Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the House

Last day of November. Cold and snowy just to put us in the mood for December.

This has felt like a lost week, struggling through dark, freezing mornings waiting at the bus stop on the way to work and returning under much the same conditions. Once home, I haven't felt like doing anything but wrapping myself in a blanket in front of the tv. And yet . . . .

I manged to write a few thousand words on the latest manuscript and caught up on a few publicity tasks, including updating my website about the two Winnipeg events this upcoming week. I'll be speaking to adult learners and their teachers at the Winnipeg Public Library on Wednesday afternoon and just received word that we have a full house booked - five literacy classes are registered to attend. And the Thursday evening, I'll be at McNally Robinson signing books from 6-8 pm. - tell your Winnipeg friends and family to come by and say hello.

So, tomorrow begins the Olympic curling trials - very exciting. We had a send off for the Ottawa players on Wednesday evening. What an achievement for everyone who made the trials - players, coaches, support systems, families and friends. It really does take a village.

Rachel Homan, Emma Miskew, Lisa Weagle, Heather Smith (5th) and Earl Morris (Ali Kerviazuk missing)

Go Team!

You can watch the games on TSN all week if you're not in the stands. So, I suppose  you can understand my distraction this week and the week to come.

A proud mom and cheering fan.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Were You When . . . ?

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. I can recall the moment when a teacher went from class to class with the news that the President had been shot. I had just turned eight and had no knowledge of Kennedy, but I remember this as one of the darkest, saddest days of my young life. I have a vague recollection of later watching the events unfold later on our black and white television. The entire day and week are shadowy and depressing in my memory even still. The rain and grayness of yesterday seemed fitting to mark this day.

I found this week's coverage interesting in that the reporters tracked down many of the people who were in Dallas at Daly Plaza that day. Their first-hand accounts are as vivid for them as the moment the shooting happened. This video is unbelievable if you haven't seen it before.

And my week -- I worked on a scene of about 2000 words last weekend and off and on in the evenings. It's a pivotal scene in the book and I wanted to get it right. I think that I am close. Since it involves an activity my husband knows more about than I, he has agreed to read it and give me technical advice to make it more realistic. Have I whetted your curiosity? Remember to ask me which scene when the book comes out :-)

I've also organized the book launch for Cold Mourning! Mark your calendars so that you are sure to attend if you are in the Ottawa area -- Sunday, March 9 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at Whispers pub in Westboro. I launched my first books here and like that you can mingle, have a beer and some appetizers in a relaxed and friendly setting. Books on Beechwood is lined up to sell books at the event. I've also included references to Whispers in my Anna Sweet mysteries, and I brought the manager a copy of My Sister's Keeper yesterday as a keepsake. If you go the photos on the Whispers site, you'll see the outdoor patio where Anna Sweet meets her ex-partner.

The event at the adult high school with Alan Cumyn was on Tuesday morning and it was great. We had about a hundred adult learners and teachers in a large upstairs room. Alan and I each spoke for a few minutes and read from our books. Then, we took questions from the audience, and there was a lot of interest in our writing processes and the way that we capture an idea and turn it into a story. I found it interesting and a pleasure to listen to Alan, who has been in this business a long time with much success since he has so much talent and love for the written word.

So today I need to complete the discussion questions for The Hard Fall, which are due next week. The set for My Sister's Keeper were well received and are to be posted on the Grass Roots Press site soon for tutors to use with their students. I also want to get further along in my latest manuscript.

And Christmas shopping . . . I got out last weekend and will be out there again this weekend. Time is short with parties and get togethers starting to line up. Not to mention next week's Roar of the Rings in Winnipeg where our daughter Lisa's team plays in the Olympic trials. You can watch the games on TSN beginning next Sunday afternoon.

December promises to be a good, good month

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Back Field not in Motion

This has been a slower moving kind of week for me. I was baking a carrot cake for Sunday dinner with family when I felt a pain in my lower back. By the time we sat down to eat, well, I was having trouble sitting. The body is an odd machine sometimes. When you have a sore back, you realize how fragile and intricate its workings. As a result of several days of low-grade pain, I wasn't able to sit and work at the computer as usual so a forced break from writing. Maybe, this is all for the good - a stepping back to approach the manuscript with renewed energy. I could even create a character with back pain at some point . . . no experience is ever a complete waste.

