Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 - The Writing Year That Was

2017 is fast drawing to a close. Some would say good riddance after a difficult year, but I am not one of those people. We've certainly had many down times, losses and tragedies,that have impacted us, individually and collectively -- but 2017 also had its good events and successes, for which we are also thankful. Let me list a few of my highlights on the writing front:

In April, the fifth Anna Sweet novella No Trace was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award. While it didn't win, I enjoyed a fun trip to Toronto with my good friend Katherine Hobbs to attend the banquet and spent time with my fellow Dundurn authors and Dundurn friends.

At the Arthur Ellis awards dinner with Dundurn author Rae Greenaway

Shallow End was released in May and welcomed to the world at a Friday night launch at the Heart and Crown pub. I was mightily pleased to have so many friends come out to help celebrate, including my MC, the terrific Mary Jane Maffini, and my cousin Janet Chapman who came from Montreal for the evening event.

Signing and chatting - with Ann Cooke
The crowded pub!

The summer and fall, my Dundurn editor Shannon Whibbs and I made our way through the Bleeding Darkness manuscript (a couple of times) and happily made our last change on deadline.

I worked on an adult literacy project through the spring and summer, writing main idea paragraphs for booklets that Grass Roots Press will publish next fall.

Late summer, No Trace was nominated for an Ontario Library Association Golden Oak award - the winner to be announced spring 2018.

In October, I had the great good fortune to interview Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin in front of a packed church as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Such a fun evening.

Barb Fradkin, Ann Cleeves and me

In November, I signed a two-book deal with Grass Roots Press to write two more Anna Sweet novellas.

Also in November, I submitted the sixth Stonechild and Rouleau manuscript entitled Turning Secrets to Dundurn.

And I can't fail to mention all the great times I had meeting readers - bookclubs, the OLA Super Conference and Bouchercon in Toronto, store signings ... and all the heart-warming, uplifting and kind interactions with readers through my website, Facebook, Twitter and in person. You keep me motivated to continue in this writing business.

At the Ontario Library Super Conference with publicist Michelle Melski and author Steve Burrows

Speaking to the Ottawa Independent Writers Association about writing a series

Dinner with a book club at Flippers restaurant

Life really is a journey that needs to be savoured and celebrated. Thanks for peeking in on my world now and then and for letting me be part of yours.

I wish each of you many wonderful adventures and happy new memories with friends and family in the year to come. Happy 2018 everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Two Sleeps til Christmas!

If your day is going along like mine, you're in the kitchen! I've got a tourtière in the oven and am about to make cranberry sauce and a gingerbread cake. We're going a little rogue tomorrow and having lobster for Christmas Eve (along with the tourtière) and I'll be whipping up some lemon mousse in the morning to go with the gingerbread. Christmas Day our good neighbours and their two daughters will be coming over for a turkey supper ... Christmas really is about eating :-) ... and getting together with friends and family.

I've managed to plug away at my Anna Sweet novella this week and am no 2/3 of the way through. I wasn't certain the next steps in the plot, but after a bit of a think, it's coming together. Sometimes, these books come easy and other times, a few teeth get pulled. This is one of the fun ones. I hope to have it completed early January, just before the travel starts. We'll be going to watch Julia (Team Cadorin) play in the Ontario Curling Provincials in Whitby in January, then I have an overnighter in Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association Super Conference at the start of February, followed by a trip to the Olympics in South Korea! The excitement is building ...

Julia and her dog George arrived last evening, driving through the snow and sleet on the 401. The four hour drive took over six but they made it safely. We're so lucky to have them home for the holidays. Lots of catching up and puttering around, eating and sleeping in. This is a restful time in the middle of a busy year.

I have to say, there is nothing better than getting hooked on a Netflix series. This past week, I've started watching Scott and Bailey, a British police procedural series that a friend recommended. In my down time, I love to put on an episode, and you might enjoy this one too if you're looking for some escape over the holidays.

Speaking of which, my tourtière is almost done (smell is fabulous) and I'd best get moving. I wish each of you a warm, wonderful holiday season with many good memories to be made in 2018.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Into the Holiday Cheer!

