Sunday, October 15, 2017

Bouchercon - Wrapping up Days 3 and 4

I'm on the train home from Bouchercon, my first real opportunity to catch up on days three and four. The highlights of yesterday were meeting some readers in the hospitality room first thing in the morning when I hosted a table as part of the Crime Writers of Canada duties. I met an ex-journalist who was looking for a publisher for his first novel, a woman who'd been at a book club that I presented at last year in Ottawa, and a woman from Cleveland who loved all things mystery. My panel was later in the day and Caro Ramsay moderated in excellent fashion - she'd read our books and gave insightful questions and comments and incorporated a lot of humour into the session. The room was quite full and many came up afterwards to say they'd enjoyed it. Just before our panel, I sat in on one with Linwood Barclay, Kathy Reichs and a few other authors whose names escape me now, and the topic was writing standalone as well as series. Very informative from a writer perspective.

Supper last evening was a trek through the tunnels to the Cactus Club with the Ottawa crew - Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken, Robin Harlick and Barbara Fradkin. After we determined that we were the oldest in the club by about thirty years, we settled in for a few hours of delicious food, loud music, and lots of laughter.

This morning, I sat in on the Louise Penny interview with Ann Cleeves asking the questions, and again, a packed room. The hour zipped past and I checked out of the hotel immediately afterwards, met up with a Toronto friend, trundled down Yonge pulling my suitcase and stopped for lunch before arriving at Union Station.

The conference was fun and overall worthwhile. I spent time chatting with many authors and made several new acquaintances. It's a chance to catch up on industry news and share stories about events and marketing. I remembered just how big Bouchercon is (about 1700 attendees) and that they come from all corners of the world, including Australia, Japan, Scandinavia, Greece, Britain, France ... and the list goes on. My favourite moments were when readers came up to me to tell me how much they are enjoying my series. In particular, a man came up to me with all my books at the signing table after the panel - his wife was ill but wanted to make sure he got my signature on each of them and she'd written a lovely note to me. They live in Nova Scotia and she said that her entire bookclub of 22 members has read all my books and the librarian in their town said that my books and one other author's are the most signed out books in their library.

Words to make attending worth the price of admission:-)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Live From Bouchercon - Friday - Day Two

This morning started with a phone call from Robin Harlick to meet for coffee at the coffeeshop downstairs. Turns out there's more than one coffeeshop and we picked different ones. I reverted to my original plan to bring a coffee back to my room, after which I got ready to meet the Dundurn authors in the lobby at 9:15 for a cab ride to the Dundurn office. We were greeted by the Dundurn team including VP Beth Bruder and President Kirk Howard and more coffee and pastries. I met David Butler from B.C. whose first book Full Curl was just released - I gave an endorsement so it was nice to meet him in person. I had good chats with Beth, the three Dundurn publicists and David Paulson (Alberta).

We walked back to the hotel in time for me to do my one-hour stint at the Crime Writers of Canada table, oddly enough, with David Paulson. We kept each other laughing in between chatting with authors who came up to the table. I guess the most famous of these was William Deverell who was the creative force behind CBC's Street Legal. I then met up with my publicist Michelle Melski and Rachel Greenaway (B.C. Dundurn author) for lunch in the hotel and we chatted about all things publicity-related.

So I was in my room for a moment around 3:20, getting ready to go see a panel with Ann Cleeves as one of the panelists, when the fire alarm went off. I went into the hallway and nobody. I walked toward the stairs/elevators when a woman from New York City came into the hall and she suggested that we take the stairs together. She said that she'd grabbed her passport from the safe so that she could get home if this turned into a disaster. Sad to think that people from the U.S., New York in particular, have this underlying fear. We made it to the ground along with several other people who'd taken the stairs as an announcement let us know that the fire was reported in the garage. As it happened, I met Rick Mofina coming out of the hotel and we decided it was safe enough to go back in to the bar where we spent the rest of the afternoon catching up (we worked next to each other at Health Canada for a few years) and talking about the book business. Kind of serendipity really! Oh, and there was no fire in the end:-)

This evening beginning at 6:00, I'm heading to the international reception for authors from other countries across the seas who've made it here. There is a cocktail/dessert party after that that I may or may not attend, but from 9:30 to 11:00, I'm part of a Crime Writers of Canada quizz game with lots of donated books as giveaways. At these conferences, publishers and groups sponsor events as a way to get their authors known. Since this is going to be a late night, I'll post now with more from Bouchercon tomorrow!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Live From Bouchercon - Day One

Well I've made it to Toronto and four days of Bouchercon but we need to back up a few days. Tuesday evening, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa Writers Festival. We met at Southminster Church in Old Ottawa South and were greeted by an audience of over 200 people. True confession: I'd never interviewed anyone before and was slightly nervous, but really needed have been. Ann and Barb were great and didn't pass on any of my questions. It truly was a delightful evening.

