, she finds herself embedded in mystery after mystery. A missing vagrant and a gang of thieves have the community worried. And neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. Meanwhile, she and her kids have stumbled into a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property. At the root of it all is a sinister sea-shell that will not stay where it is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be the victim of neighbours, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun? just click here to see the book on Amazon. Or pick up a copy at Westminster Books in Fredericton.

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Something the Sundial Said

A mystery in a diary and a murder by a sundial …

In 1995, Kaye and her young family attend a country auction, never dreaming the stone sundial in the garden is the site of a century-old murder. They end up buying the old house but someone else buys the sundial. Then Kaye finds a diary written in 1880, chronicling the days leading up to the murder. When Kaye reads the diary, she decides to search for the sundial and return it to the property. And she decides to try and solve the mystery with the clues left in the diary. At every corner, she is outmaneuvered by a local genealogist who is anxious to obtain the diary and keep information damaging to her family hidden. The woman will go to ridiculous lengths to obtain the diary, even stalking Katie, Kaye’s teenaged daughter. As Kaye discovers someone is entering her house at night to find the diary, she wonders who she can trust. The former owner of the house? The handsome stonemason who offers to mend the stone walls on the property? Or the genealogist who will go to extraordinary lengths to protect her family name? Just click here to see the book on Amazon. Or pick up a copy at Westminster Books in Fredericton.

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Land Between the Furrows

A mystery in a stack of post cards and the search for a missing stone …

When Kaye and her friend Clara hold a yard sale, they never dream a box of old post cards will send them on a search for a valuable ‘stone.’ With the help of the stone mason, Daniel, Kaye’s family will try to solve the messages in the post cards and find an old house where the lost artifact must be hidden. When Katie’s pet, Cow, gets lost in the woods, Kaye’s family gets a sudden boost in the game of ‘who finds the stone.’ Their efforts are stymied by some new arrivals in the community: the determined member of a Heritage Association, a bird watcher who doesn’t seem to know a robin from a starling and Daniel’s new, rather unlikely, apprentice. Where is the ‘stone’ and how can it save a community from loss of everything they hold dear? The third in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series is available at Amazon here. This week it will be available at Westminster Books in Fredericton or from me directly.

These are the coziest of mysteries, perfect to curl up with on a rainy day or during the long days of lockdown.

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Stay safe everyone!

Jane

Book Review: Meadowlands – A Chronicle of the Scovil Family’ by Virginia Bliss Bjerkelund

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I have lived in New Brunswick for more than 40 years and love its rural nature and the landscapes dominated by its waterways. In our travels on the weekends, we have spent lots of time in the Oromocto to Cambridge Narrows corridor. For many years we had a cabin in the woods just over the hill from the Narrows. In the last ten years we have had a cabin south of Gagetown. As a result, we have used the Gagetown ferry many, many times. It’s an enjoyable crossing of the Saint John River, like a mini-cruise, with lots to see. I always love disembarking at Foshay Farms. From there, we continue towards Jemseg, watching for turtles in the ponds, osprey on their nests, Canada geese foraging in the fields. One year we watched a glossy ibis in a marshy area along the road, a rare sighting for New Brunswick.

Because of my familiarity with the area, I have looked forward to reading a copy of Virginia’s book Meadowlands, former name of the homestead where the Gagetown ferry lands, the Foshay Farms mentioned above. I also looked forward to the book because Virginia is a member of my writers’ group Wolf Tree Writers. Through the years, Virginia has talked about her Aunt Bessie’s home and workshopped many of the passages in the book.

Meadowlands – A Chronicle of the Scovil Family’ by Virginia Bliss Bjerkelund (Woodstock: Chapel Street Editions, 2020)

An interesting, readable, often humorous, portrayal of life in the early years of the 20th century.

Meadowlands is an enjoyable read, presenting the life of a family after the death of the mother of the five Scovil children. Major characters in the book are Aunt Bessie (Elizabeth Scovil), a professional nurse who knew Florence Nightingale, and Mary Scovil, the youngest daughter in the family and the author’s mother. The book follows the lives of the family, detailing their adventures and travels. The reader is assisted by a map of the area, a family tree and photos of the people in the book.