A lot has happened since last Saturday. Those of you following along the Olympic Curling Trials know that my daughter Lisa is on the winning ladies team Homan, and they're soon off to South Korea to represent Canada at the Olympics. Ted and I were at their games all week cheering them on and couldn't be prouder. We will be continuing the journey with them as plans are in the works for us to go to South Korea too! Parents of a soon-to-be Olympian :-)

Photos taken by Mike McKinnon - Lisa warming up before a round robin game

And our youngest daughter Julia's team won the Trophy tournament last week and they've made it to the Ontario provincials in January! Their final game was last Sunday morning before the Olympic play down final so my nails are about bitten to the quick. ... who knew where this sport would take us when I got our family into the sport so many years ago? Absolutely amazing.

I've managed some time writing the latest Anna Sweet novella, now about a third of the way through the first draft. These little books are so much fun to write once I get an idea, and I'm a big fan of the publisher Pat Campbell at Grass Roots Press. She's doing such good work for adult literacy and she's always supportive and collaborative.

A few little uplifts this week. Jim Napier, a Canadian author and crime fiction reviewer, selected Shallow End as one of his top picks for 2017 - and such a great recommendation! Also, Publishers Weekly featured Bleeding Darkness in its upcoming spring book list. This is one of the book industry's flagship resources so I'm thrilled to make their list.

I received a message from my publicist yesterday that the Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills audio books are available lots of places, including iTunes and now Kobo. Kobo has a 30% off deal going so a great time to upload them.

Are you set for the holidays? We've been busy getting set as we're hosting a Christmas dinner tonight. Decorations, tree, presents, food ... check, check and check. Christmas tunes on the stereo combined with the snow is putting me in the holiday mood. Prime rib on the barbecue heads up the menu and I'm about to tackle a chocolate raspberry bundt cake. Tis the season to eat.

Nine more sleeps until Christmas. Enjoy the moments, everyone :-)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Into December

Good Saturday morning. I didn't spend many hours at my computer this week although I managed to complete the second edit of Turning Secrets and submitted it to Dundurn last weekend. Since then, I've spent most of my time at the Canadian Tire Centre watching the Olympic curling trials or at home watching on television. I'm happy to report that my daughter Lisa's team (Rachel Homan) is having a great week and plays in the semi-final this afternoon. We'll be there to cheer them on. My youngest daughter Julia (skip Chrissie Cadorin) is also playing in a tournament this week called the Trophy with the winner securing a spot in the Ontario provincials in January. They've won five games in a row with two left to go. We're cheering them from afar. You can see my preoccupation this week:-)

I've firmed up plans to attend the Ontario Library Association (OAL) Super Conference on February 1st in Toronto. I'll be signing advance copies of Bleeding Darkness at the Dundurn booth after a breakfast for the Golden Oak nominees and volunteers. The librarians voted on the short list and now adult learners are voting on the winning book, which will be announced in April. No Trace made the list this year. The OLA Super Conference goes on for a few days and brings together librarians from across the province.

While I've taken a bit of a writing break this week, I've been working on the seventh Anna Sweet novella, now on chapter three. The plot idea seems sound and I'm having fun working through the storyline. I even have a working title "Killer Heat" so hopefully this will be one of those manuscripts that almost writes itself. Did you know that some writers believe a Divine hand is guiding their words, making them 'a vessel' for the story? I'm not so sure about that but it is hard to explain where the ideas come from sometimes.

Then there were those authors who took drugs to heighten their writing experience. The story goes that Samuel Taylor Coleridge was high when he was writing the poem Kubla Khan and someone came into the room and interrupted him. He lost track of his 'vision' and the poem remains unfinished. The opening lines ...

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree: 
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 
Through caverns measureless to man 
   Down to a sunless sea. 

Two weeks until Christmas, people. Time to break open the egg nog. I'm almost done shopping and will have to start thinking about the food soon. Hard to believe we're coming down to the wire. The party season is upon us ...

Saturday, December 2, 2017

When It All Comes Together

Good morning everyone! Today is the first day of Roar of the Rings, the Olympic curling trials, being held in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre so this is an exciting time. The games will be shown on the sports channel if you can't be here in person. Of course, I have a favourite player and team :-)

Rachel, Emma, Joanne, Lisa and Cheryl

The audio versions of Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills are now available on Audiobooks and I see that you can download one as your free introductory book - they're posted on Amazon. They'll be available through other sites but apparently Audiobooks is the biggest distributor. Michelle St. John reads the books - she's a two-time Gemini award-winning actress!

This was an editing week. I made it through a second review of Turning Secrets and tightened up more of the plot as well as fixed wording issues. I'm still mulling over some of the plot connections and think I need to add a few more details. I have about a month left to work on it so no rush ... yet. I also managed to write chapter two in the Anna Sweet manuscript but set it aside for most of the week while I edited.

