Saturday, January 19, 2019

When the Going Gets Cold ....

The Arctic Vortex is moving down from the north while a snow storm is approaching from the south, taking away any desire I might have left to go outside. As far as I'm concerned, thirty-five below C with frostbite warnings is good enough reason to stay inside with a good book and a cup of tea. (As if I really needed one.)

I settled into a writing rhythm this week, meeting my tail 500-word daily quota for this last Anna Sweet novella. At this rate, I'll be done the first draft by the end of January. Probably sooner as I usually pick up speed toward the end of a book. I worked on a main idea booklet for this same publisher, Grass Roots Press, last year and my copies arrived in the mail this week. It turned into a nice little workbook for ESL students.

It was also my Monday to post on 7 Criminal Minds blogspot. This week's question concerns how to stay focused on writing, especially over the holiday season. You can read my tips - which struck me as ones that can be generalized for other goals - and those of my fellow crime writer bloggers on this link .

Left Coast Crime in Vancouver is now less than ten weeks away and an email arrived with author opportunities. I signed up for a speed-dating morning, which had Ted wondering, but it's actually an event where two authors move from table to table giving two-minute pitches for our books to readers. The goal is to build up interest in readers who might never have heard of us, not to get a date to the prom.

So, following my own advice for getting that next manuscript written, I'm getting this day underway with another cup of coffee, a few miles on my stationary bike and then time at the computer. Stay warm this weekend my fellow Canucks.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January Morning

Good morning everyone.

This has been a busy week working behind the scenes. The big writing news is that my Ottawa book launch is set and everyone is lined up to make the afternoon a fun event. Everyone is invited so save the date: Sunday, June 2, 2019 from 2-4 p.m. at The Cross on Elgin. This is the same place as the Bleeding Darkness launch and Bernie is returning with a slightly modified band line up that includes his brother, now calling themselves The Haughian Brothers Band. Perfect Books will also be on site to sell books. This is like an annual party where I get to see my friends, new and old!

I've also been corresponding with my Dundurn publicist about various publicity and media ideas and think we have a plan nailed down. Advance reading copies were sent out this week to reviewers so things are gearing up already. I'm lining up a few spring gigs, including one at Carlingwood Library with Barbara Fradkin that I'll have more details about soon. We both live in Kitchissippi Ward so seems like a fitting idea to get together to talk books and writing at our local library.

I also heard from my Grass Roots Press publisher this week. She wanted to know if I'd started writing the last Anna Sweet novella as she plans a publicity campaign for the series in the fall. I spent the last few days rereading the books to refresh my memory about all the characters and plot lines and got writing the opening chapter yesterday. I think I've got a good start to the story. I have to wrap up this series as well, having just written the last book in the Stonechild and Rouldau series. It's going to be odd not having any contracts and deadlines, but I'm ready to start something new even if I'm going to miss my characters.

Finally today, I'm deeply saddened by news of the city double decker bus crash at Westboro station yesterday during rush hour. Three people died at the scene and about twenty-five injured, several critically. This is the station where I caught the bus to work and the stop on my way home for all those years I worked downtown. Such a horrific tragedy on what should have been a typical drive home on a January Friday afternoon. Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with the victims and their families today.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Getting Organized in January

So 2019 is well underway ... well a few days in anyway. Have you made any resolutions? I've made the same one I make every year - be open to new adventures and have some fun. Be kind. Keep writing.

I sent in my latest manuscript to Dundurn, managing to complete a third edit before submitting on January 30th, and am officially on vacation for a week.   I say this, but I've spent the last two afternoons working on publicity planning for Turning Secrets and lining up an event at the Carlingwood Library.  I also intend to work on my tax deductions before I start writing again. I'd add cleaning my office but know I likely won't get too far with that. I've shuffled some papers around though.

In this little hiatus, I've managed some Netflix time. Ted and I are watching the third season of Shetland and enjoying the storyline and Shetland scenery. I've  caught an episode of Hinterland and will continue on. I'm also reading Ian Rankin's latest In a House of Lies, which showed up in my Christmas stocking. So far so good.

My next writing project is the final Anna Sweet novella. I plan to reread the series before I begin to refresh my memory and figure out what needs tying up. You'd be surprised how much authors forget about books they've written. I'm always looking back or making searches to find out what colour eyes I gave a character or what car they drive. Writing a book is a mysterious process alright. I'm using this time to come up with storylines. I have one that I'm rolling around in my head but it needs fleshing out and I'm going to need another idea to anchor the book. Next week's work!

A quick post today. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, fulfilling 2019 with many new adventures. We have a new year ahead with endless possibilities ....

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cheers to 2018!

So the end to 2018 is a few days away. Time to recap the writing year and look ahead.

