Saturday, May 19, 2018

A Royal Morning ... and Release Day!

So I don't think it a coincidence that Harry and Meghan picked today - the official day of my book's release - as the date of their wedding. One might outshine the other, but both worth raising a glass:-) You too can walk with me down the aisle ... of a local bookstore ... and celebrate this auspicious day. You can even wear a fascinator. No judgement.

The Turning Secrets manuscript boomeranged back to me Thursday afternoon for my second review after Shannon Whibbs incorporated our first round of changes. I have until Wednesday to make my changes. After Shannon has a last look, the manuscript goes to the copy editor for a review of punctuation, spelling and grammar. I'll then have a last look. I also worked on the acknowledgements this week and will submit them with my edits. I'll also look for an appropriate quote or two, usually from poetry, to add to the opening page. The cover is currently being designed and I'm looking forward to seeing what Laura Boyle creates.

I've got one media engagement this Wednesday. I'll be a guest on Rogers Cable 22 and the show The Author's Journey with host Mony Dojeiji at noon. The show is live but rebroadcast twice more at 6 and 11 p.m. the same day so you can see how I make out if you have Rogers. It could be posted and I'll repost here if so.

I got in a bit of writing on my latest manuscript before the editing started up again yesterday. I'm almost one third of the way through this seventh and final Stonechild and Rouleau. I have to tie up the storylines of my main characters as well as plot out the new crime so a bit of a challenge. I'll get back at it next week and should make my monthly word count if I buckle down.

Well, I watched the royal wedding live beginning at 5:45 a.m., not intentionally, but I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep. This could be a two-pot of coffee morning as I get back to the editing. Rain is forecast for the afternoon and then two lovely days of sun and warmth to round out the long weekend. I've managed to get a lot of gardening in this week and hope to finish planting on Sunday. Never enough time in the day to get everything done.

I'm sending a royal wave as I get out of my wedding attire (pale blue housecoat and black slippers) and prepare to eat the royal breakfast - granola and blueberries with a dollop of yogurt. I'm thinking that Pimm's sounds like a good idea and might need to pour a glass for afternoon tea.

Cheerio mates! Have a great weekend.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Bleeding Darkness on the Shelves!

Good Saturday morning. We're heading into a stretch of sunny, warmish spring weather here in the Ottawa Valley so spirits are lifting and gardening will soon be underway. Just in time for Mothers Day :-)

Deep into the editing this week. Shannon Whibbs sent along her edits for Turning Secrets I had until yesterday to go through them, rewrite a few bits and make my edits for Shannon to review. I finished Thursday afternoon and sent it back to her for round two. She wasn't doing a copy edit - i.e. grammar and punctuation but was looking at the plot and timeline. Another editor will be doing the copy edits. Yes, there are a few cooks working on this soup.

Needless to say, the writing was set aside and I started to get it back on track yesterday. It's taking a bit to figure out where I left off and the next steps in the plot. I'll be back at it in earnest next week.

It looks like Bleeding Darkness is making its way to readers. I received a few emails from people to let me know their copies arrive including this Twitter post from Kelly MacNaull. Kelly spearheads the annual Curling for a Cause fundraiser, an event that Ted and I have curled in every year since it started. She does an amazing job and has raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities.

On the publicity front, my publicist Michelle Melski also set up a couple of gigs in Kingston on June 15. I'll be appearing on the CKWS tv morning show and then signing at Novel Idea bookshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. the same day. I also met up with friends Bernie and Darlene on Monday and we paid a visit to the Cross on Elgin pub to meet the owner Danny and talk about the launch set up. Bernie is lead singer in the band Green Floyd, which will be entertaining us the day of. I've ordered some finger food and we figured out where Perfect Books will set up. It's a great, roomy space with a veranda so fingers crossed for a warm June day. You really should be marking it on your calendar!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

More Excitement

Always a happy day - this was the first time I got to see the finished Bleeding Darkness as UPS delivered my author copies earlier this week. A box of bookmarks arrived from Dundurn the next day. The Canadian release date is May 10 so four more sleeps :-)

Oddly enough, the book to follow entitled Turning Secrets came back from my editor Shannon Whibbs two days ago with her edits for me to go through. I've combed through the first hundred pages already and am taking my time as I have until this Friday to get my changes back for round two. I'm also 25000 words into the book after Turning Secrets so you can imagine how confusing this entire process is becoming :-)

My publicist asked me to write a blog post to coincide with the book release and I managed to fit this in. I attempted to answer the question that I often get asked: "Where do you get your ideas for a book?" I'll post the link once it's posted.

