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!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

May Settles In

Good (early) Saturday morning. Early because we have company this weekend ... I see a game of fetch in my near future

This week, Pat Campbell and I settled on a cover image for the next Anna Sweet, entitled Missing Her. None of the first five images presented by the designer grabbed us so we both pondered on what would work, oddly coming up with the same idea. The designer used it to come up with several more images, from which Pat and I chose the same one. The cover has now been mocked up and looks terrific. It's off to the printer's and I'll show you the final once it's ready for release.

I completed that author grid for Dundurn and continued on with my recent manuscript, heading up to 28,000 words this weekend. I was aiming to have 30,000 written by the end of May, so am well ahead of schedule.

 On the main idea paragraph front, I submitted the science unit and am now working on the environmental paragraphs. The depletion of the coral reefs and debris in space were my focus this week -- man, our planet is in bad shape. Did you know that only 50 per cent of the coral is in decent shape and we've already lost 19 per cent? Coral reefs protect the land from ocean surges so with it gone... Don't even get me started on what could happen if the junk in space should start colliding and fragmenting in a chain reaction. A piece of debris the size of a paint chip strikes like a grenade, travelling at speeds of 17,500 mph. Not going to be any cheerier this week as I tackle Chernobyl and the garbage crisis.

I've had a bit of time to read (what with all this rain) and just completed Adrian McKinty's latest Police at the Station and They Don't Look Friendly. This is a terrific series if you're looking for a recommendation. Start with the first in the series and work your way through. I've just started reading Leslie Shimotakahara's novel After the Bloom, which talks about the Japanese being put in camps during the war in Canada and the U.S. Leslie's book received a wonderful review in the National Post a few weeks ago. Another book to add to your reading list!

And finally, I had a fun but tiring last Saturday, spending the morning at Perfect Books as part of Authors for Indies Day, and then across the city to Chapters Kanata where I spent the afternoon. Thank you to Michael Murphy for coming out to Perfect Books and bringing me a coffee and granola bar to keep me going, and to Judith Kalil and Catherine Brown for dropping by Chapters Kanata. So great to see you all.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Keeping Out and About in April

My April 'book tour' is drawing to a close along with the month. Today, I'll be at Perfect Books (Elgin and Somerset) from 10:00 a.m. until noon as part of Authors for Indies Day. This is when authors visit independent bookstores to highlight what a terrific resource they are for our communities. If you are able, visit your independent bookstore and make a purchase - you may get to meet a local author or two!

Then, I'll be cutting across the city to Chapters Kanata from 1:00 until 3:00 p.m. to sign more copies of Shallow End and the rest of the Stonechild and Rouleau series. I hope you can come by at one location or the other to say hello.

Last Saturday's visit to Coles Carlingwood was a relaxing and rather fun afternoon. I met lots of customers and was gratified when three different strangers each came up over the course of the afternoon to say hello and to tell me that they'd read all four in the Stonechild series and were waiting for the next. Another happy moment was when a woman stopped as she left the store with her book purchases. She said that she wished she'd seen me before she paid as she would have liked to buy mine instead. Some fifteen minutes later, she came back to the store, scooped up a copy of each of my books, returned the ones she'd bought, and replaced them with mine :-) Here's a photo of my friend Maureen Johnston who stopped by for the latest book.

I visited the Russell Library Monday evening and talked writing and the Stonechild series with about twenty-five mystery fans. They were an attentive audience with lots of good questions to make the evening fly by. I read from the first Anna Sweet novella, My Sister's Keeper,  and later from Shallow End to give an idea of the different writing styles and levels.

Ted tells me that we were in Russell once for a curling bonspiel, but I can't say that I remember. It's a growing town of about 3000 people with subdivisions of new homes as well as the older residences. The public library is new as are other buildings like the high school. About forty minutes from the west end in the middle of farm country, it's a lovely little community.

I've been juggling different writing projects. I've been judging a short story contest along with two crime fictions writers, Madona Skaff and Melissa Yuan-Innes and we've had a lot of back and forth. All the work finished up on Friday with the winners being announced at an Ottawa International Writers Festival event with Louise Penny on June 16.  The upcoming Anna Sweet manuscript (Missing Her) also came back for a final read-through as well as five cover designs. The publisher and I weren't blown away by any of the concepts so we've been brainstorming and think we may have lighted on something. I'll share when it's ready. And, I've gotten word that the process is starting for the next Stonechild book and I have to review my author grid for Bleeding Darkness - this is an excel spread sheet of contacts and marketing information. I'll have to get my head around it tomorrow.

I also finished a science section of main idea paragraphs for the workbooks and hit 25,000 words on my latest manuscript. I feel like I'm starting to get ahead of the eight ball.

