Saturday, August 30, 2014

Feet Up, Popping a Cold One

Kicking back, hands behind head and feet on desk.

I submitted the fourth Anna Sweet manuscript to Grass Roots Press early last week, and currently have NO writing projects on the go.

Yes, I am on holiday.

Except for the nail-biting part, waiting for Dundurn and Grass Roots publishers to critique the two manuscripts that I submitted this summer. Tim Wynne-Jones as keynote speaker at a Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner a few years ago read from his fake 'diary' where he chronicled sending in a manuscript and getting more and more paranoid the longer his publisher didn't give feedback. He went from believing the book was the next Pulitzer prize winner to knowing he should hang up his pen. The thing is, Tim nailed the author insecurity. Every time someone looks at our work, we hold our breath. I imagine even the established, best-selling authors have the same self-doubt at their core.

I've got a gig on this evening in Perth. Thomas Curran and I will be reading from our work before the Classic Theatre Festival puts on Dial M for Murder, an old Hitchcock classic. I'll read a few snippets from Cold Mourning and this is actually the first time I'm doing a reading from this book. Wish me luck - maybe, that break a leg thing.

I still haven't received my copies of To Keep a Secret (3rd Anna Sweet) but hear that the books are on their way. So, sometime next week, I'll have the book in my hands. I like the cover and am rather fond of the story too. Anna Sweet is someone I'd like to have as a friend, or at the very least, trying to keep me out of jail.


Capital Crime Writers is gearing up for the first fall meeting on Wednesday, September 10. Meetings take place in Ottawa City Hall in the Honeywell Room from 7-9 p.m. The cost is a measly $30 a year and for this fee, you get to hear fascinating guest speakers speak about their fields of expertise and there are a few parties along the way. This month's speaker is Acting Staff Sergeant Ken Bryden from the Ottawa force, and he'll be talking about the guns and gangs situation in our city. New members are always welcome so come join the group if you have an interest.

Back to school underway for all the kids on Tuesday after we all enjoy the long weekend. Curling starts for the competitive teams this week too, and I have two daughters on the competitive trail. This promises to be a busy and exciting fall, following their tournaments online and in person. I'm also on two club-level teams and that starts up in another month.

I don't know how long I'll last before I start on my next manuscript, but imagine we won't be far into September. Already, I'm plotting in my head - soon my fingers are going to find their way back to the keyboard.

But for this week, I'm on holiday :-)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Stuff Coming Up

So close to finishing the manuscript that I'm working on, yet so far. I'm trying to wrap up with a twist ending, but am having difficulty figuring out how Anna Sweet is going to expose the real killer. This has been keeping me up nights. I've started on a scenario that I might have to scrap, but I'll give it a bit more time today and tomorrow.  Hopefully, the pieces are going to come together.

To Keep a Secret is now up on the Grass Roots Press site and available for order. The books were being bound this week and my copies should arrive next week. The books are fun little reads if you've got a few hours to while away. I've set them in my neighbourhood a nd all around Ottawa, which is also rather fun.

I'm off to Perth next Saturday for the Capital Crime Writers/ Classic Theatre Festival event - Tom Curran and I will do brief readings before the play Dial M for Murder., which I've heard through the grapevine is a terrific performance.  I have a few other events coming up and will have to update my website - one in Toronto and the others in Ottawa.

And the advance reviews for Butterfly Kills continue to be very good. In addition, I've gotten feedback from several people this past week who finished reading Cold Mourning. I really enjoy getting this feedback - hearing how the book kept someone up into the night, turning pages. You make me want to keep writing.

I know we say this all the time, but it is hard to believe summer is almost over. Next week is the Labour Day long weekend and kids will be heading back to school. Capital Crime Writers will be having its first meeting of the season on Wednesday, September 10 (7-9 p.m.) in the Honeywell Room at Ottawa City Hall and the speaker is Acting Staff Sergeant Ken Bryden - he'll be talking about street gangs in the city so should be a most interesting and informative session. New members are welcome at a cost of $30 for the year. For more information, check out CCW's Facebook page.

So, time to get down to work and finish up this manuscript. It will be nice to then take a short break before starting the fourth Stonechild and Rouleau. I have an idea brewing and am itching to get started. Looks like the writing bug hasn't been worked out of my system yet...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Where's the Heat?

We've had a couple of fall-like days this week to remind us what is around the corner. The back to school sales promotions are gearing up in tandem - not sure I'm ready to give up hot, lazy summer days just yet. (Wasn't summer a lot longer when we were kids?)

Closing in on 9000 words on my latest Anna Sweet manuscript and hoping to get the first draft closer to completion by the end of this weekend. The third in the series To Keep a Secret should be out in a few weeks.

