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Archive for the ‘Kaye Eliot Mysteries’ Category

Book Launch

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If you live in the Fredericton area, I will be at Westminster Books tomorrow, Saturday, from 1 to 4 to launch the next in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series, Land Between the Furrows. I will be there with friend Chuck Bowie who is launching two books: Her Irish Boyfriend (in the Donovan, Thief for Hire Series) and, writing as Alexa Bowie, Death Between the Tables (in the Old Manse Mystery Series).

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In these worrisome times, we will be wearing masks and keeping our distance. And no cake will be served.

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Looking forward to talking about mystery writing and local books!

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My best to you!

Jane

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

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

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

a book launch with a twist

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Anyone in the Fredericton, New Brunswick area, mark your calendars! On next Sunday, August 23, from 1:00 to 4:00, Chuck Bowie and I will launch two new mystery books at Westminster Books.

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This will be a launch with a few differences. No cake, no refreshments. No readings. No hugs. Just Chuck and Jane, probably at different ends of the bookstore. With masks. Only a few fans at a time.  But we will talk to you and answer all questions you have about writing mysteries (no spoilers, sorry). I will bring the two cover paintings for ‘How Her Garden Grew‘ and ‘Something the Sundial Said‘ and I will bring a sundial and a Grinning Tun seashell, key symbols from my mysteries. Be sure to ask Chuck how the hops vine figures into his mystery ‘Death Between the Walls.’ And ask me what creepy Marion (in ‘Something the Sundial Said‘) keeps on her coffee table as a paper-weight!

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Wish you were all close enough to come to the launch!

All my best!

Jane

clues in a mystery

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I am still revising my novel, the third in my Kate Eliot Mystery series: Land Between the Furrows.

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A mystery places additional demands on both writer and reader. It is the writer’s job to present the mystery, include clues to solve the mystery and then, work with the reader — ta da! — to solve the mystery. It is the reader’s job to accept the challenge of solving the mystery, look for clues, put them together and work with the writer to solve the mystery. The result is a story and plot where the writer and reader collaborate.

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Mine is a cozy mystery. In this book, there is something to find. At first it is not clear what the something is, but gradually its characteristics are revealed and the location (where the object is hidden) is revealed. The mystery uses a device, a stack of post cards and the messages on them, to present the clues.

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Most of the information is sorted through the gradual telling of the story and by the end of the first draft, I have a rough idea of the way clues will be distributed through the book. But, as for all writing, adjustment and revision is usually needed.

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To do this, I use two tools. One is my Table of Chapters and Scenes. The other is my List of Clues.

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So take a simple mystery. I have hidden an object in this room. There are really two sets of clues 1. What is the object? and 2. Where is it hidden? In a simple, straightforward mystery, the clues should be presented in a logical way and information should be progressive.

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Library

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So, here is the room.

List of Clues

What is the item? the clues are:

  • it’s cold
  • it tastes delicious
  • it’s purple
  • it’s on a stick

Where in the room is the item hidden? the clues are:

  • in the library
  • on a library shelf
  • in a hollow book
  • name of the book: “Warm Day”

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I use the Table of Chapters to make sure the clues are distributed completely and in order. These Table is not complete (there are probably ten chapters in this simple book), but this will give you the idea.

chart

Of course there can be complexities: clues within clues; red herrings; dead ends; twists and turns.

By the time the book is near the end, I want to make sure all the clues have been given.

And Kaye and her kids get the Popsicle.

popsicle

All my best,

staying safe,

Jane

 

 

Written by jane tims

June 22, 2020 at 7:01 am

dates, days and seasons

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After the first draft is complete, after I’ve done a little work on continuity, I take another step in ordering the manuscript. I assign dates to each chapter and scene of the book. In the kind of mystery story I write, it is useful to the reader to know the date as the story progresses.

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This is important for several reasons:

  1. I have children in my Kaye Eliot mysteries and I want to be certain that student Katie is actually home (and not in school) for her scenes
  1. my characters often interact with government professionals. They don’t usually work on weekends.
  1. my book is set in Nova Scotia where the seasons change; knowing the date gives me information on the likely weather
  2. my protagonist, Kaye Eliot, is a botanist, so from her point of view, the vegetation is an important part of her descriptions of setting. To help with this, I keep a setting journal, so I know that apple blossoms are out around May 30, lilacs are in bloom in mid-June and lupins line the roads from mid-June to early July.
  3. I often put the phases of the moon in night scenes. Knowing the date lets me assign the correct phase of the moon to my settings. Have you ever read a book where the full moon shines all month long?
  4. Knowing the date lets me weave long weekends and holidays into my story.

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My book is set in 1996. A quick Google search will find me a calendar for that year. Believe it or not, most phone books once included a calendar for every possible year. No longer necessary.

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As I said before, my Table of Chapters is a useful tool for keeping track of dates, days and seasons. I can refer to it to get an instant idea of how much time has passed and where I have “time” to insert a new scene or chapter.

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All my best.

Staying home.

Working hard.

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Jane

Written by jane tims

June 17, 2020 at 7:00 am

continuity errors

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As I do revisions of my new manuscript, I find continuity errors in the First Draft. A perfect example cropped up today.

