Saturday, September 29, 2018

Seeing Out September

Last week saw six tornadoes touch down in Ottawa Gatineau, causing massive power outages and untold destruction to homes and trees in isolated areas. First responders and hydro workers have worked tirelessly to get the city up and running and to help those most affected. Miraculously, nobody died although a handful of people suffered injuries, a few severe, and we are all hoping they are soon back in good health. The new alert system really did save lives, according to media reports. This was a climate change wake up call if there ever was one.

Once the power returned, I settled in to do some writing, but had issues with my desktop computer. I took it in for servicing, kicking myself for not updating my backup copy of the latest manuscript. I kept working on my laptop, hoping that my work wouldn't be lost. Happily, the computer came back with my manuscript intact. My second wake up call of the week :-)

I've been invited back to the 1310 News Radio's Power Lunch with host Mark Sutcliffe this coming Thursday from noon to 12:30. There certainly is a lot of news to delve into lately. The show is broadcast live on Rogers Cable 22 and 1310 News Facebook Live as well as 1310 radio (link above) Tune in if you have time!

I'm also taking part in a Books on Beechwood mystery evening with fellow crime fiction authors Barbara Fradkin and Iona Wilshaw. All are welcome to come out on Friday, October 12 from 7 to 9 p.m. The location is Books on Beechwood bookstore, 35 Beechwood Avenue. We'll be presenting our latest works and I hear wine and cheese are on the menu.

One final update for this week. The L.A. screenwriter who optioned my Stonechild books for a television series has renewed the option for another three months. He's working hard behind the scenes on a pitch to studios so good the prospect is still in play. I recognize how difficult it is to actually reach production, but still exciting to contemplate

So, more writing this weekend as I round into the final chapters of this last Stonechild and Rouleau book. It's starting to feel as if I'm on the downhill whoosh, picking up speed and having fun pulling everything together. I must say that it's easier to sit inside and work now that the weather has turned cooler. Once the first draft is complete, I'll have a lot of editing to get through, but still with a few months before deadline.

And we're sliding into October ... pumpkins, turkey dinners, falling leaves, Halloween ... one of my favourite times of year. Enjoy the day, everyone.

A pic from last year

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Such a Good Week ... Until the Tornado!

So, my post was ready and the tornado hit west Ottawa taking out the power and Internet for a full 24 hours - but we're up and running as of a half hour ago. So without further ado ...

The first official day of autumn - well at 9:54 tonight to be exact. A gorgeous time of year in the Ottawa Valley before we settle in for the cold, snowy days ahead. If you've forgotten what those frigid days feel like, you can pick up copies of In Winter's Grip and Bleeding Darkness, where I've used winter as a chilly backdrop to murder. Ba da boom.

On Tuesday afternoon, I drove across the city to Orleans to meet with five lovely women in their newly formed book club to discuss Cold Mourning and writing over cups of tea. They were well prepared with questions, and happily, all liked the book:-) The time flew by with lots of interesting discussion and much laughter. They've since emailed me that they now consider themselves my groupies and have started reading Butterfly Kills and have put the entire series on their book list. How great is that?!

(sitting l to r) Audrey and Arlene, (standing l to r) Lynn, Laura and Rhonda -
 Thank you for all your hospitality and enthusiasm!
Signing some copies 

I had a quieter week overall and managed to get some writing in. I'm at the part in the book where I'm mulling over the how in the heck my detectives are going to put the clues together and find the killer(s). It's one thing for me to know motives and to manipulate the characters but quite another to have the cops figure everything out. As this is also the last Stonechild book in the series, I have some extra ends to tie up. Happily, I have a few quiet weeks ahead to get in more writing/thinking time.

Oh, and another good moment this week ... The Glebe Report published a terrific review of Bleeding Darkness in the section 'Books for the Season'. Between this and the book club visit, I felt like my cup ran over with so much encouragement and so many kind words.

Be sure to check out 7 Criminal Minds blog on Monday where I'll be answering the weekly question about how I keep my writing 'fresh and original'. Four more crime fiction writers will be answering the same question over the course of the week so a great chance to peek into our thought processes ... if you dare.

Off to find another cup of coffee. Good week ahead, everyone.

Hmmm. Groupies. One could get used to the sound of that ....

