Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Year That Was and the Year to Come

The last day of 2016. Looking back, this has been a good year for me on the writing front. Tumbled Graves, fourth in the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series, was launched in early March while the fifth Anna Sweet novella No Trace was published in September.

At the Whispers Pub launch with Wendy Pell, Mona Simpson, Carol Gage and Nancy LeBrun

In February, I flew to Left Coast Crime in Phoenix with good friend Alex Brett and spent a great few days in the sun with fellow crime writers and readers. I was part of a book signing at the famous Poisoned Pen mystery bookstore and sat on a panel as part of the conference.
 Poisoned Pen Bookstore event
A morning at the Phoenix botanical gardens - Barb Fradkin, Alex Brett and me

I continued writing throughout the summer and fall, submitting the final draft manuscript for the fifth Stonechild book to Dundurn in early December. We also edited Shallow End (fourth in the series) and prepare for its release in early March 2017. Most exciting, I got word late summer that the first two books in the series, Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills would be made into audio books, and I was part of the process to pick the actress to read the books. I travelled to Toronto in late October to sit in on a recording session with voice actress Michelle St. John and sound technician Dan Harden. The audio books will be released early spring as well.

Michelle St. John
With Dan Harden and my Dundurn publicist Michelle Melski

And the events continued throughout the year. I was invited to two local book festivals: the Ottawa International Writers Festival in April and Prose in the Park in June. Both were great fun with terrific crime writers to share the stage.
Ottawa Writers Festival with Linwood Barclay and John Lawton above and Barb Fradkin and Joy Fielding below.
 (l to r)  Peter Kirby, Ian Hamilton, me, Dietrich Kalteis and John Farrow
At the Capital Crime Writers tent (Prose in the Park) with Linda Wiken, Tom Curran, Patricia Filteau, Joe Italiano and Madonna Skaff

Not to mention, all the signings and visits to book clubs and organizations as a guest author in 2016 ..

Chapters Gloucester in October
Manotick book club with Mary Jane Maffini hosted by Janet Claridge in September

It was indeed a busy writing year and 2017 promises to be even busier! Thank you for continuing to take this journey along with me - I feel that much stronger knowing you're out there. I begin the New Year with two book club visits in Ottawa and Cobourg, a trip to Toronto to the Ontario Library Association's annual conference, and the Shallow End and audiotape launch. I'll be visiting some bookstores as well for signings and hope to meet you along the way.

Happy New Year, everyone. I raise my glass with you at midnight and wish you much joy and good health in 2017.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Moments

Seasons Greetings, everyone! Christmas Eve and the start of Hanukkah this evening - lovely to have this time of celebration with family and friends, near and far. I love the Christmas lights on homes and trees, fires in the grate and candles on the mantel. This is the darkest stretch of the year with the sun descending soon after four o'clock in Ottawa so the lights are little beacons of hope to warm the night and bring some cheer.

So, we have the Christmas songs playing and I'm making final preparations for supper tonight and a turkey dinner tomorrow. The gifts are wrapped and the wine is cooling. It's time to relax and enjoy the anticipation.

As you take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy the afternoon, I thought I'd share a a few lines from poem I've always loved, written by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman around 1900.

A January Morning

The glittering roofs are still with frost; each worn
Black chimney builds into the quiet sky
Its curling pile to crumble silently,
Far out to westward on the edge of morn,
The slender misty city towers up-borne
Glimmer faint rose against the pallid blue;
And yonder on those northern hills, the hue
Of amethyst, hang fleeces dull as horn.

Such a beautiful image of winter. I sometimes used to think of this poem as I rode the bus early mornings to work in the downtown. There's a spot where we'd reach the top of a hill on Scott Street and the centre core of buildings would stretch into the sky with the Ottawa River and Gatineau Hills to the left. On the frosty winter mornings with the sun half-risen, the smoke from buildings would hang suspended in the violet-black sky. I'd feel this warmth inside that I recapture when I read this poem.

Christmas Eve is a time to stop and be moved by the beauty of the winter season, and so I wish each of you your own moments of peace, joy and warmth as you celebrate the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah and much happiness in 2017.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Holiday Treasures

Another snowy, cold day in Ottawa but feels right as we celebrate Christmas tonight with our daughter Lisa, her husband Robin and three friends since Lisa and Robin will be out of town with his family next week. Bourbon ham slow cooked on the BBQ was the request with fruit crisp for dessert. We've got the fire in the grate ready to light and the wine cooling - should be a good evening all around. And of course, Christmas next week with our other daughter Julia!