A remarkable characteristic of the book is its portrayal of women’s lives in the early 1900s. Elizabeth Scovil, a well-known writer in her field and a professional nurse, was an unusual woman, ahead of her time, independent, self-supporting and a source of strength and guidance for her family.  Other women’s roles are also presented including the women who taught school, public and private. The division of labour into men’s work and women’s work is a thread running through the book. The lack of control of a woman over her own life, especially in matters of romance, provides some interesting story-lines.

My favorite aspect of Meadowlands is the attention it pays to the transportation of the times. Travels to Saint John and Windsor, and into other parts of  Canada and the United States were a regular part of the Scovil year. In particular, the local travels to Gagetown (for school, medical care and various groceries) are interesting for their seasonal nature. In winter, a sled and skates were the preferred way of crossing the river. In summer, a row boat was the norm. The family’s adventures include early innovations in transportation: the first motor cars and the addition of an Evinrude motor to the Scovil boat are memorable.

Meadowlands is an enjoyable book, written in an engaging style with the author’s voice clear and consistent. The reader’s appetite will be inspired throughout by descriptions of the foods eaten and images of sipping cordials on the veranda or turning the crank to make fresh strawberry ice cream.

Meadowlands has had the honor of being short-listed in the New Brunswick Book Awards for the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Non-fiction Award!

You can find your copy of Meadowlands at your local bookstore, at the Chapel Street website here, or at Amazon here .

Enjoy your reading!

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 31, 2021 at 3:56 pm

A Book Review: Where’s Home by Jan Fancy Hull

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I am originally from Alberta, but left for Nova Scotia as a teenager and remained there for twenty years until I took my first job. Although I have not lived there for years, Nova Scotia has a way of tugging at my heart-strings. I love the ocean, the rural landscape of the Annapolis Valley, the silver waters of the Bras d’Or Lakes. My Kaye Eliot Mysteries are set in the Rawdon Hills of Nova Scotia. For these reasons, I was so happy to hear about a writing project by my friend Jan Hull, a book exploring the ideas of people who consider Nova Scotia ‘home.’

Where’s Home? by Jan Fancy Hull (Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia: Moose House Publications, 2020)

An honest and charming mixture of memory, experience and connection.

This book explores the difficult idea of acceptance (how you accept your community/landscape/province and how it accepts you). Through anecdote and survey response, the book explores the idea of ‘home’—where you live, why you live there, who you are, when you arrived, and how you seek to be part of community.

A reader will begin the book expecting a series of anecdotes about down-east warmth and soothing ocean vistas. But, as the cover states, the answer to Where’s Home? can be complicated. Here you will find stories of people who love Nova Scotia, would never live anywhere else. You will find stories of those who love the ocean, the rural landscape, the home cooking and the welcoming people. You will also find stories of those who hate cold and snowy winters or have ambitions for urban success in other parts of the world.

The book does not avoid difficult subject matter but discusses problems of ‘home’ throughout Nova Scotia’s history—the loss of home by indigenous peoples who did not surrender title to their lands, the loss of home by Acadian people who were deported by the English, people who lost homes when a federal park was established, people whose idea of home has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The anecdotes and survey answers in the book consider the complex idea of CFA (Come From Away). Some new arrivals have been welcomed with plates of scones. Others have not found acceptance and the author considers some of the barriers to feeling at home—local colloquialisms, lack of business opportunities, even racism.

My favorite idea in the book?—a way to make people feel welcomed: organized Campground Hosts at Kejimkujic Park, unofficial community greeters, local refugee organizations, local people all set to welcome newcomers to a home in Nova Scotia.

As you read Where’s Home? you will compare your experiences with those in the book, even if you are not from Nova Scotia—the experiences related are applicable to any place where we live or wish to return. These are stories of entrepreneurs, artists, immigrants, people of various cultures and backgrounds. They are told with consideration, empathy, humor and understanding.

Where’s Home? is available at Amazon here, at your local bookstore, or by contacting Jan directly at the website here.

Enjoy your reading during these uncertain spring days.

All my best!

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 30, 2021 at 7:22 pm

Land Between the Furrows: now available!

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The third book in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series, Land Between the Furrows, is now available from Amazon in paperback and e-book!

Kaye and her family are again solving a mystery in a small community in Nova Scotia. They have found a stack of old post cards and clues to the whereabouts of a valuable stone. All they have to do is discover what is meant by those words: ‘furrow’ and ‘land.’

