Saturday, December 16, 2017

Into the Holiday Cheer!

A lot has happened since last Saturday. Those of you following along the Olympic Curling Trials know that my daughter Lisa is on the winning ladies team Homan, and they're soon off to South Korea to represent Canada at the Olympics. Ted and I were at their games all week cheering them on and couldn't be prouder. We will be continuing the journey with them as plans are in the works for us to go to South Korea too! Parents of a soon-to-be Olympian :-)

Photos taken by Mike McKinnon - Lisa warming up before a round robin game


And our youngest daughter Julia's team won the Trophy tournament last week and they've made it to the Ontario provincials in January! Their final game was last Sunday morning before the Olympic play down final so my nails are about bitten to the quick. ... who knew where this sport would take us when I got our family into the sport so many years ago? Absolutely amazing.

I've managed some time writing the latest Anna Sweet novella, now about a third of the way through the first draft. These little books are so much fun to write once I get an idea, and I'm a big fan of the publisher Pat Campbell at Grass Roots Press. She's doing such good work for adult literacy and she's always supportive and collaborative.

A few little uplifts this week. Jim Napier, a Canadian author and crime fiction reviewer, selected Shallow End as one of his top picks for 2017 - and such a great recommendation! Also, Publishers Weekly featured Bleeding Darkness in its upcoming spring book list. This is one of the book industry's flagship resources so I'm thrilled to make their list.

I received a message from my publicist yesterday that the Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills audio books are available lots of places, including iTunes and now Kobo. Kobo has a 30% off deal going so a great time to upload them.

Are you set for the holidays? We've been busy getting set as we're hosting a Christmas dinner tonight. Decorations, tree, presents, food ... check, check and check. Christmas tunes on the stereo combined with the snow is putting me in the holiday mood. Prime rib on the barbecue heads up the menu and I'm about to tackle a chocolate raspberry bundt cake. Tis the season to eat.

Nine more sleeps until Christmas. Enjoy the moments, everyone :-)







Saturday, December 9, 2017

Into December

Good Saturday morning. I didn't spend many hours at my computer this week although I managed to complete the second edit of Turning Secrets and submitted it to Dundurn last weekend. Since then, I've spent most of my time at the Canadian Tire Centre watching the Olympic curling trials or at home watching on television. I'm happy to report that my daughter Lisa's team (Rachel Homan) is having a great week and plays in the semi-final this afternoon. We'll be there to cheer them on. My youngest daughter Julia (skip Chrissie Cadorin) is also playing in a tournament this week called the Trophy with the winner securing a spot in the Ontario provincials in January. They've won five games in a row with two left to go. We're cheering them from afar. You can see my preoccupation this week:-)

I've firmed up plans to attend the Ontario Library Association (OAL) Super Conference on February 1st in Toronto. I'll be signing advance copies of Bleeding Darkness at the Dundurn booth after a breakfast for the Golden Oak nominees and volunteers. The librarians voted on the short list and now adult learners are voting on the winning book, which will be announced in April. No Trace made the list this year. The OLA Super Conference goes on for a few days and brings together librarians from across the province.

While I've taken a bit of a writing break this week, I've been working on the seventh Anna Sweet novella, now on chapter three. The plot idea seems sound and I'm having fun working through the storyline. I even have a working title "Killer Heat" so hopefully this will be one of those manuscripts that almost writes itself. Did you know that some writers believe a Divine hand is guiding their words, making them 'a vessel' for the story? I'm not so sure about that but it is hard to explain where the ideas come from sometimes.

Then there were those authors who took drugs to heighten their writing experience. The story goes that Samuel Taylor Coleridge was high when he was writing the poem Kubla Khan and someone came into the room and interrupted him. He lost track of his 'vision' and the poem remains unfinished. The opening lines ...

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree: 
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 
Through caverns measureless to man 
   Down to a sunless sea. 

Two weeks until Christmas, people. Time to break open the egg nog. I'm almost done shopping and will have to start thinking about the food soon. Hard to believe we're coming down to the wire. The party season is upon us ...




Saturday, December 2, 2017

When It All Comes Together

Good morning everyone! Today is the first day of Roar of the Rings, the Olympic curling trials, being held in Ottawa at the Canadian Tire Centre so this is an exciting time. The games will be shown on the sports channel if you can't be here in person. Of course, I have a favourite player and team :-)

Rachel, Emma, Joanne, Lisa and Cheryl

The audio versions of Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills are now available on Audiobooks and I see that you can download one as your free introductory book - they're posted on Amazon. They'll be available through other sites but apparently Audiobooks is the biggest distributor. Michelle St. John reads the books - she's a two-time Gemini award-winning actress!

This was an editing week. I made it through a second review of Turning Secrets and tightened up more of the plot as well as fixed wording issues. I'm still mulling over some of the plot connections and think I need to add a few more details. I have about a month left to work on it so no rush ... yet. I also managed to write chapter two in the Anna Sweet manuscript but set it aside for most of the week while I edited.

I watched a series on Netflix this past week called MindHunters - it tells the story of a couple of FBI agents who start interviewing serial killers in prison and how they used psychology to start figuring out who might become one and what factors led to their creation. Very fascinating, especially seeing the impact of this work on their own lives.

Hard to believe Christmas is about three weeks away! Are you deep into shopping and putting up decorations? I've started but have a ways to go. The magic of the season is how it all comes together. I've given up worrying.



Saturday, November 25, 2017

November Books and Wine Part Two

This past week, I was guest author of the Brittania Book Club. The event took place in a condo party room and included a few other invited book clubs and people from the building - a poster had been put up to let condo residents know about the evening. Led by Eileen Wilson, her team of volunteers set up tables with lighted centerpieces and served wine and cheese plates. About sixty people joined us. Eileen introduced me and led the questioning with lots of terrific questions from the audience. The evening flew by and I had a great time with this friendly, most receptive group of readers. Thank you to Eileen, the volunteers and everyone who came out - I feel truly blessed. Here are a few photos.

