Saturday, March 25, 2017

Winning ways

Well, since the last post, Team Homan won the round robin at Worlds with a perfect 11-0 record against a tough field and won the one-two game yesterday morning to secure a spot in the gold-medal final on Sunday. I'll be getting up at 3 a.m. to watch - the opponent yet to be decided as the final teams play down. We couldn't be prouder of these girls.

Rachel, Emma, Joanne, Lisa and Cheryl - Go Team Canada!

I was also curling a lot this week - eight games in five days with the last two ahead today. So far, I have a 4-2 record, having played on three different teams. This curling marathon has cut into my writing time, but I'm well on track with my projects regardless: heading up to 14,000 words on the new manuscript; submitted seven paragraphs for review in the adult literacy project; waiting for editor to send back edits on the latest Anna Sweet mystery; prepared my one-hour presentation for the Ottawa Independent Writers talk on April 18....

I'm not sure that I mentioned that I'll be signing at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto on Saturday, April 15 from 1:00 to 3:00 (Easter weekend). I'll be there with two Toronto authors Steve Burrows and Leslie Shimotakahara. I hear we might even be doing some readings and answering questions about our writing and books. I hope you can come by if you're in Toronto. Sleuth is a famous mystery bookstore and this will be my first visit.  Here's a link to their newsletter.

And back in Ottawa, a few events on the horizon:

April 7 from 7-9 p.m. - Shallow End launch at the Heart and Crown on Preston (all welcome).
April 18 at 7 p.m. - guest speaker at Ottawa Independent Writers' meeting.
April 22 from 11-2 p.m. - signing at Coles Carlingwood.
April 24 - 7 p.m. - guest speaker at Russell Public Library.
April 29 from 1-3 p.m. - signing at Chapters Kanata.

Lots of opportunities for you to catch up with me!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Reviews, Snow and Curling ... Go Team Canada!

The winter that never ends. That what we've been experiencing in Ottawa. I look out at the fresh, high snow banks and have to believe this is it ... but I thought that last week before the blizzard.

We have exciting curling to watch when we don't feel like going outside. My daughter Lisa's team (with Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew and Joanne Courtney) won their two opening games against China and Germany in Beijing with the match against Russia coming up at 2 a.m. tonight or should I say early Sunday morning. I taped last night's opener and watched this morning - thus the delay in getting my day underway. I also have company this weekend - one that needs lots of walks in the winter wonderland.

So this week, I got some writing in on my latest manuscript, now at 11,000 words, and researched and wrote a few paragraphs for the literacy workbooks. I hope to write another one today and continue with the manuscript. Another big task was getting my receipts and documents organized for my tax return, which is now with my accountant. That's always a load off my mind when I turn in the pack of papers.

The reader reviews for Shallow End have been terrific. Jim, owner of Perfect Books, emailed my yesterday that they'd sold out of their copies and are waiting for the book to be reprinted! Wow. I can't thank everyone enough for all your support. The Ottawa launch is three weeks away and I'm hoping you can make it if you're in the city. Mary Jane Maffini is my wonderful MC and Books on Beechwood will be on hand with copies for purchase.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Laying the Groundwork

Today is Shallow End's official launch date although it has been available for over a week now and advance reader copies went out about six months ago. The reader and reviewer feedback has been terrific to date - thank you everyone for helping to spread the word about this series. A special thank you to British crime writer Ann Cleeves who read an advance copy and gave a lovely endorsement. Ann writes the Jimmy Perez Shetland series (on Netflix) and the Vera Stanhope series, great reads all.

I'm plugging away on book six in the series and just over 8000 words, aiming for 10,000 by the end of the month. I'm struggling with the premise but am feeling better about the direction the plot is going. These first chapters are setting the stage and normally take me a lot of time, thinking and revising. Laying the groundwork and hoping it's fertile enough to grow some strong plotting.

I've also been working on a few sample paragraphs for my Grass Roots Press workbook project. The writing has to be at a grade 4/5 level based on the Frye readability graph ... not as easy as you would think. Anyhow, I've been back and forth with the publisher, spoken with her twice on the phone, and I believe I'm on the right track. I'll be settling in with the research and writing this week. I have to write 35 main idea paragraphs with 35 different topics with three deadlines throughout the spring and summer. I like a challenge :-)

And aside from writing, I've been sending out e-vites to the Shallow End launch on April 7 at the Heart and Crown. The thing I like about these launches is seeing everybody once a year - some friends I wouldn't see otherwise as we're all in different parts of the city with busy lives. From initial feedback, there should be a good crowd!

