Thursday, October 29, 2009

Louise Penny Country

My record is still in tact – thank heavens. I have never had an event at which I sold 0 books. But yesterday it was getting pretty tight. Robin and I signed at Chapters in Fredericton at noon and for the first half hour not only did we have no sales, but no interest. I was thinking this would be a record breaker, when the tide turned and all the lunch-hour workers and students heading for Starbucks left and the ‘real’ shoppers came in. So we did reasonably well, for a weekday afternoon in a suburban area.

Then it was off to Westminster Books in Fredericton. A very nice bookstore, quite large for an independent, and with a good mystery section. Total attendees: 0. I was lamenting that I had broken my record and had no achieved 0 sales, when Robin reminded me that someone had come in earlier and had bought a book. Yeah! Saved.

The question all authors ask: is it worthwhile doing booksignings. I still think so. We had a nice visit with the owner at Westminster, she now knows us and knows our books. She told us that Barbara Fradkin and Mary Jane Maffini sell quite well at her store after their (also sparsely attended) appearance a few years ago.

This afternoon we are giving a talk at the library which is only a block away from the bookstore and I understand that attendees to their events regularly go down the street in pursuit of books.

We will see. On to Moncton this afternoon.

On another note, the attached picture was taken in North Hatley, Quebec. I know that a lot of you are Louise Penny fans, so thought you’d enjoy a pic of the town that supposedly is the inspiration for Three Pines.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Notes form the Road

Making a quick lunch stop in Lennoxville, Quebec, where Robin Harlick and I are appearing at Bishop’s University this afternoon.

Yesterday was the first stop on the book tour, at Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Quebec. It is a wonderful independent bookstore owned by Danny and Lucy. We were put onto the store by Louise Penny who kindly introduced us, via e-mail. Brome Lake is her local bookstore, as she lives not far away. Louise and Michael came out to our event, and we had a great time.

Attendance was somewhat selective, shall we say.

Which raises the question: is it worth it? It is worth travelling for hours, paying to stay in a hotel or B&B, meals on the road, to sell and handful of books.
I’d suggest it depends on the store. A local independent bookstore can be the hub of a community. Few people may come to your event; Sunday night isn’t the best after all. But there was a nice display beforehand, and several books were sold before we even arrived, our names and pictures were in the local paper, and people who did come said they would tell their friends.

So was it worthwhile? Well, if we hadn’t gone, we wouldn’t have sold any books and no one would ever have heard of us.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Once more - on the road

Yesterday was the Poisoned Pen Virtual Web Conference, and it appeared to be a huge success. I don’t know how many people participated, but there seemed to be a lot. I moderated a panel on Blog Talk Radio and we had more people listening in that I’ve had in a lot of real-live panels I’ve participated in.

From my POV at least it was pretty much bug-free, which had been my big concern. There were a few people who were having problems hearing etc. but they seemed few and far between.

So, if you didn’t participated be sure and keep an eye out next year. No word if it will be an annual event, but I think the pressure will be on.

From one thing to another. I start my east coast book tour with R.J. Harlick today. First stop is Brome Lake Books in Knowlton, Quebec. We were put onto the store by Louise Penny, as it is in her neighbourhood and they do a lot of events for Louise. I’m quite excited about visiting Louise Penny territory. Monday we have a day’s visit to Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke Quebec with two events and a book signing, and then back in the car for the drive to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The highlight of that will be the evening of Friday Oct. 30 when we’re participating in a mystery writers event at Mount Saint Vincent University. In between we have two library visits and several bookstores including Westminster Books in Fredericton. All details are posted on my web page. If you can make it, we’d love to see you.

Truth be told - I am not really in the mood for this trip. This is my third book this year, and it's too much. I have wonderful ideas for the new book I've been telling you about, and I just want to hunker down at home and work on it. I am sure I will have fun once I get on the road, because I do love doing book events, and Robin is a great friend.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Night in Rochester

I arrived in Rochester, and had a super evening with Rose and Charles Benoit. I'm up now, and about to sign all the books Poisoned Pen sent for me to sign and return. Then I'm off to the southern shores of Lake Ontario to scope out the landscape for a new book project I have in mind. Then up to Ottawa - after a stop in Kingston to collect my own books for the tour that I didn't dare drive across the border with. Good thing I like to drive.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Evil Necessity that is Promotion

A great deal of the writing biz these days is promotion. Whether you’re Ms. Mega-Selling Author or Mr. Bottom of the Mid-List, you have to be on the road. A lot.
And so it is for me. I got back last night from Bouchercon. Have two days to do laundry, write some articles for my November blog tour, and on Thursday I am off to Rochester.

