Saturday, December 31, 2011

This is my picture of time flying, which seems fitting on New Year's Eve 2011. It was taken one hot summer evening this past summer in Cherry Valley, Prince Edward County. We had a great week with friends Kathy and Bill Adair and Janice and Peter Murdoch, all the more special because Janice and Peter moved to Cold Lake, Alberta the week afterwards.

We did more travelling this past year. It began early in the year as we followed Lisa and her team of Rachel, Emma and Alison on their Scotties run - January in Thornhill, Ontario where they won the provincials and Charlottetown in February where they finished fourth in the country. An exciting two weeks, no doubt about it.

In June, I flew to the opposite end of the country with friends Katherine Hobbs and Darlene Cole to Vancouver and Victoria for Bloody Words, Canada's national mystery author conference. It was my first time that far west and another wonderful trip with perfect weather.  I loved the west coast although I am told it rains there on occasion.

What else happened this year? The Second Wife was released in the summer and I launched it at the Clocktower Pub with fellow Ottawa authors Barbara Fradkin and Jeff Ross, mixing cupcakes, beer and a very good time. Icing on the cupcake was The Second Wife's nomination for an Ontario Library Golden Oak award, the winners to be announced at a luncheon in Toronto in June.

I continued writing and completed a manuscript for an adult mystery that I hope to turn into a series. I am awaiting feedback from the publisher before continuing with this project. I also had a fun booksigning at Collected Works and took part in a Capital Crime Writer day in October at the Ottawa Public Library, the highlight of which for me, was CBC Radio's Alan Neal reading passages from In Winter's Grip. He even managed to send a shiver down my spine. I spoke at the People, Words and Change literacy breakfast and was guest author at a Canadian Authors Association meeting in the fall. I also judged the Awesome Authors English short stories for the second year and presented awards at Ben Franklin place in the spring - I'll be soon reading this year's entries, which should arrive in February.

I make no resolutions for 2012 except my usual one to look for some interesting experiences, meet new people, keep up with old friends and have some fun. Already, plans are afoot. This year, we'll be heading to Italy for a two-week vacation and I've also got Bouchercon lined up in Cleveland in October, travelling again with Darlene and Katherine. And of course, Second Chances will be released in September.

So the year that was was a good one. I am thankful for my time with friends and family with so many good times and so much laughter. As the clock ticks down to the New Year, I raise my glass to each of you and wish you much joy and fulfillment in the year that is to come.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve, 2011. It's a bitterly cold morning with a coating of snow on the ground. I'm nearly ready for guests and meals - we begin tonight with family and my friend Sue, who comes every year for Christmas Eve supper. I change the menu every year. This evening, we will be having pork tenderloin, tourtiere and a lemon mousse dessert. Tomorrow is the main event - turkey with sausage apple stuffing and all the fixings. If we were bears, this would be the gorging part just before we crawl somewhere warm to sleep away the rest of the winter.

I have the entire week off and will spend it catching up with friends, reading (I sure hope there are some mysteries in my stocking), writing a bit and completing the final edit of Second Chances - due January 6th. I received a copy of the Dundurn catalogue in the mail this week and Second Chances has a full page spread. It's slated to come out in September, a good time of year for a YA novel to be released. In keeping with 1971, the year of my novel, I included the titles of a lot of music from that period. I'm thinking it would be fun to make a tape of the songs to play at my launch. A little "Black Magic Woman" anyone? Maybe I could ask one of the old rock bands to come play - they're all back on tour it seems.

Well, I won't write much today since I have brownies to bake and lemon mousse to whip up. I just want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday with family and friends. I've found in years past that it's not the gifts or the picture-postcard, perfect holiday that makes Christmas special, but it is the little moments. Pulling out the ornament box and reliving memories as you hang them on the tree, getting together with friends you haven't seen in a while, calling my family up North Christmas morning, waking up with my girls sleeping over . . . I hope that each of you savour your own special moments and the magic of the season brings joy and peace.

