nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘community

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

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

Merry Christmas surprise!

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This afternoon I heard a tiny knock at the front door and arrived in time to see two children walking down our driveway. On the door handle I found a gift hanging! Very festive wrapping in a white dotted cellophane bag, a red card saying Merry Christmas and a gift wrapped in green tissue paper.

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I looked out at the street and there was a group of parents and children walking and waving. I waved back and said ‘Thank you,’ feeling quite festive!

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When my husband got home, we unwrapped the gift and inside was a beautiful sparkling ornament for our tree!

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On Facebook, I discovered people all around our neighbourhood had received this surprise. Makes me feel so happy and part of the neighbourhood!

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Merry Christmas everyone and especially to the families who made and delivered my surprise!

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All my best,

stay safe,

Jane.

Written by jane tims

December 12, 2020 at 4:30 pm

garden escapes: balm-of-Gilead

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My mom used to take me for a walk around the garden when I visited. One of her favorite trees was the balm-of-Gilead. Her original tree had escaped into other places along the driveway and she loved its tenacity. She always pulled a leaf from a low branch and crushed it to bring forth the smell … slightly medicinal, aromatic and balsamic. I also love the colour, green with a tinge of orange bronze.

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The balm-of-Gilead (Populus × jackii or P.× gileadensis), is the hybrid between balsam poplar and eastern cottonwood. This hybrid is sometimes planted as a shade tree, and sometimes escapes from cultivation.

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As we drive the roads of abandoned houses and community, I often see balm-of-Gilead before I see any other garden escapes.

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In 1898,  Beaufort, Carleton County, was a community with 1 post office and a population of 100. Today, there is only one, modern house in the community. But remnants of old gardens still remain. We saw many garden plants, both persisting and escaping: monkshood, dropwort, orange day-lily and butter-and-eggs. There were also apple trees and a poplar I identified as balm-of-Gilead.

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Today Beaufort is a long, lonely road with only traces of the former community.

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I took a slip of Mom’s balm-of-Gilead and planted it at our cabin property. It is taking its time, growing a little more each year. I think, when I am gone, perhaps this tree will have grown and be sending out descendants of its own.

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This work was made possible by a Creations Grant from artsnb!

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Take care, stay safe.

Don’t get Covid-tired.

Be tenacious like the balm-of-Gilead.

Jane

Written by jane tims

August 3, 2020 at 7:00 am

abandoned gardens: a pantoum about lilacs

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Over the years, faced by change, some communities continue to thrive. Others, once vigorous, may decline and disappear. Sometimes, communities may hang on but individual homes may be abandoned. Abandonment can occur if the owner moves away or dies, or if aspects of the home become unsustainable (for example, a water source dries up).

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When a home is abandoned, what becomes of the vegetable garden, so carefully tended, or the flower gardens, each plant chosen with love and care?

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Annuals are usually the first to go, although biennials may continue to grow for a year and some plants, like sweet William or pansies, may reseed. Perennials may thrive, sometimes for years. Rhubarb, chives and berry crops often continue to grow in a vegetable garden. In the flower garden, peonies, day-lilies and phlox may bloom year after year. Trees and shrubs often persist.

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63 rhubard Dugan Road

rhubarb persisting in an old garden

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In my poetry project about abandoned gardens, I want to learn more about various poetry forms. The poem below is written as a pantoum. A pantoum consists of four line stanzas. The second and forth lines of the preceding stanza are used as the first and third lines of the next. The first line of the poem may also be used as the last.

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The poem below is written about an abandoned house in central New Brunswick. Keep in mind, these properties are still owed by someone and the owners may care a great deal about them and perhaps use the property if not the house.

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lilac bush next to an old house

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lilacs persist

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delicate scribble of winter wren

lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

props the abandoned house

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

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lilac, a cushion of shadow and green

at night leaves peer in windows

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

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at night they peer in windows

stare, front windows to back yard

features sculpted by overlapping leaves

scented panicles of purple bloom

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stare, front windows to back yard

noses tuned to lilac sweet

scented panicles of purple bloom

lilacs persist and thrive

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noses tuned to lilac sweet

roof rusted, clapboards and shingles grey

lilacs persist and thrive

delicate scribble of winter wren

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lilacs~

This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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Perhaps we can learn from the lilac …

persist and thrive.

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

July 6, 2020 at 7:00 am

first draft

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This past weekend, I finished the first draft of the third novel in the Kaye Eliot Mystery Series. This is my favorite part of the long process of working on a book.

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I plan my novel to an extent. From the beginning, I knew the basic story: Kaye Eliot finds a packet of old postcards and is set on a search for a valuable stone. The idea for the story was sparked way back in 1989 when I first saw an abandoned stone house during field work in Nova Scotia. I also had most of my characters to work with: Kaye and her husband and two kids. And Daniel Cutter, a stonemason, a character introduced in Book Two of the series. To read Book Two (Something the Sundial Said), click here.

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As I write, I let the characters and story take me where they want to go. Sometimes this takes me in unusual directions. Unless an idea is ridiculous, I usually run with it.

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The props I encounter in the story have their own push and pull. The stone house, the postcards, a stone chimney, a set of architectural plans. When these objects are repeated in the story, they become symbols of ideas in the book.

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stone house Upper Canada Village

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The next stage in writing is the revision. This means reading the book, cover to cover, over and over. I will fix the misspellings and grammar, I add some description. I polish the dialogue. I adjust the story points. I fix the names of villages and bridges and social groups in the story. I do some research. Revision takes the bulk of the time devoted to writing the book, probably 80%. I do at least ten revision sweeps.

