Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas in My World

Seasons Greetings, everyone. I still find this a magical time of year - families and friends getting together for a meal, excited children waiting for Santa, and homes decked out in lights in the mid-winter darkness.

I caught the virus going around a couple of weeks ago (generously sharing it with Ted) and so was sick last week and missed blogging. We're both on the mend, and my sympathies go out to you if you also have come down with this flu/cold. Lots of tea and rest will get you through!

This has been a bit like Christmas in my book world. My copies of A Model Life (4th Anna Sweet) arrived in the Monday mail. I've signed a contract to write book five in the series, but it is not due until 2016.

I also received an e-mail through Facebook a few days ago from a Dundurn author that a box of Butterfly Kills arrived on his doorstep, obviously delivered to the wrong author. So difficult to know my copies are out there but I won't receive them for another week or so with the holidays shutting down Dundurn's office and warehouse. However, the author told me that the book looks great!

I'm working with an American publicist for the American release of Butterfly Kills at the end of February. I have a bit of homework to do as she's received requests from five blogs for me to post entries. I've completed two but have three to go. They're rather fun as each is asking different questions about me and my book. We're also getting nibbles from American reviewers, so keep your fingers crossed for good coverage.

Dundurn sent the electronic invitation for my February 8th Ottawa book launch to me and I'm waiting for Christmas to be over to send it out to all and sundry. I'm excited to have you read Butterfly Kills and to get your feedback. I think the story makes for a cracking good read :-) If you are in Ottawa, on Sunday, February 8th, come to Whispers between 2:00 and 4:00 pm and raise a glass with me to celebrate.

Writing time fell away with the week and a half of being sick, but I spent yesterday at the keyboard and am getting organized for the next chunk of the current manuscript I'm tackling. I've reached the 20,000 word mark and the writing momentum is starting to build. I find that I start slowly as I line up the ducks and then I go great guns, working on the story every spare minute. I used to worry that I was wasting time not writing at this point in the manuscript, but I've come to realize that this is part of my process.

Well, in amongst all this writing and publicity work, Ted and I visited with family and friends and prepared some big holiday dinners. Here are a few photos of our frivolity - I hope you are also taking time to enjoy time with family and friends and wish each of you a wonderful 2015 - Happy New Year, all!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

This week passed in a haze of cold medication, tea and bad television as I battled a virus that is 'going around' as they say. But I'm on the mend, back at work yesterday and ready for a day baking and preparing for a big family dinner tomorrow night. Christmas season is back on my radar.

I was thinking this morning about Christmases when I was a kid. I have an older sister Donna who used to organize me and my younger brother Steven into staging a  yearly production of a play for our parents and the town mill manager and his wife every Christmas Eve. The year I remember most vividly was when the three of us acted out 'A Christmas Carol', adapted, directed and produced by my sister. I recall that my brother and I would get the odd lecture from my mother about cooperating (we had weeks of practices leading up to the day and we were siblings after all) but in the end, we put on quite the show. We might have been Broadway bound if we weren't living in a small northern Ontario town in the middle of nowhere.

We also made gifts for each other. The teachers at school always had crafts that involved making presents, often involving glitter and sparkles. Handmade candles, clay angels...but Donna, Steven and I would make more gifts at home. One time, we made a giant candy cane out of cardboard and filled it with gum because my dad had just quit smoking. The gift-making took hours of working in secret for that moment of hopeful delight when the offering was unwrapped. My parents always insisted it was the perfect gift. We knew it was.

Which leads me back to what I was thinking about when I woke up. The magic of this season, to me, is the little, unexpected moments of offerings from the heart. The sweetness of these moments stays with me years later. My youngest Julia wanted me to have more gifts under the tree one year - she must have been about four years old - so she wrapped up several pieces of paper so that I'd have lots of presents to unwrap.  My daughter Lisa spends hours finding us the perfect gift and always succeeding. Ted spent a good part of the day yesterday putting up lights on our front verandah and driving me home up our street after work to surprise me.

Yesterday, I asked the fellow ringing through my produce at Herb and Spice how to tell if a pineapple was ripe. I'd picked one with no idea but wanted it for our family Christmas dinner. The young produce guy then felt every pineapple they had to get me the best one and explained the best way to cut it.  A simple, unexpected act of kindness.

So, not much writing in this week although I will make 20,000 words in this manuscript by the New Year - 1/4 or the way through. Grass Roots Press has posted A Model Death - you can read the first chapter to get the flavour of these books.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Season is in Full Swing

Fa la la la la
la la
la la

Ted came with me to the Capital Crime Writers annual Christmas dinner, held this year at a fine little Italian restaurant named Tavola. We'd booked the entire restaurant for the evening, which came complete with a snowstorm raging outside, another tradition for our yearly get together. After dinner, my good friend and fellow crime writer Mary Jane Maffini introduced me as the guest speaker...

Then she began the interview...

And lastly, a short reading from Cold Mourning...

It was a lovely evening - good food, good friends and a lot of laughter. Thank you to Capital Crime Writers for the kind invitation.

I received word yesterday from Grass Roots Press that my copies of A Model Death are in the post! With Buttertly Kills being released by Dundurn in another month, I'm feeling a little bit of excitement in my belly. Both series are doing well although the audience is slightly different. Pat Campbell, Grass Roots publisher, tells me that they are making great inroads in the U.S. market and will be attending a couple of major American literacy conferences in 2015. Apparently, librarians are loving the books.

So today, it's buy the Christmas tree, put it up and decorate, along with make a trip to buy the Christmas wine and other spirits. My daughter Lisa is curling in Yorkton, Saskatchewan today in quarter finals at six this evening so all aiming to settle in and watch curling on TV periodically this weekend as well. Also, hoping to also get in some writing Sunday between one last trip out for gift-buying and baking cookies for a holiday work luncheon. Tis the season to be very, very busy. I best get this day underway. Good week, everyone.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Count Down to Christmas

A quiet week on the writing front but a busy week otherwise. I sent out my Christmas cards and started lining up plans for dinners and baking, gift-buying and decorating. Less than three weeks to go - I'm hoping to get organized enough that I glide into the holidays stress-free.

Ted and I still buy a real tree. When our girls were young, we'd drive into the country to a tree farm and chop down a tree. Then stop at a cafe on the way home for hot chocolate. The tree farm had a hill where the girls would spend their time sliding while Ted and I debated our choice. Now, we drive a few blocks to the Parkdale Market and select one pre-cut. Sometimes I don't even go if we're running short of time. Traditions are a moving target.

This Wednesday is the Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner and I'm being interviewed by Mary Jane Maffini for the after dinner entertainment. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone - at last count we have fifty people signed up. Should be a fun evening.

I've been followint the podcasts for a show out of the U.S. called Serial that you might find as fascinating as I am. A reporter Sarah Koenig is re-examining all of the evidence that put 17 year old Adnan Syed away for life for murdering his ex-girlfriend. He's now 33 years old. Each week, Koenig brings another twist into her investigation and she doesn't tip her hand as to the outcome. She's just revealed that there will be a season two and she'll be taking on another case. Anyhow, if you start listening with podcast one, you'll likely become as hooked as I am. You're welcome.

So, I have a busy day ahead and supper tonight with friends. Time to grab one last cup of coffee and get myself into gear. I hope you also are keeping your head above water at this hectic time of year. Remember to take time out to put your feet up with a cup of tea every now and then. Everything that needs to get done will get done eventually :-)