Saturday, December 26, 2015

2015: A Year to Remember

Happy Boxing Day everyone! I hope you are enjoying the holidays with lots of family, friends and good food. We were a balmy 17 degrees C on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day reached about 8 degrees so a bit topsy turvy here in Ottawa.

Dundurn has been running a Goodreads giveaway for three copies of Tumbled Graves and the last day to enter is today. You can also read the 10 or so reviews from bloggers who received an advance copy. If you are not a member of Goodreads, it is free to join and a great place to read and post reviews, sign up for giveaways and follow your favourite authors.

My writing fell by the wayside this week, understandably so. In addition to my day job downtown, I was baking and wrapping gifts, putting up the tree and shopping, getting ready to host two big meals. My friend who came for Christmas dinner yesterday with her family calls today 'Special Sleepy Day' - a day to lay around and recover from all the work getting Christmas ready, eating, drinking and other festivities. I think this should become an official mandated holiday, rolled into the current Boxing Day, and one that I'm ready to adopt.

So, before I sign off and go put my feet up while drinking a cup of tea, here are some pictures of book moments from 2015. 
Butterfly Kills launched in February at Whispers Pub
I made the road trip to Malice Domestic outside Washington with Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken and Vicki Delany. We stopped for an author event at Mystery Books in Mechanicsburg on the way home.
Barbara Fradkin and I received nominations for crime novel of the year at an Arthur Ellis shortlist event in April held at Chapters Rideau.
I attended the Arthur Ellis awards banquet in Toronto with Julia, Ted and Dawn in May.
Lots of summer signings and events - at Prose in the Park in June.
Indigo Barrhaven signing also in June.
Guest author with Peggy Blair at the play Wait Until Dark in Perth in August.
And in September, I was guest author at a literacy event in Cumberland.

It has been a busy and exciting year and I look forward to the adventure continuing in 2016. Happy New Year and I wish you all happiness and fulfillment in 2016. Keep reaching for the stars.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Best of the Season

Surprisingly, we got a coating of snow overnight--the first real snow of the year in Ottawa. A few years ago, it snowed on Hallowe'en and didn't disappear until April. Now, that felt like a long winter.

I love these weeks leading up to Christmas, snow or no snow. I notice that a lot of people in my neighborhood have put up outdoor lights this year, like bits of hope and, warmth in the darkness, or that's how it feels to me. The lights, candles and fire in the fireplace are my favorite part of the holidays. Well these and all the get-togethers with family and friends with lots of homemade meals and wine. This year, both my daughters will be home along with Lisa's husband Robin and Julia's dog George. The tree goes up today and I've already started baking. These are the times to cherish.

Writing is coming along great guns. I'm rounding into the climax of the novella, and after some 'what the heck was I thinking', the plot bits appear to be coming together. I'm still trying to make the big scene appear plausible and think I've come up with a scenario that works. I should have it written by next weekend if time allows. My problem is that I have to wrap it up soon or I'll go over my word count. My publisher wants these books to be around 12,000 words and I tend to hit closer to 16,000. I'm currently near 11,000 words so cutting it close :-)

I had a nice surprise this week. I follow Ottawa Magazine, which updates stories daily on its website and is a great place to find out what's going on in the city. They were running an advent calendar giveaway with a new prize every day leading up to Christmas. I entered for some of the days with no expectations and ended up winning a beautiful necklace from Davidson's Jewellers-- the day thirteen prize. This has to be the nicest thing I have ever won!

Well, I know you are probably very busy today and won't keep you much longer except to wish you a wonderful holiday season, celebrated in a way that brings you peace and joy. May the magic of the season find you and the glow of all the Christmas lights embrace and delight you.

George sends a merry woof.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Season of GIving....and Welcoming

Another green week in Ottawa - some rain, glimmers of sunshine, no snow. Christmas is now less than two weeks away and the decorations look oddly out of place without a snowy backdrop. Santa is beginning to look over-dressed.

I've hit 10,000 words on the latest manuscript. I just ran off a hard copy and am doing an edit and review before heading into the climax and resolution. This also gives me a chance to make sure the character with blue eyes still has blue eyes four chapters later. I have time to reread the other Anna Sweet novellas to make certain everything lines up there too. You'd be amazed how easily the details can be forgotten over the course of a book or series. My Grass Roots Press editor keeps a chart and she's excellent at pointing out discrepancies. I promise myself that I'll be that organized, but man, it's hard to put in the time after spending so many hours writing and editing.

I'm quiet on the publicity front leading up to Christmas. Dundurn is working on bookmarks and a launch invitation for Tumbled Graves. third in the Stonechild and Rouleau series. The launch is booked for Sunday afternoon on April 3 and Books on Beechwood will again be the bookseller. Mark the date!

Like everyone else in Canada, I watched the first Syrian refugees arrive on television broadcasts. I try to imagine what they've lived through and how it must feel to uproot your entire family to move to a new home where you don't speak the language. They have been labelled 'refugees' but I think we have to be careful to let them outside this box. These are fathers, mothers, friends, individuals who once had full and happy lives in Syria before the fighting started. They've seen horror and suffered beyond what anyone should ever go through. I despair of what people will do to each other, but I am conversely encouraged by the compassion of Canadians and those in other countries who are welcoming these people in the time of their greatest need. Compassion cannot be overrated.

So, today I'm going to do my shopping, including a wander down to Westboro Village to check out some of the shops and to buy local. While malls have their place, I much prefer to support independent shops in my neighbourhood. This is where I find unique gifts while actually enjoying the experience. And this year, we get to roam from shop to shop in a virtual heat wave. Maybe, I'll run into you on my travels. I'll be the one sipping an egg nog late and humming Jingle Bells.

Have a great week everyone. The countdown to Christmas is officially on :-)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Finding the Spirit

Christmas season is here and I have to say that I enjoy the lead up to December 25th as much or more so than the actual holiday. I've got my cards in the mail and the turkey ordered, most of my gifts bought or in my sights and I'm working on a menu. And the parties and get togethers start tonight. Not even the five degree temperature and absence of snow have put a damper on this winter joie de vivre. To really put me in the mood, I walked to the Chateau Laurier on my lunch hour to wander around their lobby - they have a display of about ten decorated trees by different organizations. Tea in the restaurant would make a nice outing for those who have the time to linger.

Last week's taping at Cable 22 was great fun. The show will run in January and is entitled Ellie's Read on Ottawa. Barb Fradkin, Mike Martin and I will be Ellie's guests on her inaugural show, so that is pretty special. We sat at a round table with cameras pointed at each of us during the filming. It was easy to forget they were there if you avoided looking at them, which I did for the most part. We had a good discussion about the mystery genre and I'm looking forward to seeing the show.

 In the green room before the taping with host Ellie Potvin.

I wish that I could say I've been writing steadily, although I managed a thousand words over the week. I spent last evening working out the plot in my head and I'm not sure I've got it down yet. I'm hopeful that the plot will work itself out once I start writing.

I live in hope.

This Wednesday evening is Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner with Barbara Fradkin as the guest speaker. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends and an evening discussing crime writing. I find that meeting up with other authors is invigorating and motivates me to keep writing. This is a busy time of year, but great fun if you can relax and take everything in stride. It's a time to get in some socializing before we settle into the heart of winter.

Enjoy the week, everyone.