Saturday, May 31, 2014

I Live to Edit

A fine looking weekend with lots to do both inside and outside - the Butterfly Kills manuscript has boomeranged back for another read through, due June 6. This is my last look so important to find any errors or inconsistencies this time around. I received it Tuesday afternoon and have been reading it in the evenings. I am now half-way complete. After June 6, the advance reading copies will be sent to reviewers and the release date appears to be early February. So great to see on Amazon that this book is already selling - people have been placing advance orders!

I started back on my latest manuscript and of course am pulled off again. My editor tells me that she's already made a pitch for it, sight unseen, and I can submit a synopsis and the first few chapters. I'll be pulling all this together after I finish editing Butterfly Kills.

And I leave this Thursday for Toronto and the Arthur Ellis awards dinner and Bloody Words. This will be a break from all the writing work, but still work of another sort. I'm involved in a Friday event catwalk of authors, showing off our book covers (fun or crazy?) and then up early Saturday morning for a nine a.m. panel and lunch with an Orca editor and a number of other authors. Saturday evening is another banquet. I'm not going to starve. Check back next week as I will do a blog entry from Toronto

So time to get this day underway. I'll review a few chapters before going to a plant nursery with Ted - he's doing great work on our back deck and now it's time to get the plants to finish off the scene. We're thinking a climbing rose and jasmine for the fence and I'm filling pots with flowers. It's hard to be inside editing when the weather is so gorgeous so I'm splitting myself in two. Half of me will be hard at work while the other half will be in the garden and lounging on the back deck . . .

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend and week ahead. May the June sun shine on us for the foreseeable future :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

At the Keyboard . . .

As promised, I spent my entire long weekend (with the exception of a few barbeques) editing my editor's edits for Butterfly Kills - yes, that's a lot of edits. What I appreciate about Jennifer McNight is that she questions the logic and facts thoughout the entire manuscript to make certain that I haven't left anything dangling or changed my facts from one chapter to the next. It's kind of amazing but understandable the errors in logic that occur over the course of an 80,000 word book written over the course of a year. I also wrote the acknowledgements and dedication and found a brief quote to start the book. We had a Friday deadline to get the draft to the next person in the process who will be formatting the manuscript into its final book form. I'll be having one more look at the text before my work is done on this one.

The trouble with taking this time out for editing is that the momentum on my latest manuscript came to a grinding halt. I plan to get back on track today. My characters are hanging on the edge of the action and I'm sure are eager to find out what will happen to them. I know I am.

Up next on the publicity front, I'm heading to Bloody Words in Toronto on June 5, going a day early for the Arthur Ellis awards dinner.

I received my panel assignment this week - Split personality (writing more than one series, or a series & stand-alones, or different subgenres…) and will be alongside Mary Jane Maffini, Lou Allin, Kate Jaimet and Caro Soles - should be a great chat. I have experience for this panel, having written short stories, YA series and standalone, adult standalone, adult series for both mainstream and literacy. . . . sometimes I forget which character belongs to which book. My book titles have been known to elude me on occasion :-)

I'm also doing a repeat engagement at Perfect Books on Elgin at Somerset during a lunch hour on Thursday, June 19. I keep thinking that I should organize some signings at the Chapters or Coles around the city, and will put out a few feelers. And I've been invited to my first book club gig in July and am most excited about that. This book club has invited a different mystery author every year for the past few and they've told me that it is a lovely time.

A gorgeous looking day out there this morning. I have a few errands to run, including a trip to the Parkdale Market to pick up some plants. I'm hoping to get into the garden (can't write every minute) and spend a little time relaxing in the backyard. Ted has made great strides with the deck project - I picture many evenings lounging here with our neighbours and a bottle of wine.

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Mystery Authors You Must Read

Before I get started reviewing all the edits made by Jennifer McNight, my Dundurn editor, just a few words about the past week. Last Saturday's event put on by Capital Crime Writers and the Ottawa Public Library was a resounding success. The morning kicked off with homemade baking and coffee (thanks Margaret Dunlop), followed by C.B. Forrest interviewing Peter Robinson, who'd come by train the evening before from Toronto. Peter Robinson is originally from England and sets his books there, but he has lived in Canada a long time and is considered one of our top crime writers. He gave a lot of insight into his writing and I have to say that a lot of it was comforting - he doesn't plot and often has to backtrack just as I do. Obviously, the 'fly by the seat of one's pants' method of writing can work! I bought a copy of his latest Inspector Banks novel Children of the Revolution, which Peter signed.

C.B. Forrest (on left) interviewing Peter Robinson
The day unfolded with three author panels - I was on one called "Mystery Striptease" after a delicious free homemade lunch (thanks again Margaret Dunlop). We discussed creating suspense and keeping readers reading to the end through slowly revealing the plot.

