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

Onward

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!!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

One Step Ahead

This writing week can be summed up in a word: editing.

I received Shannon's edits for the Bleeding Darkness manuscript to look over on Tuesday end of day with a deadline of Thursday afternoon. Friday morning at the latest with the manuscript due to Dundurn by end of day Friday. I knew that the earlier I got my review done, the more time Shannon would have to go over my suggestions and one last read through. I was rolling along pretty well but Thursday morning, I found a time problem with one of the chapters, which meant moving a chunk of writing to a later chapter, renumbering chapters and rewriting various sections to match up.

Arggg.



I worked from early morning through lunch and got the manuscript back to Shannon early afternoon, allowing her extra time since I'd made a major change to the draft. I didn't get any emails from her on Friday so I think made the final deadline. Then I went for an hour walk to clear my head :-)

Now, I'm back going through my latest manuscript, book six in the series, making notes and rewriting little pieces of the story to make it align before I tackle the last 20,000 words. Another couple of months, I think, to finish this one up.

I've been approached to moderate an author chat at the Ottawa International Writers Festival in Ottawa on October 10. I'm not sure that the two guest authors have been announced yet so I won't say who they are, but keep your eyes open. This should be a great evening. I've begun preparing already and will be putting in more time over the upcoming weeks. Very exciting fall ahead!

It's beginning to feel a bit like autumn these days, especially as the sun goes down. Good sleeping weather they say. My daughter Lisa is curling tonight in Fredericton in a new format bonspiel called the Everest Challenge and you can find the game on TSN beginning at 6:30 EST. My other daughter Julia begins her competitive curling season this Friday in Oakville and I'll follow her games online. Where oh where did the summer go? I'll be on two club teams this year and a third after Christmas to replace someone going south. You can guess what we talk about around the Sunday dinner table.

But it's a sunny and warm morning and I'll put thoughts of winter out of my head. Today will be a good day to work in the garden and sit outside to read a book (when I'm not watching curling).  These are the kind of days that you have to store up like a squirrel stores nuts for the long dark days ahead. (I know, can I get any cheerier?)

Enjoy the last Saturday in August everyone :-)


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Pedal to the Metal

A busy week. I completed my edit of my editor's edits late Monday and returned the document to her. Now, she gives it another going over before sending it back to me like a hot potato. I'll spend another couple of intense days rereading, addressing comments and making final tweaks. All of this needs to be finished by August 25. You can understand why I'm losing perspective on whether the story is any good or not. There comes a point of saturation. But I still believe this is a good one and can't wait for you to read it.



My second task this week was (believe it or not) to write a cover blurb for book six, not due out until 2019! This is the manuscript that I'm currently drafting on the first go through. I also had to come up with a title, which took me a couple of days. Titles are hard. Especially my titles for this series since they all have to be two words. The working title that I was using has also recently been used by Rick Mofina and Denise Mina in slightly different forms so I knew I had to come up with something else ... and I did :-) The title of book six in the Stonechild series is: Turning Secrets. I think it works!

And the last thing I've been turning my hand to this week is making chapter notes for the manuscript as I've gotten to the point where I'm unclear what happened to whom and in what order. I'm not the most organized writer and had been promising myself that I'd do this one day. It is a painstaking process but I know I'm going to be happy that I've put in the time. I worked two days already and am only a third of the way through. Once I get myself sorted, I'll write the ending to this book as I have about 25,000 words to go.

I had a lovely surprise this week in my mailbox. A man named Tim Power who went to the same high school as I did, and who lives in B.C., made me a pen from the wood of a lilac tree growing in his yard. He'd read the first three books in the Stonechild series and thought I might like one of his fine pens. He sent the pen to my publisher who forwarded it to me. Such a thoughtful gift that I'll use at signings. You can see the pen on my desk below the box Tim made out of a beer carton, which my neighbour tells me is a popular brand out west. So cool.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Summer Respite and Lots of Wine

So Ted and I are on a road trip. And what should we come across on our travels in Brockville, but this mother of a ...




