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.