Barbara Fradkin, Ann Cleeves and me

So, not so bright and early this morning, Barbara Fradkin (pictured above) picked me up and we took the 401 to Toronto, stopping in Cobourg at the Mill Tavern for a late lunch. I actually caught an Uber from somewhere in Toronto as Barb was visiting her daughter first, and made it to the Sheraton around four o'clock.

I checked in and went exploring, meeting several people I know along the way. Mainly Canadian people. I exchanged a few words with Howard Engel in the book room - he is one of Canada's icons in the mystery-writing genre, but didn't feel up to asking for a photo ... yet. After a brief rest, I met up with nine other Canadian authors (all women) and we went for supper in the hotel. Then off to the bar. This is a massive conference with about 1700 attendees. I didn't recognize many of them pouring through the bar, but a lot are Americans and a lot look young.

Tomorrow starts bright and early with a trip to Dundurn publishers for coffee. I'll let you know what I get up to at the end of the day ....

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Autumn Bounty

Happy Thanksgiving weekend all my Canadian friends. Bucking tradition this year, we're barbecuing a ham smothered in orange bourbon sauce and getting together with friends and neighbours for a potluck feast on Sunday. Both daughters are in out of town curling bonspiels and we're fortunate to have such good friends with whom to share the feast.

Ted and I got married Thanksgiving weekend and oddly enough, the two couples across the street share the same weekend. So this will be the third year we all go out for supper to celebrate, making for two special meals. Even the weather is making for a terrific weekend with warm temps and sun tomorrow. The leaves are only beginning to turn. A beautiful season before the snow :-)


So, Tuesday, October 10 is the Scene of the Crime event, part of the Ottawa Writers Fest. I'm excited to be spending the evening in conversation with Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin at Southminster United Church at 15 Aylmer Avenue in Ottawa South. Some friends are coming and it should be an all around great night. I believe you can still order a ticket if you'd like to come too. They're available through the Writers Fest website where you can find the event details. Peter Robb of Artsfile wrote insightful articles on Ann and Barbara that you might enjoy reading ahead of the evening.

A few days after the event, I'm off to Toronto and Bouchercon from Thursday to Sunday. I read that over 1700 people are attending, making this one big conference! I'm hoping to meet up with old friends as well as make new ones. I'll be taking part in the Crime Writers of Canada quizz Friday night and the 'Blue Detectives' panel on Saturday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. I'm also taking a few shifts at the Crime Writers table and refreshment area. If you're at Bouchercon, be sure to say hi! Check back at this site as I'll blog from Bouchercon with updates on the goings-on.

Time to get this morning underway. I have to make my way to the shops to buy final items for the big Thanksgiving dinner. I wish everyone also celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of pie.






Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gearing Up

Word on the Street in Toronto last week was one of the hottest days of the summer. Steamy. Cooking eggs on the sidewalk hot. Held at the Harbourfront, this was my first time attending and I had a good time chatting with other authors and shared a table with Judy Sheluk and Kathy Prairie, whom I'd met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a few years ago. Ian Shaw who is president of Ottawa Independent Authors and spearheaded Prose in the Park for the last three years dropped by to chat as well and it was great to see him.

 Judy Sheluk, Kathy Prairie and me
With Dundurn publicist Michelle Melski

I met up with my publicist Michelle Melski at the Dundurn tent and we caught up on book news. Michelle let me know that the audio books for both Cold Mourning and Butterfly Kills, read by the terrific Michelle St. John will be released November 25th. I'm really looking forward to hearing the final versions. These are the first produced by Dundurn so they were a trial balloon but Michelle says they turned out great even if they took longer than expected.

So just over a week before I have the pleasure of interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. You can order an advance ticket and join us for what is certain to be a most interesting evening. I know that I'm looking forward to it!

