Saturday, March 29, 2014

Out Like a Lion

This week, back from Left Coast Crime, has been quiet as I settle back into work and crappy cold/snowy/rainy/overcast/sloppy weather. The temperatures are careening wildly although this week, they seem to be hovering just above freezing. Who knew this would be considered a reprieve as we head into April? My few days in California were a tonic. I think that I am going to have to plan an annual trip south at the tail end of winter just to keep sane.

If you missed my blog entries while in Monterey, you can scroll down and follow along with me on the trip.

I've managed to get some writing in since I've returned and am itching to move my story along. I aimed for 50,000 words by the end of March and have already achieved this plus a thousand more. This is the part where the plot starts to get tricky as I reveal a big clue. I actually enjoy working out the puzzles of these plots as I write. The details keep me up at night.

I was thrilled to make the National Post book reviews last Saturday and wanted to attach the review link in this blog in case you haven't seen the review yet. What can I say but yay!

Next Saturday, April 5 between 1 and 3 p.m., you will find me at Brittons in the Glebe (Bank and Fifth) signing copies of Cold Mourning. If you haven't gotten a copy yet and live in Ottawa area, drop by and have a visit. Ted the owner has set up tables for coffee-drinking so it's a fine destination for book and magazine browsing on a Saturday afternoon.

I've got a few more events coming up - I'll be part of a panel at Rideau Chapters on the evening of April 24 as part of the Arthur Ellis shortlist announcements put on by Crime Writers of Canada. I'll also be taking part in a Capital Crime Writers' author and fan day on May 10 with special guest Peter Robinson taking part. I'll give more info for both events next week.

I've got a busy weekend ahead - writing, shopping and getting together with my family on Sunday to celebrate Lisa's birthday and silver medal win at Curling Worlds.

What a marvellous week we've had!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Left Coast Crime - Day Four

Yesterday was a red banner day. First of all, my daughter Lisa's team was in the one-two playoff game at Ladies' Worlds in St. John against Switzerland. I found the game on the internet and five of us gathered around my little iPad to watch them win! This means they are in the final on Sunday, and now await three other teams battling it out to face them. I couldn't be prouder of the team - they've worked extremely hard to get here and are representing Canada spectacularly.

As irony would have it, I was on a panel yesterday afternoon about Canadians - mystery authors and what we're up to north of the border.  We had a small crowd of readers and they were keen to find new Canadian authors.

(l to r) Jane Burfield (moderator), me, Erika Chase aka Linda Wiken, Cathy Ace, and Loraine Fowlow.

And the Weagles-Chapmans were in the news yesterday - a Canadian Press article about Lisa and the Weagle shot that she and the team are having great success with - 'the tick' now called 'the Weagle'.  I also was thrilled to see Cold Mourning reviewed in the National Post online yesterday. Had me glowing all day.

I attended a panel on setting yesterday morning that was very good and I sat in on Mary Jane Maffini's panel on humour in mysteries - it was hilarious. Very funny women. I rounded out the day by going to an evening showing of Ann Cleeves new series for the BBC, which is set in Shetland. I have a signed copy of one of her books, which I started reading. I can't wait to get home and settle in with it - excellent so far.

Today is the last day in Monterey. I believe we have some shopping on the agenda and the big banquet this evening. I also hear there is a snowstorm going on back in Ottawa. Maybe, I'll have to try to miss the plane back . . . .

Friday, March 21, 2014

Left Coast Crime - Day Three

Thursday was a busy day but another fun one.  The skies were robin's egg blue and the temperature climbed to mid-70s by afternoon. Glenda and I took a walk along the boardwalk after breakfast and made it as far as Cannery Row.

I took in a panel in the morning on book marketing. The publicist who was on the panel gave the most interesting information although the authors also talked about their techniques for getting a wider audience. I didn't stray far for lunch since my panel with Louise Penny (International guest of Honour), Ann Cleeves and Deborah Crombie was at 2:30. Our panel name was "Bobbies vs. Mounties" and an ex-California cop turned author named Kathy Bennett moderated. Great fun. The ballroom was packed, Louise being a huge draw. You'll be glad to know that we held up the Canadian side brilliantly.

