Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tying up 2012

Another Christmas here and gone. This year, I received two hardcover books (A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs) and . . . a Kobo. Yes, I've joined the e-reader generation.

It took me an afternoon to figure out the password and set up the Kobo. My first download was Michael Connolly's The Overlook, which I finished reading yesterday. I have to say, I like the backlit feature and the ability to download books anytime. It will be very handy for travelling. However, I missed turning pages and holding a book in my hands. I think the Kobo will not replace books for me, but it will be a convenient option.

Writing went well this week in admist the Christmas festivities. I'm honing in on 50,000 words and the threads of the plot and subplots are starting to come together. The finish line is almost in view! When I get to this stage, I take whatever scrap of time I have to write and I spend non-writing time thinking about the plot and characters. This is the fun part.

I have a few events coming up mid-January:  I'll be teaching a short story writing workshop for kids at the Carlingwood Public Library on January 19th and will be on a writer panel with Mary Jane Maffini and C.B. Forrest, moderated by Councillor Katherine Hobbs, the evening of January 16th as part of a Granite Curling Club fundraiser. There'll be wine and food and books for sale courtesy of Perfect Books, one of our few remaining independent bookstores. Collected Works closed Christmas Eve but a buyer stepped forward to purchase Books on Beechwood, so one store has been saved. Also, a shout out to Linda Wiken and Ted at Brittons for their mystery bookshelf and author signings.

So, 2013 is but three days away. I have two adult books being released in the fall - Cold Mourning from Dundurn and My Sister's Keeper from Grassroots Press (adult literacy). Both books are the first in a series and will keep me writing novels for the adult audience for the foreseeable future. I've enjoyed writing the young adult books, but believe it's time to settle into writing for one age group.

I'm planning to do some travelling to help publicize the books when they are released - some book conferences and possibly to Northern Ontario and around the Ottawa Valley. Looks like a busy, exciting year ahead!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Winter's Day

 A few days to Christmas and the Ottawa Valley is a snowy winter wonderland. A storm moved up from the U.S. Thursday night and dumped 42 centimetres on the city with more swirling down this morning. Over 125,000 homes in Quebec are without power this morning but we've been lucky so far. I remember having to cook a turkey on the barbeque one Christmas day when a storm took out our power in the 1980s. We still got together that afternoon with friends and had a cosy candlelit dinner.

I've been writing away on the manuscript and just past 46,000 words now. The minimum for an adult novel is 50,000 words, but I'm aiming for 80-90,000. I find the beginning usually comes easily and the middle takes a long time. The last 30,000 words are like the downhill part of a race, sometimes the easiest part. I actually had to cut out 20,000 words or so when I finished Cold Mourning, so I'm getting more wordy with practice.

I'll be writing off and on today between shopping for food, baking cookies and tourtiere. Gingerbread cake and pumpkin pie are also on the baking agenda for this weekend. My daughters along with pup George will be arriving Christmas Eve. We'll have a houseful for Christmas supper as well.

Traditions are an important part of the holidays although they evolve. For instance, I used to make a raspberry/cranberry fruit punch for Christmas morning but now we have mimosas. We still open our stockings before Ted makes a bacon and egg breakfast and then we open gifts from under the tree. The turkey goes into the oven soon afterward and lazy afternoon ensues with a fire in the grate. It's a time to slow down our lives and to enjoy what is really important - the peace of a winter day, the warmth of family and friends.

Well, it's time to head out into the snowy morning to do some food shopping, and then, home to putter around the kitchen with some Christmas carols playing. Already, I feel the joy of the season and hope that you are feeling it as well. I wish each of you peace this Christmas and time together with those people you cherish.

I'll leave you with a few mood-invoking lines from the poem "Late November" by Archibald Lampman (1888).

The hills grow wintry white, and bleak winds moan
About the naked uplands. I alone
Am neither sad, nor shelterless, nor gray,
Wrapped round with thought, content to watch and dream.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15, 2012

I feel so much sadness for the twenty children and six teachers killed yesterday in Sandy Hook Elementary and all who loved them. These tragedies are senseless. Utterly senseless and horrific. I find it difficult this morning to blog with this sorrow I feel for these victims and their community.

As a society, we are witness to cruel and unspeakable acts. When we believe that nothing could ever be worse, something unthinkable happens to shake us again and to take away another piece of our collective innocence. Yesterday was such a day. We will grieve a long time for these young children and their teachers.

The two writing events that I took part in this week were chances to get together with old friends - in my mind, the best thing about this time of year.

The Capital Crime Writers dinner was held at KS on the Keys. We were about fifty people in a private room - good service and good food if you are ever looking for a place to hold an event. Tim Wynne-Jones, two-time Governor General award-winner and recent inductee into the Order of Canada, gave a funny, poignant and uplifting talk.