The Rochester gig will be nothing but pleasure: I have to sign copies of Winter of Secrets to return to Poisoned Pen bookstore and am staying with my friends Charles and Rose Benoit ( and Type M for Murder). If you recognize the name Rose Benoit, BTW, yes, she is the inspiration for John Winters’ old partner, Inspector Rose Benoit of the Vancouver Police. Rose has appeared in In the Shadow of the Glacier, and Valley of the Lost and the just completed Negative Image. Unfortunatly she doesn't show up in Winter of Secrets.

I then leave Rochester for Ottawa where I’ll be spending Saturday on line and on the phone as part of the Poisoned Pen Virtual Conference. Sunday morning up bright and early to head for Montreal and the beginning of our East Coast Book Tour.

So that's another two weeks on the road.

I have a new book underway, new characters, new series, new setting, new concept. It’s going well, and I am very unhappy at having to give up so much time when I should be working on it.

But, such is the life!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Kootenay Kookies

Lucky Smith’s Kootenay Kookies.

1 c. Butter
1 c. Sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. Flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 ¾ tsp soda
2 c rolled oats
2/3 c raisins
2/3 c chopped nuts (or can use more raisins)
Combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add molasses, vanilla, eggs. Combine flour, salt, cinnamon, soda, oars, raisins, and nuts. Stir dry ingredients into butter and egg mixture.
Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes.

Friday, October 16, 2009


The O Canada Panel at Bouchercon. Left to right, Vicki Delany, Anthony Bidulka, Barbara Fradkin, R.J. Harlick, Mary Jane Maffini

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bouchercon Day One

We arrived safely at Bouchercon after two days of much merriment. I will never again be able to see a Bob Evans sign without thinking of Mary Jane’s shudder when someone suggested we eat there. In honour of that, I am thinking of giving Constable Dave Evans a visiting brother named, what else, Bob.

The convention is huge, tons of people all milling about greeting each other. There are signs up promoting a Handshake Free Bouchercon as a way of avoiding the flu. I don’t think so, there are as many handshakes and cheek kisses as ever.

We had a fabulous dinner last night at a place called Palomino. Half price bottles of wine on Wednesdays. Can’t beat that. Tonight is the Poisoned Pen Press get together. And tomorrow Tony Bidulka is taking the Canadian crew to a fancy restaurant.

Yum. Yum. Life on the road.

This morning I was a at a fun panel put on by the Baker Street Irregulars. I am sure, if you are reading this blog, you can guess what sort of group they are. Laurie R. King was one of the panellists and had us all laughing with her dry wit. After a bumpy start, which bothered her not one bit, Laurie’s Mary Russell is now accepted by Sherlockian societies. And so, IMHO, she should be. I think the Russell novels add so much to the Sherlock Holmes canon.

Ran into Deborah Turrell Atkinson and Judy Clemmins, among others in the bar last night. Am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my good friend Julia Pomeroy who I haven’t seen for some time.

And of course this afternoon is the O Canada panel. Mary Jane suggested we subtitle it We’re not as nice as you think.

Monday, October 12, 2009

On the Road!

Today is the last day of peace and quiet for quite a long time. Tomorrow morning I am going to be picked up in Belleville by R.J. Harlick, Barbara Fradkin and Mary Jane Maffini for the two day road trip to Boucheron.

Wednesday afternoon we will arrive in Indianapolis and setting into four days of smoozing and being charming. Shouldn’t be difficult. For those of you attending the conference, a reminder that the four of us, plus the ever-wonderful Anthony Bidulka, will be on the O Canada: A Criminal Romp Through the Wilds of Canada panel Thursday at 4:30.

We’re planning to serve traditional Canadian fare, and are having a lot of fun deciding what that is. I’ve made Kootenay Kookies and have bought Smarties. I think Inuit tea, maple leaf cookies, Nanaimo bars and other such goodies are on the menu. It addition we’re dressing in an assortment of national costume, and will have a contest and giveaways.

Definitely the place to be Thursday afternoon.