More work going on behind the scenes to nail down dates for signings in Toronto and Kingston where I'll also be appearing on the morning television show. I also had coffee with Bernie who is lead singer in the band Green Floyd - they'll be playing at the Ottawa book launch on June 3. We talked about the music and flow of the afternoon. We're both meeting up with the owner of the Cross on Monday to talk about food and set up. I'm going to order some finger foods and will talk about the best spot to have Perfect Books have the books for sale. I'm also pleased that Katherine Hobbs is going to be MC. All seems to be coming together!

So back to editing today and watching the city clear away our neighbour's tree which blew down in the strong winds last night. We heard a big crack and saw an orange flash of light as the giant spruce hit the power lines. I initially thought something had caught fire. All the neighbours poured onto the street to have a look, happy that the tree missed hitting anyone or damaging property. This crazy spring weather continues ....

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Rounding Out April

This has been a good writing week as I round in on 24,000 words. My goal was 20,000 words by the end of April so I'm ahead of the game. Good thing too because I'll be spending next week editing the Turning Secrets manuscript. I got word from Shannon Whibbs my Dundurn editor late yesterday that she was three-quarters done her edits and should have it to me Monday for my review. She said the characters are feeling like old friends as this is the third manuscript in the series that she's worked on.

So the countdown is on for the release of Bleeding Darkness on May 10. That leaves 12 days to go if all goes as planned. The Ottawa launch is June 3 because it's good to allow a few weeks grace in case of printing delays and to give some time for shipping the books from the warehouse. I've heard back from lots of people and there should be a good crowd. These launches are becoming like my annual block party - a chance to see everybody in one place!

Michelle, my publicist, is working on a signing at Sleuth of Bakerstreet in Toronto and a signing in Kingston. I've been invited to be on the Kingston tv morning show in May and we'll finalize the date once we know if a signing date is available. I know the Chapters is moving locations next month and Michelle is checking with the other bookstore. I've not done a signing in Kingston since I started this series so it's high time!

Linda Wiken launched her latest mystery entitled Marinating in Murder at Books on Beechwood this past Sunday and I drove over to buy a copy and help celebrate. We Ottawa mystery writers are so fortunate to have several dedicated readers who come out to all our events, buy our books and spread the word. The authors also encourage and support each other, making this feel like a bit of a family. Here I am with fellow crime fiction writers (l to r) Barb Fradkin, Linda Wiken and Mary Jane Maffini - thanks for the photo Nancy Reid :-)

This week I've been reading the book X by Sue Grafton, which is her second last book in the Kinsey Millhone series. I met Sue at Left Coast Crime in Monterey a few years ago. We were the only two in the hallway - she was on her way to be interviewed and I was heading to another room to be on a panel. She asked me to help her turn the sound off on her phone and we tinkered with it for a bit before giving up. At that time, I only had knowledge of my work Blackberry and had never used her type of phone. Even in that brief encounter, I felt her warmth and enjoyed her sense of humour which comes through in her writing.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fires Burning

Woke up to sunshine this morning and it feels as if spring has arrived. Only five days ago, the ice /snow/hail storm tied up the city and an event I was to attend with Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken and Barbara Fradkin was postponed. Such odd April weather. I have put away my winter boots in a reckless leap of faith ...

The Arthur Ellis shortlist events went on across the country, however, on Wednesday evening. The Ottawa event was at Chapters Rideau and I made my way there with Barbara Fradkin and Alex Brett after we stopped for supper at a bistro across the street. Mary Jane Maffini MC'd with about eight local crime fiction authors speaking about their books and most doing a two-minute reading, myself included. This was the first time I read from the upcoming Bleeding Darkness with the Canadian release now less than three weeks away. Congratulations to all those on the shortlists and especially to Gail Bowen who will receive the Grand Master award for her body of work. So well deserved.

Presenting Bleeding Darkness

With the release of Bleeding Darkness so close, my publicist Michelle Melski has been pulling together a few appearances in addition to ones I've organized. Here's a list of confirmed dates:

Wednesday, May 23 - guest on Rogers Cable 22 - The Author's Journey - live beginning at 1:00 p.m. with repeat shows at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. the same day.

Sunday, June 3 - launch at the Cross, 360 Elgin Street Ottawa, 2:00-4:00 p.m. with special musical guest Green Floyd. Perfect Books will be on hand with books for purchase.

Monday, May 28 - guest speaker in the Topical Talks series at Abbotsford House, Glebe Centre.

Saturday, June 9 - signing at Coles Carlingwood, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

I'll add more to the list as they're finalized and hope we can meet up along the way.

Writing progressed well this week. I reached my target 20,000 words for April and now feel like this is a bonus week coming up. I'm aiming for 10,000 words a month, allowing for editing work next month on the sixth Stonechild manuscript Turning Secrets. The cover is being designed now - I sent in my ideas Monday.