I watched a series on Netflix this past week called MindHunters - it tells the story of a couple of FBI agents who start interviewing serial killers in prison and how they used psychology to start figuring out who might become one and what factors led to their creation. Very fascinating, especially seeing the impact of this work on their own lives.

Hard to believe Christmas is about three weeks away! Are you deep into shopping and putting up decorations? I've started but have a ways to go. The magic of the season is how it all comes together. I've given up worrying.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

November Books and Wine Part Two

This past week, I was guest author of the Brittania Book Club. The event took place in a condo party room and included a few other invited book clubs and people from the building - a poster had been put up to let condo residents know about the evening. Led by Eileen Wilson, her team of volunteers set up tables with lighted centerpieces and served wine and cheese plates. About sixty people joined us. Eileen introduced me and led the questioning with lots of terrific questions from the audience. The evening flew by and I had a great time with this friendly, most receptive group of readers. Thank you to Eileen, the volunteers and everyone who came out - I feel truly blessed. Here are a few photos.

 Eileen Wilson makes the introduction
A snippet of the crowd

Also this week, I finished my first edit of the Stonechild manuscript entitled Turning Secrets and set it aside for the week before I go through it again. The urge to complete the second edit right away had to be squelched. Instead, I went Christmas shopping and worked on Christmas cards to keep myself occupied and my fingers away from the computer. I also came up with an idea for the next Anna Sweet book and wrote the first chapter. I was planning to write a short story but the novellas take precedence ... and my next edit of the finished manuscript.

So starting next weekend, the Olympic curling trials will be underway in Ottawa, and Ted and I will be spending many hours watching and cheering on Team Homan as they battle hard to represent Canada in Korea in February. We're extremely proud of the girls and all they've accomplished. They show how far hard work and good hearts can take you. And they're not done amazing us yet ...

 Emma, Lisa, Joanne and Rachel receiving their World Curling banner
With Rachel Homan

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Books and Wine

Tuesday evening this week, I spent a most delightful evening with a local book club. I was treated to supper and conversation at Flipper's seafood restaurant in the Glebe - such an interesting and warm group of people and their club has been going for fourteen years. A few of their members are absent so we drank their share of wine :-) Thank you Estella and gang for inviting me. They read Cold Mourning beforehand and told me that they all  enjoyed the book or they wouldn't have invited me to dinner! They're on the hunt for the rest of the series so I look forward to more feedback.

This Monday, I'm visiting another book club but this one takes place in a condo in the west end of the city with wine and cheese on the menu. The book club has invited people in the building and other friends and I'm told we'll be thirty to forty people. They've been reading Cold Mourning ahead of the evening, so I'll do a short reading and will answer questions about the book, my writing and the series. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.

Well, I'm happy to report that I finished the latest manuscript Monday evening. Since then, I've been editing and am now about half-way through my first review. I'm having to tweak bits and rewrite paragraphs to make all the facts align now that I have the ending written. I must confess that I wasn't certain of every twist and turn until the very end and am rereading with an eye to making sure I've tied up all the details and that all the plot lines make sense.  I'll finish the edits early next week and will set it aside for a few days before going through it a second time. Hopefully, the text will be in good enough shape to submit to Dundurn a month early.

We're getting the first winter warning/snowstorm later today according to the weather reports. This is a good weekend to hang out at home with a fire in the grate and a pot of tea. I'll be doing more editing as well as watching curling on television. My daughter Lisa's team is in the quarterfinals of a bonspiel (to be shown on Sportsnet) at 1:00 EDT if you're also looking for an indoor pastime.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November Morning

The frost is on the pumpkin this morning as our lovely autumn turns wintery. One benefit from the cold weather is that it keeps me stay inside at my desk writing although I lamented yesterday that the days sitting on the back deck are over for the year. I know I'll have cabin fever by January.

So, I'd hoped to have the first draft of my latest manuscript finished by today ... well by last weekend really ... but I'm still writing, now past the 90,000 word mark. The story just keeps going as I work my way to the finish. I'm going to have to cut it down if I go on much longer but my plan is to tie up all the loose ends and then have a look. I've done some editing earlier on but I've been working on this story for almost a year and there will be bits that could use a tidy. 

This week, I'm a guest at a book club on Tuesday - we're going to a local seafood restaurant and will talk about mysteries and writing over plates of shrimp and scallops. The following week, I visit another book club and that one will be a wine and cheese in a condo building with the focus on Cold Mourning. Two lovely evenings meeting mystery readers in relaxed settings. Book clubs are the best!

