Saturday, March 26, 2011

Off to the Polls

The Second Wife hit the shelves this week. I received my copies in the mail on Wednesday and find it a fine little read. I've been invited to blog about the Rapid Reads series and have done so in a few places, including the Crime Writers of Canada and thriller writer Julia Madeleine blogs. There will be another piece out on Tuesday on Mystery Maven Canada blogspot that you can check out on the day. (

Next week promises to be busy. I will be presenting the English short story awards for the Ottawa Public Library's (OPL) Awesome Authors contest at Ben Franklin Place on Tuesday evening. I'm also going to a photo shoot later in the week with photographer Christine Tripp because I've been asked for a new cover photo for the next YA book, Second Chances. I'm told that the release for this book has moved to the spring because of the Dundurn merger.

Chris Forrest and I will be working next week with Michael Murphy of the OPL to publicize an April 12th evening hosted by Tim Wynne-Jones at the main branch on Metcalfe beginning at 7:00 p.m. We'll do a few readings and then sit down to chat with Tim, who'll be playing the role of interviewer. It should be great fun and all are welcome. The price is right. Free.

So today, the federal election offficially begins. I don't know about you, but I'm finding Canadian politics more and more interesting. Watching what is said and what is not said can make the truth tough to decipher at times. I'm not a fan of smear tactics and negative campaigns. I wish the politicians would stick to their own policies and vision for Canada and not try to confuse us with red herrings and spin. Maybe I'm dreaming. Maybe the public is hooked on controversy and image. I think the politicians should not underestimate the voting public though. On our part, the voting public has to get out and vote - people in some countries are dying for this right that we take for granted.

I know that news spreads fast in this day and age, but here's a story about how fast. Our fridge has been in death throes for a few weeks now, so we had a new one delivered this morning around 10:30. Almost immediately afterwards, I received a note on Facebook from a neighbour some streets over, commenting on the fact we had a new fridge.

I think I'll be closing the curtains next time I change my clothes.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Big Melt

There's something about seeing the curbs again and hearing the melting snow rush into the sewers that lets you know winter is all but over. The tulips are pushing up through the earth next to the back door and birds are checking out the birdhouses in front of my office window. The light is different now, more golden. The sun is warm out of the wind.

When the seasons change, it feels like a time of renewal: a time to make new plans and to start new projects. It's a time to plan trips. Ted and I are looking into a canoe get away in upstate Vermont. A few days away from the city could be just the ticket. I'm also heading out to Bloody Words in Victoria at the beginning of June with Darlene and Katherine. We're planning a few days in Vancouver en route - I've only been as far west as Jasper, so this will be a real adventure.

I haven't gotten much writing in this past while. I've felt the need for a break as I reassess the manuscript I started last year. I'm ready to tackle it again. In the meantime, I've been writing for a few guest blogs and organizing a few events. Barbara Fradkin, Jeff Ross and I will be launching our three Orca books at the Clocktower Brew Pub on Bank Street from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 15th. Books on Beechwood will be the bookseller. It promises to be a relaxed get-together and I hope lots of you can drop by.

Even sooner, Chris Forrest and I will be appearing at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library on Tuesday, April 12th at 7:00 to read from our work and be interviewed by a special guest . . . should be a fun evening. More details to follow.

I went to the Capital Crime Writers meeting on Wednesday night. The guest speaker works in the area of financial intelligence - analyzing suspicious money transactions and pinpointing money laundering schemes. His organization works closely with the police and RCMP with unspecified offices in major Canadian cities. Can you imagine having so much ill-gotten money that you don't know how to spend it without drawing attention to yourself? What propels someone start working a scheme to bilk millions out of the system? While not a good thing to do in real life, money laundering makes for good fiction fodder. It has me wondering about human nature and moral fibre - is everyone susceptible, given the opportunity? What if you knew that you would never get caught? Hmmm.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring Morning

I'm restless.