 Eileen Wilson makes the introduction
A snippet of the crowd



Also this week, I finished my first edit of the Stonechild manuscript entitled Turning Secrets and set it aside for the week before I go through it again. The urge to complete the second edit right away had to be squelched. Instead, I went Christmas shopping and worked on Christmas cards to keep myself occupied and my fingers away from the computer. I also came up with an idea for the next Anna Sweet book and wrote the first chapter. I was planning to write a short story but the novellas take precedence ... and my next edit of the finished manuscript.

So starting next weekend, the Olympic curling trials will be underway in Ottawa, and Ted and I will be spending many hours watching and cheering on Team Homan as they battle hard to represent Canada in Korea in February. We're extremely proud of the girls and all they've accomplished. They show how far hard work and good hearts can take you. And they're not done amazing us yet ...

 Emma, Lisa, Joanne and Rachel receiving their World Curling banner
With Rachel Homan

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Books and Wine

Tuesday evening this week, I spent a most delightful evening with a local book club. I was treated to supper and conversation at Flipper's seafood restaurant in the Glebe - such an interesting and warm group of people and their club has been going for fourteen years. A few of their members are absent so we drank their share of wine :-) Thank you Estella and gang for inviting me. They read Cold Mourning beforehand and told me that they all  enjoyed the book or they wouldn't have invited me to dinner! They're on the hunt for the rest of the series so I look forward to more feedback.


This Monday, I'm visiting another book club but this one takes place in a condo in the west end of the city with wine and cheese on the menu. The book club has invited people in the building and other friends and I'm told we'll be thirty to forty people. They've been reading Cold Mourning ahead of the evening, so I'll do a short reading and will answer questions about the book, my writing and the series. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone.

Well, I'm happy to report that I finished the latest manuscript Monday evening. Since then, I've been editing and am now about half-way through my first review. I'm having to tweak bits and rewrite paragraphs to make all the facts align now that I have the ending written. I must confess that I wasn't certain of every twist and turn until the very end and am rereading with an eye to making sure I've tied up all the details and that all the plot lines make sense.  I'll finish the edits early next week and will set it aside for a few days before going through it a second time. Hopefully, the text will be in good enough shape to submit to Dundurn a month early.

We're getting the first winter warning/snowstorm later today according to the weather reports. This is a good weekend to hang out at home with a fire in the grate and a pot of tea. I'll be doing more editing as well as watching curling on television. My daughter Lisa's team is in the quarterfinals of a bonspiel (to be shown on Sportsnet) at 1:00 EDT if you're also looking for an indoor pastime.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November Morning

The frost is on the pumpkin this morning as our lovely autumn turns wintery. One benefit from the cold weather is that it keeps me stay inside at my desk writing although I lamented yesterday that the days sitting on the back deck are over for the year. I know I'll have cabin fever by January.

So, I'd hoped to have the first draft of my latest manuscript finished by today ... well by last weekend really ... but I'm still writing, now past the 90,000 word mark. The story just keeps going as I work my way to the finish. I'm going to have to cut it down if I go on much longer but my plan is to tie up all the loose ends and then have a look. I've done some editing earlier on but I've been working on this story for almost a year and there will be bits that could use a tidy. 

This week, I'm a guest at a book club on Tuesday - we're going to a local seafood restaurant and will talk about mysteries and writing over plates of shrimp and scallops. The following week, I visit another book club and that one will be a wine and cheese in a condo building with the focus on Cold Mourning. Two lovely evenings meeting mystery readers in relaxed settings. Book clubs are the best!

This time of year, I love rereading poems from my years studying Canadian poetry at university. Here's a snippet from one called "In November" by Archibald Lampman that captures the beauty of this dying season.

The sun shone out a little space
Across the silent sober place,
Over the sand heaps and brown sod,
The mulleins and dead goldenrod,
And passed beyond the thickets gray,
And lit the fallen leaves that lay,
Level and deep within the wood,
A rustling yellow multitude.



Saturday, November 4, 2017

Into November

Some good news this week. Pat Campbell, Grass Roots Press publisher, was in touch and asked me to write two more Anna Sweet novellas. She will publish both at the same time in fall 2019 with a campaign to promote the entire series. The eighth book will be the final in the series so I'll have to gear the last two stories to this end point. She mentioned that so many people have told her how much the love these books - music to my ears.

In the meantime, I'm working away on the sixth Stonechild book entitled Turning Secrets and am currently into the climax of the book and a few thousand words away from finishing the first draft. My process seems to be: write a few paragraphs, pause, think, write a few more hundred words, pause, think, go back and rewrite, pause and think. I'm not certain why I'm so hesitant with this ending, but give me one more week and I'll definitely be done. This leaves me a few months to edit and pull all the strands together more tightly. I also would like to make a trip to Kingston to check out a location, oddly enough that does not include a bar :-)

If you had a chance to watch the tv mini-series Alias Grace based on Margaret Atwood's book, what a treat. The acting was superb and the sets were extremely well done. I read the book some time ago and would like to reread it after seeing the series. My recommendation for the week!

A nice bit of publicity in my mailbox on Wednesday. My good friend and neighbour Kathryn Anthonisen sent in a recommendation for my series to a local magazine called "Neighbours of Westboro" and they published her words in their entirety along with a photo of the series. The magazine is free and goes to several west-end Ottawa neighbourhoods so I'm hoping to attract a few new readers. Thank you Kathryn!


Don't forget to set your clocks back tonight my Canadian friends (with the exception of Saskatchewan). An extra hour of sleep is never a bad thing.