So, lots of little fires burning behind the scenes as this feels like the calm before the storm. I'm excited for you to finally be able to give Bleeding Darkness a read in a few weeks. Booklist highly recommends this one and calls it "a complex and suspenseful mystery". Rather a nice advance endorsement :-)

Good weekend everyone.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Behind the Scenes

It's been a week of lining up the ducks.

As those of you who follow my blog know, Bleeding Darkness is coming out early next month so lots is going on behind the scenes. I've begun sending out the Ottawa launch invitation - takes place Sunday, June 3 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Cross on Elgin. All welcome. I've also lined up a signing with Coles Carlingwood on Saturday, June 9 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The bookmarks are being printed, the book is also at the printers as I type, the champagne is chilling ...

My publicist Michelle has lined up some media around the time of the launch. So far guest on a morning show in Kingston and a radio interview in Ottawa. The details are still in the works but I'll let you know logistics once confirmed. I've also been invited to speak to an organization in the Glebe around the time of the book release and am told there are usually 50-70 in attendance.

In the meantime, work is beginning on the next in the Stonechild series Turning Secrets. My editor Shannon Whibbs has been in touch and she'll have her first edits to me at the end of April. I'll have the first week or so of May to go through her edits and make more of my own. I also received a form yesterday to give my cover input. It's still exciting to see the cover for the first time. I don't imagine this ever gets old.

This upcoming week, I'll be taking part in two events. Monday, Barb Fradkin, Mary Jane Muffin, Linda Wiken and I will make the trek out to Orleans to present our books, mingle and eat supper with an organization of about thirty people so I'm looking forward to an enjoyable time. Wednesday is the Arthur Ellis awards shortlist event at Chapters Rideau from 7-9 p.m. Several Ottawa crime writers will speak about their books - we each have two minutes and another two minutes if we choose to read. I'm thinking I'll read the first page of Bleeding Darkness but I'll wait to see about the pace of the event before deciding. I'm the last author listed so if it's getting late, I'll make my talk even shorter and sweeter :-) All are welcome to this one as well.

The writing on the latest Stonechild manuscript progressed nicely this week as I approach 19000 words. I'm thinking if I keep a pace of a minimum of 10000 words a month, I'll make the January deadline, allowing for time to edit and rewrite before submission. I've convinced myself that I'm on schedule.

The weather has been crap again this week with a winter storm predicted for tonight and tomorrow. I'm starting to look brilliant instead of lazy for not getting the winter tires changed. At least the weather keeps me indoors writing although I wouldn't mind taking my laptop into the backyard with a glass of lemonade, sunglasses and sunscreen. No need to keep hanging around Winter on my account...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Enough Already

We woke up to more snow on the ground today, April 7th when average temperatures should be around ten degrees C. We've had rain, sleet, strong winds and frigid temps this week just to make our lives interesting. Someone said that we're having our 22nd winter ... this year.

Killer Heat, the seventh Anna Sweet novella, is now fait accompli. My editor Pam and I made our final changes and she submitted the final manuscript on Thursday. The cover design was also chosen this week and I'm now tasked with writing the cover blurb. I'm contracted for one final Anna Sweet after this one but it's not due for another year.

I also heard from Dundurn about the Turning Secrets manuscript. I'll be working with the same editor as I had for Bleeding Darkness, Shannon Whibbs, and we get started on the editing this month. This one will be released next year so you can see that we work well in advance of publication - I submitted the manuscript in December last year!

Also this week, I spent a few days reading through short stories for Capital Crime Writers' short story contest as I'm one of three judges. I've whittled the pile down and will read through my top contenders this weekend once again to determine order of finish. After that, I'll compare my list with those of the other judges and the discussion will begin until we reach a consensus. Our short list will be announced the evening of the Arthur Ellis short list event on Wednesday, April 18 from 7-9 p.m. I'll be taking part at Chapters Rideau alongside several of our city's crime fiction writers and all are welcome to join us.

I didn't get much writing done on my latest manuscript and feel unsettled about that. I set a weekly word count for myself that I fell well short of and I have another busy week ahead so not sure how much writing I'll get in. At some point soon, I'm going to have to pick up the pace. This will be the last Stonechild and Rouleau mystery and I'm working to wrap up the storylines for my cops. Maybe I'm dragging my heels because it's hard to say goodbye!