In February, I travelled to Toronto to take part in the Ontario Library Association (OLA) annual conference. The OLA had shortlisted No Trace (Anna Sweet mystery novella) for the Golden Oak award and I was invited to their breakfast. I also signed copies of Shallow End at the Dundurn booth.

Signing with Barbara Fradkin and R.J. Harlick at the Dundurn booth

No Trace was also shortlisted for a Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award in April. While the book didn't take home either award, its double nomination felt like a win :-)

Later that same month, Ted and I flew to Pyeongchang, South Korea to watch our daughter Lisa curl in the Olympics. Not a writing event, but it sure was a highlight! I did do a bit of writing though - you can read the article here.

Team Homan representing Canada at the Olympics
Such beautiful topography - sunset in Pyeongchang

Bleeding Darkness, fifth in the Stonechild and Rouleau series, made it to store shelves with a May release. The Ottawa launch was held at The Cross on Elgin and turned into a great party with  Green Floyd playing and Perfect Books on hand to sell copies - we even sold out! It was so great to see everyone who came out, many old friends and some whom I'd never met before but who are fans of the series. My cousin Janet from Montreal and my friend  Dawn from Toronto even made the trip to help celebrate, adding to the specialness of the day.

 Cortez from Perfect Books
 Lead singer Bernie from Green Floyd
Photos by Fred Taylor

I followed up the release with some media, including an overnight trip to Kingston to appear on the Morning Show and sign books at Novel Idea bookshop. I also appeared on CBC Radio's All in a Day with Gerald Lynch on a series that paired two local authors to interview each other. (link to interview)

Other television appearances included Daytime Ottawa on Rogers Cable 22 and Hollywood in the Valley with Matt Demers (you can find it on Bell Fibe television - season three). In addition, I did seven guest spots on The Power Lunch with host Mark Sutcliffe and another alternating guest as we discussed the news of the day. All this to say, lots of media exposure and fun along the way.

With host Dylan Black on Daytime Ottawa

With host Matt Demers
The Power Lunch - 1310 News

As for bookstore signings, in addition to the Novel Idea visit, I spent two afternoons at Coles Carlingwood, another at Chapters Gloucester in August signing with Robin Harlick, and a stint at Chapters Barrhaven with Jim Napier and Barbara Fradkin as part of a mystery writers' weekend. I also took part in a most pleasant evening at Books on Beechwood with fellow authors Barbara Fradkin and Iona Whishaw hosted by Linda Wiken.

Barbara Fradkin and Kathy Prairie, Eastern Ontario rep for Crime Writers of Canada
 - Chapters Barrhaven

(l to r) Iona Whishaw, Linda Wiken, Barbara Fradkin and me - Books on Beechwood

I had a few speaking engagements including a talk in May about the Stonechild mysteries at the Abbotsford House, which is a seniors' centre, and two visits to the Emerald Branch of the Ottawa Public Library in October to introduce the Anna Sweet mysteries to new Canadian women's groups. Along with four other Ottawa mystery writers, I attended a Sorority Sisters event, which included supper and interesting discussion about our books and writing.  I also had a lovely afternoon visiting a book club in the East end of Ottawa to discuss Cold Mourning .

(l to r) me, R.J. Harlick, Barbara Fradkin, Linda Wiken & Mary Jane Maffini

Mixed in with all these great events, I managed to complete editing book six in the Stonechild series, Turning Secrets, which is now being circulated for advance reviews. The book is slated for release in early May so looks like another launch to plan. Green Floyd has said they'd love to play again since they had so much fun last time around - another party coming up! I've also written book seven entitled Closing Time, and will be submitting it to Dundurn in a few days. This has been the project consuming me for this year.

Looking ahead, I'll be travelling to Vancouver in March to attend Left Coast Crime. I've also been invited to be one of the authors at a festival but you'll have to wait for the announcement to find out which one :-) I also have two Anna Sweet mysteries due for the fall with Grass Roots Press planning a campaign to launch them together since these will be the last two books in the series.

The past year has been busy, great fun and highly entertaining. I'm excited to find what new adventures the new year holds. Happy 2019, everyone - cheers to the year that was and the new year to come!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Visions of Sugar Plums

Two days until Christmas Eve. Yesterday was the first day of winter and Ottawa celebrated with a record rain fall just to make the season that much more jolly for all those last minute Christmas shoppers. The rain turned to snow overnight and it's looking like a mess out there. I'm in no hurry to run errands.

I completed my second edit of the latest manuscript on Tuesday and have set it aside until after Christmas when I'm hoping to have enough time to go through it for one last edit before sending it off to the publisher on January 1st. Luckily, I've had a lot to occupy myself with because it's all I can do not to delve right back in.  I think that working on my computer for several hours every day has become a habit - more than I realized. I've actually been feeling a little lost without the writing work anchoring my day.