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The story revolves around the clues contained in a shoe box of post cards. About a quarter of the way through the book, someone steals the post cards. In the next chapter, Kaye and her friend Clara make a list of the post cards and a summary of the clues. Hard to do if they don’t have the cards with them! This kind of continuity error is easy to find and correct. Switching the chapters and correcting any new continuity errors is relatively easy.

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post cards

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Fixing continuity errors begins with identification.

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My main tools in this process are the “find” feature of my word processing software and a “table of chapters” that tracks the characteristics of each chapter. The table includes chapter-specific information on scenes, days/dates, setting, characters, Point of View, symbols and so on. This table is a lot of work, but it helps me over and over again during the review process.

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Sample Table

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In my search for continuity errors, I consider:

1. days and dates: I begin every chapter and scene with a day and date. This helps the reader to understand passage of time and helps me with time-related continuity errors. For example, Katie is in Grade 10 at school. On Tuesdays, she can’t be driving around with her mom looking for clues. The table lets me check on these various characteristics of the story and the time/order when events occur.

2. symbols used in the story: mentioned once in a story, a firepit is just a firepit. Mentioned twice, it begins to resonate; it refers to earlier mentions and takes on metaphorical meaning. Mentioned three times, it is all metaphor, a reminder of family, warm memories of a cold night and gathering. When these symbols are identified in the table of chapters, I can forward search on each symbol and read the context. The progression of meaning should be steady and discernible. Ideas out of order can be identified and their order fixed.

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3. character development: sometimes continuity errors are about an out-of-order character arc. When Clara’s home suffers a break-in, she is fearful and unwilling to trust strangers. When she meets Daniel, she learns to trust again, but the progression of this change must be logical and gradual.

4. gradual changes to setting: sometimes significant changes to setting create continuity errors. For example, in my book, an old road is bulldozed. The first time it is used it is muddy, almost impassible. When cars use the road later in the story, I have to explain the change with a spell of dry weather.

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Continuity errors can creep into a story in so many small ways. Character names, hair colour, vehicle make and model, even community names … everything needs to be checked. In the revision stage, it is important to review the story with intent and focus: continuity errors are most easily identified when the writer’s brain is attentive, alert. Drowsy-minded reviews are for finding and removing adverbs!

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All this effort is needed. Readers can be ripped from the world created by a book if the heroine with curly red hair suddenly has hair that is wispy and blond. Readers can be unforgiving.

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'Odymn and Vicki talk' (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC) (2)

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Have you ever found an unforgettable continuity error in a book?

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All my best.

Stay home, stay safe.

Jane

choosing a title

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The title of a book can be chosen in a great hurry, the product of the first thing that writes itself on the back wall of the author’s brain. Or, it can emerge after hours, even days, of consideration.

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The title is an important part of a book. It is often the first impression a reader has of the story. It has the responsibility of telling the story in a few words without being a spoiler. It must inform and in the same moment ask a question. It can not confuse the reader … it must not promise a mystery by one author and deliver a book about the life cycle of bees by another.

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I am working on the third book in my Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. I first conceived of the book in 1989. The working title flashed before my eyes … No Stone Unturned. Over 30 years later, I have a first draft. Time to move from a working title to the final title.

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blue stone (Jane Tims) (2016_12_30 00_28_35 UTC)

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So, what is wrong with No Stone Unturned? First, it is a cliche. Second, I searched on Amazon books and found eleven other books with the same title.

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So, to come up with an alternative title, I considered the following:

  1. other titles in the series. Other titles in the Kaye Eliot Mysteries are How Her Garden Grew and Something the Sundial Said. These are longish titles and both ask a question. Both start with a pronoun and include a noun and a verb. To continue this pattern, I considered a title like Where the Stone Lies.
  2. what the story is about. This book is about various efforts to find a stone and return it to its home. Finding the Stone. Searching for the Stone. Setting the Stone Free. Hmmmm.
  3. words and ideas that repeat or resonate in the story. Words in this book with symbolic meaning include stone, stone house, standing stone, mill stone, furrow, land, repatriation, betrothal, demographics, house plans, etc. Some of these words can go out right away. Repatriation of the Stone. No.
  4. the book’s genre. I had a look at the book titles of other writers in the mystery genre. The word ‘mystery’ is usually on the cover … I have A Kaye Eliot Mystery on every cover. In this genre I see titles like Cold Earth and Dark Water (Anne Cleary), Candle for a Corpse and Flowers for His Funeral (Ann Granger), and Death in a Darkening Mist and A Killing in King’s Cove. (Iona Whishaw). So perhaps I should choose something like Seeking the Stone or Death by Stone or just The Stone House.

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Perhaps I am drowning in stones, because my choice for a book title at this point is The Land Between the Furrows. It is longish like my other titles. It is a little unfamiliar, to entice a reader. It asks the question “What happens on the land between the furrows,” or “What is the land between the furrows?” The worst thing about the title, it suggests an agricultural theme which is not quite true.

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If you are considering the ideal title for your own book, have a look at https://thejohnfox.com/2016/07/how-to-create-good-book-titles/ for a step by step approach to finding a great title.

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All my best.

Stay home as much as possible

and stay safe.

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

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