Saturday, June 24, 2017

Long Summer Days

This has been a good writing week. I've settled into a rhythm, working on the main idea paragraphs in the morning and writing through the afternoon with the odd bike ride, hour working in the garden, or walk thrown in. I was aiming for 45,000 words by the end of June on this latest manuscript and am almost at 47,000 with a week to go. Now, they might not all be the right words yet, but that's to be expected on the first draft.

I made it out to the Capital Crime Writers wrap up evening at the Barley Mow pub in Ottawa South on Wednesday. It was an evening to listen to the Audrey Jessup contest winning authors read from their short stories, and to honour our outgoing president, Michael Murphy, who has given tirelessly of his time and energy to further the interests of the crime fiction community. Michael was head of the adult section at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library before his retirement a few years back with a love of books and a good story. I cannot say enough about the support he has given to me personally and to all the writers in our group. Bravo Michael!

 Michael Murphy

Two of my favourite partners in crime Darlene Cole and Katherine Hobbs

Wynn Quon reading from his dryly humorous short story

Summer solstice arrived on Wednesday as well and the warmer weather and bouts of rain are making the city green and lush. I've been biking and walking, getting out to enjoy the sun and fresh air and the gardens around the city. Ottawa is a gorgeous place to be in the summer. A week from today is Canada Day when the country celebrates our 150th year since Confederation. We'll have some friends for a barbecue and toast in the monumental day.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Week in June

Good Saturday morning. These weeks seem to zip by as we cross over the half-way mark in June. I've had a quiet week, writing a bit and looking after Lisa's dog Trooper after his surgery last week. He's still very active and we've been on many a short walk around the neighborhood.

I went to the Louise Penny event last evening. Louise was interviewed by Patricia Filteau at a church in Ottawa South as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. It was a sold out affair with the pews filled to overflowing. The Capital Crime Writers' Audrey Jessup short story contest winners were given out before Louise was interviewed, and she graciously announced and handed out the prizes. Order of finish from first to third is:  Theresa Wallace, Pam Isfeld, and Wynn Quon. As one of the judges for the contest, I was provided a front row seat :-)

Theresa, Wynn and Pam waiting for the award presentation. A snippet of the crowd behind!

Patricia asked Louise Penny many thoughtful questions about her book A Great Reckoning and Louise also spoke about writing being her solace through difficult years, the characters in her series now friends whose world (Three Pines) she loves to spend time visiting. Louise's easy laugh and wit made for a delightful evening.

So this week, I have to firm up my main idea paragraphs on the environment section for the adult literacy workbooks and submit them to Grass Roots Press. That leaves the health and people topics to go. I'll also hit the half-way point on the latest Stonechild and Rouleau manuscript. At this rate, I should have a few months holiday at the end of the year - maybe, I'll get some closets and cupboards cleaned out as I keep promising myself. I'm comforted to read that creative people are messy in general. I imagine my brain looks a lot like my desk.

I also plan to go to the Capital Crime Writers closing evening at a pub in the Byward Market on Wednesday. Meetings start up again in the fall and new members are welcome, be you a writer or reader. They get in some terrific guest speakers to talk about every facet affecting crime fiction, from psychologist to detectives to private investigators. I've learned a lot of valuable information over the years.

I've been taking a weekly morning bike ride with friend and neighbor Katherine Hobbs and here are a few pics of the peonies from out Tuesday outing to the Experimental Farm. So much beauty!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sunny June Days

So this week, the Bleeding Darkness cover came together. I worked with the designer Laura Boyle to come up with the concept, and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to fine tune, she created a cover that I think works really well. I wanted the mood to be dark and ominous with the woods as the main image. I hope you like it as much as I do :-)

The Chapters Kanata signing went well last Saturday - such terrific people working at this store and always make me feel welcome. In fact, the general manager Amanda invited me back as often as I would like! I always meet interesting people as I stand offering bookmarks and try to introduce my books. I'm getting comfortable with the sales bit although I wouldn't say I'm a natural. And you wouldn't believe how many people ask if I'm really the author of these books (as opposed to a Chapters employee).

Another week settling in to write although I spent the last few days working on my laptop out on the back deck. I've fallen into writing in the late morning/early afternoon and sometimes edit after supper. Approaching 41,000 words this week. I've also been mulling over a title as Dundurn would like a title and synopsis - on my to do list. Here's my shady spot in the back yard.