It might have something to do with the spring rain that's been turning the streets to icy slush and puddles, making walking unpleasant and this side of treacherous. I'd like to walk to Westboro Village without coat and boots and sit outside on a patio for lunch in the sunshine, but this is not to be . . . yet. I told Ted this morning that I am itching to get back into the garden. We talked about his outdoor construction plans for the spring - yes, there will be photos :-) A gable end to be resided, new front door and windows, a deck in the backyard and new section of fence - I'm dizzy just thinking about it.

On Wednesday, I finished judging all the Awesome Author entries, all 150 of them. It was a tough choice this year. I wisely made notes as I went and am all set to present the awards at Ben Franklin Place on March 29th. It's a fun evening put on by the Ottawa Public Library with lots of excited kids and their families in attendance.

Libraries really are marvellous institutions. I remember going weekly to our little library in Terrace Bay, starting from at about five years old, and picking picture books to bring home. That moved into novels, and my favourite Bobbsey Twins (remember Bert, Nan, Freddie and Flossie?), Enid Blyton books (The Famous Five, The Secret Seven), The Happy Hallidays . . . there was and still is nothing better than curling up with a good book and getting lost in a story. Usually, now, I have two books on the go - one at home and one at work that I read during my lunch hour. Right now, I'm reading a Denise Mina mystery called Still Midnight and Tim Wynne-Jones latest YA novel, Blink & Caution. I'm taken a break from my recent Michael Connelly addiction although I'm on the lookout for his latest.

On a more sombre note, I know that you, as am I, are also following the devastating earthquake and tsnami in Japan and the horrific aftermath. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have perished and those struggling to survive. It is hard to carry on as normal knowing there is such anguish in the world. Sometimes, the master plan is difficult to understand.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Settling In

We're back home after 10 days on the Charlottetown trip to watch our daughter Lisa curl in the Scotties. It was an exciting week, especially since team Homan made the playoffs and finished fourth overall. They did us proud. Between games, we toured around the city and ate as much seafood as humanly possible. By my fourth meal of fried clams, however, I thought I might have overdone it. I wisely switched to scallops and mussels for the remainder of our stay. The people in Charlottetown couldn't be friendlier. I popped into the Bookmark while there and introduced myself to the manager - a great little independent downtown shop if you are ever on the island.

I was beginning to miss being away from my keyboard. I'm restarting an old manuscript and will settle into that this weekend in addition to finish reading all the entries in the Awesome Author contest. I've been plugging away at the entries and have a handful left to read for the first time through. Then, I'll reread the finalists for order of finish. Luckily, it's a rainy day and I'm content to be inside.

The Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal ran a good article about my writing life (by Kenneth Grierson) and a review of In Winter's Grip - "Crime Thriller Heats up Cold Winter Nights" (by Deborah De Bakker). De Bakker's take was interesting. She liked the book fine but thought my publishers might be trying to capture the American audience by saying I grew up near the border and using the word 'Indian' instead of Aboriginal. She would be correct in this analysis; however, isn't breaking into the much larger American readership a goal of every author? If you are in this industry, you quickly realize how small the buying public is in Canada for beginning authors. It can take years to get readers to pick up your books. It seemed like an odd point to fixate on in a book review, but I'm not complaining. The fact she reviewed the book is gratifying. In Winter's Grip also received a 'very highly recommended' from the Midwest Book Review, a respected American book review site - now, perhaps, there is some irony there :-)

And big news on the publisher front as I mentioned last time. RendezVous Crime has merged with Dundurn so I am now officially a Dundurn author! Also, still an Orca writer in their Rapid Reads series. The Second Wife is due out April 1st and I'm planning to launch it at a local pub in May with fellow authors Barb Fradkin and Jeff Ross. Stay tuned.

I wrote a blog entry for Crime Writers of Canada blog about the Rapid Reads series - it will be posted next week and I'll be sure to blog the link. So, curling excitement is settling down, spring is around the corner and lots of projects are in the works. Some interesting author events on the horizon - more posts to come!