Monday, September 28, 2009

Word on the Street

Rain, rain. Rain all day today and again tomorrow.

I think today is going to be a pyjama day.

Yesterday, I had a great day at Word on the Street in Toronto. I was the organizer of the Crime Writers of Canada booth, so had to be there from 9 to set up until 6 to close down. It was just wonderful to see all those thousands of people, tens of thousands probably, wanting to talk about books and about reading. We had a steady stream of visitors to our booth, to meet the authors and to hear about the organization. It didn’t hurt, I am sure, that Robert J. Sawyer, was at the table next to us.

Over at Type M for Murder, the group blog I am part of, we’re talking about using technology in promotion. I wrote my piece today so won’t repeat it here, suffice to say that I’d rather spend a day at something like Word on the Street, actually meeting people, readers and writers, than sitting at home wondering if anyone is reading my posting on Facebook or watching my homemade video on You Tube.

Finished the short story. I think it’s pretty good!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pictures of Trafalgar, B.C.

I put a few pictures up on the web page album that I took in Nelson, B.C. in April. I decided that they are the view from Molly’s apartment in Trafalgar. Yes, after two books, Molly Smith has moved out of her parents’ house. To see them go to my web page and click on Photo Album in the bottom left corner.

I’m off to Toronto shortly to pick up stuff for the Crime Writers of Canada table at Word on the Street. Then I’m going to have tea with my good friend and fellow-scribe Cheryl Freedman. I am in charge of CWC table this year so will be there most of the day tomorrow (Sunday). I’m actually signing from 1 – 2 (along with Rick Blechta) so please stop by and say Hi if you are in the neighbourhood. If you are in the neighbourhood and haven’t been to WOTS before, you really should. It’s held at Queens’ Park, is huge, and is an all day celebration of books and writing. Great fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A YouTube Effort

In preparation for the upcoming Poisoned Pen Web Conference ( I have been testing out all the technology tools available. The conference is all online, and there will be written, audio and video presentations and talks. One of the things I am going to be doing is a live presentation over LiveStream. So I tested it out by recording something.

It’s now up on You Tube. Pretty amateurish, to be sure, but it’s a lot cheaper than having a book trailer done. Have a look and see what you think. This is titled Vicki Delany introduces Winter of Secrets. It’s just over a minute long – I struggled to keep it that short, long enough to make my point, but hopefully short enough not to lose the audience’s interest.

I finished the short story, titled Sore Feet and Gold Dust. And then decided that it might work in present tense. So today I’ll be rewriting it that way. Normally I don’t care for anything written in present tense, but I thought for a short story it might give a sense of intimacy with the character.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Starred Review for Winter of Secrets

Forgive me a moment of self-indulgence. I was absolutely thrilled yesterday to receive a starred review for the forthcoming Winter of Secrets (November from Poisoned Pen Press). I was particularly pleased that they liked the ending, because that last couple of chapters went back and forth between the editor and me several times. So all that hard work paid off. I will be offering a contest in early October to win an arc of Winter of Secrets, so please stay tuned.

Fiction Book Reviews: 9/21/2009
Reviews of New Fiction, Poetry, Mystery, Science Fiction and Comics
-- Publishers Weekly, 9/21/2009

* Winter of Secrets Vicki Delany. Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (274p) ISBN 978-1-59058-676-8
The discovery early one Christmas morning of the bodies of best friends Jason Wyatt-Yarmouth and Ewan Williams, two privileged young men from Toronto, in an SUV sunken in an ice-covered river propels Delaney's stellar third mystery to feature constable Molly Smith of Trafalgar, B.C. (after Feb. 2009's Valley of the Lost). Molly investigates what at first appears to be an accident, but when the times and manner of Jason's and Ewan's deaths turn out to differ, she and her colleagues have a murder case on their hands. Whether at the Glacier Chalet B&B, on a black diamond ski trail or in the police station, Delaney glides between scenes with ease. She uses a bare-bones style, without literary flash, to achieve artistry as sturdy and restrained as a Shaker chair. Warmth and menace, past and present, are nicely balanced, with a denouement that's equally plausible and startling. This confident performance is sure to win new fans to the series. (Nov.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Score one for the Good Guys