Let's hope it warms up before the launch. Today, we're having a record low temperature for March 11, currently -19 C and feeling like -31 C. Makes you want to curl up with a space heater on high. The snowbanks are lower than a week ago but still very much in evidence. Hard to believe it was +18 C last week in St. Catharines with the grass greening up. Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes.

More coffee I say. Another cup and then time to get this frosty Saturday underway. 

Good week everyone.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Winning Week

We spent an exciting week in St. Catharines at the Scotties - our national ladies' curling competition - and witnessed a terrific final between Ontario (Rachel Homan) and Manitoba (Michelle Englot) with Ontario winning in an extra end. Of course, the Ontario team has our daughter Lisa at lead so a very happy result! They'll represent Canada at Worlds in Beijing China, which begin March 18, although we'll be cheering them on from home.

No tournament is complete without a photo with curling champion Jeff Stoughton :-)

I've been working hard on writing tasks this week, beginning with going through the edits from my Grass Roots editor Pam on the sixth Anna Sweet manuscript. The edits weren't that numerous and mainly concerned plot timing and logic questions. This editing round took me a few days and I now await Pam's feedback. I also signed a contract to work on four workbooks for adult learners, which involves researching thirty-five topics and writing paragraphs based on each topic that have a main idea and supporting details. I've written one paragraph and am currently researching a second topic. I'll submit both next week to see if I'm on the right track. The grade level is four/five. This project will keep me busy for a few months at least.

I also had great news from my Dundurn publicist early this week - Publishers Weekly gave Shallow End a starred review! The review calls the book 'intriguing' and 'a gripping read'. I've been sending out more evites to the launch which will be April 7. Here is the invitation if you are in Ottawa and can plan to attend.

I'll be doing a few book signings as well in April, including a trip to Toronto and Sleuth of Baker Street on Saturday, April 15 between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. 

Back in Ottawa, I'll be at Coles Carlingwood on Saturday, April 22 between 11:00 a.m. and 2 p.m.; and Chapters Kanata on Saturday, April 29 between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

So, busy weeks ahead as we round into spring. I hope to meet lots of friends and readers along the way.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Shallow End Arrives!

Good Saturday morning. You can start your day by entering your name in the Goodreads giveaway for a copy of Shallow End - Dundurn is giving away three copies and here is the link. Only a day left to enter so don't delay!

Dundurn also has a discount on some 'hot books' including Tumbled Graves so worth checking out.

Well, I'm back working on the sixth Stonechild and Rouleau series and am corralling my main themes and characters. I'm just over 4000 words in so only 85000 left to go ... always seems daunting at this point. The person I had murdered initially wasn't working for me so I rewrote the opening chapter with a different character being bumped off. And as I struggle with this one, UPS arrived late yesterday with my copies of Shallow End - motivation to keep going:-) This book will be available widely within a week or so if you are looking for the next Stonechild installment. A huge thank you to Ann Cleeves for reading an advance copy and giving her recommendation - I am truly honoured to have the creator of Jimmy Perez and Vera Stanhope read and enjoy one of my books!

I've had a few invitations to speak recently including an evening with the Ottawa Independent Writers in April to talk about writing crime fiction. I'll also be visiting the Russell Public Library in April to read from Shallow End and meet readers. And of course, the book launch at the Heart and Crown on Preston Street on Friday evening, April 7 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. (mark your calendar!) It would be wonderful to have a good crowd to help celebrate.

I also received an offer from Grass Roots Press to work on a project that will take me the summer through to September. The work involves writing paragraphs on various interesting topics that will be included in four workbooks - I'm excited to be part of this initiative. The books will be used by educators who are working in adult literacy.

So lots going on this spring - enough to keep me out of trouble. As if all the writing stuff isn't enough, today marks the beginning of the Scotties national curling championship in St. Catharines with my daughter Lisa playing lead on Team Homan. You can catch the games on TSN beginning today at 2:30 EST. Should be an exciting week!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Great Week That Was

News first: I'll be at Chapters Kanata today (Saturday, Feb. 11) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. signing copies of the first three books in the Stonechild and Rouleau series. Come by and say hello if you're in the area. Crime fiction makes a great Valentine's Day gift (sharing the date with that infamous massacre :-)

I spent last week on the road - a week in Cobourg watching the Ontario provincial curling playdowns and most happy to report that my daughter Lisa's team (skip Rachel Homan) won the ladies side and will be off to the national Scotties in St. Catharines beginning next weekend. The competition was first rate and the final against team Harrison was a nail-biter. Kudos to all the teams for a hard fought and exciting week of play and good curling to Team Homan in the Scotties!