Tim Wynne-Jones
Good friends Katherine Hobbs and Darlene Cole
Tim and me
Thursday night, Books on Beechwood hosted six local mystery authors for what felt like a Christmas party. This community bookstore is closing in January so it was a bittersweet evening. I snapped a few pictures, which make for some good memories.
(left to right) Erika Chase (aka Linda Wiken), R.J. Harlick, Mary Jane Maffini, me, Barbara Fradkin and C.B. Forrest.

Barb Fradkin and R.J. Harlick
C.B. Forrest and Linda Wiken
A mystery fan with Mary Jane Maffini
We will miss the Books on Beechwood staff. Thanks for all your support and love of books. All the best in your future endeavours!

Jean Barton, owner of Books on Beechwood.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

December Lights

A couple of writing updates to report this week.

First, I guest blogged for Leanne Dyck and she posted yesterday. Leanne is a woman's fiction writer who lives in British Columbia and belongs to Crime Writers of Canada. I very much appreciate that she is helping to get the word out about Canadian authors and that she took so much time to research my background.

And next, I'm going to be at Books on Beechwood with a great crew of mystery authors this Thusday evening (December 13) between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. at an event called Murder, Mayhem and Mistletoe: Hot Mysteries for the Holidays. All of my books will be available for Christmas reading as will the books of Mary Jane Maffini, Barbara Fradkin, Erika Chase, C.B. Forrest and R.J. Harlick. We'll also have refreshments and snacks so it promises to be a great opportunity to come out and socialize with some of Ottawa's best mystery authors.

I've also been involved in organizing the Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner, which will be this Wednesday evening with special guest speaker Tim Wynne-Jones. We have room for fifty and most of the tickets are gone so a great evening in store at KS on the Keys.

Writing has been humming along this week as I hit 42,000 words on my latest manuscript. I'm carving out time this weekend and aiming for the 45,000 word mark. The freezing ran/hail/snow today will keep me at it.

Can you believe just over two weeks to Christmas?! We had an odd 17 degree day last week and Ted took advantage to put up some outdoor lights, so way early this year.

I've got my Christmas cards in the mail, turkey on order from the butcher and nearly done my shopping - I've been shopping in the neighbourhood independent shops as opposed to the malls for most of my gifts. The U.S. President is promoting supporting the small business owner, something I also believe in doing. One of the shop owners told me that the businesses along Wellington Street depend on good sales this time of year to stay viable. Not only can you find unique presents, but it's a fun day going store to store and chatting with the owners.

I love the lead up to Christmas with all the get togethers and anticipation, lights and glitter. I think, this year, the world needs the Christmas magic more than ever.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Next Big Thing

So for something a little different this morning with your first cup of coffee . . . .
Mystery author Barbara Fradkin invited me to participate in the Next Big Thing blog series, sort of a chain letter for authors with 10 questions about our work in progress. (You can read Barb's responses at her blogspot
This blog series has been completed by many, many authors, so many in fact, that participants are having trouble finding authors to 'tag'. I've been fortunate to have two great fellow Ottawa authors joining me as we're all posting this morning and linking up. I'll give their links at the bottom of my post!

So, here goes - 10 questions about my work in progress:

Q1 What is your working title of your book?
Cold Mourning
Q2 Where did the idea come from for the book?
The idea to have a young female Aboriginal cop working with an older male French Canadian detective came from my work in the federal government – I work on the Aboriginal files at the Department of Justice and read the daily news to stay current on the issues. A number of articles sparked ideas for themes and story lines.
Q3 What genre does your book fall under?
It’s the first in a police procedural/crime series.
Q4 Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie
The Aboriginal Canadian actress Tamara Podemski and Robert De Niro would make a great detective team.
Q5 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
An Ottawa businessman leaves for work early one morning a week before Christmas and disappears into thin air – Detectives Rouleau and Stonechild will spend the holiday season tracking a killer.
Q6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Dundurn will release Cold Mourning in fall 2013.
Q7 How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About a year, which is standard for every one of my full length books. The adult literacy novels usually take two to three months.
Q8 What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m a big fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series as well as the Elizabeth George, John Harvey and Denise Mina mysteries – while my books are not copies of their work, I’ve taken pointers from their story-telling.
Q9 Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I began writing an opening scene about two young girls getting into a stranger’s van and the rest of the story flowed from this opening scene.
Q10 What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
The book not only has a murder puzzle to solve, but also delves into the psyches of the detectives and main characters. The book is set in Ottawa in the dead of winter so it's a chilling visit to Canada’s capital city.
Now, please read up on the latest projects currently underway by my two author buddies -