Book publishing is like movies in that you might finish the book or movie a year or two before it comes out. By then, you've moved on to another project, sometimes more than one. My first book Running Scared was accepted by Napolean Publishing about three years after I wrote it. The first opening in their publishing schedule was two years later! There's a reason most authors have another job.

I walked to Perfect Books on Elgin yesterday at lunchtime as a couple of colleagues asked for copies of my books. I was happy to discover that the store is getting ready to place another order since the books have been selling well. In fact, I picked up the last copy of In Winter's Grip from the shelf. The owner would like me to do another signing in February once Butterfly Kills is released. If you get down to Elgin Street, be sure to drop into this great little shop.

I'm going to organize a few other book events around the release of Butterfly Kills and am mulling over ideas for a launch - the release date is January 31, 2015, so not the best time of year for an event. I say that because curling is in full swing and we're already booked to go to Moose Jaw to watch our daughter in the Scotties in mid-February. However, I can also have my publicist see about a signing in Moose Jaw - I understand the town has a great bookstore, which looks to be close to where we'll be staying. Yeah, Moose Jaw in February. Seems counter-intuitive I know, but oh so much fun.

Not much new to report in this writer's life this week. I see a few more good advance reviews posted for Butterfly Kills. Other than this, I'm trying to plug away on the manuscript. Like the weather, I'm finding it hard to get things cooking. It's supposed to return to summer warmth tomorrow so hopefully my fingers will heat up on the keyboard too.

Enjoy the last half of August, everyone.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Summer Lull

I made good progress on my Anna Sweet manuscript during the last week of my holidays. Back at work this week, the writing has slowed, but partly because I had to work out the whodunnit part of the crime, including the motive. Now, I feel that I'm ready to move forward. I like the set up of the story - now at 6500 words and aiming for 14000. These are considered novellas and so much quicker to write. I'm planning to have this one written by the end of August.

The first advance reviews for Butterly Kills have been excellent. Heart-warming even. And most happily, they have not given any spoilers. Here is one review by the blogger who also posted the comment below to Twitter (from your keyboard to God's ears).

The bad news is that you have to wait until January 31, 2015, for the Butterfly Kills release, but as we all know, time has a way of moving right along. Already the summer days are taking on that feeling of autumn in the evenings with the sun lower in the sky by eight-thirty. But still a few weeks of summer weather left to enjoy before we pull out the sweaters.

You can follow along with other advance reviews on Goodreads. If you aren't a member of this site, it's free and easy to join and a great place to check out reader reviews of books in all genres. You can also write your own reviews and keep track of the books you've read or plan to read.

I've been reading an interesting book on my iPad this week entitled Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller. The Guardian named this one of the best mysteries in 2013. The plot is centred around an 82 year old American man who has moved to Norway to live with his granddaughter and her husband. The grandfather is witness to a woman's murder and is now on the run with her seven year old son, in a foreign country where he doesn't speak the language. The premise intrigued me and the book has been a good read so far. Perhaps another book to add to your summer reading list!

Well, we've got a gorgeous day going on just outside my office window. Time to have another cup of coffee before I run my errands and work in the garden for an hour. Then, down to work on the manuscript although on days such as today, I find myself working later in the day and into the evening. Speaking of which, tonight the super moon will once again grace the skies. Apparently, the best time to view it will be four a.m. Sunday morning. A sight not to be missed.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Turning the Corner into August

My last week of holidays and I'm in writing mode. I've begun the fourth Anna Sweet mystery for Grass Roots Press and have been knocking off a thousand words a day as I get the opening firmed up and the plot underway. I'm not one hundred percent certain where this storyline is heading so have to allow for thinking time. So far, so good.

I was invited to my first book club earlier in the spring and it took place on Thursday night at a home off Main Street in Ottawa south. This group of about ten women host a local author every July and tell me they've been doing so for the past eight years. They are a welcoming, comfortable group - all had read Cold Mourning and they had questions ready. So for two hours, armed with a glass of wine and a table full of tasty food, we discussed the book, getting published and the writing industry. A lovely way to spend a summer evening.

I usually have a book that I'm reading on the go, sometimes two or three. I've heard authors say that they can't read a mystery while they're writing one because it impacts on their own manuscript. Happily, I haven't found this to be a problem. This past week I read Ann Cleeves' book Raven Black, first in a series set in the rugged Shetland Islands and introducing Detective Jimmy Perez. The setting, character development and plot are seamless and riveting. I highly recommend this fabulous read for your summer book list.

And now, back to the keyboard and another morning spent with Anna Sweet. She's a PI with a office in Hintonburg (boro in Ottawa) who roams around the city neighbourhoods in search of killers - very fun to have her in establishments that I frequent in my Westboro and Wellington West hoods. These novellas are great fun to write. My neighbour across the street read The Hard Fall, second in the series, yesterday and said, "What a great little book. Amazingly interesting for such a short read."

Mission accomplished :-)