Monday, 18 September 2017


By Liz Lindsay (aka one-half of Jamie Tremain)

You’ve written a book? Wonderful and now you’re set to send out your query letters to find a publisher or agent who will work with you. Here’s a question. If an agent or publisher googled your name what would be the result of their search?

I’m going to relate the steps my writing partner, Pam Blance and I took on this writing journey of ours and how invaluable it’s been to have established our brand well in advance of sending out the first query letter.

We kind of fell into the world of writing very unplanned and honestly really didn’t have much of a clue about what we were doing – clueless mystery writers – great. The first thing we did was decide on a name under which to write and so Jamie Tremain was born.

Once Pam and I realized we were serious about pursuing our writing goals, we began to pay attention to how other writers worked. Right away we recognized the value of a blog and that was our first step in getting the name Jamie Tremain out there.

Initially the blog, Jamie Tremain Remember the Name, centered around the steps (baby steps) we were taking in our writing journey, sharing our progress, setbacks and frustrations. As our confidence grew, the posts began to mature and attract followers.

We also began to network. This I believe is a key foundation to building your brand. You need to gain recognition within the writing community as a serious writer.

Pam and I attended several workshops given by Brian Henry – he offers writing workshops from Toronto to London to Collingwood and beyond. I’d highly recommend them. The Quick Brown Fox is his blog and always lists his schedule and topics available.

Not long after the blog was up and running, we created our first business card. They were handed out everywhere and anywhere. Sometimes we splurged and ordered pens, or book bags with our name, but always to give away and get that name in circulation!

For marketing merchandise we’ve used VistaPrint and Zazzle. Create an account and you’ll see almost limitless ways to market yourself. And by limitless I mean whatever your bank account allows.

Facebook was the next step and a page for Jamie Tremain was created. Then came Goodreads and LinkedIn.

We often discussed how we could make “Jamie Tremain” stand out. At this stage we were still writing our first book and were nowhere near ready to begin sending out query letters

So while we continued writing and polishing our manuscript, we interviewed authors on our blog. This was Pam’s idea and probably did the most to help establish the name and brand of Jamie Tremain. Our fellow authors were glad to share their answers to all our questions about writing. Hits on the blog began to take off and interviews became a regular feature of Jamie Tremain’s blog. It became our brand and we capitalized on it as much as we could.

Blog interviews were interspersed with posts about events in our lives, travel, etc., and helped build a connection with our readers. If you build a connection, you grow a fan base. Future sales are driven by fans who want to read your work.

Whenever our schedules and finances permitted we travelled to conferences and workshops. More networking which is, and continues to be, priceless. Listening and learning from others, not to copy, but to adapt into something Jamie Tremain could incorporate. What worked, what was too much work, and what we knew was just not us.

We showed our support for other authors whenever possible at their book launches and promoting their newest releases or events through social media.

I remember the day I was shopping for a new computer in Staples and just for fun googled Jamie Tremain, and was stunned when it was the first item returned in the search, along with the next half dozen beneath it! And we still didn’t have a book published! That’s when we began to realize the name Jamie Tremain was becoming familiar. Time to develop our own web site. There are many providers which make it truly easy to set up and maintain your own site. We used GoDaddy to provide the domain name, and Weebly to host the site. Not always free, but reasonably priced and, hey, it’s a tax write off too.

So we ventured into Twitter; 3 accounts in all, one for Jamie Tremain, one for Pam and one for myself. A little time consuming, but brilliant for cross posting. (just don’t ask about remembering passwords!) We started by searching and following other authors, writers, advice sites, but once you get the ball rolling it will soon take on a life of its own.

Check out membership sites you can join, depending on the genre you identify with. For us it’s Crime Writers of Canada. Often you don’t have to be a published author to join some of these organizations.

Pinterest has recently become another venue for promotion as well as You Tube. And if you like statistics, both Pinterest and You Tube, as well as Google, know how to present stats and data in multiple ways. Very helpful if you want to target a certain demographic or geographical area.

The downside is that all of these areas of promotion take time and you need to determine where you can best put your precious resource of time for the greatest return. For instance I’ve dabbled in Reddit, and Instagram for JT, but at this point, I’m not pursuing either as another source of exposure. Never say never though.

So when we were finally ready to send out query letters, we were able to show that we were serious, and established, writers with a moderate online following. I feel that helped ensure we weren’t discarded so quickly.

At our launch for our debut novel The Silk Shroud we had standing room only and sold out of all books on hand. We credit this to all the foregoing steps we took, from writing the opening lines of the book to the signed contract with our publisher.

The publishing world is very competitive and if you can find something unique to promote about yourself, or build a following well before you send your first query letter, you will have a fantastic head start.

Cheers and Happy Writing!

                 L-R:  Liz Lindsay & Pam Blance

 Liz Lindsay co-authors with Pam Blance as “Jamie Tremain”. She lives in Guelph, loves the craft of writing and can’t wait to retire from the 9-5 in order to focus on what she truly enjoys. She and Pam are busy crafting the sequel to their debut novel, The Silk Shroud.