The big duck was grounded yesterday but apparently to be in the St. Lawrence by today. All the hotels in Brockville were booked for the weekend. Kind of bizarre. Not something I'd organize my holiday around but some people must be. We can be a strange lot.

I finally received the editor's edits for the Bleeding Darkness manuscript Tuesday late in the day. I spent that evening and all day Wednesday and Thursday going through the manuscript and addressing her comments. Some of this involved rewriting a sentence or adding a line or two. Nothing major although she's asked me to consider adding two scenes, which I'm leaving until the end. I have to have this done on Monday so I'll be at it when we return to Ottawa tomorrow.

We're in Prince Edward County now at Huff Estates and just completed the first wine-tasting of the day with a tour starting shortly - a driver will be taking us to five wineries, and while the weather report says it's raining in Ottawa, we're having a lovely sunny day here. I'm thinking the gods are smiling on us :-)

Last night, we went into Picton and had a very tasty meal at Clara's restaurant in this old inn. We sat on the covered verandah while a few bouts of rain moved through. The storm settled in over night with heavy rain, thunder and lightning rumbling overhead all hours, but sun this morning. All this to say, no writing or editing for me today - viva des vacances!

 Clara's restaurant is upstairs looking out over the back garden.
Down the hill from Clara's with night settling in

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Excitement in July

A very good week that was.

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail posted a review of Shallow End on their site and it was terrific! Margaret Canon is the best known Canadian crime fiction reviewer with a wide reach. Also pleased to see my new crime-writing buddy Rachel Greenaway got a great review as well - might call for another celebratory drink next time we get together :-)

The Chapters Rideau book-signing last Saturday went very well. My favourite moment was when a mother bought Running Scared (first in my YA series) for her daughter. About half an hour later, they were back to buy the rest of the series. The Mom said that her daughter was a reluctant reader but she started reading the book in the store and refused to leave until she found out what happened in a particular chapter. They were heading off in search of a reading spot after they bought the books. Also, thank you to Joey Taylor and Derek Nighbor for coming by to say hello and to purchase a copy of Shallow End. I've been delighted to have friends come out to almost every book store signing this year because of social media postings, some coming great distances. Thank you to everyone for your support.


Also thank you to Gayle Jabour who sent these photos from the North Kawartha Library. How great is this!


The editing for Bleeding Darkness was delayed a few days and I'll be getting the Dundurn editor's changes to go through on Monday. She was a third of the way through the manuscript mid-week and said it was in good shape so hopefully my review won't take too long. She was enjoying the story so first comments are good. Until then, I'm plugging away on my latest manuscript, now into the last third.

We're into the August long weekend and hard to believe the summer will soon be morphing into autumn. I received the names of the other authors on my police procedural panel at Bouchercon in October and looks like  a most interesting group that includes, two Scots, three Americans, one of whom lives in Greece, and one Canadian (me).  October isn't that far off!

But for now, still lots of long summer days to enjoy....

Last week, Ottawa was host to a giant mechanical spider and dragon. I came upon the dragon in the Byward Market after my Saturday signing. Mighty impressive!





Saturday, July 29, 2017

Chapters Rideau Signing Today!

A good-looking Saturday morning underway. I'll be signing the Stonechild and Rouleau series today at Chapters Rideau from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. You can come downtown to see the giant spider and dragon and pop in to say hello! This will be my last book signing of the summer.

There's lots to see downtown - I was there for lunch yesterday at the NAC patio overlooking the canal, then a wander up to Parliament Hill. Today, I'll check out the Byward Market on a search for the big machines after my signing and might hang around to see the Northern Lights light show on the Hill.


The one bad thing about the lovely summer weather we had this week is that I've been spending less time in front of the computer. Instead, I've been visiting with friends and neighbours and enjoying being outside. I did manage to complete the main idea paragraphs although I have to spend a bit of time going through the last few to tweak wording and make certain they hit the grade 4/5 grade level.

