Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Labour of Love

This was another week spent editing Bleeding Darkness - this time, copy edits and hopefully for the last time. At the point that I'm at now with the manuscript, I'm tired of it, have no idea if it's any good, think the suspense has disappeared (as it has because I've read it twelve times), wish I'd written every sentence another way, wonder if I should chuck my computer and take up lawn bowling ... and have been here often enough to know that this feeling is part of the process. I worked all weekend and finally finished recording the last of my edits in a Word doc at nine p.m. Wednesday night.

It's time to pour a big glass of wine.

Editing leaves no time to do laundry.

It's time to set this one free.



My editor contact at Dundurn tells me that the copy editor is also having a go at the text and once they coordinate both our changes into the master document, the process picks up steam. The advance reading copies will be prepared and mailed out and the book will be posted on Net Galley for advance book reviewers. It doesn't actually hit the stores until May 2018, and by then I'll be elbow deep in my next book and have forgotten much of what I laboured over for so long with this one. Maybe, labour is the right word. The same thing happened after having babies. With the passing of time, I forgot how kind of awful yet glorious the experience was.

Men, if you want to experience labour (without the physical pain), write a book. You'll live through the same anxiety, fatigue and sense of creating something bigger than yourself, while wondering how the hell it's ever going to find it's way out of you. You'll worry about how the world will take to your little offering, hoping it amounts to something once it leaves your all-consuming focus and care. You too can experience listening to your spouse without hearing a thing they've said (although I think this happens already) and become as forgetful as ... well, a pregnant woman. Even the entire book-writing process takes about ten months of distracted gestation.

On to the rest of my week ...

I finished reading Ann Cleeves latest Vera Stanhope book entitled The Seagull and Barb Fradkin's latest Amanda Doucette, entitled Trickster's Lullaby, taking breaks from editing now and then because my eyes needed more exercise :-) Now, I'm doing some research, writing questions and getting ready to host both authors on October 10 for an evening of writing chat about their writing process, influences and latest books. Be sure to order a ticket and come out to learn more about two of the finest crime fiction writers in the field today.

A note that I'll be appearing at the Crime Writers of Canada table (booth 213) at Toronto Word on the Street next Sunday, September 24 - it would be great to meet some Toronto readers so stop by if you're out and about.

So, I've got to get back into the latest manuscript that I set aside to edit ... and if you don't think it was confusing to be writing one and editing another, you'd be wrong. I'm trying to remember my train of thought from a week ago when I was confident I had the ending worked out. I'm at about 67,000 words with 20,000 or so left to go. I'm at that point with the plot where I'm girding my loins to jump off the cliff and hoping the parachute opens. (The baby is kicking at my rib cage.)

Yeah, I think I could do with a holiday too :-)


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Onward

The first full week of September completed; terrible storms battering the Caribbean and Florida this weekend; frost warnings in Northern Ontario; forest fires raging out West; and cool nights and summery days in Ottawa. This is the turning month.

Some progress this week. I completed my notes on the latest manuscript to date, revising as I went. I've begun working my way into the ending, sort of feeling my way as I go. This one might need more rewriting but at least I'm feeling organized.

I had a few tasks to complete for the upcoming Bleeding Darkness, including writing a cover letter that goes out with the advance reading copies. As you might recall, I completed two complete manuscript edits last month working with my Dundurn editor. Well, the book rebounded in my inbox late yesterday for me to give it a final read - a copy editor is going through the manuscript at the same time. The text is now in final book format and I'm not to do any rewriting, just looking for the dreaded typos and punctuation errors. You might wonder how any can slip past with all this editing, but the mind somehow glosses over them when reading, especially the sixth or seventh time through. I heard that the book industry considers ten errors acceptable, but I have to say that even one error in my books sets my teeth on edge. Happily, these can be corrected in the ebook format but not so easy in printed books until a reprint.

I'm told that the two audio books for Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills are completed and a distributor is being lined up so they should be available soon! I haven't received copies yet and am eager to hear how they turned out. With all the time and care put into them, they should be terrific. especially with Michelle St. John reading the books.


I'm also gearing up to interview Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Fest on the evening of Tuesday, October 10. Tickets are now available so you can preorder and spend the evening getting to know two crime writers at the top of their game. I've received copies of each of their latest books from their publishers and can tell you that they've penned some excellent, suspenseful reads. I know Barbara well since we both live in Ottawa (in fact in the same neighbourhood) and I've met Ann twice - at Left Coast Crime in Monterey where we were on a panel together with Louise Penny and Debra Combrie, and in Phoenix where this photo was taken when we were out for lunch.

