Saturday, February 27, 2016

Live from Phoenix!

Hello from Left Coast Crime in hot and sunny Phoenix! This is the last full day at the conference before the dream ends and we return to the frozen/slushy/freezing-rainy North. I spent the morning with fellow Canadian crime writers Barbara Fradkin, Alex Brett and R.J. Harlick at the botanical gardens, looking at cacti and desert vegetation - trying to soak up enough rays to last through the last gasp of our Canadian winter. 

This has been a great conference - met some new authors and readers and friends from previous conferences. A group of us cabbed over to Scottsdale on Wednesday when we arrived for dinner on a patio and then an international author event at Poisoned Pen bookstore with owners Barbara Peters and David Hunenburg, who made us feel very welcome. They have a gorgeous store chock full of crime novels if you are ever in the neighbourhood. 

Yesterday, International guest of Honour Ann Cleeves joined some of us Canadians for lunch, again on an outdoor patio, and we had a lovely chat about her work and the book conferences in Britain. Ann writes two series that have both been filmed for television for the BBC and I highly recommend you check out her books if you haven't already. I am particularly a fan of the Jimmy Perez series set in the Shetland Islands, but the Vera Stanhope series is a favourite of many. you really need to sample both to decide!

in the evening, Crime Writers of Canada hosted a 'meet the Canucks' cocktail hour, complete with poutine appetizers, and we met a lot of readers and got to help spread the word about the fabulous crime fiction coming out of our country. We met a lot of friendly, enthusiastic American readers and called the event a resounding success. 

This evening is the banquet.  Alex Brett and I forgot to sign up for a table at registration as some authors choose to host a table and you have to get your name on the list. As luck would have it two people had just cancelled and they were to sit with Greg Hurwitz who is the American guest of honour. His latest book is being made into a movie with Bradley Cooper so we should have a very entertaining evening ahead.

I have lots of photos to share next week, but they need to be uploaded to my computer when I get home. Time to buy one of those fancy iPhones:-) Tomorrow is my panel before the dash to the airport. Still lots of fun ahead...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Getting Packed for Phoenix

So last week I stayed indoors because of bone-chilling temperatures (-45 C wind chill at its worst), and then I kept inside as a record amount of snow fell on Monday (51 cm) except to venture out for some shoveling over the next two days. Today, we have rain and freezing rain so I am once again hunkered down with no plans to step outside. This is perfect weather to read my first adult mystery In WInter's Grip if you haven't already - (I'm getting lots of inspiration for a sequel.)

I leave for Phoenix and Left Coast Crime on Wednesday and just checked the weather forecast. Looks like 29 to 30 C temps while there. I'm trying to remember what one wears in such above zero, sunny conditions.

In Phoenix, I'll be at the Poisoned Pen bookstore on Wed. evening along with other Canadian authors. A meet and greet with the bookstore's readers, including the Canadian snowbirds. On Friday evening, I'm part of the Crime Writers of Canada event, again introducing Canadian authors to the conference readers, and we have a solid contingent going this year. Finally, on Sunday morning, I'll be on a panel discussing sleuths in law enforcement. Then, a rush to the airport and home to winter in the North. I'll try to blog a bit and post some photos while I'm there so stay tuned.

One week from today is the official launch day for Tumbled Graves, but I know it was being distributed a few weeks ago. I've had a few readers who pre-ordered the book send their reviews to me already, and I've found this to be touching really. For someone whom I've never met to enjoy the book and series enough to take time to write to me makes me want to keep going on writing. Not to mention running into people I know who keep asking when they can get a copy :-)

I've managed about 3,000 words on the latest manuscript and it's starting to move along in the right direction. The one good thing about this crappy weather is that I've been at the keyboard more. I've also heard from the editor about the latest Anna Sweet manuscript and she says that I've 'done a great job setting Anna into motion again'. We'll be whipping the manuscript into final shape over the next month or so. One of my favorite parts is waiting for the cover art to show up in my inbox.

I spent an afternoon writing a guest blog post and taking photos of my office to go along with the post, which is about my favorite place to write. I have another guest blog post to write, but have more time to think of a subject since this one is wide open.

Lots to do.

But for now, more coffee and a hot bath to get the day underway. I plan to get in some writing and maybe work on my tax receipts before I settle in to watch the Scotties ladies curling on tv. We're entering into the month of national and international curling championships, which is an exciting time for those who love the sport, especially for those of us trying to avoid going outside on a rainy Saturday.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cold Enough For You?