We're getting ready to edit Bleeding Darkness and I was asked to write a synopsis for marketing earlier this week. I continue to plug away at book six, now two thirds of the way through the first draft. I'm at the point where the characters are ramping up the action and all their secret, nefarious activity is coming into the light.

Thank you to those who've emailed me about the books. I always enjoy hearing from you. A few readers have suggested we line up a bus and take a Kingston bar hop of the pubs in my books. Maybe, I should apply for a grant ....

So, one more cup of coffee, a bit of writing at my computer and then I'll catch the bus downtown to Chapters. Should be another fine day.

Raining sparkles in the National Arts Centre

Saturday, July 22, 2017

July News

A glorious day today! Not only is it promising to be sunny and hot, but my good friend Katherine Hobbs is getting married this afternoon :-) Congratulations Kath and Ric!!



And on the book circuit, next Saturday, July 29, I will be at Chapters Rideau from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. as part of the store's 150th Canada birthday celebration of Ottawa authors. Come by if you get the chance and say hello. This will be my last store signing of the summer.

The Kitchissippi Times latest edition is out with various residents giving their summer reading picks ... including mine! They also gave a bit of my writing bio, which is great for getting the word about about my work.

One last bit of writing news. I've been assigned a panel at Bouchercon in Toronto. The date is Saturday, October 14 and the time slot is 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. The topic is "Blue Detectives" or police procedurals. The other panel authors haven't been shared yet but I know there are some fine authors writing in this genre so I'm excited to see who else will be sharing the stage. If you go to the link and click on attendees, you'll see how big this conference is. There's still time to sign up, but the main hotel is likely full.

I've been spending my mornings this week researching and writing the main idea paragraphs for the adult literacy workbooks. In addition to Ernest Shackelton, the topics were Helen Kalvak (prolific Inuit graphic artist who began painting in her early 60s), Florence Nightingale, and Harvey Milk. Milk was the first openly gay politician elected in San Francisco in 1977. After eleven months in office, he and the mayor were both shot and killed by a city supervisor who'd resigned and then tried unsuccessfully to get his job back. Some interesting footage on Youtube.

Work on my latest manuscript is coming along too. I've been writing in the afternoons, enjoying the great weather this week by taking my laptop outside. Summer feels like it has finally arrived!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Raining and Writing

So, surprise ... we had more rain this week. More rain, every day ... in a row.

I am thankful for one thing, however. This record, never-ending rain is not snow. We'd have broken our snowblowers and thrown out our backs by now.

The writing is coming along. I think I've worked out most of the last third of the book (which I've yet to write) and some of the dangling story lines appear to be coming together. I know I'm not the only author who wonders if the magic will happen and the chaos will become coherent. I'm almost at 54,000 words now and the action is beginning to pick up. I'm mulling over killing off two characters and not sure if both, one or none will survive. Pretty sure about one's fate but not the other. Hard to bump a character off when you've grown fond of them ... but needs must.

Wa ha ha ....


Tuesday morning, Judith Van Berkom from Kitchissippi Times stopped by to interview me about my summer read picks. We took cups of tea into the backyard and discussed books, and after the interview, flowers and gardening. The article will be in the August issue so those in the neighborhood will soon know my choices :-)


I received an email yesterday from a Dundurn editor letting me know that we'll be editing Bleeding Darkness the first two weeks of August. The editor will be going through the manuscript first and sending their proposed changes to me. I'm not sure who the editor will be on this book. My writing will pretty much go on hold once the editing starts so I'll try to pick up my pace now. I submitted the health unit main idea paragraphs for the adult literacy workbooks to Grass Roots Press last week and am starting the last unit on people. First up is Sir Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic explorer who led quite the exciting life. I've done the research and will now get writing. There are six paragraphs left to complete.

Back to the Canadian preoccupation - the weather - after a night of steady rain, the sun is trying to break through the cloud cover and a rainless day is predicted. Looks like a busy day ahead with some writing and reading in my plans but also some time outside. It would be a crime not to enjoy the pockets of good weather when we get them.





