Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gold Fever--my newest mystery novel (not from the travelling detective series.)

I have written a new mystery and is available as a ebook now through Amazon Kindle.
Boni Baldwin is taken out of the city and thrust into an environment she dislikes-- camping. Her mother, Elsie Wiggins, is on a quest to find information on her father who disappeared fifty-five years ago in the mountains of southern British Columbia and Boni is the only one of her children who is able, but reluctant, to accompany her.

The first person they meet is Rick, a mountain man who has a claim on the Salmo River and is prospecting with his grandfather for gold. He offers to show Boni around the area hoping to convince her that being in the bush is not a terrible thing. They also meet Jerry, who is the one Elsie contacted about camping on his gold claim. Jerry offers to show Elsie how to pan for gold during her stay. Boni and Elsie are threatened by other prospectors along the river and told to leave. When they don't, their campsite is trashed, twice. This scares Boni but only makes Elsie mad. No Rambo wannabees are going to frighten her away. They do discover some new clues about Elsie's father after all these years, but all that comes to an end when the man they are scheduled to interview is murdered before they get to his house. As much as they hate to admit it, both Rick and Jerry are on their list of suspects for the trashing of their campsite and for the murder.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Sayings by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Be Careful What You Wish For is an old saying with an ominous warning to it and Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining is also an old saying but it has an upbeat tone to it. Both of them apply to my story.
Be Careful What You Wish For
For years women who had had breast cancer surgery were told not to use their arms for any strenuous activity for fear of causing lymphedema, a build up of fluid in the arm. Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia, opposed this idea. In 1996, he formed a dragon boat team composed of  24 women with a history of breast cancer in Vancouver, B.C. They called themselves Abreast in a Boat. And they proved that strenuous exercise was good for their arms and for their overall health.
A few years later, they entered in the Vancouver dragon boat festival and I saw them on the television news. I had never heard of dragon boating before and I said to my husband. "That looks like fun. I'd like to try dragon boating sometime."
In January of 2001, I was doing a breast self examination and found a small lump. My annual mammogram at the Breast Centre in Edmonton was scheduled for February but I called the centre and told them my news. They booked me an appointment in two days. Although no one said the C word, after the questions, the mammogram, and the ultrasound, I was pretty sure it was cancer. Then I was told that I needed a biopsy and that it could be scheduled for the next week. However, they added "We have an opening in the next hour and we can do it today." I knew for sure it was cancer.
At my pre-op session a woman came in to tell me about a group of women living with cancer or who had had breast cancer that met every month for coffee and to offer support. I asked her if she knew of a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team in the city. She found the contact information for Breast Friends for me and two weeks after my surgery I joined the team. I wasn't allowed to get in the boat until three months after my last radiation treatment so I didn't get to actually paddle until 2002. Each summer we attended dragon boat festivals in Alberta and British Columbia.
When I moved to Vancouver Island in the fall of 2004, I joined Angels Abreast in Nanaimo. We went to festivals up and down the island and in Vancouver.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
In 2006, an international breast cancer dragon boat festival was held in Vancouver to celebrate the ten year anniversary. Besides the Canadian teams, teams came from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Italy, and Asia. It was great to walk through the paddler's village and meet fellow survivors from around the world.
In Sept. 2007, an international breast cancer festival was held in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia, and Angels Abreast went to that. What a wonderful time we had. The residents were friendly, the venue was excellent, and the hosts did a great job of organizing. The 100 teams of twenty-four paddlers, steersperson, and drummer paraded through the streets dressed in pink, and many people yelled "Canada" or honked their horns when they saw our Canadian flag hanging from our balconies. The festival lasted three days and again I met many special women. After the festival some of us toured around Queensland and New South Wales. Even with my fear of heights, I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From there we flew to Fiji for a week.
A year and a half ago my team received a notice that the next international festival was going to be held in Sarasota, Florida, October 24, 25, 26, 2014, and we decided to attend. The other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home. I wanted more than that, so my husband, Mike, and I decided to do a three month tour of the U.S. Since I needed to be in Sarasota by October 22 to practice with the team, we picked Sept. 18 (later changed to Sept. 23) as our leaving date and Dec. 16 as our return date. I applied for and was given three months off work.
Mike had had back surgery on Dec. 17, 2013, but we were assured that he should be healed in time to go. However, that has not been the case. His back hasn't healed properly and he is in constant pain. It took a lot of thought and discussion whether he should accompany me because he tired so quickly. But we decided he would be in pain if he stayed home or if he came with me so he finally decided to come. We found a motorhome and are now bringing our four cats. (my daughter suggested a title for my next book: The Crazy Cat Lady On Tour)
Since my diagnosis I have met so many strong, caring, fun-loving women plus I have visited some wonderful places. I am looking forward to doing the same this year and many years to come, a silver lining to my cloud.