This time of year, I love rereading poems from my years studying Canadian poetry at university. Here's a snippet from one called "In November" by Archibald Lampman that captures the beauty of this dying season.

The sun shone out a little space
Across the silent sober place,
Over the sand heaps and brown sod,
The mulleins and dead goldenrod,
And passed beyond the thickets gray,
And lit the fallen leaves that lay,
Level and deep within the wood,
A rustling yellow multitude.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Into November

Some good news this week. Pat Campbell, Grass Roots Press publisher, was in touch and asked me to write two more Anna Sweet novellas. She will publish both at the same time in fall 2019 with a campaign to promote the entire series. The eighth book will be the final in the series so I'll have to gear the last two stories to this end point. She mentioned that so many people have told her how much the love these books - music to my ears.

In the meantime, I'm working away on the sixth Stonechild book entitled Turning Secrets and am currently into the climax of the book and a few thousand words away from finishing the first draft. My process seems to be: write a few paragraphs, pause, think, write a few more hundred words, pause, think, go back and rewrite, pause and think. I'm not certain why I'm so hesitant with this ending, but give me one more week and I'll definitely be done. This leaves me a few months to edit and pull all the strands together more tightly. I also would like to make a trip to Kingston to check out a location, oddly enough that does not include a bar :-)

If you had a chance to watch the tv mini-series Alias Grace based on Margaret Atwood's book, what a treat. The acting was superb and the sets were extremely well done. I read the book some time ago and would like to reread it after seeing the series. My recommendation for the week!

A nice bit of publicity in my mailbox on Wednesday. My good friend and neighbour Kathryn Anthonisen sent in a recommendation for my series to a local magazine called "Neighbours of Westboro" and they published her words in their entirety along with a photo of the series. The magazine is free and goes to several west-end Ottawa neighbourhoods so I'm hoping to attract a few new readers. Thank you Kathryn!

Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight my Canadian friends (with the exception of Saskatchewan). An extra hour of sleep is never a bad thing.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Finding Focus

The last Saturday in October and all quiet this week on the writing front. I'm working on the last few thousand pages of my latest manuscript entitled Turning Secrets - the first draft and it will need some revising and tweaking to make all the plot points work.

Authors are often asked what motivates them to keep writing and do they have periods where they have trouble getting down to it. I'd have to say that there are days and sometimes weeks when I'm not settled enough to work on a project. I might be preoccupied with something else going on in my life. I could be unsure about the plot and need to give myself some time to think it through. The weather might be so perfect that I can't make myself stay inside at my desk. A day of this is okay but what happens when the desire to write is gone for an extended period?

Many say to just sit at your desk and force yourself to write. A hundred words, two hundred ... no matter the number, get something down. It might end up being cut, but the idea is to make writing a habit. I try to write every day and aim for between 500 and 1000 words. Sometimes I write less and sometimes more. More and more, I write late mornings into the afternoon. If writing isn't going well, I'll go for a walk or read for a bit.  Call a friend.

It can be frightening to reach the home stretch on a manuscript because this means you have to come up with a new idea for another book and start all over again. What if a good idea doesn't come? What if the elusive muse has been all used up? I imagine this worry is the same for everyone working in the creative arts. I think what is important is to step back and stay in the moment, to enjoy the process and not worry about outcomes. Like all good intentions in life, sometimes easier said than done :-)

So this week, more writing on my agenda and hopefully this time next week, I'll be able to report that the first draft is complete ... or close to complete. The work won't end there, however, as then I'll be into a few rounds of editing the entire manuscript with a January 1st deadline looming.

Time to get this day underway!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Clubs and Deadlines

Some lovely news this week. No Trace has been shortlisted for an Ontario Library Association Golden Oak award. The shortlist is decided by a panel of librarians and it is for writing aimed at adult learners. Now, adult students across the province have a chance to read and vote for the book they like best with an awards event in Toronto in the spring.

I've recovered from Bouchercon last weekend and am back working at my desk. I received a deadline and pub date for the sixth Stonechild book, Turning Secrets - it's due January 1st and the publication date is May 11, 2019. They do plan ahead in this publishing business! I've hit 80,000 words in the first draft and am working to connect all the pieces and land the ending. It's rather like rounding up a bunch of cats that have been following me around, waiting for their turn at the food bowl. They're all converging at once and I've got to exert some control and manage the chaos.