Saturday, July 8, 2017

For the Love of Books

At last, a string of hot, sunny days to make this feel like summer. I've been taking my laptop into the back garden with a cup of tea and writing through the afternoons. This being a full-time writer is a bit of all right.

I took the bus downtown on Wednesday morning and after a bit of shopping, walked down Elgin Street to Perfect Books, one of our few remaining independent bookshops. Jim, the owner, and Michael, the store manager, were both working but both had time for a chat. Apparently, they'd sold a copy of Cold Mourning ten minutes before I arrived! I topped up my Ann Cleeves collection for some summer reading before making my way back up Elgin to catch a bus home. Perfect Books has a fabulous selection of mystery books (in addition to every other genre) and very knowledgeable staff - well worth a visit if you're looking for summer reading suggestions. A friend sent me this photo on a visit to the store last year :-)


Cortez ringing up a sale at a signing last year! 

I was approached through email last week by a reviewer named Dimple, a young woman who lives in India. She had posted a review of Tumbled Graves asked if I would write a blog post and answer some questions to post on her site to follow up. I submitted both and you can read the blog post which is about writing believable characters. The interview will be posted soon. Dimple also posted a video on Youtube about her love for books that shows off her wonderful creativity. I'm so pleased to have contributed to her site!

I was also approached this week by Judith, a reporter from our local paper Kitchissippi Times to share my summer reading picks, and she'll be coming by Tuesday morning. Should be fun. Judith interviewed me a few years ago for an article, which made the front page. Here it is again for old times sake :-)

July is a month to slow down and enjoy the gardens and long, lazy days. I've been biking a lot and exploring the bike paths and pedaling to the shops to pick up supper most mornings. Waking with the birds and morning sun streaming in through the windows. Reading on the back deck late afternoon with a glass of wine. Watching the Blue Jays on tv in the evening.

Life is sort of like a .....


Happy week, everyone!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy 150th Canada!!

Happy 150th Canada!


I remember 1967. I was living in Terrace Bay so a bit out of the hub of the action, but the Confederation train came through. There was also a reenactment of the fur traders with Courier du bois paddling canoes onto the beach and setting up camp near the school. We had fireworks at the beach too - beautiful sparkles of colour against the backdrop of darkness over Lake Superior.

So, this year, I'm living in Ottawa, which is throwing one gigantic party on Parliament Hill. I'll watch some of it from the comfort of my living room at noon, but I'm also preparing for a BBQ with some friends and hoping the sun comes out this afternoon. Thinking back, Ted and I have seen in many new years and Canada days with these good  buddies :-)  I even went berry-picking yesterday morning in the mist to make strawberry shortcake - an annual tradition. I usually go with my daughter Lisa, but this year, we couldn't get the timing right between the rainstorms. I know she was with me in spirit as I slogged through the mud! We're also going to a pub at the edge of the downtown early in the afternoon to watch a friend's band play to get the party started.


A blast from the past - 2011

Writing slowed a bit this week although sometime in the middle of the night a few nights ago, I woke up with an idea to move the plot forward. Eureka! I've been struggling with what to do plot wise with  one of the pivotal situations and now have a plan. I also continue to plug away on the main idea paragraphs and am nearly done the health unit. (I now know more than I ever wanted to about cholera and bed bugs.) (Been scratchy and nauseous all week ....) Finally this week, I've been sent questions and asked to write a blog post for a reviewer and I've spent some time working on my responses.

But for today, another cup of coffee and then in the kitchen to bake a cake. It's been raining almost steadily in Ottawa the last few days with thunder storms periodically rumbling across the valley. Still, I don't think the weather can dampen the enthusiasm and celebrations going on here and across the country. We're blessed to live in a land with so much space and freedom and plain old-fashioned friendliness. Milestones such as today unite us and let us know how far we've come and how far we need to go to make Canada fair and equal for all. But for now, we raise a glass to the nation-building that has gone before and make wishes for the future.

A day to wave the flag proudly.