Land Between the Furrows is available from Amazon here. You will be able to find it at Westminster Books in Fredericton by the end of March. There will be a launch! Stay tuned!

All my best.

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

Book Cover – Land Between the Furrows

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I have been working on the cover painting for the new book in the Kaye Eliot Mysteries: Land Between the Furrows.

First, I do a pencil drawing of the idea I have for the cover. In this book, grind stones from a local grist mill figure in the mystery.

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Then I do a painting, based on the pencil drawing. This painting is in acrylics, 16″ by 20″.

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Finally, I create the cover. This is, for me, the hardest step. I take the photo of the painting into GIMP, crop to get the correct dimensions (6″ by 9″) and scale the image to 360 dpi (pixels per inch). Then I bring the image into the KDP Cover Creater and add the text and so on.

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The book will be ready to go live on March 15, 2021.

All my best,

Jane

a storm of birds

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We are expecting major snowfall/freezing rain in the next couple of days. I think the birds must sense this because there is a veritable storm of birds at the feeders this morning.

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We have evening grosbeaks, a downy woodpecker, chickadees, nuthatches and mourning doves. By far the largest numbers are the redpolls and goldfinches. We also have red and grey squirrels, but they didn’t show up this morning.

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The birds fly in from our surrounding trees and feed for a while, coming and going. Then a dog barks or a car goes by and the whole flock leaves at once. Only a few brave grosbeaks cling to the feeder. Eventually, all the birds return and begin to feed.

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We keep the feeders full during the cold weather and feed with nyjer (thistle) seed and black-oil sunflower seeds.

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Watching the birds is lots of fun. Each species seems to have its own feeding-personality:

  • the chickadees land, grab and leave as quickly as possible;
  • the woodpeckers cling to the feeder and only leave when they’ve had their fill;
  • the finches (redpolls and goldfinches) arrive as a flock and stay, to feed mostly on the fallen seed under the feeders;
  • the grosbeaks, much bigger than the finches, mingle with them and hang on to the feeders even after other birds have been frightened away.

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Bird watching is a great way to spend time during these days of pandemic lockdown. Still haven’t seen my first cardinal! And this year I haven’t yet seen a purple finch, so common in previous years.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

February 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Coming Soon: New Title in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series

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Every afternoon, I spend some time working on reviewing/revising the proof of my new mystery in the Kaye Eliot Series. I have a cozy spot to work, in my big reading chair in front of the fireplace. Not hard to take a fanciful flight to Nova Scotia where the mystery unfolds.

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The new book focuses on stones of various types and the part they play in our history: gemstones, millstones, standing stones, building stones. It may take a while for readers to understand the title of the book: Land Between the Furrows.

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In each book, I include three illustrations. Here is one of the three: an old grist mill and its grind stones figure in the mystery. This drawing will be the basis for the painting featured on the book’s cover.

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In this book, Kaye finds a stack of very old postcards that tell the story of a missing stone. Kaye welcomes the chance to solve a puzzle with her kids but some of the visitors to the community make their sleuthing a little dangerous. Then the family discovers the ruin of an old stone house on an unexplored part of their property and finding the missing stone may be only part of their venture into history.

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Land Between the Furrows is planned for release on March 15, 2021. A perfect cozy mystery to enjoy during these long winter afternoons.

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All my best!

Jane

Gargoyles?

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I am working on my poetry manuscript ‘a glimpse of waterfalls.’ As always, I workshop some of the poems with my writing group Wolf Tree Writers. Wolf Tree has been together over thirty years and has assisted me greatly in improving my poetry.

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This past week I read a poem to Wolf Tree called ‘from a window on the 3rd floor.’ In the third stanza, a gargoyle is mentioned. We talked about how a gargoyle is an ‘Old World’ (European) reference. It made me curious about gargoyles in Canada.

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A gargoyle is a sculptural architectural feature used like a waterspout to transport rainwater away from the building. A gargoyle often depicts a grotesque other-world figure and also serves to frighten daemons away and remind people of the perils of doing harm. Sculptural features which look like gargoyles but which do not convey water are called grotesques.