So, that about does it for my writing-week round up. I also curled my last games of the season this past week - I was on three teams - finished first overall in two of the leagues in weekly play. Perhaps the winter weather will now decide to wrap it up too. Time to get the bike out and get into the garden.
Barbecues, long summer evenings on the verandah with the neighbours, walks to our local put to sit on the rooftop patio, dinner outdoors ... can't come soon enough.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Springing In

Good Easter weekend everyone. Spring is in the air (albeit a cool spring) and the cardinals are back. I've already been shopping and beat the crowds at Farm Boy - helps if you're there before 8 a.m. on a Saturday :-) This Sunday, I'm not cooking a big meal as Ted thought it would be good to go to a brunch at a local golf course. What, no shopping, baking, house cleaning, cooking all day, washing a truckload of dirty dishes and cleaning up the house again? Yes, I think I can handle a change in tradition ... although I do like hosting the big family and friend suppers now and then too.

Writing is going well this week. Rounding in at 14000 words on the latest manuscript and getting a pace going most days. This one is taking some research so I'm learning lots about a new area of the country - I'm thinking a road trip would be great but not sure I have the time. I suppose only the locals will know when I've taken liberties with the geography.

Publications that review a book usually send an advance copy of the review to the publisher as a courtesy. One major U.S. publication sent an advance review to Dundurn this week for Bleeding Darkness and it is a very good one. So that lifts the spirits. I can't share it until it is officially released in May. You can enter now, however, for an advance reading copy of Bleeding Darkness if you are on Twitter - simply retweet the Dundurn post that offers the chance to win one of five copies. I'm not sure how long this will be running so best to retweet it soon. You can find it if you search for #StonechildRouleau.

I'm going to start sending out the invitation for the book launch on June 3rd once this weekend ends. The invitations can go out too early and people forget, or too late and they have other plans. I'm never certain if I've got it right, but so far so good with the crowd. This time I'm delighted to have a band playing - Green Floyd will be keeping the event rocking. Should be a great afternoon!

So another week of writing ahead and likely some editing as I expect the final comments for the Anna Sweet novella to pop back into my in box early this week. I'm still liking this one even after all the rereading and tweaking so that's a good sign. Usually, I've lost all perspective and fondness for a book by the time we're done dissecting and polishing.

I wish everyone a lovely weekend with lots of chocolate and time to enjoy a few days off. In honour of spring, I'll close with a poem we used to write in each other's autograph books when we were kids:

Tulips in the garden
Tulips in the park
But the tulips I like best
Are the two lips in the dark.

(I didn't say it was an award-winning poem:-)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Little Catch Up

Spring is officially here and the big melt is on in Ottawa. Time to clean stuff. Get out the barbecue and lawn furniture ... well, maybe in another month. The morning sunshine and later sunsets sure are uplifting though.

Again this week, I worked on the return edits for Killer Heat, the Anna Sweet manuscript. There weren't too many more changes to review, and I have to say, the novella is coming together nicely. We still haven't settled on a cover so that will be the next thing and I'll have to write a cover blurb. You might wonder who writes all the cover blurbs - for my books, I've written every one! I've looked at other covers of mystery and thriller writers whose work I like and tried to use the same technique and style. There's an art to writing an effective one for sure. You have to give some of the plot, but not too much, give a taste of the suspense, and entice the reader to want to read the book. Then the publisher adds a little bio and some recommendation quotes and voila!

I also got in some writing on the latest Stonechild book, now approaching 10,000 words. the characters are taking shape and the crime is in the works - it's taking place over a few chapters. I actually stopped and made chapter notes this time so I feel quite organized :-) Every book is like jumping off a cliff - never sure if the parachute is going to open.

I'm going to have to step back from writing and editing soon to get into the marketing and publicity side of this profession. I've agreed to a few events: April 16, I'll be one of four authors appearing at the meeting of a local group of about thirty members and April 18 is the Arthur Ellis awards shortlist event at Chapters Rideau from 7-9 p.m. And of course, the Ottawa launch of Bleeding Darkness will be Sunday, June 3 from 2-4 p.m. at the Cross on Elgin. All welcome. I still need to send out the invitations and I'm going to see about lining up some Chapters signings as well. My publicist and I have come up with some information for media and I hope to get some interviews. In this regard, my hometown local newspaper phoned this week and interviewed me by telephone.

The book I'm reading this week is American Marriage by Tayari Jones, which is an Oprah bookclub pick. The writing is great and so far (am half-way through) a good read. I've also been watching Offspring on Netflix - an Australian comedy/drama recommended by some friends. In the episode I watched this week, a main character unexpectedly dies - I looked the series up online and apparently, when this episode played in Australia, the country was devastated. So much so, the actual Australian police had to put out a news release reminding people this was a fictional character and to stop phoning in asking for an investigation. Needless to say, the series draws you in, but it's a time investment with seven seasons and about thirteen episodes for each. Until the weather really starts warming up, I've got the time to watch ...

