Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taking Stock

This is Canada Day long weekend with the holiday falling on a Monday this year. Ted is working on building a deck in our backyard and I'm . . . editing. Yes, the two books that I've edited and submitted boomeranged back on the same day. Both are due within the week. Luckily, the changes that I'm looking at now are not extensive. The heavy lifting is all but done on both.

I have four manuscripts that I've been working on. If you are as confused as I am, here's their status (I've highlighted the book titles in red in honour of Canada Day :-)

The two Anna Sweet books for Grass Roots Press will be released in September. These are novellas - short, quick mysteries.

My Sister's Keeper is the first and it is complete and ready for print.

The Hard Fall is the sequel and it's the one I'm working on now. Three cover choices arrived this week from the designer and I selected one. The publisher also picked the same one so now Lara has to complete the design - I should have the big reveal very soon. I'll be seeing the manuscript one last time before it is ready for print.

And I now have been offered a contract for two more books in the series.

The first Rouleau Stonechild mystery entitled Cold Mourning will be released from Dundurn in March 2014. It's a full length police procedural and I have this week to do a final read through. This one will be going to reviewers six months ahead of publication, thus the early timeline.

I've submitted the sequel and have tentative acceptance. I'm waiting for confirmation and a contract.

The odd thing about this business, and I'm sure actors find the same thing with shooting a movie, is that you complete a manuscript and submit and go on to work on another project. Months later, you're back working on the manuscript again. In my case lately, the projects have backed up and are all converging. It's exciting but a bit bewildering at times.

My other wonderful news this week is that my youngest daughter Julia graduated with a three year business diploma from Algonquin College to go with her BA in psychology from Trent University on Monday.

Life is all about working hard and celebrating achievements. Well done, ma belle fille!

Speaking of which, time to make some sandwiches for the crew working in the backyard on that new deck. The grinding saw is music to my ears . . .

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hard At It

Where has the day gone?

I've been busy reviewing the edits from my Grass Roots Press editor for The Hard Fall, second in the Anna Sweet series. Pam Robertson has a great eye and made several useful suggestions that make for some writing of new scenes. I'm about half-way through now and hope to wrap up tomorrow. Some more great news for this series - the publisher asked this week if I would write a couple more for next year. So, more Anna Sweet mysteries on the horizon! There will also be a full page spread in the next catalogue, highlighting the series. Yay!

I had to write a book cover blurb for The Hard Fall, which I submitted a few days ago with good feedback. You are the first to have a look:

Wealthy business owner Paul Taylor is in jail for the cold-blooded murder of his lover Laura Flint. She is found dead in his bed one hot August morning. Taylor’s super model wife is the only one to stand behind him, but even she has doubts. Taylor is about to go on trial -- and he is the only suspect.

Anna Sweet of Storm Investigations agrees to take on his case with little hope of winning. The trail of clues is about to lead her into a hornet’s nest of ugly secrets. Will Anna find new evidence to clear Taylor's name? Or is she working to free a killer?

Now just waiting to see the cover design.

Meanwhile, I had a few final edits from Dundurn to go through for Cold Mourning. It went for final set up on Friday. I'll have one more go through of the final in a couple of weeks. I feel like I'm in a choreographed ballet, dancing from one project to the next and back again. Maybe, it's more like juggling . . .

Seven books published and contracts for six more - but who's counting?

And my last writing news - I received the contract from the Montreal library for a speaking engagement in early July. My talk will be part of the grand opening of a new branch so very cool. I know my French tutor at work would love to have me present in French, but happily for the audience, I'm invited to speak in English.

And that is all my writing news for this week. Short and sweet and now back to the editing . . .

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Day to Watch the World Go By

A peony from my garden. I used to think autumn was my favourite season, but as I get older, spring is the one I look forward to the most. It's a hopeful time of year.

I spent my spare time this week going through the edits from Dundurn for Cold Mourning. Some stylistic changes and a few revisions but nothing major. I made yesterday's deadline and am taking this weekend off - with the exception of a phone call later today from the Grass Roots Press editor. We're going to discuss a few plot changes. She was the editor for the first Anna Sweet book and very knowledgeable. I'm looking forward to collaborating with her again.

After working furiously on the last two manuscripts, I have to admit that I am a little tired and need to recharge. I've booked a week off work in July and will spend some lazy time. No trips this summer, mainly because later this year and early next are going to be busy. Ted and I will fly to WInnipeg in December to the Olympic curling trials. The Olympics in Russia are in February and the Scotties are in Montreal at the same time - we'll be going to one or the other.

As an aside, Anna Sweet is physically modelled on my daughter Lisa, at least in my imagination - when your mother is an author, you are never safe :-)

And back to future travels, I'm also signed up for West Coast Crime in Monterey California in March and just sent in my registration for Bloody Words in Toronto for next June. I'm looking at one more conference next spring - Malice Domestic in Bethesda MD.