On the group blog I am part of, Type M for Murder, we often discuss the rather poor reputation mystery or crime writing has in comparison to so-called literary novels. The Americans use the label mystery books, sometimes even, shudder, murder mystery, and in Britain they say crime fiction. I vastly prefer the word crime, because I believe that a good crime novel need not be about a murder, and often not even a mystery. It is, in my definition, a book about a crime, or the threat of a crime, and the consequences thereof.

Anyway, in Canada in particular crime novels are seen as second rate. The wonderful writer William Deverell recently wrote in the National Post about our National Snobbishness Disorder, which Rick Blechta linked to at Type M. My friend and blog-mate Charles Benoit replied that he didn’t care what anyone called his books as long as they call them ‘bestselling’.

It’s a matter of respect I believe. In Canada, because of this ‘disorder’ it is hard for crime writers to get things such as writer-in-residence positions or grants. We’re not seen as writers of serious fiction.

Last week on the CBC radio programme, the Sunday Edition, I heard a writer and teacher by the name of Lorna Crozier confess that on Sundays she indulges in books that are “not good for her”. Mystery novels in general and the works of Peter Robinson in particular. Michael Enright, the host, appeared to agree, calling them “bad books”. Presumably bad, in the sense of a naughty indulgence.

I took offense and wrote a strongly-worded letter to the programme. I won’t reproduce the letter here, sufficient to see we’ve discussed these points at Type M many times. (Look under the tag Genre Fiction) This week they read my letter on the air and Michael even said, “I apologize to Vicki Delany”.

Yeah, I felt as if I’d scored one for the good guys.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Storm Witch by Violette Malan

Last night I went to the launch of The Storm Witch, a new book by my friend the fantasy writer Violette Malan. It was held at Novel Idea in Kingston, Ontario. My daughter, Alex, loves fantasy and she is a huge fan of Violette’s work. For more:

This afternoon I’m off north to the tiny town of Lyndhust to attend tomorrow’s Turkey Fair, where I’ll be selling books. This is my first year at this event, but it sounds like a real, traditional, small-town Ontario fall fair. Should be a blast.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I started on the short story yesterday, with as I said, not much of an idea as to what I wanted to do with it. But I find that once the fingers start moving it engages the brain. I wrote about 1000 words yesterday, getting a good beginning, and this morning when I re-read what I’d written the idea for the ending came to me. Trust in your characters, I say, and then you can trust in yourself.

After two days I am about half finished in terms of word count, but I've decided to take a break to dive back into my books on the Klondike. It's been a while, and I think I've lost some of the colour.

On other news, these sunflowers are in my kitchen. Aren’t they lovely? I did have two sunflowers growing in the garden, but they were too precious to cut and bring indoors. The beans are the ones that I’ve been shelling to store in jars until the winter. Pretty labour intensive, and probably not cost-effecting considering the price of beans, but it gives me a sense of being self-sufficient.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Short stories and new directions

Fall is definitely on its way. The days are warm and sunny but the nights are cool and there is a bite in the air. I am writing this out on the deck, with a shawl over my shoulders. The tips of some of the trees are turning red and yellow and the farm stands are overflowing with vegetables. It’s a lovely time of year.

Something new – I’m wanting to try a couple of short stories. I wrote short stories at the beginning of my writing career, but nothing for years. I haven’t been able to come up with anything much in the way of an idea, so figure that I will just start and see what comes. If anything. Maybe nothing will, but at least I will have tried. When I spent some time with Peter Robinson at Wolfe Island last month he said that writing short stores really stretches him – makes him go in new directions as a writer.

I’ll let you know tomorrow how it turned out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Virtual Mystery Conference

I have spent a good part of the last couple of days trying to prepare for the Poisoned Pen Web Con in October. Haven’t heard of yet? Well gather round.