At last, some decent spring weather to lift the spirits. A thunder storm rumbled across the city overnight so you know the cold and warm air are up there duking it out, but my money is on the heat coming out on top for a few months anyhow. It'll settle in long enough for drinks on the verandah, barbecues, evenings on the back deck and long bike rides... summer can't make it into the Ottawa Valley fast enough for me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April Sightings and Excellent News

Such a week! Signing at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto on Saturday, presentation at the Ottawa Independent Writers' meeting on Tuesday, and an Arthur Ellis Award shortlist nomination on Thursday. And the fun isn't over yet. You can catch me at Coles Carlingwood today from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

But first, back to last Saturday.

I met the Sleuth owners for the first time although I'd heard mention of their mystery store often in the past. Marian Misters and J.D. Singh co-own the store and greeted us warmly - by us, I mean me and my co-authors at the event: Steve Burrows and Leslie Shimotakahara. The store soon filled with readers and friends and we got busy signing and chatting. I was particularly delighted that a woman who used to live on the same street as me growing up in Terrace Bay came out to meet me - once again, it was great to see you Paulette! Steve, Leslie and I rounded out the afternoon with short readings from our books followed by an interesting question and answer session. I also thank my good friend Dawn Rayner for spending the afternoon with me and my husband Ted for driving us about.  Here are a few photos.

Me, Leslie, Steve and Marian

Tuesday evening, I spoke for about an hour to the Ottawa Independent Writers Association at the Hintonberg Community Centre. The topic was writing crime fiction and the very welcoming group asked many follow up questions. Thanks to Katherine Hobbs who came along for the presentation and who took the following pic of me in action. You can see the camera to my right - they recorded my talk and I'm told that parts of it will be on YouTube at some point.

Then, yesterday morning, I woke up to find that No Trace landed on the Arthur Ellis shortlist for crime novella of the year. This is the fifth book in the Anna Sweet mystery series from Grassroots Press, a series geared to adult learners. The Hard Fall, second in the series, was also shortlisted a few years ago so good acknowledgement for the books. The entire list can be found on this CBC link.

Writing went well this week on my latest manuscript as I managed a few full days at the keyboard. But for today, I'm off soon to Coles Carlingwood, a mall in my neighbourhood. Tuesday evening, I'm going to the Russell Public Library to meet readers and to do a reading and talk. 

Next Saturday, April 29, I'll be at Perfect Books on Elgin as part of Authors for Indies Day from 10:00 a.m. to noon; and then I'll be at Chapters Kanata from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. that same day.

I've had lots of writing events going on this month with a few more to come. I hope to meet up with you somewhere along the way!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Out and About in April

Today, I'll be reading, mingling and signing alongside Steve Burrows and Leslie Shimotakahara at the famous Toronto mystery bookshop Sleuth of Baker Street. I hope you can come by if you're in the area!

Back in Ottawa, I'll be at Coles Carlingwood on Saturday, April 22 from 11-2; and Perfect Books from 10-noon, then Chapters Kanata from 1-3 on Saturday, April 29. I'm also giving a talk about writing a crime fiction series to the Ottawa Independent Writers on Tuesday, April 18 at the Hintonburg Community Centre starting around 7:20 p.m.

As promised last week, here are some photos from the Shallow End book launch taken at the Heart and Crown on Friday, April 7. Thanks to Fred Taylor for being the evening's photographer :-)

MC Mary Jane Maffini

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Shallow End Gets A Night Out

Shallow End is officially launched!

A great turn out last night at the Heart and Crown - I was so pleased and touched to see everyone as they came in. Special thanks to Mary Jane Maffini, who acted as MC and Fred Taylor, who was the event photographer. I'm waiting for his photos and will post once I have them :-) Also so great to have my cousin Janet Chapman from Montreal at the launch.

Thank you to Stephanie and Antoinette from Books on Beechwood for coming out on a Friday night to sell books - so very much appreciated.

The Heart and Crown was a good space but noisy when it came time to give a talk. I'd also pre-ordered a bunch of finger food that never made it out of the kitchen. I was so busy signing books that I never realized the food wasn't out as we'd also arranged. Anyhow, the staff was friendly and everyone appeared to have a good time despite a lack of snacks. Next time, I'll order double ....

Next event is this coming Saturday, April 15 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto. I'll be appearing with fellow authors Steve Burrows and Leslie Shimotakahara. We'll be doing short readings and chatting - looking forward to meeting them and Toronto mystery fans.

Back in Ottawa, you can catch me signing at Coles Carlingwood on Saturday, April 22 (11:00-2:00) and Chapters Kanata on Saturday, April 29 (1:00-3:00).

So, a slow morning today. Ten of us went across the street to La Favorita and had pizza after the launch ended around nine. Someone (Kendall) kept filling my wine glass and the night rolled along nicely.

This week, I completed the chapter questions for the next Anna Sweet and submitted them to the publisher. I also kept working away on the manuscript and need to keep plugging away on it in the week ahead. I'm taking time out now though to make chapter notes and try to organize the plot points so that I keep things straight as I move forward. Painful to do but helps immensely down the road.

Well, it's been a three cup of coffee morning and I think I'm ready now for a cup of tea. I hope you're having a good weekend as well, maybe already into chapter one of Shallow End ...:-)