Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Moment's Reflection

This week was one of terror, grief and heroism in Ottawa with the shooting and murder of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard over the tomb of the unknow soldier at the war memorial. And he was not the first soldier murdered. The week before, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run down by another crazed individual in Quebec.

For most of Wednesday, the entire downtown core was in lockdown as police and RCMP searched for a second shooter. I wasn't in the office that day. My first inkling that something was going on was reading an e-mail and then text message from my daughter Lisa asking if I was safe. She didn't know that I hadn't gone into work that morning. This was followed by phonecalls and e-mails from friends and family across the country checking in to make certain everyone was out of harm's way.

This week has shown so clearly how people pull together - that we care about each other and and mourn together in grief when a brave young man, with his life in front of him, is killed so tragically. Our first responders, those brave passersby who tried to save Nathan's life, our armed forces, police, the Seargent at Arms Kevin Vickers who confronted the shooter in the hallway of the House of Commons ... all who rush in to keep others safe, are our heroes. They keep the darkness at bay.

My mind hasn't been on writing although the projects continue. I managed to write 4000 words last weekend on my latest manuscript and feel like the engine is starting to rev. My editor Pam and I completed the last edits for A Model Death, which Grassroots Press will be releasing before the end of this year. I've also been asked to write a fifth Anna Sweet for 2016 and the contract will be arriving soon - so great news. I now have to write some questions for A Model Death for teachers and tutors to use with adult learners. I'll try to find time this week.

Today, I am taking part in the Kids' Lit Cafe from 2-4 at Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Lots of local authors will be talking books and writing with kids and CBC radio host Alan Neal will be interviewing two batches of authors and signing copies of his children's book (ccwritten with Neal Christopher) Ava and the Little Folk. I'm be talking to some kids about writing, giving some tips for becoming an author, and reading a short passage from Second Chances. I haven't done many kids' events in the past while since I've been writing the two adult series and it'll be great to be back with young readers again.

So time to get my day underway. Another cup of coffee, some music on the stereo, and this grey rainy day is starting to look like a good one. I hope wherever you are, you enjoy this fall weekend and take a moment to give thanks for all the people in your life and the people who dedicate themselves to keeping us safe.

 I know that I have.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Not Hibernating Yet

The big reveal: book #4 in the Anna Sweet mysteries from Grass Roots Press. Ta da...

So, what do you think? Several people who follow my Facebook page have said that they like it and find it striking. Not that I'm trying to influence your opinion.

And hard on the heels of the cover release came some more great news. The Hard Fall (2nd in the Anna Sweets) has been shortlisted by the Ontario Library Association for its Golden Oak award. This is an award for best in adult literacy books for 2014 and the final choice is made by librarians and adult learners in June in Toronto. So lovely news this week all around.

I made it downtown to Grounded Coffeehouse (a funky little spot on Gloucester at Metcalfe) on Wednesday night after my curling game to take part in the Mystery Cafe, organized by fellow Ottawa mystery author Mike Martin and featuring interviews and readings with my good buddies Mary Jane Maffini and Barbara Fradkin with musical entertainment by JD Robertson, Geoff Johnson and Daniel Laurin. There was a full house of mystery readers and it really was a  fun relaxed evening. Here are a few pics:

 Mike Martin, me (tucked in the back), Mary Jane Maffini and Barbara Fradkin
 A bigger me at the head of the line with Mike Martin and Mary Jane Maffini
Being interviewed (obviously with something serious to say) by Mike Martin
So switching gears this coming Saturday, I'll be taking part in the Kids Lit Cafe at the Greenboro Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. I'm to give a chat about writing to the older teens so am looking forward to that. A good line up of local children's authors will be talking to kids and being interviewed by Alan Neal from CBC Radio.
It's been one of the warmest weeks on record for October in Ottawa and around the country. Odd to see people in shorts and sandals when a week earlier we'd started wearing gloves and winter hats. The evenings have been sultry with warm rains starting a few days ago. An unusual autumn when our corner of the world is warmer than the southern States. A welcome reprieve before the snow and cold settle in.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Head Above Water

I've found it hard to get to my computer to get in writing time this week. Life seems to be picking up speed and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon.

This upcoming Wednesday evening, I'll be appearing at the Mystery Cafe along with Barbara Fradkin and Mary Jane Maffini with MC Mike Martine and musical guests. This is part of the Writers Festival and sponsored by Crime Writers of Canada and Apt 613. You can book a spot - Grounded Cafe is on Gloucester near Metcalfe. I'll be the last author on stage as I have to curl first .... speaking of busy.

I finished the second round of edits on A Model Death and punted the manuscript back to my Grass Roots editor Pam. I imagine I'll be seeing it one more time before we call it a wrap. I also received the four cover designs yesterday - one of my favourite moments of the process. You'll have to wait a bit longer though for the unveiling.

The trip to Kingston last weekend gave me some good locations as I frame out the plot for the fourth Stonechild and Rouleau. It was great to be touring around the city on a cool and rainy October day - just the setting I pictured for the opening chapters. Can you picture finding a body in the photo below?  Ted gamely drove me all over the place while I took photos and described what I was after. He did, however, refuse to get out of the car to check out locations up close.....not quite sure why :-)
But he did agree to join me for a beer at the Merchant pub on Princess Street. My cops make this their after work meeting place, so of course, we had to check it out. I think we checked it out the last time we went on a location search too. Just suffering for my art.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

On Location

Nice to wake up to the rain pattering on the roof this morning.Been a while since we had a rainy weekend. Regardless, Ted and I will spend a bit of time this weekend scouting some locations for the manuscript that I'm working on - I need to find a park or wooded area in Kingston for my latest body find. The story is set this time of year too, so I'll take lots of photos to keep the mood during the long winter days when I'm trying to conjure up autumn.

I received Pam's (my Grass Roots Publishing editor) edits for A Model Death (4th Anna Sweet mystery) and spent last weekend going through them. She has such a good eye and sure knows how to tighten up a story, especially since these have to be written for adult learners. I'm always delighted to have my adult content encouraged - by this I mean, I can have my characters drinking Scotch, commiting adultery and murder - no problem. I was asked when I started the series to include humour geared toward the adult audience, so these books might be written in a simpler language, but I am not writing down to anybody. I love that.

Anyhow, I returned the manuscript with my initial rewrites and comments and it has bounced back for me to tackle the remaining issues. I started going through the first chapters last night, but my work week was busy and I started curling two nights a week and exhaustion took over by eight o'clock. I have to say that I envy those authors who can get up in the morning and spend six hours a day writing when they are fresh and newly caffeinated. I have to wait for my second wind and often find myself at the keyboard at nine at night - later on weekends.

So, almost through the first week of October. Ted and I are married thirty-one years on Wednesday. After all these years together, there's still nobody else I'd rather troop around autumn woods with looking for a place to dump a body. I guess they call this undying love ....