Poisoned Pen Press and the Poisoned Pen Bookstore are putting on the world’s FIRST virtual mystery conference. Virtual is the key word: there will be panels, author presentations, chats in the coffee shop and hallway, and all done over the Internet.

It’s brave and it’s adventurous and it will be really revolutionary. Almost anyone can participate, just by logging on on the day and reading the text material, but to really get something out of it, it helps if you have audio and video to both listen in and to actively participate.

I’ve been busy getting livestream up and working so I can create live video. I have my panel assignment; I will be moderating a panel over internet radio. When the panellists have confirmed, I let you know the details. Here is the web page if you want to see what it’s all about. The date is Saturday October 24.

On a more personal front - I went to yoga today for the first time since I injured my leg back in early July. I feel just wonderful!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Scene of the Crime Festival board met yesterday to sum up this year’s event and to plan for next year. It was easy to sum up this year – it was great! I’m looking forward to next year already. Here’s the link if you are thinking of checking it out. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out. Wolfe Island Scene of the Crime Festival
Next year it will be held on August 14th, and the Grant Allen award recipient is Gail Bowen.

Today will be a working day, as opposed to a writing day. Work, for me, is anything related to promotion or publicity; anything other than actually writing fiction. I have a couple of blog interviews coming up, and a proposal for a new book to put together. Oh, yes, and grass to cut. I’m getting tired of cutting the lawn.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lyn Hamilton

One of the brightest lights of the Canadian Mystery Scene has passed away. Lyn Hamilton, author of the Lara McClintock series. Lyn was kind enough to provide a cover blurb for Scare the Light Away. In 2005 she came with Rick Blechta and me to New York for a signing at McNally's Bookstore. She was a wonderful person, a great writer, and an inspiration, and mentor, to many.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mystery Fanfare

Today on Mystery Fanfare as part of their Cool Canadian Crime series there is an interview with me. I talk about my writing, and Canadian writing in general.

A Sci-Fi Mystery?

Woke up this morning to fog. Very unusual in this part of the world. I guess Mother Nature wanted to announce that summer was over in a spectacular way. I like it – it looks all creepy and mysterious. The beans in the farmer’s field beside me are yellow, and they really stand out in the fog whereas the green of grass and tress just blends in. See the way the light is shining on the corn silo? Could be an alien landing site.

Hum... do I see a science fiction mystery in my future?

No, I don’t think so. I have way too much on the go as it is. Might make an inspiration for a short story though. Something to think about.

Nothing in the writing world planned today. I have good friends coming, so will be spending the morning getting ready for them.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Plans and Tomatoes

Finished Negative Image yesterday and got it off to the agent. This morning I feel a bit lost. I am sitting here, staring at the computer thinking that I should have something to do!

I have a few things on this week (see attached picture!) and will think it all over while doing other things. The second Klondike book, Gold Fever, will be out in the Spring, so it might be time to start on book 3. As of yet, I don’t have any ideas for that one, but I am sure they will come. In the meantime, I am thinking of trying my hand at a couple of short stories. In August, I spent a wonderful weekend in the company of Peter Robinson and his wife Sheila on Wolfe Island at the Scene of the Crime Festival, and Peter told me that he finds short stories a way of stretching yourself, moving beyond your boundaries as a writer. I want to try that.

For the next couple of days I am going to make tomato sauce, blueberry muffins, putter about the house, go to Stratford with my daughter to see Macbeth. Then by the end of the week I will be brimming with ideas and ready to go. I hope.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Out the door!

Smith and winters Number Four will be finished today. Then out the door to the hardest critics of all, my agent and editor. I am not set on the title, Negative Image, so that might change.

Yesterday I was giving it one last glance over and I suddenly realized that X was never asked for an explanation of where they were at the time of the murder. Considering that X is a suspect, that seemed like a considerable oversight on the part of the police. And considering that in the town of Trafalgar, B.C. the police only do what I tell them, it’s my oversight.