But for today, the sun is shining, the heat is back and I'm all about being lazy. I'm off to get a second cup of coffee, which I'll drink on the front verandah while I read a Liza Marklund mystery. She's translated from Swedish and I've enjoyed the other two books in the series so far. After that, a little work in the garden and a little U.S. Open on tv, supper at my neighbour's . . . and just letting the day roll on by.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ships Are Coming In

This has been a very good week.

I completed the manuscript for Grass Roots Press - this is the sequel to My Sister's Keeper, the mystery for adult literacy or those wanting a quick, fun read. It was requested by the end of June so I was nearly a month ahead of the game. I hadn't thought much about a title but The Hard Fall popped into my head and seemed to work. I stuck it on and let the publisher know that I was open to other titles. I sent the manuscript to Pat electronically on Monday night. This is the hard part - waiting for feedback. I didn't have to wait long. Thursday, I received an e-mail with the header "I love it". Pat also called it "gripping". The other good news is that she intends to publish it in September along with My Sister's Keeper. She has also requested another couple of books in the series for next year. The Hard Fall is now with an editor and designer, so I'm looking forward to seeing the cover idea soon.

Happy Dance.

Also on Thursday, I received a second e-mail. This one concerned the sequel to Cold Mourning, which I'd submitted to Dundurn over a month ago. These are full-length police procedurals for adults. The feedback to this one was also excellent. Allister is going to get the contract started. This one has a lot of subplot threads, which Allister said come together nicely. I can't wait for you to read these ones too.

So, four books now in the works.

Yesterday, Jennifer sent her edits in track changes to me for Cold Mourning. I have a week to go through them and to make any of my own. She said that she enjoyed the book and is hoping the series continues . . . which it does! Guess what I'll be doing as soon as I publish this blog post?

I'm taking a little break from writing to clean up my office, do some gardening and catch up with friends. I have to admit though, I've been sketching out the next Anna Sweet mystery on a piece of paper. I can't wait to get back at it.

But for now, another cup of coffee and then a day of editing. Then, I'll see you in my garden if you should happen by.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June Heat

A week of heat, both weather-wise and for many of our political leaders in Toronto and Ottawa. I'm sure there is fodder for mystery plotlines in there somewhere. Murder, fraud, drugs, payoffs . . . a stretch, I know, but I might be able to think of someone to kill off . . .  fictionally speaking of course.

I spent all of last weekend writing on the manuscript due at the end of June for Grass Roots Press. I left the document open on my desktop computer and typed away from Friday to Sunday, chocking up about 3500 words. I closed the document on Sunday evening and mailed it to my laptop to have another copy, as I routinely do. When I opened the file  again on Monday, none of the 3500 words had saved - apparently, I'd been working in an e-mail version from the laptop. I was pressing save . . . but the new content wasn't, or if it was, I couldn't find it. Normally, I would make a paper copy as back up, but hadn't this time. So, a rather depressing moment. However, since I'd just written all those pages, I was able to recall most of the content and caught up quickly. I've got about four thousand words yet to go before the first draft is complete. Needless to say, I'm saving as I go all over the place and printing new pages. I really like the characters in this series. The relationship between Anna Sweet and her military dad is unfolding in a surprising but lovely way. It's like visiting friends every time I enter their world.

I've heard from Jennifer, the editor working on Cold Mourning. She's enjoying the manuscript and will have her changes to me at the end of this week. I then go through her changes and have two weeks to review. This is the time for me to make any major revisions. The next time I see the manuscript, it will be close to final. In the meantime, I've had bookmarks made up for promotion. I'm going to visit a library in Montreal to speak about my adult books in July so these will come in handy.

I belong to a reader site called Goodreads. People from around the world join to discuss books and post reviews. Authors can set up pages and post information or interact with fans. I received a little boost when I saw a review for In Winter's Grip - the woman gave it five out of five stars and here is a snippet of her comments:

"Minnesotta where it all takes place is icy in every respect but the heroine is a person whom I grew fond of. There is suspense but the author takes her time to give us a lively picture of a small town and its people, their conspiracies, sympathies and tragedies. This is not new but when it is done well, it is always rewarding for readers like me. There is also a healthy dosis of realty (i.e. working life) in this book which makes it authentic in every way. I had some satisfying hours with this mystery."

You can sign up for Goodreads for free if this giant bookclub appeals to you. They often have free giveaways for new books. Authors like me, really enjoy reading these reviews from people who love books.

So, a busy Saturday ahead and a break from my keyboard. I'll be spending the afternoon with my daughter Lisa - lunch out and a spa visit. Then, meeting friends for supper at a neighbourhood restaurant. Tomorrow will see me gardening and writing. A lot to pack into two days as always.

Wishing you a good weekend, everyone.