Have a good week, everyone. Not much longer until the tulips are up!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

In the Dregs of Winter

Is it just me or do these weeks seem to be zipping by? It feels as if Saturday mornings - when I write my weekly blog - are arriving more often than they used to :-)

I spent this week working on my latest Stonechild manuscript. As I wrote last week, I was having difficulty settling into this one and thought about chucking the first 5000 words and starting over. I'm now approaching 8000 words and have rewritten the opening chapter. The plot line is starting to shape up, hopefully with enough interesting characters to carry the story. I'm thinking about a field trip for this one as I've moved the setting north although the internet is a great resource for getting the geography right.

I thought that I'd be working on the Anna Sweet manuscript but received word last weekend that my editor Pam had to go out of town on a family matter so her edits are postponed until things are sorted. It's not a bad idea to take breaks from editing anyhow - gives perspective and a fresher set of eyes. I know I'm happy for the break.

Bleeding Darkness received some terrific advance reviews from bloggers this week. Breakaway Reviews in the United Kingdom says: "Bleeding Darkness is one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read..."  and  Joanne Hurley writes: "Recommended for anyone looking for a well-written and well-crafted mystery." My publisher wants me to let you know that the book is available for pre-order from all the book chains and independents so please help spread the word. It is due out early May and apparently advance sales help to make a bestseller with even more profile on the book sites. Kind of chicken and egg scenario ... to get higher profile and more sales, the book first has to sell ...

February was deceptive, making us feel like spring was around the corner. We've been back to snow and cold and depressing winter-like weather. So today I'll stay indoors and will keep working away at the computer. Happily, I got my taxes organized and in to my accountant and have checked that off my to-do list. I still have the office cupboards to clean out but they've been stuffed to the rafters for ten years so no rush. We're still waiting for spring after all.

Finally this week I'd like to send a shout out to Elfrieda Bock, a fellow curler at the Granite. She told me this week that she'd recommended Cold Mourning to her book club and they'd discussed it at this month's meeting. How nice is that?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

All Good Things

This feels like a waiting time. Bleeding Darkness comes out in a few months and it's time to get some publicity lined up. It's also a period of waiting for the first reviews, particularly from media. It's still a bit early to do much promoting of the Ottawa book launch, happening June 3rd although I've been getting enquiries. Here is the invitation - yes, everyone is welcome!

I spent this week going through the edits for Killer Heat, the next Anna Sweet novella. My editor Pam is incredibly thorough and combs the text from an adult literacy - student viewpoint. Not only does the language have to be concrete without too many syllables, but every action has to be logical without some of the inferences that more advanced readers make. Add to this, the fact that this is book seven in a series, but a reader should be able to pick it up and understand everything about the characters without having read any of the other books. No small challenge. So, I returned the manuscript with my revisions to Pam on Thursday and await its return for the next round of edits.

After the editing, I got back to working on my income taxes. Man, I hate paperwork but it always feels good to get it done. Writers can claim expenses for anything writing-related, such as trips to conferences or events not paid for by publishers and membership fees to writing organizations. This means keeping and organizing receipts - not unlike the paperwork required for any small business. Every year, I promise myself I'll stay on top of recording my expenses, but it's always easy to set it aside for that rainy day that never seems to come. I was a bit better this past year, but still had a few days' work left to do. Almost there ...

Which leaves me free to get back to the Stonechild manuscript this weekend. I was almost ready to scrap what I've written so far and start over, but I'm going to give it a bit more rope. It still feels as if the plot isn't nailed down - this one is coming more slowly than any of the others and maybe it's because this is the last book in the series. I've also moved the setting and have to do more research. Anyhow, the key is keeping at it and hoping that things start coming together ... soon.

And back to the waiting. No Trace is shortlisted for the Golden Oak and the winner is announced next month. This year's Arthur Ellis award shortlists will be announced in April and I have a novel (Shallow End) and novella (Missing Her) both in the running. One last big waiting, potentially good thing - the Stonechild books have been optioned for a possible tv series by an L.A. screenwriter and he says he'll be pitching them soon to networks. While I know this is a long shot, still exciting to even consider the possibility.

Not to mention, we're all waiting for spring to arrive. I'm not going to miss that layer of snow and ice on the car every morning or the snow/slush on the roads. Soon, we'll be back in the garden and sitting in the backyard with a cup of tea and a book.

Just a bit more waiting ...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Big Sleepless

So apparently it takes two weeks to get over jet lag when you've travelled a twelve-hour time change. I'm still not sleeping properly but feel less exhausted than even a few days ago when we returned from South Korea. I've managed to get back at my manuscript and am approaching the 5000-word mark. Still, it's been hard to concentrate for long.

