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 :-)