Books of The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:
Illegally Dead
The Only Shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Writing, Directing and Producing a Stage Play

Writing, Directing, And Producing A Stage Play

By Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Last winter I took my writing in a new direction. I attended a two day, play writing course. By the end of it I had adapted a short story of mine, which had won first place in a flash fiction contest in Ascent Aspirations Magazine, into a half hour stage play. In the spring I entered my play in the Fringe held here in Port Alberni, B.C. This summer I produced and directed my play on stage in front of an audience. In the process, I discovered this is not an easy thing to do.

     I needed a male and a female lead actor and I asked two people who had been in plays in our local theatre before. They agreed and I gave them each a copy of the play. We met and had a run through with us discussing how we each saw the characters. Their interpretation of their character's actions and attitude were sometimes different from mine, but, other than a few places where I felt a certain delivery was needed, I let them decide how to play the part. Through our many rehearsals with the props, which my husband, Mike, was in charge of, the characters evolved and took shape as we discovered better ways for them move, react, and relate.

     I also needed actors for a party scene and I approached people I knew and/or worked with in my quest. Even though I told them that they would only be on stage for less than five minutes, that all they had to do was listen to the male actor beak off about how good he was, and that they had no lines, many gave a flat no, explaining that they could never get up on stage in front of an audience. Some agreed so I gave them the times of our next two rehearsals. Most of them never showed up. I kept asking people: my cats' vet, the owner of a new store in town, the person who donated some props. But I only had the same two people show up for any of the rehearsals and it looked like Mike and I would be making our acting debut. I was beginning to worry. Maybe I would have to drag up some of the audience members.

     On the evening of the first presentation, two of the three who had attended rehearsals, two actors in another play and I made up the attendees of the party. For the Saturday matinee the partiers were, one of my three regulars along with two members of my dragon boat team, the two actors from the other play, a theatre volunteer, and myself.

     One thing I did learn was that for something like the Fringe where plays are being presented one after the other, having a lot of props is not a good idea. Because I was showing a story instead of telling a story, I had over forty props, some large ones being: fridge, stove, desk, computer, sewing machine, two chairs, table; smaller ones being: duster, broom, envelope, paper, boxes, material, pens, wine bottle and glasses, and many more. The play after me had only two tables, two chairs, a laundry basket and some beer bottles. Another play I watched had some tea cups and teddy bears.

     On the first evening there were going to be four separate plays, mine being the first. That was perfect because it gave us time to set up our scene. However, at the end, we had to get our props off stage so that the next play could set theirs up before their showing. Our actors became stage hands and things disappeared in a hurry. The same happened on Saturday afternoon.

     The important thing I learned was that while I had written the words, I was at the mercy of the actors to show up for the rehearsals, learn their lines, and speak those words on stage. My female lead was off book (I did get to know some of the lingo) quickly, but the male lead found it harder to remember his lines. He also missed some of the rehearsals.

     Putting on a stage play isn't like making a movie. You don't get to go back and redo a scene. When asked, the way I put it is, opening night did not go as rehearsed. To be honest, it wasn't even close. The male character kept forgetting his lines or changing them which threw the female character off, as well as the lighting guy and Mike who had to operate a smoke machine.