I'd written a few scenes before we went to the Olympics that were limiting my plot lines. I gave these first draft chapters a lot of thought while away and made revisions before tackling a new chapter. I feel like I've gotten the train back on track, but I'm still working through the crime details - the who,  how, where and why. Sort of fumbling my way at this point and hoping I have enough fodder for a solid plot.

Yesterday, I received the latest Anna Sweet manuscript with the first edits from my Grass Roots Press editor Pam. She has some suggestions for plot changes that I have to review and decide whether they make the story stronger or not. I'm letting it sit until Monday and see a few dedicated days of work ahead. It's difficult to reengage with a manuscript once I've moved on to a new project, but part of the process. I submitted the sixth Stonechild manuscript in December and have yet to start editing that one. More fun and eye strain to come.

I read an interesting psychological thriller this week entitled The Woman in the Window. It follows in the footsteps of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. A. J. Finn has a wonderful writing style and brings the Hitchcock suspense from Rear Window into a new story with an alcoholic flawed protagonist named Anna Fox. A good read if you're looking for a suspenseful recommendation. Finn's story on his road to becoming published is interesting in its own right.

The first reviews are coming in from blog book reviewers who received an advance copy of Bleeding Darkness through Netgalley and they've been overwhelmingly positive. You can find them on Good Reads, but some give away a bit of the plot so beware :-)

Time for coffee and another day of trying to stay awake past suppertime. Hopefully, next time you hear from me, I'll have managed to sleep past four a.m.

Good week ahead, everyone.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Two Weeks in South Korea!

Writing was on the back burner the last few weeks while we travelled to South Korea for an Olympic adventure. We've been blessed to follow our daughter Lisa's and Team Homan's curling journey these past years capped off by earning the right to represent Canada in the Olympics. The girls didn't come home with a medal but I'm proud of them all the same. They worked hard and sacrificed a lot and now are Olympians!

We stayed in Gangneung, a two and a half hour, high speed train ride from Seoul. The hotel was across the road from a forest of pine trees leading down to the beach and the Sea of Japan. Hills/mountains surrounded the city and a dry rice field backed onto hotel property. There wasn't a speck of snow on the ground although the air turned frigid once the sun went down and it certainly felt cold enough for snow. A cold wind blew periodically during the day but most days were above zero -- we learned to dress in layers.
Gangneung is named Pine City

 Sea of Japan
Sunset over a lake in Gangneung

In contrast to the beauty of the landscape, the city architecture was boxy and not all that attractive. Coffee shops were plentiful - South Koreans take their java very seriously. They also have a sweet tooth. We were warned about sugar in foods  that one would not expect, but I still got fooled. I ordered an onion bagel with garlic and herb cream cheese that tasted as sweet as marshmallow. We had more success with a few Korean meals, including a barbecue at our table, and a few plates of dumplings. I'd never eaten Korean food before and think we'll have to visit a Korean restaurant in Ottawa. Some most interesting flavours and I'm kind of partial to those dumplings. I was also taken by the friendliness of the Korean people. They were always gracious and eager to help and so genuine.

To give you an example, one afternoon, Ted and I took the city bus about half an hour north to the fishing town of Jumunjin. We walked around the seaport and through the market and ended up eating lunch at a restaurant near the waterfront. We ordered the crab, which I watched a man pull out of the tank in front of the restaurant. As we waited for it to be cooked, a tableful of food arrived that we were not expecting. None of the three servers spoke English but they guided us through the meal with a translation ap and a lot of hand gesturing. Whenever one of them saw us looking confused, they rushed over and sorted us out, making sure we dipped in the appropriate sauce. Before we left, they had us pose for photos with them and treated us if we were visiting celebrities.

Above is a photo of Canada House at Olympic Park - we spent a lot of time here with the other parents, friends and athletes. Lisa and the team met us in the family and friends lounge on three or four afternoons after their game. The figure skating and speed skating parents and families also stayed at our hotel. I met Scott Moir's parents and Tessa Virtue's mom and sister and Patrick Chan's mom!

So now we're back in Ottawa after twenty-four hours of travel and my sleep clock is topsy-turvy. I slept twelve straight hours Thursday night but about an hour last night. I'm hoping to last the day before I pass out from exhaustion. I think the writing will have to wait another day ...

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Going Places

Tuesday evening was the Olympic send off for Team Homan at the Ottawa Curling Club. CBC news broadcast live from the club and Mayor Watson and our MP, Minister Catherine McKenna both congratulated the girls and wished them well. Darren McEwan, who handles social media for Team Homan (and Team Koe in South Korea) helped organize the event and was MC. Earlier in the day, Darren and I were on CBC radio's All in a Day to talk about following the team to the Olympics.  Here is the link to the interview. I'm told Team Homan's first game at the Olympics is February 15 for those following along.