So, next on the agenda in November, I'll be visiting two local book clubs to talk about writing and my series. They will be two very different outings - the first is dinner at a seafood restaurant and the second is a drop in wine and cheese in a condo building. I've visited several book clubs and have enjoyed every one. What better way to spend an evening or afternoon than talking books and crime fiction with people who have the same passion for the written word? If you belong to a book club and would like me to visit, send along an email and we can see about setting something up.

Below are a few pics from last week's travels. Have a good week ahead everyone :-)

 The Dundurn publicity team Michelle, Jaclyn and Kendra
Some of the Dundurn authors - Barbara Fradkin, Dave Butler, Rachel Greenaway and David Paulson. (The fellow on the far left is a book translator and friend of Rachel's.)
Crime Writers of Canada quizz night - co-hosting alongside Toronto author Peter Fritze.
Louise Penny being interviewed by Ann Cleeves Sunday morning - the room was packed!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bouchercon - Wrapping up Days 3 and 4

I'm on the train home from Bouchercon, my first real opportunity to catch up on days three and four. The highlights of yesterday were meeting some readers in the hospitality room first thing in the morning when I hosted a table as part of the Crime Writers of Canada duties. I met an ex-journalist who was looking for a publisher for his first novel, a woman who'd been at a book club that I presented at last year in Ottawa, and a woman from Cleveland who loved all things mystery. My panel was later in the day and Caro Ramsay moderated in excellent fashion - she'd read our books and gave insightful questions and comments and incorporated a lot of humour into the session. The room was quite full and many came up afterwards to say they'd enjoyed it. Just before our panel, I sat in on one with Linwood Barclay, Kathy Reichs and a few other authors whose names escape me now, and the topic was writing standalone as well as series. Very informative from a writer perspective.

Supper last evening was a trek through the tunnels to the Cactus Club with the Ottawa crew - Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken, Robin Harlick and Barbara Fradkin. After we determined that we were the oldest in the club by about thirty years, we settled in for a few hours of delicious food, loud music, and lots of laughter.

This morning, I sat in on the Louise Penny interview with Ann Cleeves asking the questions, and again, a packed room. The hour zipped past and I checked out of the hotel immediately afterwards, met up with a Toronto friend, trundled down Yonge pulling my suitcase and stopped for lunch before arriving at Union Station.

The conference was fun and overall worthwhile. I spent time chatting with many authors and made several new acquaintances. It's a chance to catch up on industry news and share stories about events and marketing. I remembered just how big Bouchercon is (about 1700 attendees) and that they come from all corners of the world, including Australia, Japan, Scandinavia, Greece, Britain, France ... and the list goes on. My favourite moments were when readers came up to me to tell me how much they are enjoying my series. In particular, a man came up to me with all my books at the signing table after the panel - his wife was ill but wanted to make sure he got my signature on each of them and she'd written a lovely note to me. They live in Nova Scotia and she said that her entire bookclub of 22 members has read all my books and the librarian in their town said that my books and one other author's are the most signed out books in their library.

Words to make attending worth the price of admission:-)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Live From Bouchercon - Friday - Day Two

This morning started with a phone call from Robin Harlick to meet for coffee at the coffeeshop downstairs. Turns out there's more than one coffeeshop and we picked different ones. I reverted to my original plan to bring a coffee back to my room, after which I got ready to meet the Dundurn authors in the lobby at 9:15 for a cab ride to the Dundurn office. We were greeted by the Dundurn team including VP Beth Bruder and President Kirk Howard and more coffee and pastries. I met David Butler from B.C. whose first book Full Curl was just released - I gave an endorsement so it was nice to meet him in person. I had good chats with Beth, the three Dundurn publicists and David Paulson (Alberta).

We walked back to the hotel in time for me to do my one-hour stint at the Crime Writers of Canada table, oddly enough, with David Paulson. We kept each other laughing in between chatting with authors who came up to the table. I guess the most famous of these was William Deverell who was the creative force behind CBC's Street Legal. I then met up with my publicist Michelle Melski and Rachel Greenaway (B.C. Dundurn author) for lunch in the hotel and we chatted about all things publicity-related.