(l-r) Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny, me and Kathy Bennett. As you can see, we were having no fun at all.

I also ran into Sue Grafton (A is for Alibi . . .) outside the hall and we spent a few minutes trying to turn off the ringer on her iPhone. Since I have a Blackberry, I was no help at all. We ran into each other at the bar later as the event hosted a cocktail hour. I really think you should think about coming to one of these conferences:-)

Sue Grafton

Today, I'm taking in a couple of panels and then lunch with Jan. I'm on my second panel at four o'clock with Linda Wiken discussing Canadian mysteries. I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Left Coast Crime - Day Two

Wednesday was just a fabulous day. Breakfast on FIsherman's Wharf, a mini version of what we'll see in San Francisco, I am told. Crab eggs benedict at a table overlooking the harbour where the seals were tumbling around in the water.

Then, the Big Sur tour down the coast, past Carmel and heading toward LA. What fabulous views - clear blue skies and no fog. There had been enough rain recently to turn the brown hills green,

And our last stop was a redwood forest - these are magnificant works of nature. They get their moisture from the fog since this area has minimal amounts of rain. Forest fires don't kill them either, unless super intense. They also have dormant 'babies' around their roots that germinate only when the 'mother' tree dies, and most trees live hundreds if not thousands of years. In another life, I want to come back as a redwood.

So today is my first panel mid-afternoon. Linda Wiken and I met with the moderator of our panel last evening in the bar for a drink and chat. Jane Burfield is a short story writer from Toronto and a very warm and interesting woman. I'm going to take in a few panels this morning, but first some coffee and breakfast.  More from the conference tomorrow

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Day one at Left Coast Crime

After a nine hour flight from Ottawa to San Francisco, we took the three hour shuttle to Monterey. Coincidently, Mary Jane Maffini and Linda Wiken were on the same flight and shuttle, so along with my travelling friends Janet Bowick and Glenda Stewart, we made up a little posse trooping through airports.

Linda Wiken and Mary Jane Maffini reading the Homan family curling story in the San Fransisco Airport as we await the shuttle.

The sight of green grass and the warm afternoon temps (75 degrees F) lifted everyone's spirits. Man, we have endured a long cold winter in Ottawa, but reprieve for a few days at least.

The Portola Hotel and Spa is a low sprawling complex and very comfortable. Jan and I are sharing a room and we were thrilled to open the wall to ceiling windows to let the cool air blow into the room all night. I awoke to the sound of gulls since the ocean is just a few blocks away.

Last night, at what would have been ten o'clock our time, but is seven California time, the five weary travellers gathered for a lovely meal in Jack's, the hotel's fine dining restaurant. I had the sole and it was really tasty - went well with the two glasses of Merlot - and then I slept like a baby. Ted swears by a few glasses of something the first night away to help one sleep. It worked so well last night that I'm going to have to repeat the process tonight.

Linda Wiken in Jack's.

So, here I sit with my Starbucks coffee catching up on the news of the day. I met Ann Cleeves in the lobby - just in from England with her husband Tim. We're on a panel together tomorrow! Jan and I are heading to Fisherman's Wharf for breakfast - it is a short walk from the hotel - and then on the bus for the Grand Sur tour this afternoon. 

The fun is just beginning . . .

Saturday, March 15, 2014

We Got It Going On

The Cold Mourning book launch last Sunday was fabulous - so many people came out that the pub was hopping and Books on Beechwood sold out of the book an hour and a half in. Many copies of Second Chances and In Winter's Grip were also purchased. I signed steadily until the books ran out and then got to mingle with those remaining. Thank you to Whispers (Stacy and Erin) for your hospitality, Books on Beechwood (Stephanie and Antoinette), and everyone who took the time to come help celebrate.

I will let the pictures tell the story.