I stopped shredding papers and began writing the sixth Anna Sweet novella. I'm still at the stage of working through the crime in my head and where I want this story to go, but I find it is always helpful to just sit down and begin typing. I'm half-way through the first chapter and tinkering at this stage. I'm ahead of schedule and have time to experiment :-)

A few events are lining up for the new year. January 22, I visit the Reader Mortis book club (what a great name!) The Russell Public Library received a grant to have me in on International Book Day (April 24) for a reading and chat. I'll also be going to the Ontario Library Association annual conference in Toronto in early February and plans are in the works for me to visit a mystery book club in Cobourg that same trip. Not to mention, I have to plan an Ottawa launch of Shallow End and the audio books, so lots of fun ahead.

Well, a short entry today as I get back to chopping apples and whipping cream. I hope that you are also managing to enjoy this season, not sweating the small stuff, taking each moment as a gift with family and friends. Time passes so quickly and we need to stop and live in the moment and appreciate all the wonder in our lives.

One more week until Christmas Eve....

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Shifting Gears

I completed a second edit and submitted the manuscript for book five in the Stonechild and Rouleau series to Dundurn mid-week. I like this one and hope this is a good sign - usually, I've OD'd on the manuscript at this point in the process so unusual that I'm still taken with the storyline. There's one character in particular whom I've grown very fond of, named Lauren McKenna. She's mid-thirties, something of an alcoholic, sleep-around kind of girl, struggling through life, but not totally broken. Her journey through this story had me gripped, even as her creator.

And you might wonder about the title. I've submitted a working title that might become the final title if the editors like it. Ta da -- Bleeding Darkness -- what do you think (keeping in mind I had to have a two-word title in keeping with the rest of the series)?

So, I took the rest of the week off and began cleaning out papers in my office, giving my shredder a good workout. You can see that I still have a ways to go.

You don't even want to know what I've got in the cupboards.

For those asking when the audio books for Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills will be released, I received word that we're looking at March 2017, so same time as Shallow End hits the shelves. This might call for a big party! Taping has finished for both books and they are currently being edited, which I'm told takes a while. 

Feeling Christmasy out there with snow on the ground and another storm on its way. I also got out shopping this past week and began hauling out the decorations. The turkey is ordered and I'm getting my baking lined up. We're having smaller gatherings this year but spread out over a few weeks. I'm using this time to recharge my battery, clear my head and prepare for my next project. Taking some time to smell the roses.

Two weeks until Christmas Eve ....

Saturday, December 3, 2016

First Review A Good One!

Happy Saturday, everyone. I must confess that I've been editing a manuscript but not as doggedly as I should have because I've been watching Canada Cup curling on TSN since Wednesday. For those of you who don't know, my daughter Lisa plays lead on the Homan team and they're in a semi-final this afternoon. My daily editing quota might be even lower this weekend :-)

The very first reviewer posted her review for Shallow End on Goodreads yesterday and gave it five out of five stars. I find that waiting for the first few reviews is always nail-biting time, so very pleased for this one. I know I speak for all authors when I say that reader reviews in addition to reviews from those who write book reviews as a profession, are important. Amazon will give books with over ten reviews more visibility in their search engine, for example. There are lots of places to post your comments, such as your public library site, Chapters, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Facebook, Twitter ... the more the better really!

I have always found self-promotion and publicity uncomfortable, having grown up in the generation before selfies when we were told not to brag or hog the limelight. While this remains true for me, I look at the promotion part of this business as promoting my books rather than myself ... if people don't know about the series, they will never buy or read any of the books after all. I also realize that readers genuinely like to know more about the authors whose work they like, and this part of the business I enjoy. I've visited three book clubs this year and find these to be a treat - a chance to relax and talk about the books and meet some really interesting people.

I've been asked several times recently about the audio books for Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills and when they'll be for sale. I haven't heard anything recently, but expect that the recordings are finished and in the editing process. I should be receiving the tapes for my review soon (so exciting) and will let you know when I find out more about their release dates. I've also been asked a lot about when the next book in the Stonechild series will be coming out, and that will be Shallow End in early March 2017 although advance reading copies are being reviewed as I type.

So, I have an hour now to get some editing done before the curling starts. No time to waste ....

(Only three weeks until Christmas Eve. I finished my Christmas cards and nearly done my gift shopping. I think I'm on track!)