Saturday, February 3, 2018

Going Places

Tuesday evening was the Olympic send off for Team Homan at the Ottawa Curling Club. CBC news broadcast live from the club and Mayor Watson and our MP, Minister Catherine McKenna both congratulated the girls and wished them well. Darren McEwan, who handles social media for Team Homan (and Team Koe in South Korea) helped organize the event and was MC. Earlier in the day, Darren and I were on CBC radio's All in a Day to talk about following the team to the Olympics.  Here is the link to the interview. I'm told Team Homan's first game at the Olympics is February 15 for those following along.

Proud parents with Lisa Weagle - off to the Olympics!

Then on Thursday morning, I caught the train to Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association (OLA) Super Conference. I attended Tinlids Forestry of Reading breakfast early (for me) Friday morning, which was to celebrate the librarians who took part in organizing and selecting the finalists as well as the shortlisted authors. I chatted with fellow Golden Oak nominee Melodie Campbell, and Orca's Ruth Linka and Margaret Bryant (formally in marketing at Dundurn) and met Meredith Tutching, the chair of the Golden Oak nominating committee and the lead organizer of the Forestry of Reading program.
 Melodie Campbell and Margaret Bryant
Meredith Tutching

At 10:30, I joined Barbara Fradkin and Robin Harlick at the Dundurn booth on the main conference floor to sign copies of our recent books. While the advance literature said I'd be signing advance copies of Bleeding Darkness, I actually signed Shallow End but most of the librarians were new to the series so all good. Two nice interactions: a librarian from Peterborough  told me that my series was so popular, they ordered extra books to keep up with the demand! I also met up with Tamara whose parents both taught me in grade school. Tamara works as a librarian in Marathon, a town sixty miles east of my hometown Terrace Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Her mom told her that I was the star in a grade three play, which believe it or not, I remember. I was the witch in Snow White and that performance marked the peak of my acting career.

 With Tamara
Barb, Robin and moi

The train ride to Toronto was a good opportunity to get some writing in. I'm still getting started on the seventh Stonechild book and am putting in some thinking time. I sense that writing won't start full on until after the Olympics in March. An exciting month ahead! 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Catching Up ... and Cleaning Out

Dundurn posted this photo of the Bleeding Darkness advance reading copies (ARCs). So cool to see the manuscript in book form for the first time! R.M. Greenaway's third book entitled Creep in her crime fiction series is being released at the same time so congratulations Rachel. Too bad we are at opposite ends of the country or we could go on a tour together :-)

I'll be handing out copies of the ARC to librarians this coming Friday at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference in Toronto. The Tinlids breakfast that celebrates librarians and the Golden Oak shortlisted authors is also on my schedule. No Trace, fifth in the Anna Sweet novellas,  is up for the award which will be handed out in the spring. Librarians choose the finalists and adult literacy readers and librarians select the winner.

I've begun writing the seventh Stonechild book and completed the first chapter. I started the second chapter but didn't like it so deleted a day's work. The perspective didn't feel right but I've got an idea that I'll explore this week. Only 94,000 words left to go! As well, my Grass Roots editor Pam was also in touch and we begin editing the latest Anna Sweet in March.

This week, also saw the start of cleaning out my office. I found several scraps of paper with past to-do lists that all had 'clean up office' on them ... ah, the irony. I shredded a full large plastic garbage bag worth of paper with a filing cabinet and stuffed cupboard yet to go. I've also started tackling the kitchen cupboards and am thinking about my storage spaces upstairs. I hate to use the words 'pack rat' but the shoe appears to be fitting. This purge could take a while.

Several women at my curling club let me know this week that they've been reading the Stonechild and Rouleau series so it was great to hear that they're enjoying the books. I went for an appointment last week and the woman on the desk asked me to repeat my name. She said after a pause (without a word of a lie) "Are you the mystery writer?" After I nodded, a bit dumbfounded, she said, "I downloaded your latest book. The synopsis looked so interesting." -  Made my day to realize the books are reaching new readers literally out of the blue. They say that the only way a book becomes a best seller is through word of mouth so the feedback lately has been most encouraging.

The trip to Toronto is on the agenda this week and then I'll be getting my head around the trip to South Korea. Going to the Olympics in South Korea still seems like a dream but the reality of it will be sinking in soon. A busy time ahead.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Keeping On Keeping On

Good Saturday morning.

I didn't start the next writing project this week but instead took some time to clear my head and renew the creative synapses. With all the free time, I wrote a few blog posts for Team Homan's social media project when we're in South Korea.  All of the team's parents have been asked to contribute. I'll post the blog link and you can follow along when we're at the Olympics. The games begin February 9 and I believe Team Homan's first match is February 13.  About three weeks from now!

