Saturday, May 28, 2016

Keeping it Real...But Not Too Real

I'll be spending this sweltering Saturday afternoon in air conditioned Chapters Gloucester signing copies of the Stonechild and Rouleau series. If anyone is in the area and has time to drop by, it would be lovely to see you. If you have friends who would like copies of any of the books, please pass the word along. I'm there between 1:00 and 4:00.

I've had a productive writing week, moving the plot along on my latest manuscript and putting some thought into next scenes. A cold case murder is intersecting with a current one and the plot is starting to get intriguing to write as I manipulate the characters. I've found that there is normally a character in the list of suspects that becomes the most interesting one--psychologically and voice-wise--and this is the case again. I'm never quite sure where they come from.

But I can hazard a theory...

A couple of my friends commented the other day as we sat outdoors on the veranda that they recognized bits of stories they'd told me and incidents from the news in my books. Changed and anonymous bits, of course, but kernels of recognizable tales embedded in my story lines....I think authors are like magpies, always on the lookout for shiny gems we can coax into a plot or slip into a character. We tuck the story away in our memories where it can grow, mutate or disappear with time. Sometimes, we don't even know where the idea came from when it finally slips out onto the page although later we might piece together its origin.

The one rule I've got in writing fiction (or my main rule anyhow) is not to embarrass or hurt anyone by telling tales that can be easily linked back to that person. I would never, for example, write a book like Mommy Dearest. I might ground some stories in reality but everything in my books is complete and utter fiction. As Linwood Barclay said at the recent Ottawa Writers Festival, we're just making stuff up.

So Monday, I'm getting a new photo taken for book covers and publicity. I'm getting my hair cut in the morning in time to make it to the photographer's studio. My hair's gone  blonder (smile) since my last photos were taken a few years back and the laugh lines have gotten deeper. I suppose it's not fair to have readers expect that a young brunette will appear at readings and have the real me show up. (Although I'm kind of partial to that younger brunette I once was.)

Next Saturday, June 4, Prose in the Park will be taking place in the park next to the Parkdale Market. I'll be there most of the day at the Capital Crime Writers table so come by and chat. There will be some terrific authors and panels going on throughout the day so check out the schedule and plan to attend some of these free talks. I'm going to be on the Code of Conduct panel on stage one between 3:00 and 4:00. As well, I'll also be briefly interviewed and will do a short reading from Tumbled Graves sometime  between 11:00 and noon. There will be many tables set up with authors selling books so a chance to wander around and meet writers and check out their work.

A good week ahead.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Merry in May

May long weekend and a glorious warm, sunny three days ahead. I've already watered the garden and had a coffee on the front verandah with Ted. I'll be heading to the Parkdale Market to buy some annuals as soon as I finish this blog post. So much to do...

Two events coming up on the writing front. As mentioned last week, I'll be at Chapters Gloucester next Saturday from 1:00-4:00 p.m. signing copies of Tumbled Graves and the other books in the Stonechild and Rouleau series. Come by and say hello if you are in that neck of the woods.

And on Saturday, June 4, I will be at Prose in the Park, located next to the Parkdale Market. I'll be there most of the day at the Capital Crime Writers table with copies of books for purchase, so lots of time to chat if you come by. I'll be on a panel entitled Code of Conduct on Stage one from 3:00 to 4:00 with some great crime writers coming together from different corners of the country: Ian Hamilton, Dietrich Kalteis, Peter Kirby and John Farrow. An event not to be missed.

Writing is coming along. I'm just over 20,000 words on the latest manuscript. I stalled a bit as I struggled to work out some of the plot and how to proceed with telling the story. I appear to be on track now to make progress. It's now a question of keeping my bum in the chair and making my target word count each day.

So, off to the market now. To wrap up my week, here is a picture of the puppy Trooper that I'm looking after a couple of days a week. He's also quite fond of my garden and here is pretending to be a garden ornament. Hoping I won't notice he ate a couple of plants and dug a few holes.