So I was in my room for a moment around 3:20, getting ready to go see a panel with Ann Cleeves as one of the panelists, when the fire alarm went off. I went into the hallway and nobody. I walked toward the stairs/elevators when a woman from New York City came into the hall and she suggested that we take the stairs together. She said that she'd grabbed her passport from the safe so that she could get home if this turned into a disaster. Sad to think that people from the U.S., New York in particular, have this underlying fear. We made it to the ground along with several other people who'd taken the stairs as an announcement let us know that the fire was reported in the garage. As it happened, I met Rick Mofina coming out of the hotel and we decided it was safe enough to go back in to the bar where we spent the rest of the afternoon catching up (we worked next to each other at Health Canada for a few years) and talking about the book business. Kind of serendipity really! Oh, and there was no fire in the end:-)

This evening beginning at 6:00, I'm heading to the international reception for authors from other countries across the seas who've made it here. There is a cocktail/dessert party after that that I may or may not attend, but from 9:30 to 11:00, I'm part of a Crime Writers of Canada quizz game with lots of donated books as giveaways. At these conferences, publishers and groups sponsor events as a way to get their authors known. Since this is going to be a late night, I'll post now with more from Bouchercon tomorrow!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Live From Bouchercon - Day One

Well I've made it to Toronto and four days of Bouchercon but we need to back up a few days. Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa Writers Festival. We met at Southminster Church in Old Ottawa South and were greeted by an audience of over 200 people. True confession: I'd never interviewed anyone before and was slightly nervous, but really needed have been. Ann and Barb were great and didn't pass on any of my questions. It truly was a delightful evening.

Barbara Fradkin, Ann Cleeves and me

So, not so bright and early this morning, Barbara Fradkin (pictured above) picked me up and we took the 401 to Toronto, stopping in Cobourg at the Mill Tavern for a late lunch. I actually caught an Uber from somewhere in Toronto as Barb was visiting her daughter first, and made it to the Sheraton around four o'clock.

I checked in and went exploring, meeting several people I know along the way. Mainly Canadian people. I exchanged a few words with Howard Engel in the book room - he is one of Canada's icons in the mystery-writing genre, but didn't feel up to asking for a photo ... yet. After a brief rest, I met up with nine other Canadian authors (all women) and we went for supper in the hotel. Then off to the bar. This is a massive conference with about 1700 attendees. I didn't recognize many of them pouring through the bar, but a lot are Americans and a lot look young.

Tomorrow starts bright and early with a trip to Dundurn publishers for coffee. I'll let you know what I get up to at the end of the day ....

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Autumn Bounty

Happy Thanksgiving weekend all my Canadian friends. Bucking tradition this year, we're barbecuing a ham smothered in orange bourbon sauce and getting together with friends and neighbours for a potluck feast on Sunday. Both daughters are in out of town curling bonspiels and we're fortunate to have such good friends with whom to share the feast.

Ted and I got married Thanksgiving weekend and oddly enough, the two couples across the street share the same weekend. So this will be the third year we all go out for supper to celebrate, making for two special meals. Even the weather is making for a terrific weekend with warm temps and sun tomorrow. The leaves are only beginning to turn. A beautiful season before the snow :-)

So, Tuesday, October 10 is the Scene of the Crime event, part of the Ottawa Writers Fest. I'm excited to be spending the evening in conversation with Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin at Southminster United Church at 15 Aylmer Avenue in Ottawa South. Some friends are coming and it should be an all around great night. I believe you can still order a ticket if you'd like to come too. They're available through the Writers Fest website where you can find the event details. Peter Robb of Artsfile wrote insightful articles on Ann and Barbara that you might enjoy reading ahead of the evening.

A few days after the event, I'm off to Toronto and Bouchercon from Thursday to Sunday. I read that over 1700 people are attending, making this one big conference! I'm hoping to meet up with old friends as well as make new ones. I'll be taking part in the Crime Writers of Canada quizz Friday night and the 'Blue Detectives' panel on Saturday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. I'm also taking a few shifts at the Crime Writers table and refreshment area. If you're at Bouchercon, be sure to say hi! Check back at this site as I'll blog from Bouchercon with updates on the goings-on.

Time to get this morning underway. I have to make my way to the shops to buy final items for the big Thanksgiving dinner. I wish everyone also celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of pie.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gearing Up

Word on the Street in Toronto last week was one of the hottest days of the summer. Steamy. Cooking eggs on the sidewalk hot. Held at the Harbourfront, this was my first time attending and I had a good time chatting with other authors and shared a table with Judy Sheluk and Kathy Prairie, whom I'd met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a few years ago. Ian Shaw who is president of Ottawa Independent Authors and spearheaded Prose in the Park for the last three years dropped by to chat as well and it was great to see him.

