Saturday, September 24, 2016

So Long Summer

Autumn arrived on Thursday with pumpkins in the stores and Thanksgiving on the horizon. It's almost time to put the garden to bed and haul out sweaters and coats. I like this time of year but am not too fond of the season that follows.

We still have this beauty to look forward to next month!

One good spin off from colder weather is staying closer to home and my computer. I'm writing about four hours a day and am now at 71,000 words on the latest manuscript. I've also been putting some thought into a presentation I'll be giving in November to the Canadian Authors Association on writing a series. I'll be speaking for about half an hour with my experiences and tips. My next book signing will be at Chapters Gloucester on Saturday, October 22 between 1:00 and 4:00 if you're looking for Christmas gift ideas or want to come by and say hi.

Not much new to report on the audio books. The voice actress Michelle St. John is currently reading the books and then we'll have a chance to chat about the characters. Cold Mourning is also being set to background music in a format named Booktrack and I've received the final product for review. It's actually rather cool how they've matched the mood on each page with a 'movie-style' soundtrack. You still read the book at your own pace with the music changing as you flip pages.

Interspersed with my writing, I always have a book or two on the go that I'm reading when I take breaks. I've recently finished reading Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (powerful and disturbing), The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowlings (okay but slow-moving), and Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin (good read but ending not as satisfying as I would have liked). I'm now beginning The Orenda by Joseph Boyden and from the opening chapters, know this is going to be a beautifully written, gut-wrenching read.

So many books, so little time.

On the agenda this week: lacing up the curling shoes for the first time for practice and a clinic; hiking it downtown for Linda Wiken and Barbara Fradkin's joint book launch on Wednesday evening at the Heart and Crown pub; and writing, writing, writing.....

Enjoy your week, everyone. Don't forget to curl up with a good book and cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire :-)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Talking Books

Fellow crime writer Mary Jane Maffini and I met with a book club on Wednesday evening, hosted by Janet Claridge in her beautiful home in Manotick. Janet acted as an interviewer as well, asking us questions about our writing and books and we also fielded questions from the group. Just a great evening and a terrific group of women. I am visiting two more book clubs this year, so if your club would like a visiting author, send an email to me through my website and I should have time to fit in a few more.

Here are a couple of pictures - in the first Mary Jane is on the far right and in the second Janet is on the far right. I'm the one nearly in the centre wearing the black leather jacket :-)

On the audio book front, I had a chance to speak with the actress who will be reading the Stonechild books and her name is Michelle St. John and she lives in Toronto. She has yet to receive and read the Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills so we will speak at greater length once she's read them. I think things will start to move along quickly very soon!

Writing was slow and steady again this week. I've gotten into a pattern of writing an hour or so in the morning and about three hours after lunch. Sometimes, I get back to the keyboard for half an hour or so after supper. I'm doing a lot of thinking and plotting now as I round into the last 25,000 words, pulling all the strands together. At this rate, I might just be done the first draft by the end of October. Then a bit of time to put my feet up before I get at the editing!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Writing Life: Celebrating Literacy

I've plugged away at my latest manuscript this week, reaching 63,000 words. I was aiming for 64,000 but am not unhappy with my pace. At this rate, I should have the first draft finished by end of October. Lots of leeway as it is due to the publisher in February. I'm at the point where I have to connect the subplots and head toward solving the crime(s) so I'm heading into the trickiest bit.

I went to the People, Words and Change annual breakfast, which was held on Literacy Day. The breakfast celebrates adult learners and the volunteer tutors and is made possible by many generous donations from the community, including the meal, which is provided by Moe Nesrallah every year. Terry Marcotte, Sports Director at CTV Ottawa, was emcee with learners speaking about their lives and what led them to People, Words and Change. Former NDP MP Paul Dewer was the guest speaker and he talked about the importance of funding literacy in Canada and internationally. You can see some of the crowd listening to People, Words and Change Director Dee Sullivan, who does a phenomenal job along with her small team, matching learners with tutors and facilitating real change in their lives.

This week, I'll be visiting a book club in Manotick along with Mary Jane Maffini. We've been asked to speak about our writing life and books over glasses of wine and snacks. Not a bad gig:-)

So, school is back in and summer is slipping into autumn although we're having a final day in a long stretch of heat and humidity. I've been to the curling sign up, held on Wednesday evening, and am on two teams this season. Both of my daughters are on competitive teams, making our winters exciting as we follow along their games online or on television.

The summer lull is almost over....lots to look forward to just around the corner.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Rounding into September

My biggest achievement this past week was the release of my fifth Anna Sweet mystery/novella entitled No Trace. A high school boy disappears after class one day and six months later, Anna is hired to find out what happened to him. The mystery takes place in Ottawa South with the setting shifting around Ottawa and out to Carp. Good news is that I've been contracted to continue the series with the manuscript for the sixth book due at the publisher's in April. You can read the first chapter posted on the Grass Roots Press site.