Lake Ontario and the beautiful Cobourg Beach 

On Thursday morning, I caught the train from Cobourg to Toronto to sign copies of Shallow End ARCs at the Dundurn booth at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference, which brought together librarians from across the province for four days of panels, speakers, workshops and author events. I signed alongside two other Dundurn authors: Steve Burrows and Suzanne Kingsmill, authors I'd heard about but never met. Both lovely! Steve and I will be signing at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto on April 15. I also had a chance to catch up with Michelle Melski, publicist for the Dundurn crime fiction authors.

Tamara, the first librarian at our booth, hailed from Marathon and her mother taught me in grade three while her father taught me in grades six and seven as well as science in grade eight. Mr. Trach had a huge impact on me as he fostered my love of reading and writing. I even remembered when Tamara was born! Here we are at the booth :-)

 Great to meet Penny who'd read the first three in the series and gave a glowing thumbs up!

With Michelle Melski and Steve Burrows

Kendra Martin in Publicity and Marketing told me that she loves the Stonechild series :-)

Friday evening, between curling games, I visited the Let's Talk Books bookshop in Cobourg to chat with the mystery book club, which meets in the store. About twenty-five people came out as well as a photographer from the local paper Snapped. Most of the club members had read Tumbled Graves, which was the chosen book for the month. Tracy Shillington led the group discussion - lots of great questions about the series and writing - and I did a brief reading from Shallow End, which comes out early March. I signed books afterwards and have to say that the evening was a delight because Tracy, the club members, and the store owner Sandra were so welcoming and enthusiastic about the books.

 Tracy, me and Sandra

So a busy, terrific week, but now I'm back at my desk getting the next manuscript started, drinking my second cup of coffee and looking forward to another week of cold and snow. In fact, we had an overnight snowfall and I'll soon be out shoveling to ensure I can get the car out of the driveway to make it to Chapters Kanata after lunch.

Stay warm my friends and have a heart-filled week ahead.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Busy Times

Good Saturday morning. It's been a busy week - I curled nine games over the last ten days, including four games in a bonspiel last week. A little achy today but still on my feet :-)

I also visited the Reader Mortis book club last Sunday afternoon and spent a delightful couple of hours talking crime fiction, drinking mulled wine and tea, and eating from an array of finger food. The lemon cloud dessert was simply fabulous. Thank you to Susan Spenard and the entire club for sharing your love of mysteries and for making me feel so welcome. Susan shared a crime fiction site that you might also find interesting: Stop You're Killing Me has a list of crime writers and awards. It lists books by geographical location and diversity among other indexes. A good resource to put in your favourites.

This coming week, I'll be travelling to Toronto to the OLA Super Conference on Thursday to sign copies of Shallow End at the Dundurn booth at 11:30 a.m. The Ontario Library Association Super Conference is a four-day event that brings librarians together from across the province and this will be my first time attending. I hope to chat with some librarians about the Stonechild series and the Anna Sweet mysteries as well as some Dundurn authors whom I've yet to meet.

Then on Friday, I'll be visiting a mystery book club that meets at a bookshop in Cobourg called Let's Talk Books.I'm really looking forward to talking about Tumbled Graves and the Stonechild books with another group of crime fiction lovers!

So, I've taken a bit of a writing break having finished Anna Sweet book six and Stonechild and Rouleau book five ahead of deadlines. I've been working on a plot for the next Stonechild book, sparked by some recent media stories. Soon time to get chapter one underway.

When not curling, we've been watching the excellent series on Netflix called The Killing. If you start watching, make sure you have lots of time because you'll be glued to the screen. I'm finding that there are so many good crime series on Netflix that I've been lining them up on my to-watch list. I also watched and recommend Shetland and Walander and recommend reading the books that they're based on. You should also check out the six-part Cardinal series on CTV, based on the excellent series by Giles Blunt, and to read the books beginning with Forty Words for Sorrow. So good.

A busy week behind and a busy week ahead. I hope you are also keeping happy and busy this last week of January. Not long now before spring is on our doorstep.