Saturday, October 22, 2016

Signing at Chapters Gloucester Today

I'll be at Chapters Gloucester this afternoon from 1:00 until 4:00 o'clock - a good place to drop by and chat on this cold, wet Saturday. Maybe even get a jump on some Christmas shopping with some personalized books. (This is the last book store signing that I have lined up for this year.)

Here's a photo taken by mystery reader and great supporter of the local crime-writing community, Nancy Reid, from my May visit to Chapters Gloucester.

I'm going to Toronto next weekend to meet Michelle St John, the actress reading Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills for the audio books. I'll sit in on a taping so excited for that. I'll also be meeting up with my publicist Michelle Meleski and we plan to visit Sleuth on Baker Street, a well known mystery bookshop in the city. Should be a fun trip.

Writing went well this week and I'm beginning the last scene in the last chapter! I'm just over 84,000 words now and was aiming for 85,000 on this draft since I always add more on rewrites. Stephen King wrote that he writes quite a bit over his book word count and then cuts but I tend to do the opposite. Anyhow, once that is done, I'll be rereading, editing, rewriting...the work is far from over, but I have three months to whip this manuscript into shape. My next project will be writing book six in the Anna Sweet novellas, which will give me the chance to change gears for a few months.

Today reminds me that winter will soon be swooping into the Ottawa Valley and I have to finish cleaning out my garden, empty flower pots and put away patio furniture. This will be the first winter that I don't have to get up early and stand at the bus stop in the dark to head downtown to my government job so I'm happy for this change in routine.  When the snowstorms are raging, I'll be tucked in my home office with a cup of coffee, gas fireplace on and writing away at my computer. Luxury.

I like to be reading a book off and on between periods of writing and this week, I've been making my way through Stalin's Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan. Just over 600 pages, this book has won all kinds of awards and really is a fascinating read about Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's only daughter. I studied Russian history in university and reading this book has brought back my studies from that time. Living under a  Communist regime also ties in with the novel I'm writing now, which touches on the Ceausescu period in Romania. Sullivan's book humanizes the life of a woman who grew up in a system so foreign to our own and brings her history to life.

So, time to get a few tasks accomplished before I head out on the Queensway to the east end. Plan to come by Chapters for a visit if you're in the area!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Half-way Through October

The autumn beauty keeps on coming in the Ottawa Valley. One great thing about working on your own schedule is the freedom it allows you to go places when others are slaving away at work, thus avoiding the crowds. Ted and I took a drive into Gatineau park on Tuesday afternoon - traffic was light and the trees were glorious. The first shot (for those of you who can't make it out) is Champlain Lookout and the rest are from our walk through the woods.

I'm going to be at Chapters Gloucester this coming Saturday, October 22 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. signing copies of the Stonechild and Rouleau series. Come by and say hello - I can personalize copies for Christmas gifts if you are planning ahead.

I'm also organizing a date to go to Toronto to meet the actress taping the audio books and to sit in on a session. This will take place around the end of the month since taping will go on for a month or so and begins in two weeks. I have to complete recording the names of characters in Butterfly Kills this week since the schedule has this book being taped before Cold Mourning.

Writing this week: slow and stop. I worked my plot into a corner and had to figure out how to reveal a killer and make it seem plausible. I think I've managed it and will plow ahead this week.

On the accident front (or those following our mishaps), the insurance company has written off my car and I await the settlement while Ted has begun physiotherapy on his hand with the severed (now attached) tendon. He's getting quite adept with his left hand although cutting meat and tying shoes continue to challenge :-)

Happy and safe week everyone!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Thankful Hearts

Running a little late today as I was shopping for Thanksgiving dinner this morning and getting ready to host tomorrow - nine of us will dine on orange bourbon ham, scalloped potatoes, pumpkin pie and carrot cake along with everything that goes along. Nothing like a feast with family and friends to make a holiday special. It is also Ted's and my anniversary today, and coincidentally, the anniversary of two couples who live across the street. We've taken to a group dinner out and last night was the night...supper at Tratttoria followed by the comedy club, nightcaps at the Prescott and a backyard fire in a fire pit as we enjoyed a last glorious evening in the summer that doesn't want to end.

"Eat ham"

Writing is going slowly, slowly as I work to tie up the plot lines. I'm down to the last 12,000 words and these can make or break the story. Readers expect the murder to end logically and there should be enough clues carefully placed throughout the book so that they can figure it out, but the trick is to make this difficult. A challenge. I take great delight when someone tells me they were guessing until the end and couldn't stop reading.

I finished going through Cold Mourning for Booktrack and also recorded all the character names and geographical locations in preparation for the audio tapings. Michelle St John is from Toronto and not familiar with pronunciations of locations in Ottawa and the surrounding towns and she also wants to make certain that she says the character names as I hear them in my head. I have to go through Butterfly Kills too but will leave this for another week.

So, back to the keyboard this week as I try to wrap up the manuscript. Then begins the process or rereading and editing the first draft, which could take some time. Some writers will tell you that this is when the real writing begins. I'm way ahead of schedule on this one, having asked for extra time because I was wrapping up my government job and somewhat exhausted from writing two books a year for the past several. I'm going to work more thoroughly on the first edits and hopefully once I'm working with the Dundurn editor, we'll have less changes to discuss.

But for this weekend, time to relax and celebrate, stuff ourselves with comfort food, drink a bit too much wine, watch playoff baseball ... winter is coming when we all tend to hibernate, but for now we kick up our heels.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Go Jays go!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ending September with a Bang

This has been something of a week. Last Saturday, on my way home from the mall, a man ran a stop sign and hit me broadside, totaling my car. Luckily, neither of us was hurt but I have to tell you that seeing a car coming at you and speeding up is unnerving. Then yesterday, Ted severed a tendon in his hand at work, driving a piece of metal into his knuckle. Emergency surgery yesterday reattached the tendon but healing will take at least six weeks.