C.B. Forrest, Vicki Delany, me and Jeff Ross
A fun day all around - I especially enjoyed spending the time with my author friends and meeting mystery readers. Counsellor Katherine Hobbs moderated the day and we had a few special guests - Ottawa Sun reporter Jon Willing and CTV's Kurt Stoodley. Most encouraging for me, three of the readers came up to me to say they'd already read Cold Mourning and loved it - one told me to 'keep up the good work' :-) 
With Counsellor Katherine Hobbs

My next gig is the Arthur Ellis awards dinner followed by Bloody Words, our national mystery conference, in Toronto, starting June 5 and running through the weekend. I should be on a panel and am waiting for my assignment. Sadly, this will be the last Bloody Words but I hope that eventually someone or some group will step up to get another one going. These conferences are a ton of work - I was on the planning committee sprearheaded by Katherine Hobbs a few years ago when we brought Bloody Words to Ottawa. It was a whole year of planning and meetings to pull it off. Being part of the planning committee was also great fun and rewarding, especially securing Denise Mina as our international guest of honour and Louise Penny and Barbara Fradkin as our national guests of honour.
Well, I could chat away here all morning, but Butterly Kills is not going to edit itself. I'd best end here, get another cup of coffee, and get at it. I'm aiming to get through one hundred pages a day, but would like to get a bigger chunk done today so that I can get some other things done tomorrow, such as puttering in my garden.
Wish me luck.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Capital Mayhem

I'm heading downtown to the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library this morning to sit in on the Peter Robinson interview as part of Capital Mayhem, a joint venture by Capital Crime Writers and the OPL. I'll be on a 1:15 pm panel with fellow authors Jeff Ross and Vicki Delany with C.B. Forrest fielding the questions. Our topic is suspense in mystery novels. You are also welcome to come by for all or part of the day, all free although you had to preregister for the lunch. Check out the agenda - all day, Ottawa's top mystery authors will be available for meeting and schmoozing with and books will be available. Some local media personalities are also taking part.

And to help get you in the mood, an article in the Ottawa Citizen with writing advice from Ottawa's mystery authors!

I had a lovely afternoon last Saturday at Perfect Books on Elgin at Somerset. The owner Jim Sherman is a former English teacher and most knowledgeable about all the books he carries, which includes a solid mystery selection. The store is warm and welcoming and a great place to browse - in fact, Perfect Books was recently nominated in March for a Libris Award for Bookseller of the year! I'm going to be returning for a lunch hour signing on June 19 so a great chance for you to come by.

My daughter Lisa came by for a chat and took the picture below.

Yesterday, my Dundurn editor Jennifer McNight sent me Butterfly Kills with her track changes. I have until May 20 to review and accept or disagree. Then comes her second go round. Guess how I'll be spending my May long weekend?

And on I write. Walking to the bus the other morning, I was thinking over my recent manuscript when it struck me . . . I have my characters go apple-picking at the beginning of the story, but the story takes place in April. Since apple orchards are busy in the fall and not the spring, this became problematic. How to fix this glaring plot error? April is even too early for strawberry-picking, which Lisa and I do annually on the July 1st long weekend.. After some deliberation and rewriting, my characters are now on their way to a plant nursery to buy pansies . . . yes, this is the kind of detail that I can struggle with for over a week.

Time to get myself together and head downtown. Parking is free on Saturdays, by the way. I checked the parking meter this week to make sure. So, head down to the Library on Laurier - grab a coffee in the lobby as you head into the auditorium and prepare to be entertained. A day of mystery and book chat - what better way to spend a Saturday?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May Days

Today, I'm signing at Perfect Books on Elgin Street (at Somerset) from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. so this anchors my Saturday. It's another rainy day - Ted and I were discussing over coffee whether this would help to bring shoppers to the bookstore or whether a sunny day would be better. Elgin can be a vibrant walking street since it is lined in restaurants and shops, with apartments and condos nearby so we decided sunshine would be optimal - I will see shortly!

I've been getting such good feedback as people finish reading Cold Mourning. A few have told me that they got a kick out of reading about different neighbourhoods in Ottawa because they are so familiar. A friend Bill said that he is halfway through and he lay out whom he thought was the killer and why. I kept my lips buttoned but I expect another phone call soon when he finishes the book. Another friend Kathryn told me last night that she didn't guess the killer and she finds Kala Stonechild to be a great character. All music to my ears.

My Dundurn editor Jennifer McNight is working through the manuscript Butterfly Kills and I'll be getting her changes to review by May 20th with a second look by the 30th. The book will be out in January/February but we do the final editing early to get the advance reading copies to reviewers. I've got some distance from this manuscript since I haven't looked at it for nearly a year, so I'm looking forward to having another go at it.

As for the third Stonechild and Rouleau book, I'm 65,000 words in and had a eureka moment about the plot this week. It means changing a few things in the storyline, but I'm excited to see if I can pull the strands all together. I'm aiming to have a decent draft to Dundurn to have a look at by June.

Next Saturday, May 10 is the Capital Crime Writers and Ottawa Public Library mystery author day at the main branch on Laurier. The day begins with Peter Robinson being interviewed - not to be missed. A free homemade lunch will lead into an afternoon of panels and readings. I'll be on a panel with Vicky Delaney, Jeff Ross and C.B. Forrest at one o'clock. You can pop in for all or part without registering, but to have the complimentary lunch, you need to send in your name - Click on this link for more information.

So lots going on as we round the corner into May. Still cool, still rainy but the odd hour of sun to stave out massive depression. To lift our spirits, the refrain has become, "At least it's not snowing". I guess we're adapting our expectations to suit the conditions. The Canadian obsession with the weather continues . . .