Many of the Canadian attendees at Bouchercon have contributed books to a basket for the silent auction. I have both a copy of Gold Digger, and an ARC of Winter of Secrets. Let's try to get the bidding up there!

I will barely be back from Bouchercon before it’s time to hit the road for the East Coast book tour with R.J. Harlick. Details of that are on my web page. Look for the Vicki on the Road link.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to all. I’m off to Oakville in a short while to have turkey and all the trimmings with my mom and my youngest daughter. Eldest daughter is busy, and middle daughter too far away, so it’s just the three of us.
More turkey for me!

Negative Image has gone to the editor at Poisoned Pen Press. I anxiously await her response. I know it’s not completely out-to-lunch, because as per PPP policy, she has already approved the outline and the first 100 pages. Still, there is always that niggling thought that maybe she will hate it.

After a couple of months of doing a bit of this and a bit of that, I’m now ready to dive straight into my new book, which will be the start of a new series. I’ve talked it over with my agent, and they feel it has real potential, so let’s get at it!
Oops. I’m going to be on the road for the next month, and then very busy for a month after that with promotion for Winter of Secrets.

I plan to spend the winter working on it, and as I have nothing on (yet) after the beginning of December, I should be able to make real progress. I'm planning to blog about it as it goes.

The contest to win an ARC of Winter of Secrets is closed, but if you are attending Bouchercon next week please try to make our panel: Oh Canada: A Criminal Romp Through the Wilds of Canada, Thursday at 4:30. Prizes will be awarded and Canadian cuisine will be served.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Critique Group Day

I belong to a super critique group, and today is our meeting day. We don’t meet often, about once every two months. The purpose of the group isn’t really to read everything that each of us has written, but to help with difficult parts.

We meet at a pub in downtown Toronto, which sounds rather strange – how can you have a meeting in a pub? But we’ve found a nice place that has a private, quiet corner. We’ll start off with a drink, and some gossip about the publishing biz, then have dinner, and then open the pages. We send the pages we want to discuss about a week before the meeting so everyone has a chance to read them.

There are plenty of ways of organizing a critique group. Probably as many types of groups as there are writers, but I’d suggest one rule only for anyone looking to form, or join a group. You absolutely have to trust in your group members. You don’t have to accept their judgement, and do everything they tell you – which would be difficult as they can be contradictory! – but you do have to be able to justify if only to yourself why you are not taking their advice. Similarly, you have to believe that their work is good enough to be published, otherwise, why bother?

I belonged to an online critique group some years ago, and when I think back on it, it’s a wonder I kept writing. Some of the members were harsh to the point of being mean; one woman completely rewrote a section of my dialogue and said “There, it works much better this way.”

One of the members of my group, Donna Carrick, has just had her new book, The First Excellence, released. I haven’t read it yet, but certainly am looking forward to it. After all, I know it was well critiqued!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grammar and Your Reputation.

Does grammar matter? You bet it does. I’ve heard beginning writers say they don’t worry much about their spelling and grammar because that’s what editors are for, isn’t it.

Trust me, it matters. Most editors make their living by knowing what’s right and what’s wrong when it comes to writing. And they get annoyed, fast, at common or sloppy errors. If you are trying to get that first novel read you do not want the editor at the publisher or agent you are querying to get annoyed at you.

But even more, if you want to make your living with words, how you write is your reputation.

What brought this up is that there is a classified ad in my local small-town newspaper for a course in creative writing. In the context of one brief ad there are THREE grammar errors.

Internationally acclaimed author XX is offering a highly successful Toronto Workshops at XX. Add punch to your prose and learn how to get them published.

Did you spot them?
1) Workshops should not be capitalized as it is not a proper noun.
2) Offering a... workshops. Plural noun, singular article.
3) Your prose and... get them.. Again singular and plural in the same sentence.

If this person can’t get his own three line ad correct, why should I pay him to teach me anything?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Win an ARC of Winter of Secrets

Contest time!

I’m offering two ARCs (advance reading copies) of Winter of Secrets which will be released by Poisoned Pen Press on Nov. 1st.

The first chapter has been posted on my web page ( Send me an e-mail telling me what Constable Molly Smith’s radio call number is, and you will be eligible! Contest closes on Friday Oct. 9th. My e-mail address is Vicki at vickidelany dot com. (you know the drill)

Onto further news – I baked cookies yesterday for our party at Bouchercon. We’ve decided that because the O Canada panel is at 4:30 on Thursday afternoon, when energy levels are starting to droop, we will make it a party, so we’re all contributing something deliciously Canadian.