So this morning I am out on the deck – another fabulous day – sending Detective Lopez around to question X. For reasons that will be explained, the formerly almost invisible Ray Lopez plays a prominent part in this book. A brief description: Despite his surname, the detective was red-haired and freckled, and very fond of a pint of Guinness.

In the first three books in the series, I have a Mountie named Ron Gavin and a detective named Ray Lopez. They never interacted, and as I said Lopez was pretty much invisible. Now in book four they come to work together and I find that I have a Ray and a Ron.

Which is pretty much of a disaster. So I use their surnames as much as possible but considering that everyone refers to everyone by their first names it is getting awkward. Bad planning on my part that.

Back to work...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

More on Tomatoes

Tomatoes, tomatoes, big fat tomatoes, and tiny little ones. All ripe and juicy.
This weekend will be all about tomatoes. My garden is overflowing. I’m saving the cherry tomatoes to make pasta for my friends, Helen, Mary, and Jan who are coming to visit next week. The big ones I’ll be using to make tomato sauce for the freezer. I’ll probably have a tomato sandwich for lunch. My lovely neighbour brought over a container of her heirloom cherry tomatoes to put some different colours into next week’s pasta. And shortly I’m going to the annual heirloom tomato event at Vicki’s Veggies. This Vicki has nothing to do with me, it’s a small organic farm in Prince Edward County famous across most of Ontario for the quality of its produce. Each Labour Day weekend they have a heirloom tomato tasting. I went last year and it was wonderful. You wouldn’t believe the sizes and colours and tastes that tomatoes come in.

Now that I’m growing my own, I don’t really need to be buying tomatoes – but I’m sure I’ll find a use for them.

At this time of year, Molly Smith will also be knee deep in tomatoes, particaruly as her mother has a big garden. Fiona MacGillivray would likely kill for one, but even at that price, they were not to be found in the Yukon Territory in 1898.

As well as eating and cooking and dreaming about tomatoes, my plan is to finish the final draft of Smith and Winters #4, still tentatively titled Negative Image, and send it off to my agent tomorrow.

Happy eating!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Gold Fever

They're back! Fiona and Angus and the gang will be back in Spring 2010 with Gold Fever. Contract is signed, blurbs are written! Here's a description:

It’s the spring of 1898, and tens of thousands of people, from all corners of the globe, are flooding into the Yukon Territory in the pursuit of gold. The town of Dawson welcomes them all, except for the people who had been there first. When young Angus MacGillivray saves the life of a Native woman intent on suicide, he inadvertently sets off a chain of events that offers his mother’s arch-enemy Joey LeBlanc, the Madam with a heart of coal, the opportunity to destroy the Savoy Dance Hall once and for all.

Unaware of impending danger, Fiona has other things on her mind: among the new arrivals are Martha Witherspoon, a would-be writer with far more tenacity than talent, and her nervous companion Euila Forester. There’s something familiar about Miss Forester’s cut-glass accent, and Fiona MacGillivray is determined to keep the newcomer as far away from Angus as possible. Twelve-year-old Angus, however, has a better idea.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Mann, the landlady, fills the yard with steam and men’s underwear in her new laundry business; Ray Walker, co-owner of the Savoy, a tough little Glasgow street fighter, spends most of his day mooning over Lady Irenee, the most popular dancer in town; Irene carefully guards her secrets; Sergeant Lancaster, the love-struck, ex-boxing champion, pursues his hopeless quest for Fiona’s hand; Journalist Graham Donohue digs the dirt looking for stories; Barney, one of the few successful miners, holds up his corner of the bar; and Constable Richard Sterling guards the morals of the town with steely determination and the occasional glance at Fiona’s ankles. And – joy of joys – a seamstress of unparalleled quality opens for business.

