Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old Dogs and New Tricks

Technology is a wonderful thing. Twelve years ago when I began my first job in the government as a writer/editor, I had to ask how to turn on the computer. Who knew that one day I would be blogging, twittering, facebooking, Blackberrying and uploading? Yesterday at work, my coworker Katherine Brown showed me how to post pictures within the text of my blog. To the left and above is a photo that was taken at the Capital Crime Writers pub night in the spring and the big one above that (I can adjust size :-) is in Toronto at Bloody Words mystery conference this past spring. This is genius. Now, if only I could learn to work the remote and reset digital clocks, my world would be complete.

This week, I completed a detailed questionnaire for Orca publishers. I also confirmed a signing at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon on November 4th, a signing at Chapters in Oakville on October 26th with Mary Jane Maffini , a reading at Canadian Authors Association meeting at the Ottawa Public Library on October 12th, and the bookseller Books on Beechwood for the November 16th launch with Barb Fradkin. It's going to be a busy season. I also have to get working on completing the manscript for Napoleon due out next fall. Oh yes - curling starts this week with an opening bonspiel.

I think this calls for a list.

We were out to dinner last night with our good friends Ann and Ken at Petit Bill's restaurant on Wellington Street, just outside Westboro village. What a great little spot - I had crab cakes and shrimp and scallop on angel hair pasta topped off with the bread pudding. A place to try if you ever are in Ottawa. (I could come with you, if necessary.) We then dropped down to Whispers to see our daughter Julia.

I love watching my daughters, waitressing, curling, it doesn't matter - just seeing them makes my heart full and proud. This is a mother moment.

It's time to make another cup of coffee and get the day gently underway. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend and refueling for the week ahead.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

September Saturday Morning

Another weekend. "Fall is in the air," I said to Ted last night as we left Whispers pub. Every Friday night for the entire summer, we've made Friday night date night. We've taken to capping off the evening by dropping in on Whispers to have a chat with our daughter Julia, who waitresses there.

"Just what I was saying this afternoon," replied Ted. "Summer is pretty much over."

The circle of the seasons.
Great minds that think alike :-)

I love autumn. Planning Thanksgiving dinner for our family and friends - fresh turkey and homemade apple and pumpkin pies - pulling out the warmer clothes, beginning the curling season, watching season openers on tv, stretching out with a good book next to the fireplace . . . All satisfying. All good.

This fall is going to be particularly busy. Mary Jane Maffini and I are planning our trip to Muncie at the end of October with visits to a bookstore and library for readings along the way. I'm still waiting for the final word on when In Winter's Grip will be released, but it went to the printer's a few weeks ago and the target is the beginning of October. I'm also planning a joint book launch with Barbara Fradkin on November 16th. We were thrown a bit with word of the closing of Shirley Leishman bookstore, but we have time to line up a new bookseller.

Such a loss to have Leishman's close. I remember speaking with co-owner Diane Walker about my first manuscript, Running Scared, before I'd sent it off to any publishers. I briefly told her the premise and asked her if she knew of any publishers I should approach. At the end of our chat, Diane said, "I'd love to do your launch when you find a publisher." Since then, Diane has been the seller at all four launches and hosted signings in their store. She's become a friend. I mourn the loss of her store because I know that Diane and Sally are passionate about books and the community and the business they have built over so many years. Along with the closing of Prime Crime earlier this year, they will be sadly missed.

I received the final contract from Orca for my Rapid Reads book . I've sent in the manuscript and am awaiting feedback. I've got to say though, I'm happy with the story. A little murder mystery, colourful characters, humour and pathos - all in under 20,000 words.

So, this morning, Ted has ripped apart the roof to replace the skylight above the back entranceway. It's been leaking like a Swiss cheese all summer and driving him to distraction. Neighbours are already stepping outside to have a look. Along with the truck outside my office window, pumping insulation into my neighbour's newly renovated house and the sewer work going on down the street, it promises to be a lively and noisy Saturday.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book 'em Dano

Fall activities are revving up. I attended the first Capital Crime Writers meeting of the season where we learned about homicide investigations from Sgt. Tony Gagnon from Ottawa Major Crimes Unit. A few things I didn't know:

The police can't bring you down to the station for questioning unless they arrest you for investigative purposes (usually at the point where you become a suspect). They need to convince you to go to the station otherwise, and people sometimes refuse to go. Boy, I wouldn't have ever thought to say no if I was asked by the police to 'go downtown'. I'd be saying, "How fast do you need me there?"

The RCMP do not investigate homicides in Ontario although they do in other provinces. If somebody was murdered at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, they'd have the Major Crimes Unit in to investigate. Of course, Major Crimes don't ride around on horses - hard to be an expert in everything.

Sgt. Gagnon also told us that a spin guy is someone working surveillance while the slab is what they call Highway 417. Little bits of trivia that can make a mystery authentic.

I guest blogged Monday, Sept. 6th on Mystery Maven Canada, which is the brainchild of Linda Wiken, previous owner of Prime Crime bookstore. In addition to blogging, Linda will also be posting book reviews and she'll continue with guests, including authors, librarians and others in the book industry. It's a site worth checking out:

I"ve also figured out how to post photos on this blog, so there'll be more visual interest from here on in. Sad to say though that Ted has pretty much wrapped up the deck project. We'll have to wait to see what he tackles next.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Last Days of Summer

The Labour Day long weekend. Kids are getting ready to return to school, and the weather has turned from hot and stifling to cool and breezy. This always feels like the beginning of a new chapter - like one should sign up for courses and programs and get serious about doing something constructive. It also felt like a good morning to sleep in, so I went with that.

I've been reworking the ending of After Annie and will be giving the manuscript a new title. My Napoleon publisher tells me it is slated for release next fall, giving me lots of time to rejig. It's a YA book, but for older teens and set in the seventies. When I told my daughter about the setting, she asked what I knew about the seventies. I replied, "I lived through them." She said, " I forget how old your are." I'm thinking that's a compliment.

It's been a behind-the-scenes kind of week. Chris Forrest is trying to organize a launch of our new books in Toronto this November, but coming up with a date has proven to be difficult. Lots of to-ing and fro-ing with no resolution. I'm also in contact with Barbara Fradkin about our November 16th launch in Ottawa and we're meeting for supper next week to sort out details. The business of writing.

I met with Mike Levin, publisher of Unfolding online magazine, for coffee earlier this week. He wanted to talk about In Winter's Grip as he plans to put out a review closer to the date of release (end of September/beginning of October). Anyhow, it took me a bit to realize he was interviewing me and taking notes about the Orca book project. Another clue was when he pulled out his camera and had me sit on some steps to get a head shot. You can find the article on his blog (

The deck railing and caps for the posts are installed. My weekly updates will be trailing away but rest assured. Ted has new projects on his radar. Wait until you see what he has planned for the back yard.