     The Saturday afternoon presentation went better. He still missed many of his lines but the audience laughed when they were supposed to and they understood, and laughed at, the twisted ending. I was elated and hearing that laughter made the whole process worthwhile. And I do believe I will try another play for next year, but I will keep the props to a minimum and have the actors tell the story instead of show the story.

     While there were many mishaps and problems getting my play to the stage, the most memorable is about our wine bottle. We needed a wine bottle for the opening scene, so I rinsed one out and filled it with water. We used it for our first on stage rehearsal and left it along with our other props for our full dress rehearsal the next evening. When I went to find it for that rehearsal, it was gone. We searched everywhere and couldn’t find it, so we used a beer bottle in its place. We laughed and hoped that the person hadn't decided to take it as a hostess gift to some fancy dinner. I found another wine bottle for our opening night. At the end of the evening I discovered our first bottle by the back door, empty. That person must have thought it was the weakest, worst tasting wine ever made.


Books of The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:

Illegally Dead

The Only Shadow In The House

Whistler's Murder


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Luck of Getting Published

The Luck of Getting Published

I took a few writing courses and began my published, writing career (as opposed to my unpublished writing career) with a short story titled  A Hawk's Reluctant Flight, in a small magazine called Western People. With that on my short resume, I had travel and historical articles accepted by other magazines, one of which didn't pay anything to the author. Then I took another writing course and one of the speakers was Grant Kennedy owner of Lone Pine Publishing in Edmonton, Alberta.
       At the time Alberta was divided into tourist zones and I had been thinking about doing a book on what there was to see and do in each zone. I sent a query letter to Lone Pine Publishing and the senior editor responded with a phone call. We set up a time for me to go to the city and meet with her and Grant Kennedy.       I outlined my idea and Grant said yes it was a good one but he thought that the books should be more on the people and culture of each zone. He liked his idea and I liked mine so we decided we couldn't work together. As I stood to leave I said. "Well, at least as I research the zones I will see all the backroads of Alberta." He replied. "I've always want to do a book on the backroads of Alberta." I sat back down and that was how I began my backroads series. Over the next ten years I travelled through and wrote two books on Alberta, four books on British Columbia and one on the Yukon and Alaska.
       My favourite books to read have always been mystery novels and after much thought I decided to write one. Since one of the mantras of writing is to write what you know I made my main character a travel writer. She was headed to southern Alberta to do research for a magazine and was drawn into the mystery of a skeleton found in a septic tank. When I was finished I sent it out to a few publishers. One wrote back that they liked it but my travel background was coming out and I had too much travel information in it. I was asked to remove some. So I did and resent my manuscript. Again, I was asked to cut back on the travel info. Again I did. The third time I was told that this was a mystery and I should stick with the mystery and leave out the travel stuff. I wrote back and said that the main character is a travel writer and is working on an article. She is not going to drop that and concentrate on the mystery. So needless to say we parted ways.
       I sent out the manuscript again and another publisher said they were interested in publishing it. They had one stipulation and that was that I should add in more travel information.
      I sent the second novel of what I was calling my Travelling Detective Series to the same publisher. After about a five month wait I received a letter that told me the publishing house had been bought out by another one and that my manuscript and all my information had been sent to them. I waited a few  months the emailed the new publisher to find out what was happening. A couple of days later I received an email stating that they had no record of my manuscript. My heart sunk. But a few days after that I received an email from another editor at the publishing house that they had found my manuscript and they wanted to publish it.
       However, in the time between that email and the publishing date for my novel, the publishing house was sold again. The new owner was going to honour my contracts, but in the future wasn't going to publish mysteries. I knew there was no use sending my third manuscript to that publisher and after checking around I sent it to Books We Love. They immediately accepted it and e-published it. After two years of talking with my former publisher I was able to get the rights to my first two novels of the series and now all three are published with Books We Love Ltd. as a boxed set. joan