The seventh installment of the Anna Sweet novellas is entitled Killer Heat and I sent it to the publisher Pat Campbell last weekend. She read it Thursday and sent me feedback that she likes everything about it. I take that as a resounding thumbs up :-) It's now with the editor and we're thinking of cover ideas.

It's always such a relief when a manuscript gets the seal of approval from the publisher. Tim Wynne-Jones was guest speaker at the Capital Crime Writers Christmas dinner a few years ago and he presented us with his mock diary about submitting a manuscript to a publisher and the anguish of waiting for feedback. As time passed, his entries went from believing his work to be genius, to not that great, to utter crap as he tried to read meaning into the publishers' silence. Of course, the publisher loved his book in the end.

Writers really are an easily discouraged lot. However, at our cores, those of us who stay in the business for very long develop a stiff resolve as well as a self-effacing sense of humour - much like Tim's. I think we build our resilience at bookstore signings that can be humbling for writers who haven't built up a following. Most writers can tell you about signings where they've sold no books. Linwood Barclay, who has international fame and much well deserved acclaim for his mysteries, tells a story of going to a Chapters in a mall for a signing and no customers were in the store. He was supposed to do a reading but nixed it since he'd have been reading to an empty room. The road to becoming a success is usually a long and rocky one.

One last story. I was at an author event where one of the children's authors had framed a letter from a grade school boy who'd written to tell her that he hated her book and that everyone in his class hated it too. The book went on to win the Governor General's Award. Bad reviews can also build character :-) I'd say good reviews build motivation to keep writing .... so don't ever lose heart my fellow writers. Keep working on your craft and enjoy the journey.

Okay, so enough author-reflection for one morning. I've been doing a lot of thinking about my next Stonechild book and plan to sit down and work on the first chapter this week. It's an odd feeling not having a manuscript on the go, but also exciting to embark on a new project.

Time to get organized and get this day underway ... but first, another cup of coffee.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Better late ...

A late post.

Just home from a few days in Whitby watching our youngest Julia curl in the ladies provincials. Her team won three games but didn't quite make the playoffs. They had some good games, made lots of shots and played with heart. The future for Julia's curling career is bright.

Crazy weather out there Ontario. We went from about minus 30 C to plus 10 in a day. We had steady rain the last few days in Whitby  that turned to snow and ice overnight. The drive home on the 401 was no treat. We saw lots of empty cars in the ditches all along the route and a freshly spun out transport truck heading the other direction. A police car was on the scene. My next trip to Toronto on February 1st to the Ontario Library Association Super Conference will be on the train ... happily!

The writing week: completed the Anna Sweet novella and clocked in at the right word count. The target is 13000 to 14000 words so pacing is key. I set the manuscript aside while we were away and will tighten it up this week. I think it's a pretty good little mystery all in all.

I've also been plotting out my next Stonechild and Rouleau book and am itching to start writing the opening chapter. I'd like to have it written before heading to South Korea in February. For all those who've been wondering, we are going to the Olympics to cheer on Team Homan and our daughter Lisa. This is sure to be the event of a lifetime!

But for the next few weeks, hunkering down at the computer, getting some writing housekeeping done and gearing up for a busy February.

Good warm week ahead, everyone.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

A Bomb Cyclone?!

Another week of deep freeze in Ottawa and across much of Eastern Canada. We've been at minus 30 to 40 with the wind chill for almost two weeks with the exception of a two-day break. Strange when minus fourteen feels balmy. As well, tornado strength winds and storm surges barrelled up the coast from Florida to Newfoundland the last few days - a bomb cyclone according to meteorologists. The name alone is shiver-inducing. The sight of cold-blooded ginkos lying frozen under palm trees was the oddest sight on television Makes you realize just how bizarre our climate is becoming.

Perhaps to counter all the winter weather, I spent a few days getting the Bleeding Darkness Ottawa launch lined up. So save the date! Sunday, June 3rd from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., we will be celebrating at the Cross on Elgin (360 Elgin to be exact). Perfect Books will be the bookseller at the event and the band Green Floyd will be providing some musical entertainment. The lead singer Bernie is a good friend and I've been to a number of the band's gigs - this is sure to be a fun,  rockin afternoon!

So, I've been working away on my novella and have about 1500 words to go. I was rounding into the climax of the story when my computer malfunctioned yesterday morning. When I go to log on, the screen goes black. Ted and I both tried to get the computer working without success. I now have a call in to my friend's son Nathan who got me set up on this MacBook Air. As you can imagine, I'm eager to get the book finished while I still have the momentum going, and I'm worried that I won't get access to the manuscript. I have most of it on my laptop and most printed except for the last few chapters but really don't want to have to rewrite the last chunk. Really don't want to.

