Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Trek into the Ottawa Valley

To mark Culture Days on Saturday, I took a short road trip to Smiths Falls to teach a short story workshop at the Smiths Falls Library. I'm pictured above with some of the creative kids who took part. A big thank you to David Hoffman for inviting me and to librarian Debra Kuehl, who made me feel so welcome. Debra remembered me from a workshop I gave in 2005 when my first YA book Running Scared. was released. She said she still remembered parts of the story and really liked the book. She wasn't aware there are three more books in the series but said she would look into having them ordered.

Well, just three more days until I leave for Cleveland. I'll be driving down with Mary Jane Maffini, Robin Harlick and Linda Wiken since Katherine and Darlene had to change their plans a few weeks ago and won't be going. Between now and then, I'm on holidys and have a few guest blog posts to write. I'm also going to blog from Cleveland if all goes as planned so check back in over the course on next week.

It's been a busy week sports-wise as well. I began curling and have had a practice and two games already. Regular team play starts Monday and the way the schedule falls, I won't be missing any games because of Bouchercon. Ted and I also spent this morning visiting furniture stores as we search for the perfect couch to go in the newly finished bedroom. Hopefully, this will not take a year to accomplish :-) (Just kidding, Ted.) He's done a fabulous job of the room so I can't argue with that.

Not much else to report today except that I'm very happy to have the next few mornings to sleep in. I'm feeling like I need to recharge my battery.

Good week ahead, everyone.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Autumn Events

Well, it turned into a fine day for the launch of Second Chances at Collected Works bookstore on the official first day of fall. Close to a hundred people dropped by with food and wine to help with the mingling. Around three o'clock, Councillor Katherine Hobbs introduced me and said some very kind words about my writing and Second Chances, which she said moved her to tears toward the end. High praise to have someone feel what your characters are feeling. Also, MPP Yasir Naqvi came by and spoke for a few minutes to the crowd. A huge thank you to both Katherine and Yasir for your support and to all those who came out, especially my good buddy Dawn Rayner who came all the way from Toronto.

Unfortunately, I was so busy that I didn't remember my camera until the end of the event; however, my friend Patrick Walton was there with his video camera in hand and I should soon have a video of the afternoon to share.

I've got a few events and signings on the horizon.  This coming Saturday, I'll be travelling to Smiths Falls to give a short story workshop to kids at the Smiths Falls Public Library. This event is part of Culture Days and I'm looking forward to getting creative with the kids.

Then, the first week of October, I'm off to Cleveland to Bouchercon and upon my return, Ted and I will be heading for an overnight in Kingston where I'll be scouting out locations for my sequel to Cold Mourning. Cold Mourning is set in Ottawa, but I move my protagonist to Kingston for the second book. I lived in Kingston for a year when I went to teachers' college. I wanted a smaller city for the setting and Kingston is such a beautiful location, especially in the fall. (I promised Ted that she might go on an Italian boat cruise next.)

I'm also slated to be on a Capital Crime Writers panel with Jeff Ross and Barbara Fradkin on Wednesday, October 10 to speak about the adult literacy market and Rapid Reads. I'm sure we'll get into a discussion about publishing in general and writing for different markets.

Two Ottawa book signings are also coming up: 

Saturday, October 27, Brittons's in the Glebe (846 Bank Street) from one to three p.m.; and
Saturday, November 10, Books on Beechwood (35 Beechwood Avenue) from one to three p.m.

And perhaps even more monumental this week, Ted completed the small bedroom and we're getting ready to buy furniture to populate it . . . he finished this painting project in just under a year.

Lots of reasons to celebrate :-)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And We Have Take Off

One week to Second Chances book launch at Collected Works bookstore! I dropped by yesterday to speak with Chris Carroll about the set up and book order and all should be ready. This week, I have to get the food and wine organized - I'm hoping that a lot of people drop by to say hello. Councillor Katherine Hobbs will give a welcome and intro and I'll do a brief reading. All in all, it should be a relaxing, mingling couple of hours so please come along if you are able.

I'm working with an editor for Grass Roots Press on the manuscript now entitled "The End Game" which is the first in an adult literacy mystery series featuring Anna Sweet. The publisher and editor have both given great feedback on this one. It does a writer good to hear the words 'gripping' and 'perfect writing style'. While this one is written at a lower reading level, the story is one that everyone will enjoy. This is a two-book deal and they're asking for book two in the spring if possible. I'm excited to see what happens next with Anna who has some demons to conquer. She's also got that dry wit going on.

