Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wine Connoisseurs

Ted and I set out for VanKleek Hill Vineyard  this morning to investigate a winery with the possibility of purchasing some for the upcoming book launch. Taste-testing wine at 11:00 in the morning is a pleasant start to the day. It was also lovely to drive into the country and have breakfast in the little town - VanKleek Hill is closer to Montreal than Ottawa so it was about an hour and a half drive each way.

The vineyard has been featured on Regional Contact, which is where we heard about it. The wine is organic without additives and surprisingly hardy. The recent drought hasn't damaged the crop this year at all and the owner Marty anticipates a bumper yield.

In the end, we decided not to purchase the wine for my upcoming launch because it's not available in the LCBO or in Ottawa. I wanted  to promote a local entrepreneur, but with the trek so far to purchase any as it's only available at the vinery or a few restaurants around VanKleek Hill, it didn't seem worthwhile.  Still, it was a nice trek on a sunny Saturday and we purchased a few bottles for our troubles. You should drop in if you're out that way. Here's an article about the enterprise, which includes an address.

Other writing stuff:  I've been doing some publicity tasks for Dundurn and also booked a signing for November 10th at Books on Beechwood, another great little independent Ottawa bookstore.  I've gotten in some writing but not as much as I would have liked. I'm aiming for daily but missed one evening. Still, I've cracked the 20,000 word mark.

Alison Bruce of Crime Writers of Canada posted my blog entry on their site on Tuesday for the series on heroes and heroines. Here is the link if you missed it.

So, the day is quickly whiling away and I'm about to take my laptop out on the front deck to get in some writing. I might just have to taste test some more wine in the process. In fact, we could make it our summer mission to taste test lots of wine for the launch - maybe, off to the Niagara region next?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Social Side of the Writing Life

Part of the fun stuff about being in the writing business is getting together with people who share the passion. Capital Crime Writers (CCW) is an Ottawa-centred group of writers and crime novel fans who meet the second Wednesday of every month (except summer) at the Library and Archives to listen to guest speakers on every subject you can imagine, from art fraud to human trafficking to the art of writing believable dialogue.

Monday after work, I met with my fellow CCW program-committee buddies Wynn Kwon and Thomas Curran at the Southern Cross restaurant on Bay Street downtown. (We've discovered that they have half-price appetizers until six every evening.) (yay) Anyhow, we came up with lots of great ideas for speakers and I was tasked with getting the first one lined up for September.

You might just want to come out for this one - Gary Holdsworth PI and lecturer and coordinator of public and private investigations at Algonquin College has agreed to come talk about the business. At $30/year to join our group, we really are the best deal in town. We also have a monthly newsletter and Christmas dinner with a well known guest speaker. Check out the site at

So, Darren 'Ottguy' McEwen set up and sent out a Facebook invitation  to the launch of Second Chances on September 22nd from 2:00-4:00 pm at Collected Works bookstore (Thanks Darren!) Dundurn is also making up posters and electronic invitations for me to send out and these should be available soon. Katherine Hobbs is going to be my MC and we'll have wine and refreshments. It'll just be a relaxed, mingling kind of event. Ted will even pull himself away from working on the upstairs bedroom to attend :-) and no, it's not done yet.

And the last thing I've been working on this week is helping to plan our trip to Bouchercon in Cleveland in early October. Darlene Cole, Katherine Hobbs and I are now thinking of making it a road trip and looking into renting a vehicle for the five days. Could be fun. (Ted's mentioned Thelma and Louise a few times.) Since the vehicle will be a rental, we'll steer clear of cliffs.

Writing is slowing but still going well this week. I'm soon going to go on a trip to Kingston for some research. Maybe, I should think about Paris for the next book . . . . I'm sure that would require at least a month of on-location research, probably in the springtime. Of course, I could always set something in Bermuda in the dead of winter.

Anyone up for another road trip?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hot and Lazy

It is hot, hot hot with no relief in sight.  A drought in Eastern Ontario and across chunks of the country. My garden is surviving though - we water in the evening when the sun goes down since there are no water restrictions yet. Fingers crossed for rain next week.

I spent a few days working on guest blog requests - one for Crime Writers of Canada and their summer series on heros and heroines and what makes an interesting one - and the other for Dundurn, answering five questions about my book Second Chances. I also managed to keep my latest manuscript moving along.  I don't mind staying inside in the air conditioning during the evening and typing away at something.

One nice thing about this writing business is connecting with other authors. I got an e-mail this week from Anne Emery, a crime writer I'd heard about from the East Coast. She had questions about publicity (not that I'm an expert by any means), specifically publicists. Anyhow, we are both going to Bouchercon in Cleveland in October and hopefully we'll meet up. I'm going to pick up one of her books in the meantime - they've gotten good reviews and won a few awards. You might also want to give one a read:-)

Bouchercon is the U.S. crime writers' conference that brings together about 1500 fans and authors. I went to the one in Baltimore a few years ago and had the best time. I was on a panel but spent most of the time listening to big-name authors and even meeting some of them. I have to confess that I'd never heard of many of them, but have since bought their books and expanded my reading horizons, proving the value of these events. I'm hoping to get on a panel this time and will take part in the 'Meet the Canucks' night. I'm also excited to see Elizabeth George, one of the guests of honour - I've read every book in her Inspector Lynley series except the most recent. Should be a whole lot of fun.

Nearly lunchtime and I'm going to see if my neighbour has her pool open. It feels like a good time to have a dip before I get down to something productive. I hope you are managing to stay cool wherever you are.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stranger Than Fiction

This guy has the right idea. Take all your clothes off and sit in a fountain because it sure is hot in the Ottawa Valley, across Southern Ontario and the Eastern seaboard. Every morning I think, how few clothes can I get away with this work day? So far, nobody has picked me up for indecency so I haven't crossed any lines . . . yet.

The hot weather has me writing up a storm. It has been a very productive week and I'm pumped. Part of the fun of writing is creating a world populated by interesting people, some you might like to get to know and others, well . . .  I am writing murder mysteries. Some of the characters are on the shady side and others are just plain killers.

In this particular manuscript, the murder has me a little spooked - for real. I actually woke Ted up screaming in terror around three a.m. In my dream, a man was trying to drag me out of bed.  Hmmm.  Some might consider that a good thing, but I can assure you, it wasn't in this case.

Ted had been away for a few days last week and returned home on Thursday evening. I hadn't quite adjusted to him being back so when he came up to bed around midnight, I half-woke up from a deep sleep, thinking I should be alone in the house. For a few moments, panic took over as I got ready to do battle with an intruder. "What do you think you're doing?" I asked. Ted had to remind me that he lived here. He said later that he was very glad we don't own a gun.

So, I'm going to blame all this on the heat and will continue on with my latest storyline.

(Ted is hoping I write a romance novel next.)