Looking back on recent blog posts, I realized that I didn't share the locations of the two Kingston photos from the field trip last month to check out sites in the latest Stonechild manuscript. The woods scene is from the Rideau Trail, which runs along the west end of the downtown. The pub photo is the Iron Duke on Wellington. Both locations figure prominently in this story. (And here is proof that Ted made it out of the woods for all you doubters.)

So I aimed to write 7,000 words this week, starting off at 51,000 words last Saturday morning. I fell slightly short, but managed to hit 57,000 words yesterday. Still, a good week's work and I'm aiming for 64,000 by next week. Check back to see how I do :-)

One reason for my lower count was the three-hour lunch I had yesterday with one of my favorite Ottawa crime writers Mary Jane Maffini. Over crab cakes and sambuca shrimp, we talked writing and author stuff and caught up on our projects. So good to talk shop with someone who spends as many hours alone at the keyboard as I do and understands the ups and downs. As always, lots of laughter.

I finally bought Stephen King's book On Writing, which is consistently recommended as one of the best books to read on the craft. A good read and feels like Stephen is in the room having a chat, his voice is that clear. I recommend the book for anyone writing in whatever genre. A little glimpse behind the curtain.

Happy first week of September, everyone. It's been a lovely one in the Ottawa Valley with lots of sun and heat on the horizon.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What's in the Water?

Here we are in the last Saturday in August. My writing week was cut short by a trip to Toronto to watch a Jays game (Jays beat Angels Tuesday night) and a trip to the Aquarium Thursday morning before driving back to Ottawa. The Aquarium is something to see. I was enchanted by the jellyfish.

The Dundurn crew and I picked an Aboriginal voice actress to record the audio books, beginning with Cold Mourning after listening to ten demo tapes. I will soon be speaking with her about the book and my take on the characters and hopefully I'll be at a taping in Toronto if I can swing a visit.

Other big news this upcoming week is the release of the fifth Anna Sweet novella from Grass Roots Press entitled No Trace. I've been looking back through my emails and can't find the cover pic to post, but it will be uploaded Tuesday on the Grass Roots site and then available from Amazon as an e-book by the end of the week. Here is a link to my page on the site. I will be receiving the hard copies so looking forward to holding one of the books soon!

So my travels around Ontario end for the summer but I have a few trips planned for the fall. In the meantime, I'll be getting into a writing rhythm with a new goal of 1000 words a day. I'm at 51,000 today so check in next week and see how I do :-) There's lots on the horizon on the publicity front as well - this should be a most interesting year in my writing life. I'm very happy that you are coming along with me for the ride.

Have a great week, everyone.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hot August Nights

Another hot tamale today, hitting 39 C with the humidex.

I've had a productive week, surpassing 49,000 words but also stopping for three days to make notes on the manuscript to date and doing a light edit. A few of my plot points were contradicted later on so I had to tie things up. I also rewrote some physical description based on the field trip to Kingston last week. For instance, I had a body found near the river, which worked when you saw the location on a map, but when we walked the area, we couldn't get to the river, only to a marshy area. I've now upped my word count to 1000 a day and have been managing - although I have a few days away this week so flexibility is key (to my sanity).

I received ten demo audio tapes from Dundurn of voice actors reading a section from Cold Mourning. Several people from Dundurn and I are listening to the tapes and working to select the actress to read the books on tape for download. I've ranked them and sent in my choices so we'll see if others pick the same. I found judging some short story contests that people have varied opinions - always the case in selecting subjectively.

I was invited to another book club next month and accepted as well as receiving an invitation to the Power of Words breakfast also in September. The breakfast is to celebrate adult learners and their tutors and can be a very moving event. I'm planning to attend this year as I was a guest speaker at the breakfast a few years ago and know what great work everyone is doing.

So, this will be a short post as I throw my bathing suit in a bag and head out to a cottage for the day. It's just too hot to stay in the city.

Wherever you are, stay cool my friends.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Checking out Locations for Murder...

Another week away from home, this time picking up some Oakville friends on our way to the beautiful Niagara on the Lake for a few nights in Everheart B & B, a place I highly recommend. Ted and I spent an evening and morning in Kingston checking out the neighborhood where I'm currently setting book five in the Stonechild and Rouleau series. Does this look like a good spot for a murder?! Can you guess where it is in Kingston?

We also checked out some pubs in downtown Kingston, five in all, prompting Ted to ask if my books were in fact just a tour of Kingston bars and restaurants. Well, there is some of that, but with a little murder thrown in :-) One of the characters taking a major role in this manuscript has a favorite bar where she spends a lot of time. Here is a photo and a big high five if you can identify it.

So, I'm settled back at home and plan to finesse two scenes that I've been writing before rereading the manuscript, now at the half-way point. I'll adjust some of the settings based on our Kingston tour. Visiting the actual neighborhood locations has given me a feel for the scenes that I didn't have previously, having only found the places on Google Earth.

As I get back down to work, I'll imagine myself back in Niagara, sitting on the front veranda of the B and B with nothing but wine and sunshine ahead. I've covered a lot of the province this summer and have spent time in some beautiful places - such a spectacular summer!