 Let's hope October unfolds with less excitement.

Writing is rolling along on the latest manuscript although I won't be able to judge if everything is coming together until I finish and go back through the book as a whole. On a good day, I've been writing about five hundred words before lunch and then another five hundred in the afternoon. I spend the latter part of the afternoon reviewing the final draft of Cold Mourning on Booktrack and while I'm reading it, I've been making notes of all the characters and geographical names for the actress who'll be putting the book on tape. I'm to record my pronunciation of each word and send to her before taping, which is now scheduled for end of October/beginning of November. I'm hoping to get to Toronto to meet Michelle St John and to watch a taping.

Also this week, I attended Linda Wiken and Barbara Fradkin's book launch at the Heart and Crown in the Market on Wednesday evening. There was a great turn out and I enjoyed meeting up with old friends and raising a glass to toast their latest accomplishments. When you consider how much work, sweat and love go into each book, and the odds against even being published, an evening to stop and celebrate with the authors is a sweet deal. Each book is the first in a new series so some good reading ahead.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

So Long Summer

Autumn arrived on Thursday with pumpkins in the stores and Thanksgiving on the horizon. It's almost time to put the garden to bed and haul out sweaters and coats. I like this time of year but am not too fond of the season that follows.

We still have this beauty to look forward to next month!

One good spin off from colder weather is staying closer to home and my computer. I'm writing about four hours a day and am now at 71,000 words on the latest manuscript. I've also been putting some thought into a presentation I'll be giving in November to the Canadian Authors Association on writing a series. I'll be speaking for about half an hour with my experiences and tips. My next book signing will be at Chapters Gloucester on Saturday, October 22 between 1:00 and 4:00 if you're looking for Christmas gift ideas or want to come by and say hi.

Not much new to report on the audio books. The voice actress Michelle St. John is currently reading the books and then we'll have a chance to chat about the characters. Cold Mourning is also being set to background music in a format named Booktrack and I've received the final product for review. It's actually rather cool how they've matched the mood on each page with a 'movie-style' soundtrack. You still read the book at your own pace with the music changing as you flip pages.

Interspersed with my writing, I always have a book or two on the go that I'm reading when I take breaks. I've recently finished reading Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (powerful and disturbing), The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowlings (okay but slow-moving), and Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin (good read but ending not as satisfying as I would have liked). I'm now beginning The Orenda by Joseph Boyden and from the opening chapters, know this is going to be a beautifully written, gut-wrenching read.

So many books, so little time.

On the agenda this week: lacing up the curling shoes for the first time for practice and a clinic; hiking it downtown for Linda Wiken and Barbara Fradkin's joint book launch on Wednesday evening at the Heart and Crown pub; and writing, writing, writing.....

Enjoy your week, everyone. Don't forget to curl up with a good book and cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire :-)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Talking Books

Fellow crime writer Mary Jane Maffini and I met with a book club on Wednesday evening, hosted by Janet Claridge in her beautiful home in Manotick. Janet acted as an interviewer as well, asking us questions about our writing and books and we also fielded questions from the group. Just a great evening and a terrific group of women. I am visiting two more book clubs this year, so if your club would like a visiting author, send an email to me through my website and I should have time to fit in a few more.

Here are a couple of pictures - in the first Mary Jane is on the far right and in the second Janet is on the far right. I'm the one nearly in the centre wearing the black leather jacket :-)

On the audio book front, I had a chance to speak with the actress who will be reading the Stonechild books and her name is Michelle St. John and she lives in Toronto. She has yet to receive and read the Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills so we will speak at greater length once she's read them. I think things will start to move along quickly very soon!

Writing was slow and steady again this week. I've gotten into a pattern of writing an hour or so in the morning and about three hours after lunch. Sometimes, I get back to the keyboard for half an hour or so after supper. I'm doing a lot of thinking and plotting now as I round into the last 25,000 words, pulling all the strands together. At this rate, I might just be done the first draft by the end of October. Then a bit of time to put my feet up before I get at the editing!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Writing Life: Celebrating Literacy

I've plugged away at my latest manuscript this week, reaching 63,000 words. I was aiming for 64,000 but am not unhappy with my pace. At this rate, I should have the first draft finished by end of October. Lots of leeway as it is due to the publisher in February. I'm at the point where I have to connect the subplots and head toward solving the crime(s) so I'm heading into the trickiest bit.

I went to the People, Words and Change annual breakfast, which was held on Literacy Day. The breakfast celebrates adult learners and the volunteer tutors and is made possible by many generous donations from the community, including the meal, which is provided by Moe Nesrallah every year. Terry Marcotte, Sports Director at CTV Ottawa, was emcee with learners speaking about their lives and what led them to People, Words and Change. Former NDP MP Paul Dewer was the guest speaker and he talked about the importance of funding literacy in Canada and internationally. You can see some of the crowd listening to People, Words and Change Director Dee Sullivan, who does a phenomenal job along with her small team, matching learners with tutors and facilitating real change in their lives.

This week, I'll be visiting a book club in Manotick along with Mary Jane Maffini. We've been asked to speak about our writing life and books over glasses of wine and snacks. Not a bad gig:-)

So, school is back in and summer is slipping into autumn although we're having a final day in a long stretch of heat and humidity. I've been to the curling sign up, held on Wednesday evening, and am on two teams this season. Both of my daughters are on competitive teams, making our winters exciting as we follow along their games online or on television.

The summer lull is almost over....lots to look forward to just around the corner.