Saturday, April 28, 2012

In the Halls of Justice

Thursday lunch hour, fellow Capital Crime Writer and retired Justice lawyer Dave Whellams and I gave a talk to some of our colleagues about writing and being published. Another colleague and former journalist Stephen Bindman moderated our talk. What a fun and relaxed event - in the photo above, Dave is to my left and Stephen is to his left. We're in a boardroom the floor below my office.

Stephen introduced us before we gave short readings. I went first . . .

And Dave went next (reading from his first mystery Walking into the Ocean.)

There were many questions about our inspiration, how and where we wrote, our process and even royalties. (We only had to plead the fifth on a few.) It really is good to have such strong support from work colleagues - Dave, Stephen and I think we'll take our show on the road :-) Thanks to Patrick Walton for being our photographer and for the great pics.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

It Never Gets Old

On Thursday, Linda Wiken launched her first mystery A Killer Read at the Library and Archives (the young lovers above greet you on the front steps) and it was wonderful to see Linda's complete wonder and excitement. An author's first book making it to print is a momentous and joyous occasion that can take a lifetime to achieve. Linda owned Prime Crime bookstore and has been a founding member of the Ladies Killing Circle, a small group of Ottawa women who began their writing careers together and are still going strong. Linda wrote short stories and won awards for her work, but she said that getting a book of her own published was a dream come true. Like many authors, she has three unpublished manuscripts tucked away in a drawer at home.

Alongside Linda, Vicki Delany  launched Gold Mountain (Dundurn) her third book in one of her series . Vicki has been in the writing business for some time, but she also has maintained a love for writing and tirelessly crosses the country to meet fans and gain readership.  She is quite simply an inspiration and I tip my own hat (or fascinator) to both talented women.

So this week, I started the second book in my latest audlt mystery series. Tim Wynne-Jones said that the first chapter is the engine that drives the novel and it's important to get it right. I figure I'll be working on this chapter for a while. I also have to congratulate Tim for his Arthur Ellis nomination for YA novel of the year for Blink and Caution, a book that I couldn't put down. A well deserved nomination. Well done my friend.

I'm also getting my head around what I'll be saying to a roomful of lawyers this Thusday as Dave Whellams and I give our talk and read from our work. I'll let you know next week if I manage to get out of that without any lawsuits pending.

Also this week, I was invited to my first writers' festival, but sadly, I'm going to be out of the country touring around Italy. Well, not sad about the Italy part, but sad about not to be able to make the event.

And to come full circle, having just witnessed Linda Wiken's lovely glowing face on Thursday night, below is a photo of me during the launch of my first book Running Scared at Whispers pub in 2004. How happy was I?!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

What's the Meaning of it all Anyhow?

Ted asked me last evening what my definition of success would be - number of books sold? Amount of money made? Adulation by booklovers everywhere?  (Stop . . . I like the sound of the last one:-)

Ted reminded me of the time several years ago when all I wanted was to have a book published. Now, I am up to number seven and eight - and still, I don't feel like I've 'arrived' for instance like Louise Penny or Michael Connelly. "It comes down to book sales," I said, "and those come from receiving good reviews and winning awards."

A hierarchy exists in the author world, and it is different, depending on the type of book written. Just like movie and tv stars, there's the A-list, the B-list and the group still waiting tables and trying for a break. How to crack into the A or even B list depends on a lot of things:  good writing, a marketable story, luck, publicity, people who believe in you, and more luck . . . oh yes, and perserverance in spades.

I appreciate my husband who likes to keep me focussed on the writing and why I do it. He keeps me grounded just like the Air Canada pilots. "Just think," he said. "Thousands of people you do not know have read your books. How great is that?"

And I have to say, "You're right. That is pretty darn great."

Well, I've finished all I need to right now for the adult manuscript that will be published fall 2013. The publisher returned a copy of the signed contract and the last round of editing is done. I'm now working on the plot for book number two and started working on the opening page last night. It's a frightening yet exhilerating time - like plunging out of a plane and hoping your parachute opens this time.

I just bought my train ticket to Toronto in June when I will meet the Dundurn staff and meet with Marta who is handling publicity for Second Chances, due out September 1st, a mere four months and change away. They've already sent out ARCs (advance reading copies) and talked to book sellers, book festival organizers and others in the business. I'm also going to TO to a luncheon for the Golden Oak awards. The Ontario Librarian Association shortlisted The Second Wife for this award, which is for adult literacy. It should be a great time all around.

One other event I've been working on this week with retired Justice lawyer and new mystery author Dave Whellams. We'll be speaking to colleagues on April 26th at work about writing and getting published. If you know any good lawyer jokes, please send them along . . . I'll slip them into my talk :-) Lawyers love a good lawyer joke, I'm sure of it.

And for those who wonder how the painting of the bedroom is coming along, coat number one is complete! Just under the golf season wire:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Saturday

Well, I've completed a full edit and reduction of my manuscript, dropping from 98,500 words to 95,300. It was actually a great exercise to cut words and tighten up sentences. I could be onto something to use in future. I thought I was a concise writer, but this proved there is always room for additional brevity.

I was also asked to submit cover ideas. What do you look for in a cover? What attracts you to pick up one book over another? If you notice, the bigger the author, the bigger their name on the cover. Some authors' names take up most of the space with a small title. So far, I have not reached this marker of success. At a recent talk by local author Linda Wiken, she reported that her publisher's research showed that outdoor scenes sell better than indoor for adult mysteries. There's also debate over photography vs drawings - my publisher goes for photography, which I prefer. I looked at some covers by bigger-selling mystery authors and noted that few have people in them, and if they do, the people are outlines or darkened figures. Kids' book covers are another matter - lots of colour and cartoony kind of art for the younger set.

I've heard of authors being mortified by the cover design. There again, some publishers involve their authors in the decisions while others do not. Dundurn is open to author input, another good thing, in my opinion. A cover can make or break sales, we all know that, just as a title can fizzle or detract. And if you read the cover blurb, know that the author probably wrote it unless the publishing house has an in-house marketing group that handles it. I've written every cover description so far for my books.

Easter long weekend - like you, I've been running around getting food, wine, napkins, chocolate for the family get-together, which will be tonight. So, speaking of being brief, I'm about to get at some of the preparations. I wish each of you a wonderful Easter as we hop into spring.