This Friday evening, Louise Penny will be appearing at the Ottawa International Writers Festival and I'm very much looking forward to her interview. I met Louise for the first time at the start of both our writing careers at an Arthur Ellis dinner in Toronto in 2004. Both of our first books were released that year, mine a young adult mystery named Running Scared, and Louise's the first in her Inspector Gamache series, Still Life.  The next year, we were both back at the Arthur Ellis dinner and Louise's book won every award going! Her writing career has skyrocketed as she consistently writes international bestsellers. I was lucky enough to be on a panel with Louise at Left Coast Crime in Monterey in 2014 along with Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie and Kathy Bennett. If you're unable to attend this Friday's event, Louise will be the Canadian guest of honour at Bouchercon in Toronto this October. Ann Cleeves will also be attending. Should be another great event.

             Sharing a laugh ( l to r) Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny and me
                      Ann Cleeves, Deborah Crombie, Louise Penny, me and Kathy Bennett

The weather has made a turn for the better this week! Sunshine and warmth at long last. My garden's in bloom as summer sweeps into the Ottawa Valley. I love this time of year.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Settling into June

Good Saturday morning.

My news to start off the day: I'll be at Chapters Kanata today from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. signing the Stonechild and Rouleau series as part of the store's early July 1st celebration - come by and check it out. The store has a great selection of books and the staff is terrific. This will be my third visit this year!

A productive writing week. I fell into a routine, writing every morning into mid-afternoon. I worked on a couple of main idea paragraphs for the workbook adult literacy project and will have the environment unit done in the upcoming week. I also hit 37,000 words in the latest Stonechild manuscript. Coming along.

The Dundurn designer Laura Boyle was in touch this week to get my ideas for the next cover. With the title Bleeding Darkness, I'm picturing something moody. This book has that Hitchcock suspense which I hope will get some reader nail-biting going on, so I'd like the cover to capture something of the darkness and tension. I love seeing the cover concept for the first time - never gets old.

Bleeding Darkness will be released in May 2018, but its already available for pre-order on Amazon and looks like it's made some sales. The cover blurb gives an idea of the plot although there's a lot more to this one than captured in the synopsis. I'm excited for this book to make it to readers. Here's the cover blurb:

David McKenna lies dying in a Kingston hospital, his children gathered from across the country to say a final goodbye. But the family reunion opens old wounds. David’s only daughter, Lauren, never recovered from the unsolved murder of her high school best friend Zoe Delgado fourteen years earlier — or the suspicion that her brother, Tristan, was behind it. 

Before David breathes his last, Tristan’s pregnant wife, Vivian, disappears and the Major Crimes Unit is called in to help find her. With Kala Stonechild stuggling to reconnect with her foster niece, and Woodhouse making trouble for Staff Sergeant Jacques Rouleau, tensions are running high on the team, but they must put their personal problems aside when a woman's strangled body is found frozen on the Rideau Trail.

With a winter storm sweeping the shores of Lake Ontario, the team uncovers unspeakable betrayals that give more than one suspect a reason to kill … and raise fears that the two killings were only the beginning …

 I also asked about the release date for the Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills audio books when I was at Dundurn last week, and they are still in the editing phase. These books are two of the first being made into audio books and the editing process is taking longer than anticipated.

So, settling in to researching and writing this first week of June. The rainy, cool weather has helped keep me inside at my computer although I managed to make use of two good days last weekend to get some planting done. I'm hoping to finish up tomorrow with one last trip to the Parkdale Market, but more rain is on the way. Hard to believe it's June and I'm still wearing my fall/winter coat the odd evening and we're turning on the furnace in the mornings to take off the chill.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Quite the Week

This week included a quick trip to Toronto with my good friend Katherine Hobbs, who accompanied me to the Arthur Ellis Awards dinner at the Arts and Letters Club. We first went to a wine and cheese gala at Dundurn where we met many of the staff and other Dundurn authors. Lots of mingling and book talk :-) Once we arrived at the Club, everyone gathered in the bar where we wine and hors d'oeuvres before we found our seats in the dining room. After a fabulous meal, all of the short-listed authors received a scroll containing a certificate and then the winning titles were announced. No Trace didn't take first prize, making this a hat trick of nominations and losses for my books, but being nominated is wonderful in and of itself.

with Dundurn Vice President Beth Bruder

 Chatting in the Arts and Letters Club bar with Ottawa authors Mary Fernando (shortlisted for best unpublished novel) and Linda Wiken
 My travel mate Katherine Hobbs - you can see Maureen Jennings in the background :-)
 Dundurn President Kirk Howard
 with author Rachel Greenaway who was shortlisted for Best First Novel
 Getting the scroll - on my right is author Elle Wild who won Best First Novel

Back home, I received an email that a talk I gave in April at the Ottawa Independent Authors Association meeting was posted on YouTube. The talk was about writing a crime fiction series and includes many words of wisdom from author friends as well as insight into my writing process. Here is the link if you'd like to check it out.

