Saturday, August 28, 2010

Wakefest Equals Fun

Well, I'm a bit late this weekend with the blog, and somebody actually noticed! This feels like a weekly tv show, like Glee or House - people actually wait for it. I'm suitably humbled.

I just got back from Wakefield. What a gorgeous day to be in this small Quebec village - we had to postpone the workshop since the kids who were interested were mainly out of town for the weekend, but the readings carried on. There were five of us and a gathering of people outside in front of Solstice bookstore. The owner Roberta is just great - I haven't met any independent bookstore owners I haven't liked!

Phil Jenkins hosted and read from his poetry between authors. It was the first time I met Phil and hopefully not the last - great sense of humour and good writer. I particularly liked his poem about a girl he should have kissed in the parking lot . . . but didn't.

Nadine Dolittle read first. We met a few times before, and it was good to be reacquainted and to hear her read from her upcoming book. Tom Henighan was next, reading from his new adult murder mystery called Night Shade. I actually hitched a ride to Wakefield with Tom and his wife Marilyn and we had enjoyable chats each way. Tom was a prof at Carleton in the English department (now retired) and lives around the corner from us. I marked papers for his one of his mythology classes a number of years ago. There's that small world again.

I was third up and read two passages from In Winter's Grip and told a narcissist joke beforehand. If writing ever fails, I might try my hand at stand up comic. I'll keep working on my act. One joke might not cut it.

I also met the most lovely woman named Glennis, who is a retired volunteer at the Wakefield library - she even bought me Wakefield's fourth annual naked calendar, which has upstanding Wakefield citizens in artistic stages of undress. A great parting gift I'd say. Anyhow, photos of the day posted on my Facebook page (but none from the calendar - you'll have to imagine those).

I've carried on with my writing projects this week and am happy with my Orca story. It was so much fun to write. I also will be blogging for Mystery Maven Canada on Sept. 7th. I'll be sure to post on Facebook and Twitter. I actually stick to one topic :-)

Ted is working hard on the front deck - I'll post a photo tomorrow as I want to give him a chance to finish the day's work. Keep an eye out for the reveal. He still will have the fiddly bits to do, but the progress this week is stunning.

Friday, August 20, 2010

So Many Projects. So Little Time

My seven a.m. walk to the transit station has gotten decidedly cooler this week. It's even dark when I wake up at six. I'm not sure I'm ready for jackets and sweaters, but it's not like there's a choice . . . unless you are my neighbour who dresses only in shorts, a tee-shirt and rubber boots in the dead of winter. Ted and I walked by him one 30 below evening, and he was shovelling his driveway in his shirt and shorts - we were so bundled up, all you could see were our faces peeking out of scarves (that's a bit of exaggeration as I've never actually seen Ted wearing a scarf). Anyhow, my neighbour has been reported on the radio: "Man in tee-shirt seen biking through Westboro during snowstorm." Yes, he's quite a sight to behold.

Anyhow, not sure why my mind went there. It is still hot in the afternoons. I should just cling onto that.

I had great fun writing the book for Orca. I'm done the first draft and have my critiquers giving it a read. So far, feedback has been most encouraging - glowing even (thank you Catharine Brown and waiting on you, Lisa Weagle). I'm also reading through In Winter's Grip one last time before it goes to press. I think I've read it just forty-five thousand times already - there's no more surprising me with the ending.

This is going to be an extremely busy fall. It all starts with Wakefest next Saturday. I'm teaching a three-hour workshop in the morning, then a little break, then readings from one to three. I've been preparing for the workshop and think it should be great fun. Also just got signed up to do a workshop at the library in November as I am going to judge short stories in the Awesome Authors contest again this year.

And the front steps . . . the lattice work is in and the railing is on the back of Ted's truck. Almost there - and we're now wondering if a hammock will fit so Ted can rest after all this exertion. As always, the weekly photo is on my Facebook fan page.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Lull

This has been a fabulous week - weather-wise and writing-wise. The Orca contract arrived today, but I've been working all week on the manuscript. I'm really liking the main character of this story. It's great when the writing is flowing and sitting down at the computer is a pleasure. My next big task is to come up with a title. I'd rather write an entire book than have to come up with a title. Now that's where I get writers' block!

So, the rest of my life has been quiet - lots of thinking about the plotline when I'm not writing. I did hear from Rachel (publicist) and she'd putting posters for In Winter's Grip in all the B.C. Chapters. She's working on building a buzz. I'm also finishing up some preparation for my workshop and reading at Wakefest - only two weeks away. The summer is going way too quickly.

BIG NEWS - the steps are finally on the front deck. Neighbours are coming over and people are stopping by. I'm beginning to think people were getting worried that the project had stalled for good. This little bit of progress has been the talk of the neighbourhood :-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Laying the Groundwork

My big news this week is a contract with Orca Publishers in Vancouver to write a book for their Rapid Reads series. The editor sent e-mails to some mystery authors asking for proposals. I submitted two chapters and a synopsis for a story idea and he liked it! These books are short - about 15,000 words and aimed at adults with literacy issues. It's a relatively new project but one that has been well received so far. I'm really thrilled to be writing one of these books since I taught reading for so many years to kids and adults who were struggling - it was difficult to find books at lower reading levels with appropriate, age-level content. Anyhow, I have to get writing as Orca want this book for the spring 2011 list.

Emma Dolan of RendezVous Crime sent along the final front and back covers of In Winter's Grip for me to see, and they are absolutely fabulous. Our good friend Frank Bowick (who was best man at our wedding some years back) took a photo of a forest in winter that I knew was perfect for the cover, and he agreed I could use it. Emma took the photo and came up with the final concept. It meant a photo shoot in Toronto to get the woman's face that you see super imposed on the woods. The final result has a thriller feel that reflects the suspense inside the covers. I hope you think so too.

Travel news: I'll be heading to Saskatoon in November for work and Rachel has set up a book signing and reading at McNally Robinson for the evening I arrive. I've never set foot in Saskatchewan and am looking forward to the visit. I hear Saskatoon is a pretty city - I'm hopeful it won't be snowed in by early November!

So, my evenings and weekends are busy with writing. In addition to the new manuscript, I'm revising the ending of another and waiting for the final draft of In Winter's Grip from Allister to give it one last going over before it goes to printing. We're getting close . . ..

And on the home renovation front, progress on the front deck stalled this week as Ted fusses with final measurements and prepares to build the steps. A few tenacious door-to-door salesmen have managed to ignore the fact we do not have stairs and climbed up to ring the doorbell. (I wonder if our insurance covers broken legs and sprained ankles if they were to slip or something.) In any event, stay tuned for next week. Ted promises the progress will be rapid from here on in . . . . and who am I to question such optimism?