If ever there was a weekend to stay inside with a good book and a cup of coffee, this would be it. I heard the words 'Arctic vortex' uttered by the weatherman on television for the first time last night. Minus 29 degrees C at the moment with a wind chill making it -45. The extreme weather alerts and frostbite warnings are more reason to snuggle in for the weekend.

I'm now on holidays until March 2nd with a trip to Phoenix in the mix. I have two guest blog posts to write, tax receipts to organize, and a new manuscript to get going on. I've been plugging away on the first chapter, but so far, am struggling with the voice of one of the characters. I can see her in my head, but she's not translating as I would like onto the page. I'm going to have to keep writing and tinkering until I get her right. She's taking up the bulk of chapter one so key to driving the story forward.

Still no author copies of Tumbled Graves in the post as of yesterday. If you can't wait for the April 3rd launch, Perfect Books has some copies for purchase, but I am hoping you can drop by the launch. Here is the official invitation, which I will be sending out soon - on my 'to do' list.

Coincidentally, Capital Crime Writers' guest speaker this past Wednesday evening was Ottawa Citizen journalist Ian MacLeod, who spoke about the decline of newspapers. I say coincidentally because it was the same day that about ten reporters were laid off or retired from the Citizen, sadly including Peter Robb, who supported local writers with book reviews and articles. A very sad day. This reminds me of the gloom and doom when books went digital and bookstores were shutting down. Now, there is a resurgence in bookstores, although modest with people realizing they missed holding books in their hands. I wonder if we will go through the same loss with the newspapers. We certainly need professional journalists to tell our stories and probe into scandals and the like. What form this takes is up for debate.

One plug for the Capital Crime Writers' short story contest. You do not need to be a member to submit a story as long as you are over eighteen and live in the National Capital Region. Stories can be up to 3,500 words and must contain a crime. For more details, visit the CCW website. The deadline is April 1st.

Okay, off to put on another pair of socks and top up my morning coffee mug.

Stay warm, my friends.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Tumbled Graves Makes Its Debut

You know that feeling of anticipation, waiting for something good to happen? Well, this is what it feels like waiting for a book to be released. Checking for reviews, watching for bookstores to say your book has been received, having the book in your's all part of the excitement and dare I say, trepidation. Kind of like waiting for your birthday when you're a kid...or the birth of your child, to which a new book is often compared.

Tumbled Graves is supposed to be released on February 27th, so imagine my surprise to get an e-mail from Jim the owner of Perfect Books on Elgin Thursday afternoon. Not only had he received copies, but he had them on the shelves and asked me to drop by to sign them. I made the trek from my office on Sparks Street to Perfect Books Friday lunch hour, and sure enough, he had about a dozen copies. I signed them all as well as a copy of Cold Mourning that a woman was purchasing as I walked in. I haven't yet received my author copies of the latest book so still waiting for this additional bit of joy.

The Ottawa book launch will be Sunday, April 3 at Whispers pub, a bit after the book becomes available, but March is a busy month and this was the first available date. I'm starting to get the word out and will ramp up toward the end of February. I hope you can save the date. 

As I left things last week, I had submitted the fifth Anna Sweet novella to my publisher at Grassroots Press. Well, her verdict is a big thumbs up! She said that the storyline captured her from the opening chapter and she never guessed the ending. As they say in hockey, score! The editing will start shortly and a cover design will follow. The title of this one is No Trace. We are also in discussion to do another project next year.

I started writing the opening chapter for the fifth Stonechild and Rouleau and managed the first 500 words. After I retread it, I wondered which undiscovered, traumatized part of me I'd pulled this out of because it was just that bit creepy. I have the outline of the plot in my head with characters and crime jotted down on paper. I'm intending to get the rest of the opening chapter written this weekend. I might need counselling or a stiff drink by Sunday night. 

We've been having one strange winter here in Ottawa. Barely any snow and days alternate between deep freeze and balmy. It rains and snows, melts and freezes. Last week felt like March and even the afternoon light reminded me of spring. January and February are normally the heart of winter and the time when many escape south for a reprieve from the cold. Already, I'm thinking about working in my garden and sitting outside reading. If this crazy weather continues, it won't be long. 

Lots of good stuff just around the corner! Have a good week, everyone.