I'm also thrilled to report that the sixth Anna Sweet novella entitled Missing Her is now available. Very pleased with the cover!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May Musings

Where has May gone? It's been a crazy weather ride in Ottawa. Snow one week and plus +37 C the next. We began the month with days of heavy rain that flooded out several towns and parts of Gatineau and Ottawa bordering the Ottawa and Rideau rivers. So much devastation. But the late spring weather is leveling off and the tulips and flowering trees are in bloom.

So this week, I'll be going to Toronto with a friend Katherine Hobbs to take in the Arthur Ellis awards dinner at the Arts and Letters Club. We've been invited to a pre-event get together at Dundurn. I hope to have some photos of the evening to post next week. I've also gotten word that Bleeding Darkness, the fifth Stonechild and Rouleau, will be pushed back a month with release now scheduled for May 2018. Actually, this will be better timing for a launch and signings.

My June Chapters Kanata signing has been moved up to Saturday, June 3 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. so that it is part of the store's July 1st celebration. I'll be at Chapters Rideau on Saturday, July 29 - these are the only signings I have scheduled this summer thus far.

Writing is coming along. I was aiming to have 30,000 words written by the end of May and am now heading up to 33,000 so not too bad. I think I have to stop for a bit and reassess the plot lines. That might become this week's work. I've been writing rather than work on the main idea paragraphs but hope to finish up the environment unit by the end of May.

So, looks like another busy week coming up. I'm hoping to spend some time in the garden as well and have some pots to fill with annuals. I love this time of year even with the crazy weather. It feels like a time of rebirth and possibility and the spring sunshine is mighty welcome too.

Good week ahead, everyone.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Lining up the Ducks

Another rainy Saturday May morning, but the tulips are blooming and the temperature is gradually climbing. Ted and I even managed to sit on a rooftop patio yesterday afternoon!

Been a quiet, routine kind of week on the writing front - not a lot of outside commitments so I fell into a routine, working on the main idea paragraphs in the morning and writing in the afternoon. Writing going slowly at this point but I'm still plugging along.

I went to the Capital Crime Writers monthly meeting on Wednesday evening. Madona Skaff and Michelle Yuan-Innes and I judged this year's Audrey Jessup short story contest and were recognized at the meeting for our efforts. The awards will be announced at the Louise Penny event on June 16 as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Tickets should still be available - Louise is a terrific speaker with a huge Canadian and international following for her crime fiction.

CCW President Michael Murphy, me, Madona, Michelle and VP Patricia Filteau

I've been lined up for two more Chapters signings. Chapters Indigo is promoting Canadian writers in its stores as part of Canada 150 celebrations and Rideau Chapters will be featuring one Ottawa author  every Saturday throughout the summer. My date is July 29. Not certain about the time yet but I imagine it will be late morning/early afternoon. I'm also invited back to Chapters Kanata and will be in the store Saturday, June 24 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Another nice invitation arrived this week to visit a book club in the west end and we settled on a date in November. I love visiting book clubs and hope I get to visit a few more this year.

I've decided to go to the Arthur Ellis awards dinner on May 25 and my friend Katherine Hobbs has agreed to come along. We'll drive to Toronto the day of the event and back the next morning so a very quick trip. It's at the Arts and Letters Club so a lovely old building. Here's a photo of the bar from one of the dinners I attended a few years ago.

I'm also signed up for Bouchercon in Toronto this October and you really should think about registering if you enjoy crime fiction and meeting writers. I've been to two previous Bouchercons in Baltimore and Cleveland and each had about 1500 attend. Some very interesting panels and lots of mingling in the pub and other events. I believe this is only the second time it's been held in Canada so you might not get this chance for a while unless you want to travel further afield. On the website, you can click on the Attendees link to see everyone registered so far. The team pulling the conference together has been working full out to make sure that it's a huge success. Don't be left out!