The picture at the right is of me taken at Word on the Street in Toronto last week. Nice banner, eh? That’s the Crime Writers of Canada logo. The picture was taken by Pam Balance who is one half of the writing team Jamie Tremain. (

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Fresh Tomato and Basil Linguini and a lot of work

Spoke to my agent yesterday, and she will have the comments for Negative Image back to me on Monday. So that gives me a couple of days to get caught up in the garden.

Today will be a gardening day. Time to pick the last of the tomatoes, bring them in the house and hope they’ll ripen, and dig up the vegetable garden. I have only been in this house for a year. Last year I had grass dug up and a vegetable bed prepared. I was a bit on the over-enthusiastic side, and ended up with more than I could care for. I had a really good crop of weeds in one corner of the garden, so tossed a tarp on them for the summer. Over the next couple of days I’d like to get the entire bed ready for winter. Next year I’m going to expand into peppers and garlic. I know I have to get the garlic in this week.

I’ve really enjoyed the vegetable garden – lettuce in the spring and early summer and then tons of tomatoes in the late summer and early fall.

I estimate that in the last month 80% of my dinners have been tomatoes, garlic, and basil over pasta with a sprinkle of feta cheese on top. And I’m still not tired of it – yesterday I bought another package of linguini. If you’d like the recipe, ask, but you really don’t need a recipe. Just toss what you have in a frying pan in a splash of olive oil. Even cooked, real tomatoes taste so much better than anything from the supermarket in January.

Today is the County Marathon, and I for one can’t wait. Not that I’m exactly a marathon runner, but as it happens the course goes right by my property. I love living here, in Prince Edward County, and I love my 19th century house and property in the country. The only thing I don’t love is that I am on a County Road. Which means a busy road (never mind summer when it’s the road to the beach!). They’ll be closing the road soon for the runners, and yeah! Peace and quiet for a few hours.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Preparing for Bouchercon and Fall Book Tour

What happened to fall? Two weeks ago I was in the pool, and yesterday I turned the heat on.

I’m stuck between projects right now, and not happy about it. I’ve sent the MS of Negative Image (Smith and Winter #4) to my agent, and waiting it’s return, no doubt with suggestions. I’ve sent a proposal and the first 50pages of a new idea to my agent, and am waiting input before continuing. Gold Fever is at the publisher, and I’m waiting their editorial changes on that. Time to start thinking about Gold Rush book #3. I finished the short story and will get input about that from my critique group next week.

I am not good at starting and stopping something; I want to work on a book in a continuous flow, so I find myself this week in a holding pattern.

Fortunately, It’s not that I have nothing esle to do. My fall is looking to be jam packed with activities. There’s Oakville for Thanksgiving with the family, then the Great Road Trip of ’09 to Bouchercon, then my Quebec and east coast book tour with R.J. Harlick, and back to Ontario for booksignings for Winter of Secrets.

The book tour is really falling into place. We have a lot of bookstores to visit, two libraries to present talks at and not one, but TWO, universities at which we’ll be speaking. Bishops’ University in Lennoxville, Quebec, and Mount St. Vincent in Halifax.

There’s a lot of work that goes into a book tour. Calling stores and arranging the visit, settling details of when and where and what to talk about where we’re speaking, arranging accommodation, working on speeches.

The writer’s life is about a lot more than writing!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bouchercon Road Trip and Party!

This picture is of Rick Blechta and me at Word on the Street on Sunday.

Plans are progressing for the Great Road Trip of ‘09. I am going with Mary Jane Maffini, Barbara Fradkin, and R.J. Harlick; setting off on the 12 hour trip (for me) 15 hours (from Ottawa for them) to Indianapolis for Bouchercon. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun, not only on the road but also at the conference.

The four of us, along with Anthony Bidulka, are on the Canadian Crime panel. Let me just say that we’re planning to have a lot more than a panel – we’re thinking party!
If you’re going to be at Bouchercon, and you want to know what’s happening in the world of Canadian crime writing, and you like a good party, be sure and look us up in Indianapolis.

Contest News: On Monday, I’ll be having a contest to win an ARC of Winter of Secrets AND I’ll give another copy to anyone who reads this blog and says the secret word to me at Bouchercon.
So stay tuned.