Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ottawa is blessed with a lot of green space, bicycle paths and gardens such as this one, named Maplelawn. The origianl house has been converted into a restaurant, and the walled garden has been lovingly restored by a host of volunteers and is open to the public. I like to bike there and wander the paths and sit on one of the benches to breathe in calm of this beautiful oasis in the middle of the city.

Just up the road from the garden is the Unitarian Church, where I spent last evening as a guest of their monthly arts night, which happens the last Friday of the month. The room was set up like a cafe with candles lit began with two poems and a piano performance from the audience. Then three of us presented - I represented the writers, Valerie Cousins presented her nature-inspired oil paintings and Eric McKay gave a brilliant piano performance. The three of us than had a quick question and answer session with the audience while enjoying the baking donated by the organizers. It was a lovely evening and reinforced for me that creativity is ultimately about joy and passion and something to be celebrated.

This coming week, I fly to Vancouver for two days before taking the ferry to Victoria Island for Bloody Words mystery conference. I'm going with my good friends Darlene Cole and Katherine Hobbs and am looking forward to the time together. I've only been as far west as Jasper and this will be my first look at the Pacific Ocean. I'll have to compare its seafood to that of the Atlantic - it's going to take some mighty fine flavour to outdo Maritime clams and scallops.

Well, all this cold rain and gloom are starting to wear on the spirits. I've had a headache for a few days and wonder if it could be linked to the pressure system that has stubbornly entrenched itself over our city. It is race weekend in the Capital beginning today however, and this isn't bad weather for runners - the rain is supposed to be intermittant and heat won't be coming our way until Tuesday. I see sunscreen and barbecues on the horizon.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Beer and Cupcakes

Well, The Second Wife is officially launched along with Jeff Ross's first YA novel, The Drop, and Barbara Fradkin's Rapid Reads' mystery, The Fall Guy. It was a great time with about 130 people coming by The Clocktower Pub to help celebrate. Books on Beechwood sold our books, Orca Publishers supplied appetizers and Jeff's wife Megan made platefuls of delicious cupcakes. It was a relaxed affair and I enjoyed the afternoon immensely. Note to self: All future book launches should be in a pub.

Although, I have to say, Tom Curran's launch in Collected Works bookstore on Wednesday night was also great fun and well attended. Tom released the third in his Inspector Stride series, Death of a Lesser Man (love the title) and served free wine and appetizers galore. A few months ago, when I went to Tim Wynne-Jones's launch at Collected Works, I got home and realized I hadn't paid for his book, which I'd had signed and carted home. I phoned in my credit card number right smartly - you can't be too careful where authors killing people off in books are involved - anyhow, I made sure to pay this time.

And today, off to Joan of Arc Academy in the west end to talk to a grade seven and a grade eight class about mysteries. This is an all-girls school and my second visit although the previous time was about five years ago. What lovely girls - attentive and involved. They asked a lot of thoughtful questions and it was a delight to spend an hour with them.

So what's next, you ask? This Friday night, I've been invited to speak about writing and read from my work at the Unitarian Church on Cleary Avenue as part of their monthly arts night. I'm looking forward to the evening - they also have a visual artist and musician as part of the guest roster. Everyone is invited so come out if you are able.

I'll say one thing for all this rain we've been having - it's a lush, green world out there. As I type, a thunder storm is bearing down on the Capital and the rain is pattering on the roof. Nothing like a good old thunder storm when you're safely tucked inside.

Tomorrow, as luck would have it, promises to be sunny and warm with NO rain - I hope you find time to sit outside in a lawn chair with a cupcake, glass of wine and a good book :-) Happy long weekend everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tiny Tim Forgive Me

I can't say enough about how beautiful Ottawa is this time of year. This photo is taken behind the Parliament Buildings at Major's Hill Park where the Tulip Festival is held. The flowers were at their peak and a spectacular sight.

Writing lagged a bit this week because life got busy. Wednesday evening, I went to Capital Crime Writers hoping to hear Tim Wynne-Jones speak about manuscript editing, but he was under the weather, and so I ended up on an impromptu panel talking about editing and book launching - fun in any event and the good news is that Tim is better and he sent me his speaking notes afterward, which are a minefield of information. Tim is an excellent writer and a generous person to boot - writing really has afforded me the opportunity to meet some lovely people.

So lovely, people, I hope to see you tomorrow at the Clocktower Pub on Bank between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m. for the triple launch. The beer will be plentiful and the conversation sparkling. Launches are the time to step back and celebrate the year of hard work that goes into each book, and what better way than with family, friends and new friends! Kind of like a birthday party with beer and no cake.

Friday afternoon will find me in a Grade 7/8 class at Joan of Arc Academy, an all-girls' school in the west end. With working full time, I only manage a couple of school visits a year, but always enjoy talking with kids about writing. They help refuel the writing spirit.

Today is my annual pedicure morning with my friend Sue. Our feet get a buffing and hot wax treatment that I have to say is frankly wonderful. Then, a little polish for those moments when . . . you know it's coming . . . you want to tiptoe through the . . . (was that a groan?) . . . and I'll leave it there.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tulip Time in the Capital

I'm reminded of a childhood rhyme: Tulips in the garden. Tulips in the park. But the tulips I like best are the two lips in the dark. Not exactly Shakespeare, but when I was twelve, the words held a certain fascination for things ahead.

The spring edition of Mystery Scene magazine, published in New York, arrived yesterday with a great book review of In Winter's Grip. It was a thrill to see the review alongside Michael Connelly's and Harlan Coben's. The final line of the Winter's Grip review are: "This is a novel not only to be read, but savored". A lovely recommendation!

You might wonder how a book gets reviewed. Well, the publisher sends out copies of the book to a list of potential reviewers and they decide to review or not. Publishers do not pay for reviews and there is no certainty that what is said about the book will be positive. However, libraries and readers are guided by these reviews when deciding what to buy or read. Reviews can come out a year after the book is released so patience is key.

I'm looking forward to Capital Crime Writers meeting this Wednesday because Tim Wynne-Jones will be presenting a lesson on editing manuscripts. Tim won the Governor General award twice and he knows of what he speaks. His most recent YA novel Blink and Caution is a fabulous, creative read. I've agreed to be part of the program committee next year so am looking forward to helping organize guest speakers. You can join Capital Crime Writers even if you don't write - we have lots of mystery fans in the group and our speakers are fascinating - detectives, police, psychologists, authors, intelligence experts . . . the list goes on.

Well, looking ahead, the launch of The Second Wife on Sunday, a visit to a grade 7/8 class at Joan of Arc Academy on the 20th, a talk at arts night at the Unitarian Church on the 27th and then off to Bloody Words in Victoria June 5-7 - spring is heating up.

Well, I'll conclude with another nugget from my grade school autograph book: Yours till Niagara Falls or Seven up drinks Canada Dry.