Sunday, November 28, 2010

Winding up November

In Winter's Grip is now in stores across the country and the U.S. Unbelievable really when I stop to think about it. I've been getting some very postitive reviewing from those who've read the book, including an unexpected note from Tim Wynne-Jones - award winning children's author - saying he was at the launch and really enjoyed the suspense and story. Good to get such good feedback from another author, especially one as well respected as Tim.

I spent the week curling - five games since last I blogged. Yesterday, I curled in the morning and then drove out to Beaverbrook branch of the Ottawa Public Library to teach kids a short story-writing workshop. This is part of the Awesome Authors contest - all of the judges teach a workshop before the entries are due. I've agreed to judge the English short stories again this year and expect to spend several hours reading stories in the new year. Thirteen kids attended the workshop and they were just a great group - enthusiastic, engaged and filled with good questions. After a fun hour, I rushed back to Westboro to curl in the B-side final, and am happy to report victory.

I also spent part of last week looking up lyrics and notable quotes from 1970 and 1971 for my YA manuscript set in the Vietnam era - 1971 to be exact. I decided to add a quote to the beginning of each chapter, so that meant rereading each chapter, coming up with a theme or link to a quote. I'm thinking I got some spot on, but will wait to see what my editor thinks. Anyhow, I feel a big lifting of weight with the final submission of this manuscript to Napoleon. It was called "After Annie" but the title has now changed to Second Chances. I rewrote the ending and think the story a lot tighter. On va voir.

I also heard from Orca that they will entertain the idea of a sequel to follow The Second Wife. I'm going to take a little breather to get Christmas together before tackling an outline. Give the ideas time to ferment, like good wine.

So now the season of parties, dinners, shopping and decorating begins. I've ventured out to neighbourhood stores and started the annual gift-buying dance. I imagine you are all involved in the same tango. It's an annual ritual that unites us one and all.
May the sales be with you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

So, In Winter's Grip is officially launched. The evening was hugely successful for Barb Fradkin and me as we launched our adult mysteries. Lots of people turned up to buy the books, listen to our readings and mingle over finger foods and wine. Most civilized although I have to say, I felt a little pang of longing for my pub launches of old. Thank you to all who came to help celebrate and who bought books. Your support means more than I can ever say.

My two curling teams waited patiently while I book toured, flew to Saskatoon for work and lounged sick at home - three weeks gone from my regular life. I've curled two club games this week and have a full day with my ladies' team this weekend at a spiel in Navan. It's good to have a balance between sitting at a desk typing and socializing over curling rocks and glasses of wine that follow the games. lately, I'm thinking some wine before the game might help me throw the rocks better, but the wiser course might be to get out and practise.

Also around this time of year, I start to get little twinges about Christmas. I don't know if others are the same, but by December 1st, the pangs turn into outright panic at the thought of all the work ahead - planning meals, baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, socializing. Last year, my family escaped to Las Vegas for Christmas week and I have to say, I loved being away. Still, just like this week's launch away from the familiar pub, I also missed being home and doing all the traditions. Life can be poignant when you least expect.
I'm planning to finish editing my Vietnam era YA manuscript this week and think I've come up with a title. I agonize over titles. In fact, I spend more time coming up with one than I do writing a chapter, several chapters even. I had the same trouble naming my daughters. Books are kind of like children. You also don't want to send them into the world saddled with the wrong moniker, or worse, one that makes you wonder years later just what in god's name you were thinking.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Down but not out

A week ago at this time, I was on a plane flying home from the work retreat at the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, fifteen minutes outside of Saskatoon. I'd never set foot in Saskatchewan before and had my first look at the flat land that stretched for miles only ending when it ran into the robin's egg blue prairie sky. Anyhow, when my plane finally landed in Ottawa after midnight and I'd made it safely home, a sore throat decided to take hold. My body was of the opinion that I needed another week off work to pay for my travels. It might have tried for two weeks but for a trip to the doctor and some mighty fine antibiotics that are working their magic.

Before taking to my bed, I managed to complete a review of the edits from Orca for the Rapid Reads manuscript. Most of the changes were style and some were questions about plot details so it didn't take me too long. The next time I see the manuscript, it will be the page proofs. I'm also looking forward to seeing the cover - I've no idea what it will be.

I also fit in a coffee chat with Barbara Fradkin last Sunday morning before I crashed. We divided up a few tasks for our launch this coming Tuesday evening - 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Library and Archives on Wellington Street - everyone is invited. Mary Jane Maffini will MC and it should be a fun evening. We're even going to do short readings, not something I ever managed for my kids' book launches in Whispers pub. (Kids' books in a pub; adult books in a library - not sure I got the sequence right.)

Well, this promises to be another gorgeous November weekend with temps around nine on Saturday. I swear to you and my sick husband (whom I can hear coughing upstairs) that I am planting tulips tomorrow and washing the car. Enough procrastinating. If I don't get the bulbs into the ground, just what are the squirrels going to dig up for their mid-winter snack?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Catching Up

Home sweet home after nearly two weeks on the road.

I flew to Saskatoon on Wednesday for work and fit in a signing/reading at McNally Robinson bookstore. I was greeted by Nicole Berard and made to feel most welcome. The photo above is just some of the in-store publicity for the event. A few from the local community came out for the reading, including a girl from my old home town, whom I hadn't seen since we were kids. In fact, our families used to spend Christmas dinner together for a number of years. Hearing from people from my past is one of the most wonderful benefits of publicizing books. A number of my colleagues also came to the reading after a long day of work, many of whom I met on the trip. I was quite humbled by their support of me and my writing. A huge thank you to all who came out and bought books.

And now, down to the business of Barb Fradkin and my book launch on November 16th. We have details to sort out and people to invite. It promises to be a fun evening with my road trip mate Mary Jane Maffini as MC. I hope all can make it. Who knows what road stories she'll tell :-)

Also waiting in my in box is an edited version of "The Second Wife", the Orca Rapid Reads book due out this spring. That makes two manuscripts I'm editing for publication next year. Luckily, I have until December for the second one. Whew. Lots to do!

I never did get those tulip bulbs planted. Let's hope the snow holds off for a while.