 Books of The Travelling Detective Series:
Illegally Dead
The Only shadow In The House
Whistler's Murder

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Travelling Detective Series boxed set on countdown

The boxed set of my Travelling Detective Series is on coundown at Amazon from today until  Sept. 17. It starts at .99 and in a couple of days will be 1.99 and then go up to 2.99. To order click on the link

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Reviews of the three books of my travelling detective series

This is a captivating mystery from new-to-me author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey.  Illegally Dead is the first book in a series that also includes The Only Shadow in the House and Whistler's Murder.  This book is not only a murder mystery but also a travelogue of the Crowsnest Highway in Southern Alberta.  I have actually never been to this area so that aspect of the book was incredibly interesting to me.  Who wouldn't want to learn more about a place called Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump. And it was interesting to learn the story behind the name of the city of Medicine Hat.
Besides all of the interesting travel information there is a riveting mystery that kept me guessing until the conclusion.  The story abounds with interesting characters.  I love that older people were consulted when our sleuth and travel writer Elizabeth Oliver was conducting her research...people often forget that the older generation has plenty of stories to tell and have often kept quite a few secrets over the years. 
Great Canadian mystery!!! I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.
Kathryn Poulin

The Only Shadow In The House
I like how author Joan Donaldson-Yarmey sets her books in obscure places in Alberta.  This time it is Redwater...a small town outside of Edmonton that not many people have heard of...I only have because the company I worked at for many years built a cogeneration plant there.  This is the second book in her Sumach Travel Mystery series.  It is an enjoyable read particularly if you want to learn more about Alberta.  The author is a travel writer and her experience and expertise about the area shines through.
Good story filled with interesting characters. The mystery had me guessing until the end. I'm looking forward to the next Elizabeth Oliver adventure.

Kathryn Poulin

Hi Joan;  I’ve been wanting to tell you that I absolutely love your book – The Only
 Shadow In The House. I have a hard time putting it down and find I am reading too late into the night! I am almost finished it. I cannot wait to find out who is responsible for the other murder. It’s an excellent book that is so full of suspense! I can’t wait for your next one. Marie K

 I really like your Traveling Detective books and just wondering if there is a fourth book out?
Thank you

 Hi Joan, I took the Kindle version of  Whistler’s Murder with me on holiday and really enjoyed it. The perfect mystery beach book! You have likeable, resourceful characters and kept all the threads of a pretty complicated plot woven together nicely. I liked the SF subplot, too. Sherry

 Dear Joan,
 I met you when you were in Lethbridge at Chapters signing books. I just finished Illegally Dead last night and I have to say I LOVED IT!! If you continue to write like this you will go very far with your talent. It grabbed me from the first paragraph and wouldn't let go..LOL I have told a lot of people they should go and buy this book as it is SO good. Even though I just finished reading it.. I want more!! Loved the characters.. especially the twists and turns especially the final chapter. Please keep me informed as you write more!
 Your new friend and number 1 fan!

 I have just finished reading your second book and I have to say it was GREAT! Quite possibly better than the first one..LOL  The sad thing is now I have to wait for the next one ..LOL But I am patient

I finished the book, Illegally Dead, last night. It was a really good read. Kept me guessing right up to the end. Joan
did a really good job. Waiting for the next one. Gwendoline

They are a great series. I loved every one of them.

 Hey there
 - I received the book last week and have read it and I’m impressed. You should be very proud of yourself – you’ve come such a long way as a writer. I think you have a series on your hands there. Maybe you’ll get your series on TV when you’ve got a few more under your belt!  Cheers and congratulations!  Sylvia

 Hi Joan - I just finished your book, Illegally Dead, and really, really enjoyed it. Hurry up with the second one please! Judith

Monday, June 9, 2014

My series is now being published as ebooks by Books We Love Ltd.

Hi Everyone
It has been quite a while since I have posted to my blog. I could list a number of reasons but... Anyway, I am happy and proud to report that the books of The Travelling Detective Series are now all with Books We Love Ltd. and are available through Amazon