 Judy Sheluk, Kathy Prairie and me
With Dundurn publicist Michelle Melski

I met up with my publicist Michelle Melski at the Dundurn tent and we caught up on book news. Michelle let me know that the audio books for both Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills, read by the terrific Michelle St. John will be released November 25th. I'm really looking forward to hearing the final versions. These are the first produced by Dundurn so they were a trial balloon but Michelle says they turned out great even if they took longer than expected.

So just over a week before I have the pleasure of interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. You can order an advance ticket and join us for what is certain to be a most interesting evening. I know that I'm looking forward to it!

Then, off to Toronto again to Bouchercon, the largest mystery conference going and one usually held in the U.S. I've attended twice before in Baltimore and Cleveland with each drawing in about 1,500 fans and authors. I'll be taking part in a few Crime Writer of Canada activities, including the quizz Friday evening. My panel entitled Blue Detectives is Saturday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. with David Mark, Jeffrey Siger, Andrew Case, Brian Thiem and moderated by Caro Ramsay. If you click on the links, you'll see that these include three Americans and two Brits with me holding up the Canadian end. Looks like a not-to-be-missed session!

A busy October ahead. I hope to see you along the way.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Summer in September

Just when you think the cooler weather is here to stay .... bam. Summer arrives in Southern Ontario. We're into the second week of heat and sun but the odd thing is that the light is different than in summer, more shadowed and golden with the sun setting by 7:30. I'm back into wearing tank tops and shorts, which is most peculiar for the end of September.

Two events to talk about this week. I'll be at Word on the Street in Toronto tomorrow (Sunday) at the Crime Writers of Canada table (booth 213) with four other writers from noon until one p.m. I've never been before and look forward to seeing this annual event that I hear draws lots of people. The location is Harbourfront Centre and I'm hoping we're outside but really have no idea. If you're in Toronto, come by and say hello.

My second gig is Tuesday, October 10 in Ottawa when I'll be interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. The event takes place at Southminister Church on Aylmer and Bank in Ottawa South and begins at 7:00 p.m. Perfect Books will be on hand with their latest books so you can buy a copy and have it signed.  I've been working on questions and have way more to ask than time will allow, but that's a good thing :-)

And I'm back on the writing wagon. This last round of editing put me out of sync with my schedule and it took me a few days to get back at it. I've managed a thousand words each of the last couple of days and feel like I've gotten a grasp on the manuscript again.

All good.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Labour of Love

This was another week spent editing Bleeding Darkness - this time, copy edits and hopefully for the last time. At the point that I'm at now with the manuscript, I'm tired of it, have no idea if it's any good, think the suspense has disappeared (as it has because I've read it twelve times), wish I'd written every sentence another way, wonder if I should chuck my computer and take up lawn bowling ... and have been here often enough to know that this feeling is part of the process. I worked all weekend and finally finished recording the last of my edits in a Word doc at nine p.m. Wednesday night.

It's time to pour a big glass of wine.

Editing leaves no time to do laundry.

It's time to set this one free.

My editor contact at Dundurn tells me that the copy editor is also having a go at the text and once they coordinate both our changes into the master document, the process picks up steam. The advance reading copies will be prepared and mailed out and the book will be posted on Net Galley for advance book reviewers. It doesn't actually hit the stores until May 2018, and by then I'll be elbow deep in my next book and have forgotten much of what I laboured over for so long with this one. Maybe, labour is the right word. The same thing happened after having babies. With the passing of time, I forgot how kind of awful yet glorious the experience was.

Men, if you want to experience labour (without the physical pain), write a book. You'll live through the same anxiety, fatigue and sense of creating something bigger than yourself, while wondering how the hell it's ever going to find it's way out of you. You'll worry about how the world will take to your little offering, hoping it amounts to something once it leaves your all-consuming focus and care. You too can experience listening to your spouse without hearing a thing they've said (although I think this happens already) and become as forgetful as ... well, a pregnant woman. Even the entire book-writing process takes about ten months of distracted gestation.

On to the rest of my week ...

I finished reading Ann Cleeves latest Vera Stanhope book entitled The Seagull and Barb Fradkin's latest Amanda Doucette, entitled Trickster's Lullaby, taking breaks from editing now and then because my eyes needed more exercise :-) Now, I'm doing some research, writing questions and getting ready to host both authors on October 10 for an evening of writing chat about their writing process, influences and latest books. Be sure to order a ticket and come out to learn more about two of the finest crime fiction writers in the field today.

