Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dog Days

Yesterday,Ted said the day was spongy - it wasn't summer hot or fall crisp - it was just a day that you couldn't get a firm grasp on. It sums up so much going on in the world - Libya, Jack Layton, wild storms off the eastern seaboard and crazy tornadoes and earthquakes - how to make sense of it all?

Oddly, in Jack Layton's death I see more hope in the country than I've seen in a long time. People are celebrating this man who dedicated himself to bettering the lot of the homeless and poor even as we mourn his passing. So many people recognized the goodness in this man and the values he strove to put into action through politics. Politics can have such a dirty connotation, but Layton chose to tackle social issues from within the system and change the way we see politicians - and by the outpouring of emotion for Layton, you have to believe it worked. He was a politician to the end, but only because he believed this was the way to bring about social change.

I was moved by the story of a previously homeless man on television who said Jack used to visit their tent village in Toronto to raise their spirits while he worked at City Hall to bring about affordable housing - affordable housing he managed to win for this man and many others. Others have come forward with similar stories. Layton's legacy is in these acts of compassion.

I continue to write. My manuscript is into the final few chapters before the editing work begins. I'm spending a great deal of my waking hours tying together the plotline in my head and backtracking to slip clues into previous chapters. It's a spongy, solitary process - exhilerating but frightening at the same time.

If you haven't viewed the Collected Works booksigning video yet, have a look on Youtube at:

Last week of August coming up. The dog days of summer. Change sure comes quickly in this old world.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Dance Card is Full

Squeezing in a blog some days can be like trying to get into last year's bathing suit - it's a bit of a struggle to fit in. Today is one of those days.

When you work fulltime, the weekends are precious. I still wake up early on a Saturday morning and think about all the things I want (and need) to do - grocery shopping, errands I've put off, laundry, library, cooking, visiting, coffee-drinking on the front deck, dinner-hosting,exercising and oh yes . . . writing. Today, I've completed the shopping and am half-way through the laundry - still a ways to go before I can flop down somewhere and enjoy the lightness of being lazy.

So if you recall last week, I was hitting despair level with my latest manuscript. I'd gone over it so many times, I couldn't decide if it was better to cut my losses or keep on heading to the grand finale. Sylvia McConnell, acquisitions editor for Dundurn and previous RendezVous Crime publisher, kindly agreed to read the first 25 pages. Her feedback arrived near the end of the week. It contained the word 'gripping' and an urging to continue. It was all I needed to get back on track.

I've decided to put the self-doubt aside and finish this puppy. I'm at 82,000 words and plotting the end with renewed vim. (BTW: There really is such a word as vim - means vitality and enthusiasm) I'm starting to like the story again . . . I wonder how many other authors go through this angst - maybe it's part of the creative process?

I had a bit of fun letting people know that In Winter's Grip is eligible for this year's Readers' Choice selection for the Giller book prize and I know many have voted for it. I thank each and every one of you who took the time. It was really nice to feel so supported. We still haven't broken into the weekly top ten, but no matter. Word has spread about the book and new readers are buying it. One person even got an independent bookstore to order in copies. You guys are the best.

I saw a rough draft of Patrick Walton's video of the Collected Works signing and he's going to have it ready by Monday so I'll send around the link as we'll post it on Youtube. I should probably add a dancing baby or someone falling off a bike down a set of stairs wearing a clown suit, but we'll leave that for another time.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Keep On Keeping On

Thought you might like to see the upcoming book cover if you haven't already. It's an older teen book slated for release in September 2012, so this gives an idea of how far ahead publishers plan. I think adults who've lived through the 70's and the Viet Nam era will also find the book interesting- lots music and historical tidbits incorporated into the storyline, which I thought at one time might be an adult book. The line between adult and older teen fiction can be thin to nonexistant and I think this story comes close.

Well, I hit the 'what was I thinking: fling manuscript into the garbage' wall on the latest adult manuscript, and have sought an outside opinion from my previous publisher, who is now in acquisitions for Dundurn. She's going to read the first 25 pages to let me know if the book has legs. I thought about shelving it and starting over this week, but am not sure if this is manuscript fatigue or valid self-doubt. I'm hoping to get honest direction. I've spent the better part of a year on this one - still a ways to go though and I'm not keen to keep going with it if I should cut my losses and start a new project. This creative process can be wearing.

Another author pointed out today that In Winter's Grip is on the eligibility list for the Giller book prize and people can vote for their choices at
There are about 50 books on this list and it will be whittled down to a long list of about 10, based on votes. Thanks to everyone who takes a minute to vote - How cool would that be to make the Giller long list!

The summer heat continues but I've begun seriously trying to get in shape for the upcoming curling season. I'm on two teams: a ladies team as skip and a team with three men as lead. The more leg and arm muscle you have, the better you can perform so I'm trying to maintain three good workouts a week. Being in shape also helps you to stay awake for the drinking part after the game, some might argue the real point of the sport at club level. It's interesting to watch (with emphasis on watch) the intensive training schedule of my daughter Lisa, who curls on the Rachel Homan rink at a seriously more competitive level than my teams. They won Ontario last year and made the playoffs at the Scotties in Charlottetown. They should have an exciting season ahead, beginning in September. By then, I'll probably have forgotten all about my own training schedule except for the bit about staying awake after the games long enough to down a pint.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer Heat Ramblings

A few of my peeps who came by for the Collected Works book signing last Saturday. Left to right, Julia, Lisa (my daughters), Katherine, Janet and Bernie. The signing felt a little like a launch - relaxed and people mingling and having a good time. I like when this happens! I sold quite a few books, to old friends and new. It was also my first event with Patrick coming out to video tape for a video project we're working on for Youtube and my website. I thought it would be weird, but Patrick moved around the store so discreetly, it was easy to forget he was filming. He might put together a little video just on the signing so I'll let you know if he manages time to do it.

It was back to work on Wednesday so my writing is back to it's old catch as catch can schedule. (Is that even an expression?) Fatigue also becomes an issue. After a day of work, it can be hard to form coherent thoughts although Ted may argue this happens even while I'm on holiday. What luxury it would be to have a year just to write. It might be nice to go back to Shakespeare's time when people had patrons. Of course, there's that nasty plague business and all the forsoothing.

I attended a Capital Crime Writers planning meeting for an event at the Ottawa Public Library October 22nd called "Capital Crime Writers - A Day to Kill". Mark your calendars - there will be local mystery authors, celebrities, food and fun. One of the perks of these meetings is that our past president's wife Margaret loves to cook and she feeds us in their back garden. This time, the BBQ was capped with homemade peach pie and peach cheese cake. Did I mention Margaret will be providing lunch at the October 22nd event? Last time, she made roast beef sandwiches with carmalized onions amongst other delicacies. She's become our hero.

Well, it's still a hot old summer here in Ottawa. As if in commiseration, my oven has conked out so I can't cook. Sometimes, I think the universe really is on my side.

Collected Works July 30, 2011