Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ringing Out the Old

So I got a new iPad and used it to type this morning's post. Unfortunately, after posting, I hit the wrong key and promptly deleted my message. If you were lucky enough to open the post before it disappeared, you might find some repetition :-)

Just when you think you've got a handle on new technology . . . 

The season of merry-making, eating, drinking and visiting is not quite over, but getting there. I've managed some writing in between cooking and gift-wrapping, achieving nearly 22,000 words on the third Stonechild and Rouleau manuscript. I was aiming for 30,000 words before January 1st, but am not sure I'll make it with a few parties to go between now and then.

As everyone considers the highlights of the year that just passed by, I'd have to say in my writing world, my biggest achievement was the release of the two Anna Sweet mysteries from Grass Roots Press - My Sister's Keeper and The Hard Fall. I also managed a cross-country tour of sorts, visiting libraries in Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg as well as speaking to an adult literacy audience in Ottawa. In addition, I finished the third manuscript in the Anna Sweet series and it will be released in early 2014. I have one more to write with a spring deadline.

Other events to come in 2014: Sunday, March 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., Dundurn and I'll be launching Cold Mourning: A Stonechild and Rouleau Mystery at Whispers Pub in Westboro (Ottawa). Mark your calendars as all are invited. A few weeks after the launch, I'll be travelling to Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California for a week - this is an annual mystery conference that is held in a different American west coast location each time. I'll be sure to blog that week and let you know how the trip unfolds. I'm most excited to visit San Francisco and to see my first real live redwood forest. In June, I'll be heading to Toronto and the Bloody Words mystery and fan conference.


And my resolutions for 2014 - I have two projects to finish: the third Stonechild and Rouleau mystery and the fourth Anna Sweet - so I need to become more methodical about my writing time. Instead of skipping days at a time, I'm resolving to work at least an hour a day, even when I'm tired after a full day. The thing that is going to help me is this little iPad (as long as I stop deleting my work). What a great little device. How did we ever manage with typewriters and without social media? It might as well have been called the Stone Age.

I also resolve to clean up my office (Ted made me write this one.)

So having just retyped my blog post after deleting it the first time, I'd better wrap up here and get myself organized for the day ahead, which I plan to spend writing. I might take a few egg nog breaks, but they will be strictly regulated.
Happy New Year to everyone and I wish you a most excellent year ahead with many good books to read.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrating the Season

No lack of snow this Christmas. Not one but two winter storms hitting Ottawa this weekend and this the busiest travel weekend of the year. Today is the first official day of winter although it has felt like winter for the entire month of December.

I've started to receive e-mail notices from Dundurn as they get ready to work on the sequel to Cold Mourning, which is due out March 1, 2014. Butterfly Kills is the working title of the second Stonechild and Rouleau mystery. I've been asked for cover ideas and been assigned my editor - Jennifer McNight, who worked with me on Cold Mourning. This one won't be released until 2015 so you can see how far ahead this process begins. I'm currently working away on book three in the series and cracked 20,000 words this week. Each book is very different in shape and plot, and each one has its challenges in bringing the plot together. I realize that writing to a formula might be easier in the long run, but I enjoy the challenge of changing things up. I also like creating characters, such as Kala Stonechild, and following their lives through several books. I have settled on just writing for the adult market now rather than flipping between young adult and adult. It's better for marketing to keep one target audience although even at that, I've got the two series going: one for adult literacy and  the second for the mainstream adult audience.

So today, I'm off to the stores along Wellington Street for some food items as I prepare to start a bit of Christmas baking. I'll be hosting Christmas Eve and Christmas dinners. For me, the best part of the holiday season is serving up a special evening - a fire, music on the stereo, wine and good meal with family and friends. There's a warm feeling that comes this time of year as we all take a break from the cold and darkness of winter to gather and celebrate our lives. People also rally to help others this season, recognizing that not everyone is in a good place and may need a helping hand or not to be forgotten.

My daughters will be sleeping over on Christmas Eve along with a friend whose parents are away for the holiday. We'll also have my daughter's dog George, which last year ate left-over bacon Christmas morning, then promptly threw it up next to the Christmas tree. No bacon for you this year, George.

What a face. (Okay, maybe just one little piece.)
I wish each of you a wonderful, peaceful holiday with special moments to warm your heart. Sleep in, eat too much, get into the egg nog . . . be sure enjoy the spirit of the season no matter where you are or how you celebrate.
Let's all raise our glasses to each other this Christmas and wish for peace and understanding.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In From the Cold

Back from a week in Winnipeg, Manitoba where the cold wind blows off the prairies and the snow crunches like cornflakes underfoot. We were treated to some fabulous curling, and although our daughter's team lost in the semi-final, they worked hard the entire week and were one of the last teams standing. If you've never been to a major curling event, it is quite a spectacle.

I spent part of Wednesday afternoon at the beautiful Winnipeg Public Library speaking to about 65 adult learners and reading from the Anna Sweet mysteries. I was treated to an attentive audience and some great questions about writing and the writing life. Thank you to librarians Kathleen Williams and Brenda Giesbrecht for organizing the event and making my visit so successful.

Thursday evening, I signed copies of In Winter's Grip and Second Chances at McNally Robinson. What a lovely store! The store is a community gem with a full schedule of author readings, signings and launches. I wish that I'd had more time to look through the books, but after the signing, I instead opted for some supper in their cafe with my friend Karen Cornelius, who put us up for the week and squired us around the city. We had sweet potato soup with peanuts, crusty bread, white wine and the most delectable fruit tart known to man. Sweet dreams are made of this. Karen is on the far right in this picture and my high school friend Teresa is next to me - Teresa and I hadn't seen each other in thirty years!


On our travels around Winnipeg, I was struck by the old stone buildings and graceful architecture. The Assiniboine and the Red River can be seen at various locations, and just across the Assiniboine is Saint Boniface where we drove to find the home of author Gabrielle Roy, who won not one but three Governor General awards. I now have The Tin Flute on my to-read list.

And back in Ottawa, I met up with some fellow Crime Writers of Canada mystery authors at a Royal Oak for a Christmas get-together. A few nights later, I joined the Capital Crime Writers for their Christmas dinner at a local restaurant. This year, Howard Shrier  made the journey from Toronto to read to us from his latest mystery Miss  Montreal and to share a few stories about his writing. (very cool website) I bought a copy and look forward to this latest instalment in the Jonah Geller series - the Calgary Herald says that Howard is "making the world of crime fiction a better place, one Jonah Geller book at a time".

So for me, this is a very busy time of year with Christmas shopping, tree decorating, parties, family meals . . . the list goes on. I'll be rushing around today with the promise of a snowstorm and frigid temperatures starting at dusk. Then you'll find me typing away on my latest manuscript with a glass of wine at my elbow and my gas fireplace taking away the chill. I haven't had much time to write this past week and am itching to get back at the story.