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I love the first revision. Although I wrote the first draft, reading it for the first time, cover to cover, is like discovering a new book.

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stone wall

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Next post, I will talk about choosing a title for the book, not as easy as it may seem.

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All my best.

Please stay safe.

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 8, 2020 at 7:00 am

Watercolour lessons #3

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If you are staying at home more than usual in the coming weeks, I hope you have an interest to pursue, one to relax and involve you.

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I have been taking watercolour painting lessons. As part of our recent practice of self-isolation, the lessons themselves have been postponed. But, with what I have learned, I can practice and enjoy what I find very relaxing. There is something calming about watching the colour flow from the brush to the paper, especially when using the wet on wet technique (paper is wetted prior to adding colour).

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This afternoon I painted two studies of the Teton mountains which we visited in 2001 (totally from memory). I thought the first painting could use improvement, especially with respect to the trees on the right side and the water in the lower half of the painting. Actually, I don’t think painting 2 is an improvement. Copying watercolour is more difficult since the paint has a mind of its own. Also, the second painting lacks the spontaneity of the first.

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As a result of this post, I give you two possible activities to help you during isolation:

1. have a look at the two and tell me which you think is best and in what respects.

2. pick up the tools for an activity you love and spend some time doing.

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We are a social species. Although social-distancing and self-isolation are different for us, we are also a thinking species. We can understand that success against the coronavirus requires a community response. I have faith that we will soon be able to return to our normal activities.

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

March 15, 2020 at 5:03 pm

New mystery novel – How Her Garden Grew

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Merry, Merry

Quite contrary

How does your garden grow?

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Announcement: My new mystery novel ‘How Her Garden Grew‘ is now available on Amazon in paperback. The Kindle version will be available in a few days.

How Her Garden Grew’ is the first in my series of Kaye Eliot mysteries. Kaye is a busy mother with a business to run, two active children and an accountant husband who can’t seem to get free of tax time! The books will take us back to the 1990’s, to a time before cell phones and computers were a key ingredient of family life.

‘How Her Garden Grew’ is a novel about coping with stress, the strength of family, the problems of community, a century-old garden and a strange character called the Grinning Tun.

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In the 1990s, Kaye Eliot comes to Acadia Creek to spend a quiet summer with her two children. But 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. Neighbours seem determined to occupy all of Kaye’s time and energy in restoration of an old flower garden. To add to the mayhem, Kaye and her kids have stumbled on a century-old legend of a treasure buried on the property, a packet of forgotten letters from a woman named Maria Merriweather and an old map of the garden. And they dig up a sinister sea shell. A sea shell who looks like a grinning skull and will not stay where he is put. Can Kaye recover her calm or will she be the victim of neighbors, vagrants, thieves and a shell called the Grinning Tun? Restoring Maria’s garden seems a great idea, until Kaye discovers how Maria’s garden grew.

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So what or who is the Grinning Tun? The Grinning Tun is a sea shell, plucked from the sands of a faraway tropical shore. But this is a sea shell with a difference. It will not stay put! Shove it in the warming oven and, next morning, it sits on top of the stove. Bury it in the ground and it is found in the root cellar. And it grins. It thinks of the possibilities. And it links a mystery in the 1990’s with one in the 1870’s.

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To get your copy of ‘How Her Garden Grew’, go to Amazon here. If you are in the Fredericton area, I will be reading from the book and signing copies at the Authors Coffee House in Nasonworth later in May (more details soon)!

Hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it!

All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

April 27, 2019 at 7:13 pm

celebration of a covered bridge

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Do you love covered bridges?

Have you done any writing about the Patrick Owens Bridge or any other covered bridge?

On Saturday August 25, 2018 at 2:00 pm join us at the Rusagonis Covered Bridge Park to celebrate our Bridge.

  • We will hear from Jeff Carr, MLA.
  • Linda Cogswell will tell us a bit about the history of the bridge.
  • I will be reading from my book ‘in the shelter of the covered bridge’ (Chapel Street Editions, 2017) and $10 from every sale of my book will be donated for the upkeep of the Park.
  • Rose Burke will read a piece about the Upper Mills Bridge and cross-border travel in former years.
  • Ian LeTourneau, Fredericton’s Cultural Laureate, will read his poem about the loss of the Bell Covered Bridge.
  • We will also have an ‘open mic’ where you can join others in reading from your own work (about bridges or any other related theme).

We will have cake and lemonade as part of the afternoon. There will also be a BBQ, courtesy of MLA Jeff Carr! Everyone is welcome!

Let me know if you would like to read (in the comments or at timstims@nbnet.nb.ca).

Patrick Owens Bridge rainbow.JPG

All my best,

Jane

Available now – Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill

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For those who are reading my Meniscus science fiction series, my new book Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill is now available at Westminster Books in Fredericton and from Amazon, in paperback and Kindle formats here.

I will be launching this new book at Westminster Books on May 25, 2018 at 7:00, so mark your calendars!

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Humans on the planet Meniscus have had it hard. Used as slaves by the Dock-winders and Gel-heads, they live without hope, deprived of family and community. A few Humans have escaped and band together to build the first Human community on the planet. Odymn and the Slain are part of the community of Themble Hill but can they escape interference from the Dock-winders?

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a plan for Themble Hill.jpg

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You will enjoy the continuing adventures of Odymn and the Slain, as Odymn tries to recover from a parkour accident and cope with the Slain’s former girlfriend.

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Find out who is lighting a line of purple gettle-shells (the Meniscus version of the Jack-o-lantern) on the heights of The Fault where the Dock-winders can see them!

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For more information and an excerpt from Meniscus: The Village at Themble Hill,  click here.

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five books

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