A note that I'll be appearing at the Crime Writers of Canada table (booth 213) at Toronto Word on the Street next Sunday, September 24 - it would be great to meet some Toronto readers so stop by if you're out and about.

So, I've got to get back into the latest manuscript that I set aside to edit ... and if you don't think it was confusing to be writing one and editing another, you'd be wrong. I'm trying to remember my train of thought from a week ago when I was confident I had the ending worked out. I'm at about 67,000 words with 20,000 or so left to go. I'm at that point with the plot where I'm girding my loins to jump off the cliff and hoping the parachute opens. (The baby is kicking at my rib cage.)

Yeah, I think I could do with a holiday too :-)

Saturday, September 9, 2017


The first full week of September completed; terrible storms battering the Caribbean and Florida this weekend; frost warnings in Northern Ontario; forest fires raging out West; and cool nights and summery days in Ottawa. This is the turning month.

Some progress this week. I completed my notes on the latest manuscript to date, revising as I went. I've begun working my way into the ending, sort of feeling my way as I go. This one might need more rewriting but at least I'm feeling organized.

I had a few tasks to complete for the upcoming Bleeding Darkness, including writing a cover letter that goes out with the advance reading copies. As you might recall, I completed two complete manuscript edits last month working with my Dundurn editor. Well, the book rebounded in my inbox late yesterday for me to give it a final read - a copy editor is going through the manuscript at the same time. The text is now in final book format and I'm not to do any rewriting, just looking for the dreaded typos and punctuation errors. You might wonder how any can slip past with all this editing, but the mind somehow glosses over them when reading, especially the sixth or seventh time through. I heard that the book industry considers ten errors acceptable, but I have to say that even one error in my books sets my teeth on edge. Happily, these can be corrected in the ebook format but not so easy in printed books until a reprint.

I'm told that the two audio books for Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills are completed and a distributor is being lined up so they should be available soon! I haven't received copies yet and am eager to hear how they turned out. With all the time and care put into them, they should be terrific. especially with Michelle St. John reading the books.

I'm also gearing up to interview Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Fest on the evening of Tuesday, October 10. Tickets are now available so you can preorder and spend the evening getting to know two crime writers at the top of their game. I've received copies of each of their latest books from their publishers and can tell you that they've penned some excellent, suspenseful reads. I know Barbara well since we both live in Ottawa (in fact in the same neighbourhood) and I've met Ann twice - at Left Coast Crime in Monterey where we were on a panel together with Louise Penny and Debra Combrie, and in Phoenix where this photo was taken when we were out for lunch.

And finally this week, reviewer Jim Napier gave Shallow End a thumbs-up review in The Ottawa Review of Books. Jim has been reviewing Canadian crime fiction for some time and recently released his own first novel entitled Legacy that I look forward to reading over the winter.

But for now, one more cup of coffee and back to the editing. I hope this weekend finds you safe and dry wherever you are.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Finding the Zen

This writing week was one of leisure. I caught the Monday morning train to Cobourg (an hour east of Toronto) and met a friend Dawn at St. Anne's Spa, some fifteen minutes from the city in the country. The spa was once a farmhouse that has had several additions and is a popular destination for folks from Toronto. Lots of opportunity to jump into hot baths and pools or take yoga classes (not that I did) when not getting pummeled by a masseuse or eating gourmet food. No televisions and cellphones discouraged - relaxation the name of the game. It was a lovely, luxurious spot with walking trails and gardens.  A chance to recharge.

Back in Ottawa, we spent a few days roaming around the city, including a walk across the interprovincial bridge to Jacques Cartier Park to see the plant sculptures, one of the Canada 150 projects. All I can say is wow. Be sure to go if you get the chance. They are simply amazing. -all made from live plants - the pictures don't do them justice.

So today, I'm back at my desk, getting organized and back into a routine. I'm now officially slated to interview Barbara Fradkin and Ann Cleeves at the Ottawa International Writers Festival on October 10th! So exciting - I've received copies of their latest books and have some great reading ahead as I prepare. I'm also going to be at Word on the Street in Toronto on Sunday, September 24 at the Crime Writers of Canada table from noon to one, and then Bouchercon in early October.

But for today, I'm happy to be back writing my latest manuscript -  still completing a chapter synopsis as I get ready to tackle the ending. This is going to be one busy fall!!