And finally this week, reviewer Jim Napier gave Shallow End a thumbs-up review in The Ottawa Review of Books. Jim has been reviewing Canadian crime fiction for some time and recently released his own first novel entitled Legacy that I look forward to reading over the winter.

But for now, one more cup of coffee and back to the editing. I hope this weekend finds you safe and dry wherever you are.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Finding the Zen

This writing week was one of leisure. I caught the Monday morning train to Cobourg (an hour east of Toronto) and met a friend Dawn at St. Anne's Spa, some fifteen minutes from the city in the country. The spa was once a farmhouse that has had several additions and is a popular destination for folks from Toronto. Lots of opportunity to jump into hot baths and pools or take yoga classes (not that I did) when not getting pummeled by a masseuse or eating gourmet food. No televisions and cellphones discouraged - relaxation the name of the game. It was a lovely, luxurious spot with walking trails and gardens.  A chance to recharge.




Back in Ottawa, we spent a few days roaming around the city, including a walk across the interprovincial bridge to Jacques Cartier Park to see the plant sculptures, one of the Canada 150 projects. All I can say is wow. Be sure to go if you get the chance. They are simply amazing. -all made from live plants - the pictures don't do them justice.







So today, I'm back at my desk, getting organized and back into a routine. I'm now officially slated to interview Barbara Fradkin and Ann Cleeves at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October 10th! So exciting - I've received copies of their latest books and have some great reading ahead as I prepare. I'm also going to be at Word on the Street in Toronto on Sunday, September 24 at the Crime Writers of Canada table from noon to one, and then Bouchercon in early October.

But for today, I'm happy to be back writing my latest manuscript -  still completing a chapter synopsis as I get ready to tackle the ending. This is going to be one busy fall!!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

One Step Ahead

This writing week can be summed up in a word: editing.

I received Shannon's edits for the Bleeding Darkness manuscript to look over on Tuesday end of day with a deadline of Thursday afternoon. Friday morning at the latest with the manuscript due to Dundurn by end of day Friday. I knew that the earlier I got my review done, the more time Shannon would have to go over my suggestions and one last read through. I was rolling along pretty well but Thursday morning, I found a time problem with one of the chapters, which meant moving a chunk of writing to a later chapter, renumbering chapters and rewriting various sections to match up.

Arggg.



I worked from early morning through lunch and got the manuscript back to Shannon early afternoon, allowing her extra time since I'd made a major change to the draft. I didn't get any emails from her on Friday so I think made the final deadline. Then I went for an hour walk to clear my head :-)

Now, I'm back going through my latest manuscript, book six in the series, making notes and rewriting little pieces of the story to make it align before I tackle the last 20,000 words. Another couple of months, I think, to finish this one up.

I've been approached to moderate an author chat at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in Ottawa on October 10. I'm not sure that the two guest authors have been announced yet so I won't say who they are, but keep your eyes open. This should be a great evening. I've begun preparing already and will be putting in more time over the upcoming weeks. Very exciting fall ahead!

It's beginning to feel a bit like autumn these days, especially as the sun goes down. Good sleeping weather they say. My daughter Lisa is curling tonight in Fredericton in a new format bonspiel called the Everest Challenge and you can find the game on TSN beginning at 6:30 EST. My other daughter Julia begins her competitive curling season this Friday in Oakville and I'll follow her games online. Where oh where did the summer go? I'll be on two club teams this year and a third after Christmas to replace someone going south. You can guess what we talk about around the Sunday dinner table.

But it's a sunny and warm morning and I'll put thoughts of winter out of my head. Today will be a good day to work in the garden and sit outside to read a book (when I'm not watching curling).  These are the kind of days that you have to store up like a squirrel stores nuts for the long dark days ahead. (I know, can I get any cheerier?)

Enjoy the last Saturday in August everyone :-)


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pedal to the Metal

A busy week. I completed my edit of my editor's edits late Monday and returned the document to her. Now, she gives it another going over before sending it back to me like a hot potato. I'll spend another couple of intense days rereading, addressing comments and making final tweaks. All of this needs to be finished by August 25. You can understand why I'm losing perspective on whether the story is any good or not. There comes a point of saturation. But I still believe this is a good one and can't wait for you to read it.