Friday, 8 September 2017


By Joanne Guidoccio

Have you ever experienced the tyranny of the blank page?
If you’re nodding in agreement, you are in good company. In fact, I believe every writer—from beginner to published—has experienced those feelings of doubt and apprehension, especially at the start of a new manuscript. That’s when gremlin thoughts are most powerful.
 In this post, I will offer several suggestions on how to squash those gremlins and start writing the first page of your next manuscript.
First, I will dispel three popular rules:

Rule #1–Start with a bang
Some writers believe the first page needs drama: a passionate argument between two people or a man running out of a burning house. One problem: the reader is not yet invested in the characters. The two people arguing could be murderers, and the man running out of the burning house could be a burglar.
The reader needs to know more about the characters and their motivations before the drama occurs.
Rule #2—Start at the beginning
You can use a prologue to cut forward to later events or recall much earlier events. A three- to five-page prologue that introduces the crime or dead body can whet the reader’s appetite for more details.
This works well with mysteries and thrillers.
Rule #3—Never start with dialogue
Used effectively, dialogue can establish the writer’s or protagonist’s voice. This will quickly draw the reader into the writer’s world.
So, what should the “right opening” accomplish? 
 Very simply, the first sentence needs to draw the reader’s attention to the next sentence and the rest of the first paragraph. And so on. That first sentence does not have to be loud or flashy…only intriguing.

Five “Intriguing” Examples:
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” 1984 by George Orwell.
“They shoot the white girl first.” Paradise by Toni Morrison
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
“When I think of my wife, I always think of her head.” Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you’re struggling with “intriguing,” start with a simple sentence, and use the rest of the paragraph to follow up with details.

Five examples of the “Simple” Approach:
“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.” Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
“It was love at first sight.” Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
 “We slept in what had once been the gymnasium.” The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
 “Nothing happens the way you plan it.” The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
“When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Hard-to-read and grammatically incorrect sentences can turn off readers, agents, and publishers. But sometimes they work! (English majors and editors–start cringing!)

Two examples of the “Breaking the Rules and Getting Away with It” approach:
“You better not never tell nobody but God.” The Color Purple by Alice Walker
 “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
More tips…
  • Think of opening lines and paragraphs as introductions to new people. You probably wouldn’t be interested in getting to know a person who immediately launches into a monologue about her divorce, her latest car accident, or upcoming surgery. Instead, you want to learn just enough about the person so that you can have a pleasant conversation.
  • Gently lead the reader into the rest of the paragraph and the next page. The reader doesn’t have to fall in love with that first sentence, but she needs to be curious enough to keep reading.
  • Leave the reader with unanswered questions. She should be asking the question “Why” as she reads that first chapter. Why did those characters fall in love? Why did that murder happen?
  • Reread your favorite novels and critically analyze the opening sentences and paragraphs. Ask yourself what intrigued you as a reader and then apply the same approach to your own writing.
  • Keep in mind that the first chapter of a novel is the most heavily revised section of the book. You don’t have to get it right the first time.

In 2008, Joanne Guidoccio retired from a 31-year teaching career and launched a second act that tapped into her creative side. Slowly, a writing practice emerged. Her articles and book reviews were published in newspapers, magazines, and online. When she tried her hand at fiction, she made reinvention a recurring theme in her novels and short stories. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America, Joanne writes cozy mysteries, paranormal romance, and inspirational literature from her home base of Guelph, Ontario.

Book Trailer
Buy Links
Amazon (US):
Amazon (Canada):
The Wild Rose Press:
Barnes & Noble:

Where to find Joanne...

Friday, 25 August 2017


By Alison Bruce

There are a few questions that regularly crop up in interviews. Three are interrelated.
  1. Where do you get your ideas?
  2. How do you come up with your characters?
  3. Do you plot everything out or do you write by the seat of your pants?
You might think that number three isn't related, but it is.

There's a chicken and the egg relationship between ideas that lead to plots and character development. If you're a diehard plotster, the idea has to come first. The idea leads to a plot and the plot dictates what characters are needed. For instance, if you're writing a cozy, you'll probably steer clear of psychopaths and if there's a romance in there, you'll need to find a romantic hero.

If you're a pantster, characters probably come first, or a very close second behind the idea, but definitely ahead of the plot. I start off this way, coming up with a character and a situation and then seeing if there's a story there. Since I write in first person most of the time, the main character often starts off as an aspect of myself or someone I can identify with in some way. Around that core I build a new person, the hero of the story. After that, I have to go through the process of finding supporting characters that fit the needs of the story.

Where do the characters come from? Same place as the ideas. Out in the world.

Writers need to be good observers (unless they're actively writing when they can be totally oblivious). I love working in coffee shops because I can people-watch as well as write. I also strike up conversations with strangers (without being creepy about it) usually while waiting in lines. And let's face it, family, friends and co-workers should know they are grist for the writing mill.

Reading, both fiction and nonfiction, can be a source of inspiration. Research can help. However, if you are writing about police officers (for example) and you aren't one, research will only go so far. Interview people.

My last piece of advice is to document everything you find out or come up with about your characters. You might need to look it up later.

Alison Bruce writes History, Mystery, Paranormal and Romantic Suspense.  Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. Three of her novels have been finalists for genre awards including the Arthur Ellis Award for excellence in crime writing.


Monday, 7 August 2017


We are grateful that the International Thriller Writers'' publication, The Big Thrill, have once again supported our new book release.  Book 2, Death's Footprint, in our Blair & Piermont crime thriller series' interview. Click HERE

Friday, 28 July 2017


Thriller Roundtable

July 24 – 30: “Do names reflect the character of the character?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5This week is all about character: A first name can date an individual, do character names reflect the character of the character, and do they offer their own tensions by defying a time period? We’re joined by ITW Members D.P. Lyle, Peter James, Donna Warner, Patrick Oster, Jonathan F. Putnam, Richard Billingsley, Billy Lyons and Meredith Anthony.

Drop in to read what International Thriller Writers' authors are saying about naming characters in The Big Thrill.  Some comments may surprise you! 

Friday, 7 July 2017


Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner's book #1, TARGETED (eBook) in the Blair and Piermont crime thriller series click HERE for a universal buy eBook link.