Saturday, January 26, 2019

Weathering the Not-So-Merry Month of January

The cold settled in. The snow fell in record amounts. The freezing rain moved in and out, just to keep things interesting. No wonder we Canadians are obsessed with the weather.

One good side effect of how lousy it's been outdoors is that I keep plugging away on my latest manuscript indoors. I figure I'm about two-thirds done the first draft. These novellas clock in at around 14,000 words so quite a bit shorter than the 90,000 word novels. For those of you who don't know the premise of this adult literacy series, my protagonist Anna Sweet is a PI working in an office in Hintonburg, an Ottawa neighbourhood very close to my own. She and her partner Jada Price are both ex-cops and work to solve murder cases around the city. Her sense of humour is similar to mine but she is much braver than I'll ever be. The beauty of fiction is that you can create characters who lead lives you would never realistically contemplate.

I spent part of the week working on an event at the Carlingwood Library - another save the date event. Fellow Kitchissippi mystery writer Barbara Fradkin and I are going to be interviewed by another local well-known person from the hood, although the name is yet to be confirmed. Stay tuned! The event will take place Thursday, April 25 between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. All are welcome and it's free with no need to register. An hour of chat about books, writing, crime fiction ... should be an interesting and fun evening.

I'm also going to be back on 1310 News' The Power Lunch with host Mark Sutcliffe on Wednesday, February 6th from noon to 12:30. There's so much going on in the news these days so there's bound to be lots to talk about.

Other things to do inside when the weather is frightful: read and watch Netflix.

I'm well into Michelle Obama's bio Becoming.  It's an engaging and insightful read. Michelle is candid about her thoughts and feelings, which takes courage at the best of times. I also learned some things about life inside the White House and the sacrifices an entire family makes when one of them is president of the U.S.

As for Netflix, we watched Roma, which is up for some Academy Awards and a movie that stays with you, and I'm also watching Hinterland, a police procedural set in Wales - rather dark and just that bit depressing, but I'll give it a few more episodes.

So, I hope you're managing to keep warm, dry and in good spirits through the bleak month of January. Good week ahead everyone.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

When the Going Gets Cold ....

The Arctic Vortex is moving down from the north while a snow storm is approaching from the south, taking away any desire I might have left to go outside. As far as I'm concerned, thirty-five below C with frostbite warnings is good enough reason to stay inside with a good book and a cup of tea. (As if I really needed one.)

I settled into a writing rhythm this week, meeting my tail 500-word daily quota for this last Anna Sweet novella. At this rate, I'll be done the first draft by the end of January. Probably sooner as I usually pick up speed toward the end of a book. I worked on a main idea booklet for this same publisher, Grass Roots Press, last year and my copies arrived in the mail this week. It turned into a nice little workbook for ESL students.

It was also my Monday to post on 7 Criminal Minds blogspot. This week's question concerns how to stay focused on writing, especially over the holiday season. You can read my tips - which struck me as ones that can be generalized for other goals - and those of my fellow crime writer bloggers on this link .

Left Coast Crime in Vancouver is now less than ten weeks away and an email arrived with author opportunities. I signed up for a speed-dating morning, which had Ted wondering, but it's actually an event where two authors move from table to table giving two-minute pitches for our books to readers. The goal is to build up interest in readers who might never have heard of us, not to get a date to the prom.

So, following my own advice for getting that next manuscript written, I'm getting this day underway with another cup of coffee, a few miles on my stationary bike and then time at the computer. Stay warm this weekend my fellow Canucks.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

January Morning

Good morning everyone.

This has been a busy week working behind the scenes. The big writing news is that my Ottawa book launch is set and everyone is lined up to make the afternoon a fun event. Everyone is invited so save the date: Sunday, June 2, 2019 from 2-4 p.m. at The Cross on Elgin. This is the same place as the Bleeding Darkness launch and Bernie is returning with a slightly modified band line up that includes his brother, now calling themselves The Haughian Brothers Band. Perfect Books will also be on site to sell books. This is like an annual party where I get to see my friends, new and old!

I've also been corresponding with my Dundurn publicist about various publicity and media ideas and think we have a plan nailed down. Advance reading copies were sent out this week to reviewers so things are gearing up already. I'm lining up a few spring gigs, including one at Carlingwood Library with Barbara Fradkin that I'll have more details about soon. We both live in Kitchissippi Ward so seems like a fitting idea to get together to talk books and writing at our local library.

I also heard from my Grass Roots Press publisher this week. She wanted to know if I'd started writing the last Anna Sweet novella as she plans a publicity campaign for the series in the fall. I spent the last few days rereading the books to refresh my memory about all the characters and plot lines and got writing the opening chapter yesterday. I think I've got a good start to the story. I have to wrap up this series as well, having just written the last book in the Stonechild and Rouldau series. It's going to be odd not having any contracts and deadlines, but I'm ready to start something new even if I'm going to miss my characters.

Finally today, I'm deeply saddened by news of the city double decker bus crash at Westboro station yesterday during rush hour. Three people died at the scene and about twenty-five injured, several critically. This is the station where I caught the bus to work and the stop on my way home for all those years I worked downtown. Such a horrific tragedy on what should have been a typical drive home on a January Friday afternoon. Our hearts are heavy and our thoughts are with the victims and their families today.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Getting Organized in January

So 2019 is well underway ... well a few days in anyway. Have you made any resolutions? I've made the same one I make every year - be open to new adventures and have some fun. Be kind. Keep writing.

I sent in my latest manuscript to Dundurn, managing to complete a third edit before submitting on January 30th, and am officially on vacation for a week.   I say this, but I've spent the last two afternoons working on publicity planning for Turning Secrets and lining up an event at the Carlingwood Library.  I also intend to work on my tax deductions before I start writing again. I'd add cleaning my office but know I likely won't get too far with that. I've shuffled some papers around though.

In this little hiatus, I've managed some Netflix time. Ted and I are watching the third season of Shetland and enjoying the storyline and Shetland scenery. I've  caught an episode of Hinterland and will continue on. I'm also reading Ian Rankin's latest In a House of Lies, which showed up in my Christmas stocking. So far so good.

My next writing project is the final Anna Sweet novella. I plan to reread the series before I begin to refresh my memory and figure out what needs tying up. You'd be surprised how much authors forget about books they've written. I'm always looking back or making searches to find out what colour eyes I gave a character or what car they drive. Writing a book is a mysterious process alright. I'm using this time to come up with storylines. I have one that I'm rolling around in my head but it needs fleshing out and I'm going to need another idea to anchor the book. Next week's work!

A quick post today. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, fulfilling 2019 with many new adventures. We have a new year ahead with endless possibilities ....