Proud parents with Lisa Weagle - off to the Olympics!

Then on Thursday morning, I caught the train to Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference. I attended Tinlids Forestry of Reading breakfast early (for me) Friday morning, which was to celebrate the librarians who took part in organizing and selecting the finalists as well as the shortlisted authors. I chatted with fellow Golden Oak nominee Melodie Campbell, and Orca's Ruth Linka and Margaret Bryant (formally in marketing at Dundurn) and met Meredith Tutching, the chair of the Golden Oak nominating committee and the lead organizer of the Forestry of Reading program.
 Melodie Campbell and Margaret Bryant
Meredith Tutching

At 10:30, I joined Barbara Fradkin and Robin Harlick at the Dundurn booth on the main conference floor to sign copies of our recent books. While the advance literature said I'd be signing advance copies of Bleeding Darkness, I actually signed Shallow End but most of the librarians were new to the series so all good. Two nice interactions: a librarian from Peterborough  told me that my series was so popular, they ordered extra books to keep up with the demand! I also met up with Tamara whose parents both taught me in grade school. Tamara works as a librarian in Marathon, a town sixty miles east of my hometown Terrace Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Her mom told her that I was the star in a grade three play, which believe it or not, I remember. I was the witch in Snow White and that performance marked the peak of my acting career.

 With Tamara
Barb, Robin and moi

The train ride to Toronto was a good opportunity to get some writing in. I'm still getting started on the seventh Stonechild book and am putting in some thinking time. I sense that writing won't start full on until after the Olympics in March. An exciting month ahead! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Catching Up ... and Cleaning Out

Dundurn posted this photo of the Bleeding Darkness advance reading copies (ARCs). So cool to see the manuscript in book form for the first time! R.M. Greenaway's third book entitled Creep in her crime fiction series is being released at the same time so congratulations Rachel. Too bad we are at opposite ends of the country or we could go on a tour together :-)

I'll be handing out copies of the ARC to librarians this coming Friday at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto. The Tinlids breakfast that celebrates librarians and the Golden Oak shortlisted authors is also on my schedule. No Trace, fifth in the Anna Sweet novellas,  is up for the award which will be handed out in the spring. Librarians choose the finalists and adult literacy readers and librarians select the winner.

I've begun writing the seventh Stonechild book and completed the first chapter. I started the second chapter but didn't like it so deleted a day's work. The perspective didn't feel right but I've got an idea that I'll explore this week. Only 94,000 words left to go! As well, my Grass Roots editor Pam was also in touch and we begin editing the latest Anna Sweet in March.

This week, also saw the start of cleaning out my office. I found several scraps of paper with past to-do lists that all had 'clean up office' on them ... ah, the irony. I shredded a full large plastic garbage bag worth of paper with a filing cabinet and stuffed cupboard yet to go. I've also started tackling the kitchen cupboards and am thinking about my storage spaces upstairs. I hate to use the words 'pack rat' but the shoe appears to be fitting. This purge could take a while.

Several women at my curling club let me know this week that they've been reading the Stonechild and Rouleau series so it was great to hear that they're enjoying the books. I went for an appointment last week and the woman on the desk asked me to repeat my name. She said after a pause (without a word of a lie) "Are you the mystery writer?" After I nodded, a bit dumbfounded, she said, "I downloaded your latest book. The synopsis looked so interesting." -  Made my day to realize the books are reaching new readers literally out of the blue. They say that the only way a book becomes a best seller is through word of mouth so the feedback lately has been most encouraging.

The trip to Toronto is on the agenda this week and then I'll be getting my head around the trip to South Korea. Going to the Olympics in South Korea still seems like a dream but the reality of it will be sinking in soon. A busy time ahead.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Keeping On Keeping On

Good Saturday morning.

I didn't start the next writing project this week but instead took some time to clear my head and renew the creative synapses. With all the free time, I wrote a few blog posts for Team Homan's social media project when we're in South Korea.  All of the team's parents have been asked to contribute. I'll post the blog link and you can follow along when we're at the Olympics. The games begin February 9 and I believe Team Homan's first match is February 13.  About three weeks from now!

The seventh installment of the Anna Sweet novellas is entitled Killer Heat and I sent it to the publisher Pat Campbell last weekend. She read it Thursday and sent me feedback that she likes everything about it. I take that as a resounding thumbs up :-) It's now with the editor and we're thinking of cover ideas.

