Saturday, March 31, 2018

Springing In

Good Easter weekend everyone. Spring is in the air (albeit a cool spring) and the cardinals are back. I've already been shopping and beat the crowds at Farm Boy - helps if you're there before 8 a.m. on a Saturday :-) This Sunday, I'm not cooking a big meal as Ted thought it would be good to go to a brunch at a local golf course. What, no shopping, baking, house cleaning, cooking all day, washing a truckload of dirty dishes and cleaning up the house again? Yes, I think I can handle a change in tradition ... although I do like hosting the big family and friend suppers now and then too.

Writing is going well this week. Rounding in at 14000 words on the latest manuscript and getting a pace going most days. This one is taking some research so I'm learning lots about a new area of the country - I'm thinking a road trip would be great but not sure I have the time. I suppose only the locals will know when I've taken liberties with the geography.

Publications that review a book usually send an advance copy of the review to the publisher as a courtesy. One major U.S. publication sent an advance review to Dundurn this week for Bleeding Darkness and it is a very good one. So that lifts the spirits. I can't share it until it is officially released in May. You can enter now, however, for an advance reading copy of Bleeding Darkness if you are on Twitter - simply retweet the Dundurn post that offers the chance to win one of five copies. I'm not sure how long this will be running so best to retweet it soon. You can find it if you search for #StonechildRouleau.

I'm going to start sending out the invitation for the book launch on June 3rd once this weekend ends. The invitations can go out too early and people forget, or too late and they have other plans. I'm never certain if I've got it right, but so far so good with the crowd. This time I'm delighted to have a band playing - Green Floyd will be keeping the event rocking. Should be a great afternoon!

So another week of writing ahead and likely some editing as I expect the final comments for the Anna Sweet novella to pop back into my in box early this week. I'm still liking this one even after all the rereading and tweaking so that's a good sign. Usually, I've lost all perspective and fondness for a book by the time we're done dissecting and polishing.

I wish everyone a lovely weekend with lots of chocolate and time to enjoy a few days off. In honour of spring, I'll close with a poem we used to write in each other's autograph books when we were kids:

Tulips in the garden
Tulips in the park
But the tulips I like best
Are the two lips in the dark.

(I didn't say it was an award-winning poem:-)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Little Catch Up

Spring is officially here and the big melt is on in Ottawa. Time to clean stuff. Get out the barbecue and lawn furniture ... well, maybe in another month. The morning sunshine and later sunsets sure are uplifting though.

Again this week, I worked on the return edits for Killer Heat, the Anna Sweet manuscript. There weren't too many more changes to review, and I have to say, the novella is coming together nicely. We still haven't settled on a cover so that will be the next thing and I'll have to write a cover blurb. You might wonder who writes all the cover blurbs - for my books, I've written every one! I've looked at other covers of mystery and thriller writers whose work I like and tried to use the same technique and style. There's an art to writing an effective one for sure. You have to give some of the plot, but not too much, give a taste of the suspense, and entice the reader to want to read the book. Then the publisher adds a little bio and some recommendation quotes and voila!

I also got in some writing on the latest Stonechild book, now approaching 10,000 words. the characters are taking shape and the crime is in the works - it's taking place over a few chapters. I actually stopped and made chapter notes this time so I feel quite organized :-) Every book is like jumping off a cliff - never sure if the parachute is going to open.

I'm going to have to step back from writing and editing soon to get into the marketing and publicity side of this profession. I've agreed to a few events: April 16, I'll be one of four authors appearing at the meeting of a local group of about thirty members and April 18 is the Arthur Ellis awards shortlist event at Chapters Rideau from 7-9 p.m. And of course, the Ottawa launch of Bleeding Darkness will be Sunday, June 3 from 2-4 p.m. at the Cross on Elgin. All welcome. I still need to send out the invitations and I'm going to see about lining up some Chapters signings as well. My publicist and I have come up with some information for media and I hope to get some interviews. In this regard, my hometown local newspaper phoned this week and interviewed me by telephone.

The book I'm reading this week is American Marriage by Tayari Jones, which is an Oprah bookclub pick. The writing is great and so far (am half-way through) a good read. I've also been watching Offspring on Netflix - an Australian comedy/drama recommended by some friends. In the episode I watched this week, a main character unexpectedly dies - I looked the series up online and apparently, when this episode played in Australia, the country was devastated. So much so, the actual Australian police had to put out a news release reminding people this was a fictional character and to stop phoning in asking for an investigation. Needless to say, the series draws you in, but it's a time investment with seven seasons and about thirteen episodes for each. Until the weather really starts warming up, I've got the time to watch ...

Have a good week, everyone. Not much longer until the tulips are up!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

In the Dregs of Winter

Is it just me or do these weeks seem to be zipping by? It feels as if Saturday mornings - when I write my weekly blog - are arriving more often than they used to :-)

I spent this week working on my latest Stonechild manuscript. As I wrote last week, I was having difficulty settling into this one and thought about chucking the first 5000 words and starting over. I'm now approaching 8000 words and have rewritten the opening chapter. The plot line is starting to shape up, hopefully with enough interesting characters to carry the story. I'm thinking about a field trip for this one as I've moved the setting north although the internet is a great resource for getting the geography right.

I thought that I'd be working on the Anna Sweet manuscript but received word last weekend that my editor Pam had to go out of town on a family matter so her edits are postponed until things are sorted. It's not a bad idea to take breaks from editing anyhow - gives perspective and a fresher set of eyes. I know I'm happy for the break.

