Saturday, January 28, 2012

Working Toward Goals

I love this photo by Frank Bowick - it captures the feel of these winter days.

First, good news on the publication front. The acquisitions editor for Dundurn likes my latest manuscript submission, an adult murder mystery set that I hope to make into a series. The book will need to be 'pitched' to the editorial board and so I have several assignments to do in the meantime. One is to think of a cover design idea. I also have to write a synopsis as well as several blurbs, much like you would see on the cover of a book. You might be surprised how much input authors have to the presentation and marketing of a book.

The manuscript will need fact checks and lots of revision before all is said and done, so lots of work ahead: first to get it accepted and second to get it publication ready. I am hopeful though and just a bit excited to have this one in reader hands. Once I get confirmation that it is a go, I'll start on the next book in the series - I already have several plot ideas in mind :-)

I've been beavering away on another Rapid Reads manuscript in the meantime and have hit the crux of the story. These are great fun to write and from all the feedback I've been given on The Second Wife, great fun to read. For those of you asking about its Golden Oak nomination, voting is done through the libraries by registered readers in May and the award is given out at a luncheon in Toronto on June 7th. I am planning to attend.

On the curling front, my daughter Lisa's team (Rachel Homan) finished first in the Ontario Scotties round robin and plays at 3 o'clock today in the one-two game. Loser plays the winner of the three-four game with the final tomorrow. All will be on Rogers tv or Shaw, depending on where you live in the province. There's been lots of excitement this week leading into the weekend.

In case you missed my Mystery Maven blog about awards, here is the link:

So, lots to do and already I find the weekends too short. Time to get the day underway . . . .

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Siren Call

I've been writing a lot this week. I'm always asked about my writing process and when I find the time. I'd say the past seven days are an example of how I operate when I'm in the creative mode.

Ted was away curling last weekend so I was up late Friday night working on a manuscript. I spent Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday writing. On Monday, I skipped my lunchtime yoga class to work on the manuscript, and I worked on it through four out of five lunch hours in my downtown office. Thursday and Friday nights, I worked on a blog post that I promised Linda Wiken for this Tuesday (check out Mystery Maven blog at Last night, I was back to typing away at 10 p.m. on the manuscript, having gone into my office to shut off my computer when inspiration hit.

And this is how I work . . . days away from the keyboard and then weeks when I organize all my free time around getting to it.

Speaking of Linda Wiken, let me give you a little history about this most interesting woman. She is one of the original members of the Ladies' Killing Circle, a group of six or seven Ottawa mystery authors who became famous for their short story anthologies. Linda won awards for her short stories and went on to open Prime Crime bookstore with business partner Mary Jane Maffini. Mary Jane then went on to become a full-time author while Linda carried on with the store, which unfortunately closed a few years back. But with books in her bones, Linda inked a book deal with Penguin/Berkley Prime Crime in the U.S. and her first mystery entitled A Killer Read under the pseudonym Erika Chase is due out in April. I'm very much looking forward to getting a copy. You can read a snippet on her website at

This is a photo taken at the closing of Prime Crime bookstore, Left to right are me, with fellow Ottawa authors C.B. Forrest, Barbara Fradkin and Linda Wiken.

I've also got my video buddy Patrick Walton working on a little piece with CBC's Alan Neal reading from In Winter's Grip back in October at 'A Day to Kill'. While some of the camera work is a bit wobbly, it's a great little memento of the day and I'll share it with you shortly. Patrick made this four-minute clip about the actual event, posted on Youtube:

So, I've given you a few links to help entertain you on this mid-January weekend. I'm about to climb the stairs and wake Ted up with a cup of coffee. Then, we'll see how the day unfolds but you can be sure it will include time writing - I might just open the manuscript now to have a peek . . . .

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Snow Week in the Valley

My first full week back at work and the cold. snow and freezing rain moved into the Ottawa Valley. What do they call that when nature is in sympathy with mankind's (or in my case, womankind's) plight? I know it will come to me.

Anyhow, some hardy Capital Crime Writer members braved the elements to attend our panel discussion about the writing process on Wednesday evening in the auditorium of the main branch of the downtown library. It was both fun and informative - moderator Wynn Quon kept the flow of questions going for C.B. Forrest, Nadine Doolittle and me. Nadine works as a writer fulltime, living near Wakefield, Quebec while Chris and I both work fulltime in communications and try to fit the writing into busy schedules. I'm a fan of both authors' work and recommend that you pick up their books for a good read.

C.B. Forrest this past summer, dropping in on my book signing at Collected Works.

Nadine Doolittle at A Day to Kill author event in October.

It's the kind of weekend where I'm happy to stay indoors and putter. Sadly, the snow plow keeps zipping by and dropping a load of heavy snow at the end of the driveway and sidewalk, and I will shortly have to go outside to do more shovelling before heading to the grocery store. Since we were away last weekend, the food situation in my cupboards is quite dire and the laundry has piled well above sea level. I am, however, making some headway on a manuscript and intend to spend the bulk of my day writing. Housework be damned (did I write that out loud?)

I've heard from one of the librarians organizing the Awesome Authors contest, and I can expect a package of short stories at the beginning of February. It took me three weekends of reading last year and a few weeknights as I recall so I'll be allowing some time - the contest keeps growing in popularity (for kids 9-17), which is a double-edged sword for the judges - it's so good to have kids participate, but it makes our job more time-consuming. Still, I do enjoy reading their work - so much fun.

I also just registered for Bouchercon in October in Cleveland - a huge American mystery conference that brings in fans from all over the States. It seems fitting to visit the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year since Second Chances is set in 1971 when rock was coming into its own. I can still remember my high school history teacher playing Steppenwolf in the library "Born to be Wild". Not sure why he ignored the library noise bylaw . . . but it was a cooler time.

Just off to track down the snowplow operator to offer a bribe if he bypasses my driveway on the next run. I wonder if he reads mysteries . . . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Onwards and Upwards

A few of you might have wondered where I got to this week. Well, I was in lovely Gananoque, Ontario watching my daughter Lisa in the ladies regional curling playdowns. We booked into a great B & B named Stonewater Manor and the above photo is sunset from the window seat in our third-floor room. The room took up the whole of the third floor and felt a lot like being up in your grandmother's attic although much better stocked and way cosier. Downstairs and just around the corner is the pub, also owned by Jeff and Sue Girling with live entertainment on the weekends. We caught Cliff Edwards on the Saturday night - he was part of that 70's group The Bells if anyone remembers their music. (I actually do.) All this to say, if you want a fun, entertaining getaway for a night or two, I highly recommend this spot - and order the French toast for your breakfast, smothered in blueberries, strawberries and blackberries. (I had it twice.)

490 Stone Street, Gananoque

And the curling . . .  it was a nail-biting, lock-jawing kind of weekend, but the girls prevailed. They won the B final on Sunday evening and will now head out to Kenora for provincials toward the end of the month. Yes, first and second place won a trip to Kenora in January . . . some might wonder what the losers get . . .

So, this weekend, I am home and will be doing some writing. More on my regular Friday blog.