All the while percentage girls and drunks, croupiers and gamblers, prostitutes and clients, bar hangers-on, Bishops and newspapermen, cheechakos and sourdoughs, and the infrequent respectable businessman walk, or fall, through the doors of the Savoy.

Then a killer strikes and the Mounties are determined to get their man... or woman.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Negative Image

Another wonderful late summer day. Yesterday I made tomato sauce for the freezer using my own tomatoes and basil. Such a enormous sense of pride, making such a little thing. A couple of nights this week I’ve had pasta with cherry tomatoes (mine), basil (mine), arugula (sadly, not mine) and feta cheese (definitely not mine!). If anyone knows if it’s easy to grow arugula in S. Ontario – Zone 5 – please let me know.

Got the blurbs for Gold Fever done. I’ll post one shortly as a sort of sneak peek.

Yesterday also I edited part of a MS by a woman who attended my workshop at Wolfe Island. I enjoy doing that sort of thing, and think I’m fairly good at it. I have an Editor’s Certificate from a Community College, so at least I can correct the grammar and punctuation.

I am coming along well with the edits to Smith and Winters 4. The tentative title is Negative Image, because an old photograph provides the major plot point. But I am wondering if I need to have a geographical word i.e. Glacier, Valley, Winter.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Never Forget

Like Bugs Bunny, I never forget. I actually do have a great memory for things I have to do, only last year when I was on the road so much did I start keeping a diary. It probably has something to do with a brain that stores mundane facts – I almost never lose at Trivial Pursuit; when I was a Lan Administer I knew everyone’s password without writing them down. On the other hand I have a dreadful memory for things that actually happened in my life. I’ll get together with my friends and they’ll all be laughing and say “Do you remember when...” Uh, no, I don’t.

Which is a long winded way of saying that I forgot to send the publisher the suggested blurbs for Gold Fever. She had to write and remind me that they are overdue.

I find blubs very hard to write. You have to condense the essence of your story into a hundred words, or four hundred words, while also creating a mood and a sense of tension and conflict. Not easy to do.

The blurb for Gold Digger was all about the characters and the setting, not about the plot at all. But for the second book in the series I feel we can’t do that again. I’ll let you know when I have something. In the meantime, here’s the blurb we used for Gold Digger:

It's the spring of 1898 and Dawson, Yukon Territory, is the most exciting town in North America. The great Klondike Gold Rush is in full swing and Fiona MacGillivray has crawled over the Chilkoot Pass determined to make her fortune as the owner of the Savoy dance hall. Provided, that is, if her 12-year-old son, growing up much too fast for her liking; the former Glasgow street fighter who's now her business partner; a stern, handsome NWMP constable; an ageing, love-struck, ex-boxing champion; a wild assortment of headstrong dancers, croupiers, gamblers, madams without hearts of gold, bar hangers-on, cheechakos and sourdoughs; and Fiona's own nimble-fingered past don’t get in her way. And then there’s a dead body on centre stage.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Summer’s End.

First of September. I live in a major tourist destination, and suddenly it is so quiet and peaceful this morning. The weather is great: blue skies, light breeze. I’ve spent the morning sitting out on the deck, drinking coffee, writing. I usually love the fall, but this year I don’t feel that I’m ready. Here in Southern Ontario we haven’t had much summer. I’d like to go for a swim, but the nights are turning cool and the temperature of the pool has dropped dramatically.

I have plenty of things on the go for the fall. The next Smith and Winters book, Winter of Secrets, will be out on November 1st. I’ll be on book tour with R.J. Harlick to the East Coast in October and then doing signings around South and Eastern Ontario in November and December. (Links to the tour will be posted soon).

The second Gold Rush book, Gold Fever, will be released in the spring so I’ll have edits coming soon. I’m working on the final draft of Smith and Winters #4 (tentative title Negative Image). Final, that is, before it goes to my agent and my editor, so I am sure there will be more work required. I have plans for something very new, of which more later, and I’d like to try my hand at writing a couple of short stories.

All of which should keep me out of trouble at least until Christmas.