It's always such a relief when a manuscript gets the seal of approval from the publisher. Tim Wynne-Jones was guest speaker at the Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner a few years ago and he presented us with his mock diary about submitting a manuscript to a publisher and the anguish of waiting for feedback. As time passed, his entries went from believing his work to be genius, to not that great, to utter crap as he tried to read meaning into the publishers' silence. Of course, the publisher loved his book in the end.

Writers really are an easily discouraged lot. However, at our cores, those of us who stay in the business for very long develop a stiff resolve as well as a self-effacing sense of humour - much like Tim's. I think we build our resilience at bookstore signings that can be humbling for writers who haven't built up a following. Most writers can tell you about signings where they've sold no books. Linwood Barclay, who has international fame and much well deserved acclaim for his mysteries, tells a story of going to a Chapters in a mall for a signing and no customers were in the store. He was supposed to do a reading but nixed it since he'd have been reading to an empty room. The road to becoming a success is usually a long and rocky one.

One last story. I was at an author event where one of the children's authors had framed a letter from a grade school boy who'd written to tell her that he hated her book and that everyone in his class hated it too. The book went on to win the Governor General's Award. Bad reviews can also build character :-) I'd say good reviews build motivation to keep writing .... so don't ever lose heart my fellow writers. Keep working on your craft and enjoy the journey.

Okay, so enough author-reflection for one morning. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my next Stonechild book and plan to sit down and work on the first chapter this week. It's an odd feeling not having a manuscript on the go, but also exciting to embark on a new project.

Time to get organized and get this day underway ... but first, another cup of coffee.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Better late ...

A late post.

Just home from a few days in Whitby watching our youngest Julia curl in the ladies provincials. Her team won three games but didn't quite make the playoffs. They had some good games, made lots of shots and played with heart. The future for Julia's curling career is bright.

Crazy weather out there Ontario. We went from about minus 30 C to plus 10 in a day. We had steady rain the last few days in Whitby  that turned to snow and ice overnight. The drive home on the 401 was no treat. We saw lots of empty cars in the ditches all along the route and a freshly spun out transport truck heading the other direction. A police car was on the scene. My next trip to Toronto on February 1st to the Ontario Library Association Super Conference will be on the train ... happily!

The writing week: completed the Anna Sweet novella and clocked in at the right word count. The target is 13000 to 14000 words so pacing is key. I set the manuscript aside while we were away and will tighten it up this week. I think it's a pretty good little mystery all in all.

I've also been plotting out my next Stonechild and Rouleau book and am itching to start writing the opening chapter. I'd like to have it written before heading to South Korea in February. For all those who've been wondering, we are going to the Olympics to cheer on Team Homan and our daughter Lisa. This is sure to be the event of a lifetime!

But for the next few weeks, hunkering down at the computer, getting some writing housekeeping done and gearing up for a busy February.

Good warm week ahead, everyone.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Bomb Cyclone?!

Another week of deep freeze in Ottawa and across much of Eastern Canada. We've been at minus 30 to 40 with the wind chill for almost two weeks with the exception of a two-day break. Strange when minus fourteen feels balmy. As well, tornado strength winds and storm surges barrelled up the coast from Florida to Newfoundland the last few days - a bomb cyclone according to meteorologists. The name alone is shiver-inducing. The sight of cold-blooded ginkos lying frozen under palm trees was the oddest sight on television Makes you realize just how bizarre our climate is becoming.

Perhaps to counter all the winter weather, I spent a few days getting the Bleeding Darkness Ottawa launch lined up. So save the date! Sunday, June 3rd from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., we will be celebrating at the Cross on Elgin (360 Elgin to be exact). Perfect Books will be the bookseller at the event and the band Green Floyd will be providing some musical entertainment. The lead singer Bernie is a good friend and I've been to a number of the band's gigs - this is sure to be a fun,  rockin afternoon!

So, I've been working away on my novella and have about 1500 words to go. I was rounding into the climax of the story when my computer malfunctioned yesterday morning. When I go to log on, the screen goes black. Ted and I both tried to get the computer working without success. I now have a call in to my friend's son Nathan who got me set up on this MacBook Air. As you can imagine, I'm eager to get the book finished while I still have the momentum going, and I'm worried that I won't get access to the manuscript. I have most of it on my laptop and most printed except for the last few chapters but really don't want to have to rewrite the last chunk. Really don't want to.

I was up early this morning with my friend Trooper. We went for a walk in the dark but even he found it too cold after a couple of minutes so back inside we came. This is going to be a stay-inside kind of day. A day to drink lots of hot coffee and to hunker down near the gas fireplace. If I can get my computer back online, it will be a good day for writing too.

Wishing everyone a good, warm week. June will be here before we know it :-)