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Write On

A good writing week. I managed to draft a few scenes in the latest manuscript and am at the 58,000 word mark. I'd planned to be at 60,000 words at the end of August but the edits of Turning Secrets threw a wrench into that schedule. Speaking of which, I received some final comments and questions about Turning Secrets on Friday that I need to respond to by Tuesday. Nothing major, but will take a bit of time. The manuscript is like a boomerang!

I'm visiting a book club on Tuesday so that should be fun. The Ottawa Public Library has also lined me up to visit two groups of new immigrant women in October to speak about the Anna Sweet novellas and other high-low books, which are written for adult literacy and English as a second language. When I taught years ago, I worked with some adults on improving their reading skills and lamented that we had to read kids' books. Somebody must have been listening - these novellas are adult themes and subjects but at a grade 3-5 level. Grass Roots Press publishes the Anna Sweet mysteries and their entire focus is adult literacy and ESL. Such good resources if you're teaching in this field. In addition to the series, I worked on a book of main idea paragraphs at the grade five level last year and believe the book will be published this fall.

I haven't had a lot of time to read lately but am currently reading Louise Penny's The Beautiful Mystery. Louise has a huge Canadian and international following and has won many, many awards for her series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and set in the fictional town of Three Pines in the Eastern Quebec townships. Still Life is the first in this acclaimed series if you are looking for a new mystery author to read and haven't sampled Louise's work before. Louise is a former CBC radio host and a natural speaker in addition to being a fine writer.

So, last week, Ted and I visited friends in Niagara wine country and managed to visit a few wineries, including the Niagara Wine College where we took a morning tour. The weather started out warm but cooled during our visit, a sign of the autumn weather to come. Niagara is an area of the country you need to put on your bucket list if you've never been. The beautiful countryside, fresh fruit and vegetables, and fabulous restaurants make it well worth the visit (in addition to all those wineries).

Niagara Wine College also makes beer!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Gone Fishing

I'm taking a bit of a holiday this week. In St. Catharines visiting friends and doing some wine touring. Ted and I checked out Henry of Pelham yesterday afternoon - glass of Baco Noir, some pate and chutney outside on the patio - then over for wine and cheeses at Marilyn Bodogh's lovely home. Marilyn is a two-time world ladies curling champion and has become a fan of the Stonechild and Rouleau books :-)

We're now getting set to head over to the Niagara Wine College where we have a tour and lunch booked. Life in wine country isn't too hard to take.

I have written a longer post about my other creative pursuits for the 7 Criminal Mind blog, which you can read on Monday.

Other than this brief update, have a great week everyone!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Summer's End

September long weekend used to be the time for getting ready to return to school. We're long past that but this is still the lull before we launch into fall activities. I'm going to miss the long days of summer - feels as if I didn't get half of the things done that I wanted to.

The author-to-author piece ran this Wednesday on CBC Radio's All in a Day and you can give it a listen if you missed the broadcast. Author and Ottawa U. English prof Gerald Lynch and I had a great discussion about writing, which actually took an hour but was edited down to eleven minutes or so. I really enjoyed our time together. Below, Gerald and I had just completed the interview at Thyme and Again on Wellington, and CBC Associate Producer Julie Delaney snapped a few pics.

And for this week - I'm going to be a return guest on 1310 News Radio and The Power Lunch with Mark Sutcliffe this Wednesday, September 5th from noon to 12:30 EST if you have a chance to tune in. There certainly is lots of news to discuss these days!

I spent the past week completing my for sure final edit of Turning Secrets and could finally step away from the computer ... well, for an evening anyway before I got back working on the latest manuscript. It's been tough starting and stopping as I feel a loss of momentum each time, but I'm going to write through the long weekend and try to get back on track. I see a good deal of editing on my horizon to pull this plot together.

I keep forgetting to mention that the next Stonechild and Rouleau book, Turning Secrets is now available for pre-order on in Canada and in the U.S. I'm told pre-sales can propel a book into stardom, but no pressure :-)

The other big news on our street is that we're finally getting the pavers in. After the second summer with a dug-up road, this is good news indeed. While we're pleased with the sewer and water systems upgrades, living in a dust bowl has been wearing. Even with the dug-up road, traffic is speeding past, creating clouds of choking dust. Makes us realize we need traffic calming when all is said and done because the majority of drivers are not slowing down even with the road under construction. Most annoying not to mention dangerous.

So, good, safe long weekend everyone. Let's enjoy the last days of summer before the autumn beauty rolls in.