Merry Christmas and a toast to the year that was and the year that is to come.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I've tried every which way to add paragraphing to this post, but no luck so please bear with me! I'll bold the first word of each paragraph because this drives me crazy. One week to Christmas Eve. When our daughters were young, we would pile into the front seat of Ted's truck and drive past Stittsville to a tree farm. We brought along sleds and the girls played on the little hill while Ted and I tromped through the little wood looking for the perfect tree. We were careful not to find the perfect tree too soon because part of the tradition was a half hour of debate over who picked the best one. After the tree farm owner handed out candy canes to the kids, we drove to a little teashop on the way home and ordered hot chocolate and desserts. The last time we drove to the farm, the tree selection was sparse because of some bad planting seasons and we had to buy a tree in the city. It was the end of our tradition, but not the memories. This afternoon, Ted and I drove to the Parkdale Market and purchased our tree - a plump seven footer that will hold all the ornaments, including all the homemade ones the girls made so many years ago and all the ones we've been given. Pulling out the ornament box is another trip down memory lane. Allister sent the final formatted book for Second Chances to me on Friday. I have one last chance to find errors or to make minor changes. The cover design is appealing, I think, and I'm quite excited to have this one released. It's 262 pages long and for older teens, but I think adults will like it too. I had two people critique it in earlier versions and both told me they cried . . . and one of them was a man. You gotta love that :-) So what next? I've taken a bit of a break from writing but plan to get back into a project in January. I have a second Rapid Reads that needs revision and should give that a go. I'd also like to start a sequel to the adult manuscript I just finished, but I want to make sure the publisher accepts the first one. Hopefully, I will know within a few months. We had a great Capital Crime Writers' Christmas dinner on Wednesday evening, and I'm not just saying that because I organized it (with the help of my friend Wynn Quon and the rest of the executive). We met as KS on the Keys and had a room to ourselves. The food was good, the service excellent, and Howard Shrier a most interesting special guest speaker. He talked about the ups and downs getting his first book to print and was funny as well as motivational. We'll be following this up in January with a writers' panel of C.B. Forrest, Nadine Doolittle and moi, speaking about our writing processes. Should be fun and hopefully enlightening.  Well, it's time to get ready for another Christmas party this evening. It's the best time meeting up with friends and people we don't see once winter sets in. I hope you are also having a wonderful holiday season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Countdown

Two weeks until Christmas. I've mailed out the Christmas cards, and nearly bought all my gifts, spending last evening wrapping. The turkey is on order and Ted and I made our annual trip to the liquor store to stock up, as did just about everyone in Westboro yesterday afternoon. I'm feeling almost in control. Next, I'll start baking and getting supper menus lined up - it's almost hard to fathom the preparation that goes into these few days every year.

The Capital Crime Writers' Christmas dinner is this Wednesday evening and I'm looking forward to hearing Howard Shrier talk about his writing life. He writes the PI Jonah Geller series set in Toronto. The first two books in the series, Buffalo Jump and High Chicago both won Arthur Ellis awards, a rather extraordinary feat. Still 12 spots remaining if you would like to register. Just go to and click on News.

I've taken a few weeks off writing but am starting to get itchy fingers. It'll soon be time to start a new project, but I'll need to tidy up a few other manuscripts first. I'm quite happy with the way Second Chances is shaping up and look forward to seeing the final version before it goes to press. I also want to finish editing the adult mystery I am working on and take another crack at the Rapid Reads sequel. Good job I find all this work fun :-)

I echo Syvlia McConnell's note on Facebook to give books this Christmas. I was in my local bookstore yesterday and there are some great reads to be purchased this year. There's nothing like curling up with a good book (especially a Canadian mystery) in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea or glass of wine. The cares of the world are on hold for a while as your imagination takes hold in a world created by the author. I've already asked for a few mysteries to be put in my stocking. I have the entire week off between Christmas and New Year's and intend to make good, lazy use of it.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Getting into the Christmas Spirit (s)

It seemed like I good idea to do a blog entry after I just proposed to Ted that we should pick some random house in the neighbourhood and sing Christmas carols outside their door. Might be fun. Ted said, "Great idea, especially since neither of us can carry a tune." He's also pretending not to know the words to any songs - I'll bet you're wondering where this is leading, and all I can say, is nowhere good.

I finished the edits on Second Chances and submitted to Allister. The odd thing was that I had included some song titles that I swore were released by 1971 and they actually weren't. As I verified dates, I spent a good part of my day listening to old hits on Youtube - what a treasure trove of music history. I could have sworn I was stuck dancing to "Stairway to Heaven" (which is a very, very long song) at a school dance before '71, but turns out that was a physical impossibility. The good news is that I'm younger than I thought.

I'm taking a few week break from writing except for Christmas cards. I also have to do the acknowledgement for Second Chances and I'm trying to come up with a quote from the era for the beginning. I had this great idea to use a line from songs released in 1971 at the heading of each chapter, but copyright was a thorny issue that couldn't be overlooked. It's really too bad, but I would have had to approach each record company to ask permission and would likely have had to pay. I just don't have time to do the legwork. Allister says that he'll be presenting the book to sales reps in December even though release is September 2012. They also sends out ARCs (advance reading copies) to reviewers six months before publication and can't miss the window.

So, just kicking back this weekend, doing some gift shopping and watching curling on tv. My daughter Lisa was at the Canada Cup in Cranbrook and lost a couple of nailbiters yesterday to finish just out of the top three teams; otherwise, we'd be watching her on TSN this weekend. Lisa finished second amongst the leads at the event (they keep stats of each shot thrown) so we're pretty proud of her.

Since carolling is off the table, maybe I can convince Ted to put up some outside lights before Christmas Eve this year. It's become a cat and mouse kind of manouveur so wish me luck. He's getting way too good at dodging my big ideas.