Saturday, April 25, 2015

Cold Mourning Doing Me Proud

I'm extremely excited to have Cold Mourning shortlisted for Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis award for best crime novel in 2014. The shortlists for various categories was read out at events across Canada on Thursday evening. I took part in one at Chapters Rideau organized by Linda Wiken with fellow authors Mary Jane Maffini, Vicki Delany, R.J. Harlick, Barbara Fradkin and Mike Martin. We interviewed each other and did short readings in an area set up on the main floor toward the back of the store - we had a full house, showing the solid readership and support for crime-writing in Ottawa.
You can read the complete list of nominees in all the categories at Quill & Quire with links to their reviews on some of the books. Ted and I are going to go to Toronto for the gala evening on May 28 where my first publisher Sylvia McConnell will be honoured with a special award. The best part of being shortlisted is the validation that people enjoy my books and hopefully more people will hear about them. Here are a few photos our shortlist evening.

Linda Wiken moderated the evening.
Barbara Fradkin and Vicki Delany
Me interviewing Mike Martin
R.J. Harlick and Mary Jane Maffini
With Barbara Fradkin - we are both shortlisted for crime novel of the year!
I'm getting ready to head to Malice Domestic on Wednesday in Bethesda, Maryland (outside Washington) - road trip with good buddies Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken and Vicki Delany. I'm on a police procedural panel next Sunday morning and we're also visiting a bookstore on the way home for an event. I'm going to see about blogging and posting some photos as we go so check in next week and find out what I'm up to.
I was in Carp on Wednesday evening along with Ottawa YA author Mike Stewart for a book drive event organized by a grade 10 student Addy. She collected books for Africa and people from the community donated 4000 books. Addy had organized other students to sing throughout the evening - so much talent and such great kids.
And my writing is going well. I met my goal this month (50,000 words) and will exceed this by a few thousand by the end of this weekend. I'll bring my laptop on the road trip and hope to get some free time to type away.
Lots going on this month and lots to celebrate.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Writing Along

Getting into the writing rhythm this week. I've given myself a daily word count and have achieved it, now out of necessity. I received a contract in the mail from Dundurn earlier this week for four more Stonechild and Rouleau mysteries with deadlines over the next few years. The manuscript that I'm working on now is due September 1st, a mere four months and change away. So, picking up my pace.

A couple of events this week. Wednesday at 7 pm, I'll be at a literacy event organized by a grade 10 student named Addy. We've only corresponded by e-mail and I'm looking forward to meeting her. Then on Thursday evening, I'll be part of an Arthur Ellis shortlist event at Rideau Chapters beginning at 7 pm. Similar events are going on across the country as the AE awards are our national awards for crime-writing. This year, we're teamed up with another author and will briefly interview each other - my partner is Mike Martin who writes a Newfoundland series. All are welcome - event is free and a great chance to find out what Ottawa crime writers are up to this year.

So, my 85 year old mom has become a big fan of my mysteries. She tells random strangers to buy the books, although she warns them about the occasional bad word. Anyhow, she phoned CBC radio in Thunder Bay where she lives and is responsible for me being on Superior Morning a few weeks ago. Now, she's decided the books should be made into a tv series and is calling CBC Toronto even though I told her this isn't the normal route to having one's work picked up. Mom has been quite ill this year and this 'project' is taking her mind off her worries so I'm letting her run, knowing she'll give up soon enough. I asked her if she told the CBC people that she's my mom and she said no but she left them her name. I said, "You don't think they won't clue in that we're both Chapmans?" That got a giggle. I hope whichever CBC receptionist picks up her call(s) will be similarly amused.

My morning begins with a trip to the spa with my daughter Lisa and then lunch in the neighbourhood. She's been on the competitive curling circuit and barely home this winter so it will be good to spend a few hours relaxing and catching up.  I'll spend late afternoon into the evening writing. I'll let you know next week if I make my daily quota of words.