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Canada has many examples of gargoyles, occurring wherever architecture is gothic in design. There are many examples in Montreal, including on the campus of McGill University (Redpath Hall and Library), on churches (Christ Church Cathedral) and on private buildings (the Elspeth Angus and Duncan McIntyre House). The Peace Tower (Parliament Building) in Ottawa has numerous gargoyles and grotesques. For more information see https://sencanada.ca/en/sencaplus/how-why/gargoyles-and-grotesques-parliament-hills-sinister-sentinels/

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from a window on the 3rd floor

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I nudge curtain, interpret

streetscape, sirens

stream down the glass

fractal paths where drops

meet and coalesce

meet and coalesce

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the puddle on the cobbled street

a pool at the base of a waterfall

edged in rock and fern

candy wrappers, paper coffee cups

brick an escarpment, rain spills

from ledges of stone

edges of stone

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above, a gargoyle gushes

glimpse of reckless sky

heartened, I consider

merits of solitude

building facade

pavement pulses

red and blue

red and blue

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Are there any gargoyles in the architecture of your area?

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All my best!!

Jane

Written by jane tims

January 13, 2021 at 7:00 am

2021 writing plans

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I am a planner by nature and so I have plans for my writing life in 2021. My main writing work will be to publish the third in my Kaye Eliot Mysteries: Land Between the Furrows and the ninth and tenth books in my science fiction series: Meniscus: Meeting of Minds and Meniscus: Rosetta Stone. These books are all in final draft, so my work will be to revise and format for publication. For creative work, I will begin drafting the fourth Kaye Eliot Mystery: Stained Glass.

I also want to continue with publication of my older poems. In 2020, I completed three books of these: ghosts are lonely here; niche; and blueberries and mink – summers on my grandfather’s farm.

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I have plans to repeat this in 2021. I have three poetry books in mind.

  • waterfall : this manuscript won Honorable Mention in the Writers’ Federation Competition for the Alfred Bailey Poetry Prize in 2012; it includes poems about waterfalls in New Brunswick, about waterfalls inspired by Dante’s Inferno and about waterfalls as metaphors for struggles with relationship.
  • mystery: poems about the mystery in my life. These would include whimsical interpretations of space and time, ghost stories, my approach to urban legend and nature myth, and perhaps my observations of the night sky.
  • a glimpse of sickle moon: this manuscript won Third Place in the Writers’ Federation Competition for the Alfred Bailey Poetry Prize in 2020. These are poems about the natural world as it moves from season to season; deciding how to group the poems will be the biggest challenge.

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To complete these books, I will have to review/revise some of the poems, draw any associated illustrations and do the formatting.

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The agenda I set for myself may sound daunting, but I am driven by goals and I am retired, meaning I have lots of time to spend on this part of my life.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

January 6, 2021 at 7:00 am

2020 resolution realized!

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In the early days of 2020 I designed a project for myself … to hunt down and organize my older poems. I set a goal to organize the poems into files and to create (and independently publish) three poetry books from three of the files. I had a good start on these books since I had already completed the poems and the illustrations. Some revision work and formatting was left to be done.

The three books are done! I have a new book of poetry published: blueberries and mink – summers on my grandfather’s farm. To order from Amazon, click here

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A brief history and description of the three:

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In early September, I published ghosts are lonely here, a book of 45 poems and 14 of my original illustrations about abandoned features of the human landscape. If you are fascinated by abandoned houses, bridges, vehicles, churches and so on, you will love these poems. To order a copy from Amazon, https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08J5CQ4GC

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In early December, I published niche, a book of 65 poems and 16 illustrations about the spaces plants and animals, including humans, occupy. With a foreword by my friend, award-winning poet Roger Moore, these are poems about plants and animals in the places where I have lived: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta. To order a copy from Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/niche-Jane-Tims/dp/B08QRYXS9D

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Yesturday, I completed my review of the proof of the third and final book in my 2020 series: blueberries and mink – summers on my grandfather’s farm. This book was begun as an exploration of the various buildings on my grandfather’s Nova Scotia farm and evolved to tell the story of change on the farm. It contains some very personal memories of my visits each summer to the farm and my ramblings in the surrounding countryside. The book has 45 poems and includes 26 illustrations. To order a copy from Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RH7MKJS

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By the end of January, these three books will be available in Westminster Books in Fredericton, or from me directly.

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Three new books on my author’s shelf! Hooray!

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All my best!

Jane

Written by jane tims

December 30, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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