My second task this week was (believe it or not) to write a cover blurb for book six, not due out until 2019! This is the manuscript that I'm currently drafting on the first go through. I also had to come up with a title, which took me a couple of days. Titles are hard. Especially my titles for this series since they all have to be two words. The working title that I was using has also recently been used by Rick Mofina and Denise Mina in slightly different forms so I knew I had to come up with something else ... and I did :-) The title of book six in the Stonechild series is: Turning Secrets. I think it works!

And the last thing I've been turning my hand to this week is making chapter notes for the manuscript as I've gotten to the point where I'm unclear what happened to whom and in what order. I'm not the most organized writer and had been promising myself that I'd do this one day. It is a painstaking process but I know I'm going to be happy that I've put in the time. I worked two days already and am only a third of the way through. Once I get myself sorted, I'll write the ending to this book as I have about 25,000 words to go.

I had a lovely surprise this week in my mailbox. A man named Tim Power who went to the same high school as I did, and who lives in B.C., made me a pen from the wood of a lilac tree growing in his yard. He'd read the first three books in the Stonechild series and thought I might like one of his fine pens. He sent the pen to my publisher who forwarded it to me. Such a thoughtful gift that I'll use at signings. You can see the pen on my desk below the box Tim made out of a beer carton, which my neighbour tells me is a popular brand out west. So cool.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Respite and Lots of Wine

So Ted and I are on a road trip. And what should we come across on our travels in Brockville, but this mother of a ...




The big duck was grounded yesterday but apparently to be in the St. Lawrence by today. All the hotels in Brockville were booked for the weekend. Kind of bizarre. Not something I'd organize my holiday around but some people must be. We can be a strange lot.

I finally received the editor's edits for the Bleeding Darkness manuscript Tuesday late in the day. I spent that evening and all day Wednesday and Thursday going through the manuscript and addressing her comments. Some of this involved rewriting a sentence or adding a line or two. Nothing major although she's asked me to consider adding two scenes, which I'm leaving until the end. I have to have this done on Monday so I'll be at it when we return to Ottawa tomorrow.

We're in Prince Edward County now at Huff Estates and just completed the first wine-tasting of the day with a tour starting shortly - a driver will be taking us to five wineries, and while the weather report says it's raining in Ottawa, we're having a lovely sunny day here. I'm thinking the gods are smiling on us :-)

Last night, we went into Picton and had a very tasty meal at Clara's restaurant in this old inn. We sat on the covered verandah while a few bouts of rain moved through. The storm settled in over night with heavy rain, thunder and lightning rumbling overhead all hours, but sun this morning. All this to say, no writing or editing for me today - viva des vacances!

 Clara's restaurant is upstairs looking out over the back garden.
Down the hill from Clara's with night settling in

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Excitement in July

A very good week that was.

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail posted a review of Shallow End on their site and it was terrific! Margaret Canon is the best known Canadian crime fiction reviewer with a wide reach. Also pleased to see my new crime-writing buddy Rachel Greenaway got a great review as well - might call for another celebratory drink next time we get together :-)

The Chapters Rideau book-signing last Saturday went very well. My favourite moment was when a mother bought Running Scared (first in my YA series) for her daughter. About half an hour later, they were back to buy the rest of the series. The Mom said that her daughter was a reluctant reader but she started reading the book in the store and refused to leave until she found out what happened in a particular chapter. They were heading off in search of a reading spot after they bought the books. Also, thank you to Joey Taylor and Derek Nighbor for coming by to say hello and to purchase a copy of Shallow End. I've been delighted to have friends come out to almost every book store signing this year because of social media postings, some coming great distances. Thank you to everyone for your support.


Also thank you to Gayle Jabour who sent these photos from the North Kawartha Library. How great is this!


The editing for Bleeding Darkness was delayed a few days and I'll be getting the Dundurn editor's changes to go through on Monday. She was a third of the way through the manuscript mid-week and said it was in good shape so hopefully my review won't take too long. She was enjoying the story so first comments are good. Until then, I'm plugging away on my latest manuscript, now into the last third.

We're into the August long weekend and hard to believe the summer will soon be morphing into autumn. I received the names of the other authors on my police procedural panel at Bouchercon in October and looks like  a most interesting group that includes, two Scots, three Americans, one of whom lives in Greece, and one Canadian (me).  October isn't that far off!

But for now, still lots of long summer days to enjoy....

Last week, Ottawa was host to a giant mechanical spider and dragon. I came upon the dragon in the Byward Market after my Saturday signing. Mighty impressive!