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.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Catching Up

A productive writing week - I managed to complete the first draft for Anna Sweet book six and I've been through it twice since with the red pen. It comes in at fourteen thousand words, which is the target count. I should submit it to Grass Roots Press by the end of this weekend.

Then, a break. time to take care of ...

Taxes. My messy office. Our messy house.

And curling.

I joined a third curling team this round, which means a lot of time at the club throwing rocks for the next three months ... and watching my daughters curl.

I'll also have time to travel to some book events with two book club visits coming up and a trip to Toronto and the Ontario Library Association conference. For librarians attending the event, I'll be signing at the Dundurn booth at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 2nd.

In addition to the Ottawa launch of Shallow End on Friday, April 7 from 7-9 p.m. at the Heart and Crown on Preston Street (save the date :-) On Saturday, April 15, I'll be signing at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto with Stephen Burrows, author of the birder mysteries. The time is yet to be confirmed but should be mid-afternoon.  This will actually be the first time I sign in Toronto so I'm looking forward to meeting Stephen, the Sleuth staff, and Toronto readers.

Lots going on.

But for now, one final edit of my manuscript and then a walk with my afternoon writing buddy Trooper, who's come for a visit.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Staying Warm and Dry in Front of the Computer

A crisp January morning. Actually, an odd week weather-wise - freezing rain, rain, and now minus 15 C. The freezing rain and wind ripped a few big branches from our pine and power outages went on around the city as other branches fell on power lines. This has been a good week to stay inside and write ... which I did!

I'm working on the sixth Anna Sweet novella and am at about 9500 words. Not too shabby since I started this manuscript late December. The word count for these books is 13,000 to 15,000 so I should have the draft done this week. Good news from my Grass Roots publisher as they are investigating making the Anna Sweet series into audio books. I think the books are prime candidates for this format if I say so myself.

I've booked a location and date for the Shallow End Ottawa launch so mark your calendars! Friday, April 7 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. in the Heart and Crown on Preston Street. I've reserved the entire front of the pub so we have lots of space to mingle, eat and hang out. Books on Beechwood will be on hand with books for purchase and I'm hoping for a big crowd to come help celebrate. I checked out the food yesterday, going for lunch with Alex Brett, and it was very good.

So curling fans will appreciate this photo of the past Canadian and world champion Marilyn Bodough with Team Homan's Lisa Weagle (full disclosure, also my daughter). The photo arrived out of the blue and made me smile. Marilyn read Cold Mourning a few months ago while on vacation in the South and sent a note to me saying she'd never read a murder mystery before but was now a convert. How sweet is that?!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year That Was and the Year to Come

The last day of 2016. Looking back, this has been a good year for me on the writing front. Tumbled Graves, fourth in the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series, was launched in early March while the fifth Anna Sweet novella No Trace was published in September.

At the Whispers Pub launch with Wendy Pell, Mona Simpson, Carol Gage and Nancy LeBrun

In February, I flew to Left Coast Crime in Phoenix with good friend Alex Brett and spent a great few days in the sun with fellow crime writers and readers. I was part of a book signing at the famous Poisoned Pen mystery bookstore and sat on a panel as part of the conference.
 Poisoned Pen Bookstore event
A morning at the Phoenix botanical gardens - Barb Fradkin, Alex Brett and me

I continued writing throughout the summer and fall, submitting the final draft manuscript for the fifth Stonechild book to Dundurn in early December. We also edited Shallow End (fourth in the series) and prepare for its release in early March 2017. Most exciting, I got word late summer that the first two books in the series, Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills would be made into audio books, and I was part of the process to pick the actress to read the books. I travelled to Toronto in late October to sit in on a recording session with voice actress Michelle St. John and sound technician Dan Harden. The audio books will be released early spring as well.

Michelle St. John
With Dan Harden and my Dundurn publicist Michelle Melski

And the events continued throughout the year. I was invited to two local book festivals: the Ottawa International Writers Festival in April and Prose in the Park in June. Both were great fun with terrific crime writers to share the stage.
Ottawa Writers Festival with Linwood Barclay and John Lawton above and Barb Fradkin and Joy Fielding below.
 (l to r)  Peter Kirby, Ian Hamilton, me, Dietrich Kalteis and John Farrow
At the Capital Crime Writers tent (Prose in the Park) with Linda Wiken, Tom Curran, Patricia Filteau, Joe Italiano and Madonna Skaff

Not to mention, all the signings and visits to book clubs and organizations as a guest author in 2016 ..

Chapters Gloucester in October
Manotick book club with Mary Jane Maffini hosted by Janet Claridge in September

It was indeed a busy writing year and 2017 promises to be even busier! Thank you for continuing to take this journey along with me - I feel that much stronger knowing you're out there. I begin the New Year with two book club visits in Ottawa and Cobourg, a trip to Toronto to the Ontario Library Association's annual conference, and the Shallow End and audiotape launch. I'll be visiting some bookstores as well for signings and hope to meet you along the way.

Happy New Year, everyone. I raise my glass with you at midnight and wish you much joy and good health in 2017.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Moments

Seasons Greetings, everyone! Christmas Eve and the start of Hanukkah this evening - lovely to have this time of celebration with family and friends, near and far. I love the Christmas lights on homes and trees, fires in the grate and candles on the mantel. This is the darkest stretch of the year with the sun descending soon after four o'clock in Ottawa so the lights are little beacons of hope to warm the night and bring some cheer.

So, we have the Christmas songs playing and I'm making final preparations for supper tonight and a turkey dinner tomorrow. The gifts are wrapped and the wine is cooling. It's time to relax and enjoy the anticipation.

As you take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy the afternoon, I thought I'd share a a few lines from poem I've always loved, written by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman around 1900.

A January Morning

The glittering roofs are still with frost; each worn
Black chimney builds into the quiet sky
Its curling pile to crumble silently,
Far out to westward on the edge of morn,
The slender misty city towers up-borne
Glimmer faint rose against the pallid blue;
And yonder on those northern hills, the hue
Of amethyst, hang fleeces dull as horn.

Such a beautiful image of winter. I sometimes used to think of this poem as I rode the bus early mornings to work in the downtown. There's a spot where we'd reach the top of a hill on Scott Street and the centre core of buildings would stretch into the sky with the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills to the left. On the frosty winter mornings with the sun half-risen, the smoke from buildings would hang suspended in the violet-black sky. I'd feel this warmth inside that I recapture when I read this poem.

Christmas Eve is a time to stop and be moved by the beauty of the winter season, and so I wish each of you your own moments of peace, joy and warmth as you celebrate the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah and much happiness in 2017.