This past Monday, I answered the question about books that I would recommend on 7 Criminal Minds blogspot and you can find the link here. The other contributing authors have each given their choices if you scroll through and you can find lots of good ideas for future reading, crime fiction as well as other genres.

One more bit of news this week concerns my Stonechild series being optioned for a tv series. The L.A. screenwriter who optioned the books was in touch with the news that he has a producer interested in the project. Nothing firm yet, but good to know that there is interest and people in the industry like the books and the characters. If anything develops, I'll be sure to let you know :-)

So, today is baking day. I'm starting with a tourtière and working my way through several batches of Christmas cookies. We're hosting three suppers and while I should be stressed, I'm feeling organized and on top of things  ... (Are these famous last words?) I've even got the gifts wrapped and under the tree and the house cleaned. This busyness is all that's been standing between me and that editing. Well that and the Netficks series Ozark with Justin Bateman. Ted and I have three episodes to go and I've got to say, a darker series would be hard to imagine. After every episode, I feel emotionally exhausted - but in a good way. I recommend the series if you're looking for an involved plot, good acting and some WTF moments.

This year's balsam

Time to put on some Christmas tunes and give my mix master a workout. I hope that you also have a lovely holiday season with family and friends. The magic of this time of year is the genuine hope and caring that brings people together in all parts of the world, no matter culture or religion. This is a time to reflect and to celebrate all of our blessings. I wish each of you those moments that bring genuine happiness and peace to the soul.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Time to Break Open the Egg Nog

Only a week and a few days before Christmas. (Did your heart just lurch?) I must admit that I'm feeling distracted and having a hard time settling down to work at my computer.
However, I completed my first edit of my latest manuscript and am half way through a second edit, which I plan to have done before Christmas. I'm hoping to have a third read through before sending it off to Dundurn for January 1st. I have a few trips coming up in the early new year and will be happy to have some time without an imminent deadline. My next contract is with Grass Roots Press for another Anna Sweet novella but I have until the fall. I next have to start working on a plot idea, but lots of time for that ....

One of my trips is to Left Coast Crime in Vancouver in March. I've booked my flights and will be sharing a room with Kingston author Katherine Prairie. As I blogged previously, I've been to two LCCs - one in Monterey, California in 2014 and the other in Phoenix, Arizona in 2016. This spring book conference rarely comes to Canada so there will definitely be a Canadian slant to the events. - a chance to showcase some terrific Canadian crime writers.  Here are a few memorable moments from past LCCs since I haven't much novel (wink wink) to report this week.

Time to finish shopping, get baking, listen to Bing, and drink some egg nog. Cheers to a fun week ahead!

 On the tour up the Big Sur north of Monterey
On a panel with Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny & Kathy Bennett 
Outside our hotel in Monterey
Shopping in Carmel with Linda Wiken and Mary Jane Maffini
A side trip to San Francisco on the way home.

And on to Phoenix two years later...

Supper in Scottsdale with Linda Wiken, Mary Jane Maffini, Ian Hamilton and Alex Brett, along with other Canadian writer friends

Canadian author evening at the famous Poisoned Pen bookshop in Scottsdale
 An afternoon at the botanical gardens in Phoenix with Barbara Fradkin, R.J. Harlick & Alex Brett (who took the photo)

 Loved the cactii

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Into December

Good morning everyone. A bit of a chilly one here in the Ottawa Valley, hitting about -20 C. overnight. Might take me a while to make my way outside.

I spent the week editing and reworking my manuscript and am about done the first go-through. I aim for about 90,000 words when all is said and done, but on the first draft, try to be closer to 85,000 words as I always add text on the first edit. I'm now at 88,000 words so added 4,000 words on this first edit. Anyhow, I have enough time to have at least one more edit and might try for two before I turn this last Stonechild book in to Dundurn.

I wrote a blog post for 7 Criminal Minds blogspot on Monday about my writing routine and whether or not I ever break it. Those of you who follow this blog know that I'm not dogmatic about my schedule and often get pulled all over the place on publicity, events and work for the publisher. Not to mention my active social life :-) Anyhow, click this link and read more about my days!

Most of you also know that my daughter Lisa plays lead for the World Champion and Olympian ladies curling Team Homan and my younger daughter Julia plays second for team Cadorin. We spend a lot of time following their games and travel to play downs when we can. Lisa's team is playing in Estavan Saskatchewan this weekend and the games are on TSN with two on today. All this to say, my 'writing schedule' is out the window. You can check out the games: 10 a.m. EST this morning with the semi-final at 2:00 p.m.

So, time to get my day underway. This means another cup of coffee and reading a few chapters of Starlight by Richard Wagamese - such a lovely book if you're looking for some evocative writing. I'm taking my time and savouring his words.