Spring has arrived and the sap is running. Hope the plot ideas and words  flow as freely as the maple syrup.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Murder is a Killer

When writing a murder mystery, you have to put your characters through some scary, sometimes horrible, stuff, and you have to kill some of them off. This can be tougher than expected once you get to know your characters and care about them. A few books ago, I had planned to dispose of a character and wrote toward this end. The problem was that I grew to really like the potential victim didn't have the heart to kill them off. So I killed off someone else instead. The plot stagnated. I couldn't get it going until I rewrote the scene and did in the intended character.

A recent review on Amazon from a reader:"At times I was so scared for some of the characters that I could barely stand my anxiety. What an amazing author who knows how to get you on the edge of your seat and leave you there for a long time - not with gore and graphic details, but by making you understand and care about the characters so much and giving you a plausible and fascinating plot."

The hard part is to make readers care about the characters - to become engaged in their lives and care what happens to them. To my mind, this is the key to any novel, whether mystery or science fiction or literary. And it all begins with the author caring about the fictional people they are creating and needing some therapy while arranging their funerals. Here is another review out this week from an American reviewer.

On the publicity horizon, I have a quiet week this week but two events on the week following. On the evening of April 22, I'll be going to Carp to talk about writing with fellow author Mike Stewart. Our visits are being organized by a grade ten student who wants to promote literacy.  Then, I'll be part of the Arthur Ellis shortlist event at Thurs., April 23, 7-9 p.m. at Chapters Rideau, 47 Rideau Street, Ottawa. Authors will be interviewing each other for a few minutes each so I have to come up with a couple of questions for Mike Martin and he for me. Other authors include Barb Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini, Vicki Delany, Linda Wiken and R.J. Harlick. All are welcome so plan to pop by if you're up for an entertaining evening. Similar events will be taking place across the country at the same time.

This weekend looms open and obligation-free. I've reviewed the first 42,000 words of my latest manuscript and am making some adjustments. Writing is starting to come together so I'm eager to get at it today and tomorrow. I now have a September deadline for this one so figure I have to hit 10,000 words a month to finish in time. I might have to buy some manacles to attach my legs to the chair, but I should know by end of May if this will be necessary. The only fly in my ointment is the warm weather anticipated for tomorrow, which will be blowing in with full sunshine.  I see a verandah and glass of wine in my near future.

All work and no play.....

Cheers everyone - enjoy your weekend :-)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Long Weekend

Ta da!

I'm quite in love with this new cover by Dundurn designer Courtney Horner - such a creative design and most intruiging. This one is out in January 2016 with the editing to start next month.

For the manuscript I'm currently working on, I've run off the first 42,000 words and am going through the draft to make sure all is hanging together. I've also spent a lot of time thinking up a title for this one and think I hit on it this morning as I woke up. I checked on Amazon and this title hasn't been used so I'll run it by my editor. Coincidently, all of the Stonechild and Rouleau books have two-word titles - not by any planning on my part - and now we think that this should continue.

So last week after reading my blog, Ted informed me that I had another month to get my tax information in to the accountant as I falsely believed that filing date was April 1st., which is the end of the fiscal year at work. I was relieved enough to put my feet up and ignore  the paperwork another week. Yesterday,the guilt got to me and  I forced myself to spend the day sorting and recording and am almost ready to take my folder to the accountant. I don't know about you, but I loathe tax time. Every year, I promise myself I will be more organized earlier. Every year, I fail miserably.

I had two guest blog posts to write for May and wrote both this week in my spare time. I've submitted one and want to have a last go at the second. I also got a request from Chapters Barrhaven for a signing of my kids' books and we've agreed on Saturday, May 30.  I have to submit all of the upcoming events to Dundurn and update my website....on the to-do list. I would like to redo my website so if you are a designer or know of one, send the contact info along. Could be fun.

Easter weekend and we went from 12 degrees yesterday, sitting on the neighbours' verandah drinking wine in the sun late afternoon, to snow this morning. We were to be four for supper tomorrow but are now nine - Ted will be barbecuing a bourbon-orange glazed ham and I'll be scalloping potates and whipping up a couple of lemon meringue pies. A feast with family and friends will make us forget about the cold and snow and tax time.

Have a wonderful Easter, everyone and relaxing week ahead.