Bleeding Darkness received some terrific advance reviews from bloggers this week. Breakaway Reviews in the United Kingdom says: "Bleeding Darkness is one of the best murder mysteries I have ever read..."  and  Joanne Hurley writes: "Recommended for anyone looking for a well-written and well-crafted mystery." My publisher wants me to let you know that the book is available for pre-order from all the book chains and independents so please help spread the word. It is due out early May and apparently advance sales help to make a bestseller with even more profile on the book sites. Kind of chicken and egg scenario ... to get higher profile and more sales, the book first has to sell ...

February was deceptive, making us feel like spring was around the corner. We've been back to snow and cold and depressing winter-like weather. So today I'll stay indoors and will keep working away at the computer. Happily, I got my taxes organized and in to my accountant and have checked that off my to-do list. I still have the office cupboards to clean out but they've been stuffed to the rafters for ten years so no rush. We're still waiting for spring after all.

Finally this week I'd like to send a shout out to Elfrieda Bock, a fellow curler at the Granite. She told me this week that she'd recommended Cold Mourning to her book club and they'd discussed it at this month's meeting. How nice is that?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

All Good Things

This feels like a waiting time. Bleeding Darkness comes out in a few months and it's time to get some publicity lined up. It's also a period of waiting for the first reviews, particularly from media. It's still a bit early to do much promoting of the Ottawa book launch, happening June 3rd although I've been getting enquiries. Here is the invitation - yes, everyone is welcome!

I spent this week going through the edits for Killer Heat, the next Anna Sweet novella. My editor Pam is incredibly thorough and combs the text from an adult literacy - student viewpoint. Not only does the language have to be concrete without too many syllables, but every action has to be logical without some of the inferences that more advanced readers make. Add to this, the fact that this is book seven in a series, but a reader should be able to pick it up and understand everything about the characters without having read any of the other books. No small challenge. So, I returned the manuscript with my revisions to Pam on Thursday and await its return for the next round of edits.

After the editing, I got back to working on my income taxes. Man, I hate paperwork but it always feels good to get it done. Writers can claim expenses for anything writing-related, such as trips to conferences or events not paid for by publishers and membership fees to writing organizations. This means keeping and organizing receipts - not unlike the paperwork required for any small business. Every year, I promise myself I'll stay on top of recording my expenses, but it's always easy to set it aside for that rainy day that never seems to come. I was a bit better this past year, but still had a few days' work left to do. Almost there ...

Which leaves me free to get back to the Stonechild manuscript this weekend. I was almost ready to scrap what I've written so far and start over, but I'm going to give it a bit more rope. It still feels as if the plot isn't nailed down - this one is coming more slowly than any of the others and maybe it's because this is the last book in the series. I've also moved the setting and have to do more research. Anyhow, the key is keeping at it and hoping that things start coming together ... soon.

And back to the waiting. No Trace is shortlisted for the Golden Oak and the winner is announced next month. This year's Arthur Ellis award shortlists will be announced in April and I have a novel (Shallow End) and novella (Missing Her) both in the running. One last big waiting, potentially good thing - the Stonechild books have been optioned for a possible tv series by an L.A. screenwriter and he says he'll be pitching them soon to networks. While I know this is a long shot, still exciting to even consider the possibility.

Not to mention, we're all waiting for spring to arrive. I'm not going to miss that layer of snow and ice on the car every morning or the snow/slush on the roads. Soon, we'll be back in the garden and sitting in the backyard with a cup of tea and a book.

Just a bit more waiting ...

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Big Sleepless

So apparently it takes two weeks to get over jet lag when you've travelled a twelve-hour time change. I'm still not sleeping properly but feel less exhausted than even a few days ago when we returned from South Korea. I've managed to get back at my manuscript and am approaching the 5000-word mark. Still, it's been hard to concentrate for long.

I'd written a few scenes before we went to the Olympics that were limiting my plot lines. I gave these first draft chapters a lot of thought while away and made revisions before tackling a new chapter. I feel like I've gotten the train back on track, but I'm still working through the crime details - the who,  how, where and why. Sort of fumbling my way at this point and hoping I have enough fodder for a solid plot.

Yesterday, I received the latest Anna Sweet manuscript with the first edits from my Grass Roots Press editor Pam. She has some suggestions for plot changes that I have to review and decide whether they make the story stronger or not. I'm letting it sit until Monday and see a few dedicated days of work ahead. It's difficult to reengage with a manuscript once I've moved on to a new project, but part of the process. I submitted the sixth Stonechild manuscript in December and have yet to start editing that one. More fun and eye strain to come.

I read an interesting psychological thriller this week entitled The Woman in the Window. It follows in the footsteps of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl. A. J. Finn has a wonderful writing style and brings the Hitchcock suspense from Rear Window into a new story with an alcoholic flawed protagonist named Anna Fox. A good read if you're looking for a suspenseful recommendation. Finn's story on his road to becoming published is interesting in its own right.

The first reviews are coming in from blog book reviewers who received an advance copy of Bleeding Darkness through Netgalley and they've been overwhelmingly positive. You can find them on Good Reads, but some give away a bit of the plot so beware :-)

Time for coffee and another day of trying to stay awake past suppertime. Hopefully, next time you hear from me, I'll have managed to sleep past four a.m.

Good week ahead, everyone.