Stephanie and Antoinette from Books on Beechwood

 Kitchissippi City Counsellor Katherine Hobbs

 Retired Sergeant Damien Coakley on the far left gave me technical feedback.
He's speaking with mystery author Barbara Fradkin
 A beautiful bouquet from Lisa and Robin

 Local mystery authors Mary Jane Maffini and Linda Wiken
 Linda Wiken (left) and Janet Claridge
This Tuesday, I fly to Left Coast Crime in Monterey California. I'll be attempting to blog everyday while there so be sure to check back and follow along. You can live vicariously, and if you are from Canada, feel a little reprieve from the cold and snow.
Meanwhile, back in St. John, New Brunswick, my thoughts and cheers will be with my daughter Lisa Weagle and all of Team Rachel Homan as they compete in the Worlds ladies curling championship. Here is a little tribute poster from last year - just switch 2014 for 2013 and St. John for Riga :-) #alreadywinners

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Book is Launching

Well, at long last, tomorrow is the day of the Cold Mourning launch at Whispers Pub. I'm kind of excited to get this book officially out into the world. I actually wrote it a few years ago and am set to start editing its sequel Butterfly Kills in April. The cover and synopsis are already posted on book sites. I sometimes forget what happened in which book since I'm now immersed in writing book three of the series. Time to kick Cold Mourning out of the nest.

There was a terrific article in the Ottawa Citizen last Saturday about my writing that has generated a lot of interest in Cold Mourning. The book editor Peter Robb spoke with me by phone for about forty minutes and pieced together  a lovely piece from our conversation.

Linda Wiken aka Berkley Crime writer Erika Chase posted a Q and A with me in her Friday blog. Linda and I will be on a panel together at Left Coast Crime, which is coming up soon. Two weeks from now, I'll be packing my spring clothes for a week-long California jaunt. I don't thing the Arctic vortex can follow us there.

And the writing. I surpassed my word count this past week and am on schedule to hit 50,000 words by April. With the California trip and launch ahead, my time is going to get gobbled up, so I feel good that I've made progress on the manuscript. I'll be spending most of today at the keyboard. I also have to get at completing the paperwork for my income taxes. I will put it off, put it off, and then one night I won't be able to sleep thinking about the deadline, and then I'll get up and gather all my receipts and T-4 slips together. This is my modus operendi for tasks I really don't want to do.

If you are in the Ottawa area, I hope you're able to come out and raise a glass with me tomorrow at Whispers. Books on Beechwood will be there with copies of the book for sale and I'll be hanging around with a pen. I'm always very touched by everyone who comes out to support me and this crazy passion of mine as well as those who support me from afar. I'm especially happy that so many of you are taking this journey with me - I feel like I have a village at my back.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Books Galore

This is the winter that never ends. March 1 feels a lot like January 1 - below normal temperatures this past week and snow overnight. I think we're all starting to get a little weary. Environment Canada came out with the unwelcome prediction of a colder-than-normal March so no relief in sight.

But I've had a rather good week on the book front! Cold Mourning's official release date is today yet it's been in the stores a few weeks now. My copies of the book arrived by UPS on Monday. The excitement of holding the new book for the first time never gets old.

To show how far ahead the book business works, the cover for the second in the series was out earlier this week. What do you think?

I'm at the point in my current manuscript where I keep finding myself at the computer, clicking away. I was aiming for 40,000 words by today. I'm actually closing in on 43,000 words so ahead of schedule. I should hit the 45,000 mark by the end of this weekend, especially since the weather makes me want to stay indoors. My end goal is 90,000 words although I'll be happy with 80,000 since I always add chunks of text in the first round of editing.

I've written a few pieces for various requests coming in from other bloggers. Linda Wiken will be featuring me on her blog on Friday so I'll link to that next Saturday on this blog. I was also interviewed by Deputy Editor Peter Robb at the Ottawa Citizen and the article should be in today's book section. I enjoyed speaking with him and am curious to read what he thinks of Cold Mourning - he was in the process of reading it when we talked by phone.

post note - just heard from a Twitter follower that the article is indeed in today's Citizen! Can't wait to pick up a copy.

So, a writing weekend ahead,  ignoring the falling snow and the swirling polar vortex. Stay warm everyone. Maybe cozy up indoors with a pot of coffee and a good mystery :-)