Have a great, relaxing long weekend, everyone!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

New Cover Revealed!

The big reveal has been...well, revealed. The designer at Dundurn came up with two cover options, both of which I liked. When pressed to choose my favorite, I made a selection and they promptly went with the other. Maybe reverse psychology?! Seriously though, I'm a fan of this one too and it really was a toss up. Let me know what you think of this new cover for the fourth Stonechild and Rouleau.

Writing is going well and I have a new little companion two days a week to keep me around the house. Puppy-sitting Lisa and Robin's new corgi Trooper helps keep me entertained between bouts at the computer. Such a face!

The Anna Sweet manuscript No Trace arrived back in my e-mail late today for one final look so I have this to go through by Monday. Nothing else brewing until Saturday, May 28 when I sign books at Gloucester Chapters between one and four. Hope somebody out there drops by to keep me company for some of it :-)

As I mentioned last week, I picked up a copy of A Spy Among Friends by Ben McIntyre about British double agent Kim Philby and finished reading it today. I made a Youtube search and found the clip of him in his home in 1955 denying that he was spying for the Russians and tipped off two other Russian double agents, Burgess and Maclean, who escaped to Russia before they were apprehended. Apparently, those who knew he was a double agent found his performance in lying quite stunning even by spy standards. Ian Fleming, John Le Carre and Graham Greene were all in his circles and Le Carre writes an  "Afterword" at the end of the book. If you are looking for a nonfiction thriller, put this book on your summer reading list.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

My Book Recommendations for Summer Reading!

I spent a very pleasant hour last Saturday at Books on Beechwood, greeting patrons and acting as a volunteer salesgirl. Charlotte Gray was working the floor the hour before me and it was lovely to meet her. I read her book Sisters in the Wilderness some years back and was most impressed by her storytelling. Books on Beechwood had each of the visiting authors select their favourite books to recommend to readers and had copies in the store for us to promote. I picked up a copy of one of Charlotte's recommendations entitled A Spy Among Friends by Ben MacIntyre, which tells the story of British double agent Kim Philby. I'm about a third of the way through and it's a fascinating read about the spy business and all the various players going on during the Second World War. My goodness, those people drank like fishes!

 So here, to the best of my recollection, is the list of books that I recommended (all of which you can find at Books on Beechwood :-)

1.  Raven Black - Ann Cleeves
2.  Forty Words for Sorrow - Giles Blunt
3.  The Cold Cold Ground - Adrain McKinty
4.  The Black Echo - Michael Connelly
5. Wire in the Blood - Val McDermid
6. Red Wolf - Liza Marklund
7. The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion (not a crime novel but a funny, original story and a great read)

I also chose the first Paddy Meehan book by Denise Mina, but they couldn't get it in for some reason. I believe Perfect Books on Elgin has a selection of Mina books if you are looking. Meehan is an investigative journalist working on a Scottish newspaper and just a great flawed female character with some interesting plot lines thrown in. Excellent writing.

I have a new Chapters signing set up for the end of the month with Chapters Gloucester. This will take place Saturday, May 28 from 1:00 to 4:00 all you east end Ottawa folks. A new part of the city for me to visit.

I've been retired from the government for five weeks now and am settling in to a decent writing routine, meeting and exceeding my 500 word a day target except on the odd day when I have other fish to fry. I manage to double my word count the next day, however, and am now at 15,700 words on this latest manuscript. I also received two cover options - both great - for Shallow End from Dundurn's designer and we all had difficulty choosing the best of the two. I finally selected one and can't wait to show you the final version when it becomes available.

Okay, so I can now officially confirm that I love being retired. So much time to spread out and do all the things I normally put off. I'm slowly but surely learning to relax and let days unfold as they will while still getting accomplished what I set out to do each day. And, I get to sleep in past 5:30! Luxury.

So much to do and much time...
Until next week, my friends. Make sure to find time to kick back and enjoy this beautiful month of May:-)