But for now, I'm working on the  sequel to Cold Mourning, the full-length adult mystery coming out from Dundurn in fall 2013. It's actually very odd to be working on so many projects with them at such different stages in the publication/writing process. I'm starting to wonder if I need a flow chart to keep everything straight. Maybe, I need an assistant. A person to sort through all the papers in home office . . . clean the house, cook a few meals . . . maybe, I'm talking more maid than assistant, but one sure would come in handy. Do you remember the tv show Hazel? Now there was a gem.

The plans to get to Cleveland have changed. I'm now driving down with fellow Ottawa authors Mary Jane Maffini, R.J. Harlick and Erica Chase (aka Linda Wiken) and we depart on October 3rd. We should have a few laughs en route, I imagine. Mary Jane and I made the road trip to Muncie, Indiana a couple of years ago to a writers' conference and had a great time. Anyhow, I'm on a panel Friday morning to talk about finding people to kill off in small towns. Hmm.

All I can say is be afraid. Be very afraid.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Two Weeks to the Launch!

I'd say the drought is officially over in the Ottawa Valley. I feel like a cat, waiting to see when the rain will let up so I can stick my paws outside.

In the meantime, I'll catch up a bit on the writing news.

Two weeks to the launch at Collected Works and I've been busily inviting people. I think of these as a kind of coming out party for the book. Sort of like sending them off to university to see what they can do (hoping they don't return to live in my basement).

Launch details:  Saturday, September 22nd at Collected Works bookstore (Holland and Wellington) from 2:00 to 4:00. Councillor Katherine Hobbs is MC. Refreshments will be served and all are welcome :-)

So, I'm most pleased to talk about the two-book deal I just made with Grass Roots Press out of Edmonton for an adult literacy mystery series. I finished the first manuscript in this new series and the publisher is very happy with it. I'll now be working with an editor to make sure all the language is on target for this market. My heroine is named Anna Sweet and the books are set in Ottawa. I'm really excited about this project. The first book is scheduled for release next fall.

I went on a tour of Joliette Prison for women (just past Montreal) on Thursday as part of my work for the federal government. The institution has a little school set up there for the women, who often come in without a grade eight education - it is hard to imagine, I know. I taught adult learners in my previous career as a teacher and some could barely read. I remember wishing that there were books available at an adult comprehension and interest level but at a lower reading level. I never would have believed that I'd be writing some, but I'm very glad that I am.

I'm now returning to working on my full length adult murder mystery for the general market (sequel to the upcoming Cold Mourning) and will try to get back into my pacing of 500-word minimum a day. I've taken the last week off to recharge and do some publicity stuff. There are a few events on my horizon that will interrupt the pace, but it's all part of the business.

I've been hearing from old colleagues and friends whom I haven't been in touch with for years and love that about the writing. I'm grateful for everyone's continued support - from Janice Murdoch who bought signed copies of the Jennifer Bannon series for her friends' kids in PEI to Carole Gage who volunteered to make cookies for my launch to Kathy Adair who always 'likes' my Facebook posts . . . and so many of you who support me by buying and recommending my books. It's good to be sharing this journey with each of you - they say it takes a village to raise a child so if we go back to sending my little book off to university analogy, you're all helping to keep my offspring from living on my couch and eating me out of house and home . . . .

Saturday, September 1, 2012

We Have Lift Off

Second Chances has arrived! My author copies were delivered by courrier on Wednesday, and Dundurn tweeted that they began shipping to stores yesterday. It still gives a thrill to hold that finished book for the first time.

The official launch is three weeks from now at Collected Works - the first time I've held a launch in a bookstore. I have wonderful friends who've offered to help me get food ready and others to serve the refreshments. Councillor Katherine Hobbs will MC with some opening remarks and I'll read a short passage. It should be a relaxed, busy afternoon as I send my book out into the world of readers.

I've finished another little project I had on the go for the past couple of months and mailed it off to the publisher this morning. Now, I wait for the feedback - this is the first time I signed a book deal ahead of them seeing the manuscript.

I also heard this week that I'm on a panel at Bouchercon on Friday morning - Bouchercon is in Cleveland and runs the first week of October. That same evening, I'll be one of the authors participating in 'Meet the Canucks', a cocktail kind of event to introduce Canadian authors. Normally, this conference gets about 1500 people attending so a huge undertaking. The U.S. Midwest is known for being a hotbed of mystery fans.

So lots of busy times ahead. This, however, is the Labour Day long weekend and I'm happy for the break from real life. I hope you too are managing to kick back with family and friends to enjoy the dog days of summer.