I was up early this morning with my friend Trooper. We went for a walk in the dark but even he found it too cold after a couple of minutes so back inside we came. This is going to be a stay-inside kind of day. A day to drink lots of hot coffee and to hunker down near the gas fireplace. If I can get my computer back online, it will be a good day for writing too.

Wishing everyone a good, warm week. June will be here before we know it :-)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 - The Writing Year That Was

2017 is fast drawing to a close. Some would say good riddance after a difficult year, but I am not one of those people. We've certainly had many down times, losses and tragedies,that have impacted us, individually and collectively -- but 2017 also had its good events and successes, for which we are also thankful. Let me list a few of my highlights on the writing front:

In April, the fifth Anna Sweet novella No Trace was nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award. While it didn't win, I enjoyed a fun trip to Toronto with my good friend Katherine Hobbs to attend the banquet and spent time with my fellow Dundurn authors and Dundurn friends.

At the Arthur Ellis awards dinner with Dundurn author Rae Greenaway

Shallow End was released in May and welcomed to the world at a Friday night launch at the Heart and Crown pub. I was mightily pleased to have so many friends come out to help celebrate, including my MC, the terrific Mary Jane Maffini, and my cousin Janet Chapman who came from Montreal for the evening event.

Signing and chatting - with Ann Cooke
The crowded pub!

The summer and fall, my Dundurn editor Shannon Whibbs and I made our way through the Bleeding Darkness manuscript (a couple of times) and happily made our last change on deadline.

I worked on an adult literacy project through the spring and summer, writing main idea paragraphs for booklets that Grass Roots Press will publish next fall.

Late summer, No Trace was nominated for an Ontario Library Association Golden Oak award - the winner to be announced spring 2018.

In October, I had the great good fortune to interview Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin in front of a packed church as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. Such a fun evening.

Barb Fradkin, Ann Cleeves and me

In November, I signed a two-book deal with Grass Roots Press to write two more Anna Sweet novellas.

Also in November, I submitted the sixth Stonechild and Rouleau manuscript entitled Turning Secrets to Dundurn.

And I can't fail to mention all the great times I had meeting readers - bookclubs, the OLA Super Conference and Bouchercon in Toronto, store signings ... and all the heart-warming, uplifting and kind interactions with readers through my website, Facebook, Twitter and in person. You keep me motivated to continue in this writing business.

At the Ontario Library Super Conference with publicist Michelle Melski and author Steve Burrows

Speaking to the Ottawa Independent Writers Association about writing a series

Dinner with a book club at Flippers restaurant

Life really is a journey that needs to be savoured and celebrated. Thanks for peeking in on my world now and then and for letting me be part of yours.

I wish each of you many wonderful adventures and happy new memories with friends and family in the year to come. Happy 2018 everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Two Sleeps til Christmas!

If your day is going along like mine, you're in the kitchen! I've got a tourtière in the oven and am about to make cranberry sauce and a gingerbread cake. We're going a little rogue tomorrow and having lobster for Christmas Eve (along with the tourtière) and I'll be whipping up some lemon mousse in the morning to go with the gingerbread. Christmas Day our good neighbours and their two daughters will be coming over for a turkey supper ... Christmas really is about eating :-) ... and getting together with friends and family.

I've managed to plug away at my Anna Sweet novella this week and am no 2/3 of the way through. I wasn't certain the next steps in the plot, but after a bit of a think, it's coming together. Sometimes, these books come easy and other times, a few teeth get pulled. This is one of the fun ones. I hope to have it completed early January, just before the travel starts. We'll be going to watch Julia (Team Cadorin) play in the Ontario Curling Provincials in Whitby in January, then I have an overnighter in Toronto to attend the Ontario Library Association Super Conference at the start of February, followed by a trip to the Olympics in South Korea! The excitement is building ...

Julia and her dog George arrived last evening, driving through the snow and sleet on the 401. The four hour drive took over six but they made it safely. We're so lucky to have them home for the holidays. Lots of catching up and puttering around, eating and sleeping in. This is a restful time in the middle of a busy year.

I have to say, there is nothing better than getting hooked on a Netflix series. This past week, I've started watching Scott and Bailey, a British police procedural series that a friend recommended. In my down time, I love to put on an episode, and you might enjoy this one too if you're looking for some escape over the holidays.

Speaking of which, my tourtière is almost done (smell is fabulous) and I'd best get moving. I wish each of you a warm, wonderful holiday season with many good memories to be made in 2018.