The Q and A with British blogger Susan was published on her site The Book Trail on Thursday. Susan's logo is "Discovering the World One Book at a Time". A very informative site for readers if you have a chance to check it out. Also cool to have a reviewer blogging about my books in Britain, a hotbed of crime fiction . . . think Scotland Yard, MI5, Jack the Ripper, the moors, fog and mist . . .

So this week, I will try to complete the study questions for The Hard Fall and submit them to the publisher for review. I'm also going to work on the next chapter of the manuscript I'm plugging away on - now at 13,000 words and aiming for 80,000. The adult literacy event with Alan Cumyn is Tuesday morning. I'll let you know how this goes next week.

I was typing something on my computer this past week and hit the wrong key. A box popped up telling me how to save a screen shot to a program called Dropbox, which my video friend had me upload a few years ago so that he could send me a video that he was making of my book launch. (A great memory since the bookstore is now a restaurant called The Flying Banzini) If you are like me, you have all these software programs - all this fire power - and no real knowledge of how to use it or even a grasp of what is possible. So if you click on the image below, you'll see a jpeg of the flyer Dundurn sent me this week for the March 1 launch of Cold Mourning.

As I look at the clock, I realize that I'm off to another slow start today. My back is better but a bit tender and achy so I'm now heading into the hot shower to get it mobile. Friends have called this a 'baking injury'. No real glory in that, but at least the carrot cake was good.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Just a Little to the West

I was driving along Richmond Road near Lincoln Fields shopping centre last week and passed by the field where I had an 'incident' occur in Cold Mourning. The field was closer to Maple Lawn, a walled garden with a Keg restaurant in the heritage family home, than I'd indicated in my story. In fact, I had the field further west, closer to a string of apartment buildings.

Which made me think about poetic licence and setting. My first novels were geographically easier to write because I made up the towns although I set them in a real geographical location - for instance, I made up the town of Duved Cove in In Winter's Grip, but I set it north of Duluth along Lake Superior. Duved Cove was a figment of my imagination and if I could picture a street, I could make it real on paper. Grounding the town in a real geographical location helped me to create a more believable setting.

My two latest series are set in Ottawa and Kingston and I do not have as much freedom to invent although I still take the odd liberty with location, such as moving a field a few blocks over. I also create places that aren't real and set them in real locations. For example, I made up the Gadfly Bar and place it on Elgin Street in the third Anna Sweet mystery. I also invented a dumpster in its back parking lot and a body inside the dumpster. So why not use a real bar on Elgin Street? Well, from what I understand, business owners aren't all that pleased to have authors killing off people on their premises. Understandable. And sometimes, I just need to make the real world fit into mine to make my story work. But I always try to keep as many details about a neighbourhood as true as possible and hope the readers who live in Ottawa and surrounding towns embrace the fictional bits. Readers outside the area, of course, never know the difference :-)

I got some writing in last week on my latest manuscript (nearing 11,000 words) and worked on developing questions for My Sister's Keeper. Still lots to get accomplished this weekend, which happily is a three-day one for me. I'm purposefully not reading any novels this week to keep myself on task. I sure miss having a book on the go though for those down moments. I feel like I'm going through withdrawal . . .

November is typically a month that I find grey, cold and depressing. Well, we still have leaves on many trees and no snow so I'm cruising through this month without much angst. I'm staying busy with work, writing, curling , family and friends - hardly cringing at the shorter overcast days. Keeping spirits high.

 I'm learning to embrace the grey.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Blues

This is my second attempt at a blog post today - I had one all set to go this morning when our internet server cut out. This has been happening regularly since last week. Ted and I (okay, mainly Ted) spent several hours on the phone trying to get this sorted with no success. Bell has no idea what is going on, but we are pretty sure it's on their end. Anyhow, my blog ended up being part text and most Bell logo.

Maybe that was some kind of sign.

I've been busy with stuff to do with the business of writing. I finished the answers for the British blogger and sent those off. She had some good questions - I'll link to her blog when she posts. Grass Roots Press also asked me if I would write discussion questions for the two Anna Sweet mysteries - due December 1st. I've started, but am finding this is going to take a lot of thought and time. Finally, this week, the editor and I were doing some to-ing and fro-ing with edits to the third Anna Sweet manuscript and we are now both satisfied with the draft. I'll be seeing it again, but likely not too many more changes.

I got cooking on the Stonechild and Rouleau manuscript last weekend and am about to get back at it. Too much going on!

My server just cut out again. I guess I should keep this short and see if it will post.

Good weekend everyone.