Then, off to Toronto again to Bouchercon, the largest mystery conference going and one usually held in the U.S. I've attended twice before in Baltimore and Cleveland with each drawing in about 1,500 fans and authors. I'll be taking part in a few Crime Writer of Canada activities, including the quizz Friday evening. My panel entitled Blue Detectives is Saturday from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. with David Mark, Jeffrey Siger, Andrew Case, Brian Thiem and moderated by Caro Ramsay. If you click on the links, you'll see that these include three Americans and two Brits with me holding up the Canadian end. Looks like a not-to-be-missed session!

A busy October ahead. I hope to see you along the way.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Summer in September

Just when you think the cooler weather is here to stay .... bam. Summer arrives in Southern Ontario. We're into the second week of heat and sun but the odd thing is that the light is different than in summer, more shadowed and golden with the sun setting by 7:30. I'm back into wearing tank tops and shorts, which is most peculiar for the end of September.


Two events to talk about this week. I'll be at Word on the Street in Toronto tomorrow (Sunday) at the Crime Writers of Canada table (booth 213) with four other writers from noon until one p.m. I've never been before and look forward to seeing this annual event that I hear draws lots of people. The location is Harbourfront Centre and I'm hoping we're outside but really have no idea. If you're in Toronto, come by and say hello.

My second gig is Tuesday, October 10 in Ottawa when I'll be interviewing Ann Cleeves and Barbara Fradkin as part of the Ottawa International Writers Festival. The event takes place at Southminister Church on Aylmer and Bank in Ottawa South and begins at 7:00 p.m. Perfect Books will be on hand with their latest books so you can buy a copy and have it signed.  I've been working on questions and have way more to ask than time will allow, but that's a good thing :-)

And I'm back on the writing wagon. This last round of editing put me out of sync with my schedule and it took me a few days to get back at it. I've managed a thousand words each of the last couple of days and feel like I've gotten a grasp on the manuscript again.

All good.



Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Labour of Love

This was another week spent editing Bleeding Darkness - this time, copy edits and hopefully for the last time. At the point that I'm at now with the manuscript, I'm tired of it, have no idea if it's any good, think the suspense has disappeared (as it has because I've read it twelve times), wish I'd written every sentence another way, wonder if I should chuck my computer and take up lawn bowling ... and have been here often enough to know that this feeling is part of the process. I worked all weekend and finally finished recording the last of my edits in a Word doc at nine p.m. Wednesday night.

It's time to pour a big glass of wine.

Editing leaves no time to do laundry.

It's time to set this one free.



My editor contact at Dundurn tells me that the copy editor is also having a go at the text and once they coordinate both our changes into the master document, the process picks up steam. The advance reading copies will be prepared and mailed out and the book will be posted on Net Galley for advance book reviewers. It doesn't actually hit the stores until May 2018, and by then I'll be elbow deep in my next book and have forgotten much of what I laboured over for so long with this one. Maybe, labour is the right word. The same thing happened after having babies. With the passing of time, I forgot how kind of awful yet glorious the experience was.

Men, if you want to experience labour (without the physical pain), write a book. You'll live through the same anxiety, fatigue and sense of creating something bigger than yourself, while wondering how the hell it's ever going to find it's way out of you. You'll worry about how the world will take to your little offering, hoping it amounts to something once it leaves your all-consuming focus and care. You too can experience listening to your spouse without hearing a thing they've said (although I think this happens already) and become as forgetful as ... well, a pregnant woman. Even the entire book-writing process takes about ten months of distracted gestation.

On to the rest of my week ...

I finished reading Ann Cleeves latest Vera Stanhope book entitled The Seagull and Barb Fradkin's latest Amanda Doucette, entitled Trickster's Lullaby, taking breaks from editing now and then because my eyes needed more exercise :-) Now, I'm doing some research, writing questions and getting ready to host both authors on October 10 for an evening of writing chat about their writing process, influences and latest books. Be sure to order a ticket and come out to learn more about two of the finest crime fiction writers in the field today.

A note that I'll be appearing at the Crime Writers of Canada table (booth 213) at Toronto Word on the Street next Sunday, September 24 - it would be great to meet some Toronto readers so stop by if you're out and about.

So, I've got to get back into the latest manuscript that I set aside to edit ... and if you don't think it was confusing to be writing one and editing another, you'd be wrong. I'm trying to remember my train of thought from a week ago when I was confident I had the ending worked out. I'm at about 67,000 words with 20,000 or so left to go. I'm at that point with the plot where I'm girding my loins to jump off the cliff and hoping the parachute opens. (The baby is kicking at my rib cage.)

Yeah, I think I could do with a holiday too :-)