Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Good and the Bad

Happy New Year

And may the muse visit often!

Good and bad news on the writing front to close out 2009. The bad news is the closing of the new McNally bookstore in Toronto, open less than a year. I had a signing for Gold Digger in May and thought it a lovely store. The attendance was very disappointing, but I put it down to the fact that the store was new and I am not a big draw. I read in the paper today that they never got more than six to 10 people for the biggest names. Even Lawrence Hill (The Book of Negros) had less than ten people out to meet him. I know that Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale has great success with their author visits; perhaps the formula just didn’t work in Toronto. Not that I am surprised: Toronto can be a very cold, unfriendly city. McNally has declared bankruptcy and this is going to be bad news for Canadian publishers to whom they owe money. And you can probably be sure the publishers will pass the pain on to their authors.

The good news is that my books with Poisoned Pen Press (excluding the newest, Winter of Secrets) are now available at for Kindle. So if you’ve not bought one recently because you only read on your Kindle – hurry on over!

Beginning January 3rd I am joining the happy gang at Fatal Foodies, where I will blog every second Sunday. Between trying to have a writing career and blogging weekly at Type M and now at FF, this personal blog might start to whither away. My intention for this blog has been to write about the writing life, as I see it. If you like it, and would like me to continue, please do let me know.

Whishing everyone out there a Very Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Eve Interview - Talking with Tim

Interview today with Tim O'Shea on his pop culture blog at It is now Christmas Eve I have pies to bake!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bad time to take a break

I am hard at work on my newest novel, tentatively titled Edward County. This is a big departure for me as it will be quite dark and dealing with important social and legal issues. I've really been whipping along. One day last week I wrote over 3000 works in about 3 hours. And they were mostly good words that stayed in during the edit the next day. The thing is, I had a very good idea in my head about the outline of this book. Up until about the 3/4 mark. And then I know nothing except "she takes matters into her own hands". As I write this, I still am not sure how she is going to be able to do that.

And now I'm breaking for Christmas. My family started to arrive yesterday. It's not that I CAN NOT write with guests in the house, it's really more a matter that I can't write with guests in the house. To much aware of what I should make for breakfast, or what I need to get at the store, and if I should start baking pies today or wait until tomorrow. I'll be taking a break from working on the book for about a week.

And not a good week to be breaking. I rely a lot on momentium when I write, the words keep coming, the ideas take shape as I pound away at the keyboard.

I am worried that when I get back to it next week, I'll sit here with no momentium behind me, lost in the great darkness that is 'writers' block'

We will see. In the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous Christmas and Santa is very good to you.

Friday, December 18, 2009

What do your characters look like?

I had a radio interview yesterday with a station in Santa Barbara, California. 1290 KZSB, with Baron Ron Herron. This was my third time on his show, and thanks to P.J. Nunn of Breakthrough Promotions for organizing it. Five minutes sure isn’t long, and it’s hard to get too much about a book in, but I tried. He threw me for a loop when he asked who I’d like to see play Molly in a movie.

Honestly – never thought about it. I know that a lot of writers have mentally cast their novels, but perhaps because I don’t watch TV and rarely go to the movies, I haven’t. And it’s not a game I’m going to bother playing now, because it’s not going to happen.

The only one of my characters, in all my books, that I know what they look like is John Winters, detective Sergeant with the Trafalgar City Police. I was on the GO train (the Southern Ontario commuter train) when I’d just begun In the Shadow of the Glacier and a man walked into the car. I looked at him and thought “that’s what John Winters looks like.” I jotted down a brief description and when I went home, I put it in the book.

So there you are, unknown GO train man, you are in a mystery novel.

I saw a cop in Ottawa about a year ago, walking down the street, and I thought “that could be Molly,” but of course by then Molly was already created.

Fiona MacGillivray in Gold Digger would probably be the easiest of my characters to cast. She is described as the most beautiful woman in the Yukon. Not like beautiful women are hard to find in Hollywood, is it?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finished at Last

The last of the Christmas season book signings is over. I had a nice day yesterday at Books and Company in my new hometown of Picton, Ontario. The store was packed, largely because of the local crafts fair up on the second store, but nonetheless it always does the heart good to see roaring business at an independent bookstore. If you are ever in the County do drop in. Say hi from me and be sure and meet the resident cat, Miss Lily. After browsing the books, you can pop into Miss Lily’s CafĂ© for a great sandwich and coffee.

It’s been exhausting and now it’s over. When I look at my calendar, I don’t see a single store listed. I am sure that will change soon enough, after all there will be Gold Fever in the Spring and Negative Image in November.

I actually enjoy doing book signings, once I get there and set up. For some strange reason I am particularly good at it. I have been told many times that I am the best, or one of the best, selling authors they’ve ever had in.

I can only imagine that they haven’t had many big names.

I heard a talk on the radio the other day about selling. They spoke to a man who had worked as a telemarketer (that has got to be among the world’s worst jobs!) and he said the secret to success is being optimistic. You have to approach the 100th call with as much enthusiasm, and optimism, as you did the first.

Perhaps that has something to do with why I do well. I can have been standing there for four hours and when someone walks past, I’ll say, “Hi. Are you looking for a gift today?” and really expect them to stop and look at my books.

Friday, December 11, 2009


It’s cold out there.

But cozy and warm in here.

I’m just back from a walk. A very short walk. I guess I forgot that sub-zero temperatures were cold. I wore my leather jacket, not my winter coat, and no hat. My ears were about to fall off when I decided it was time to turn around and head home. The winds have been very very strong for the last few days; my yard is littered with broken branches. My property and the road are lined by farmers's fields, so the wind can really work up a good speed before hitting me!

I finally joined the 21st century a couple of weeks ago and bought an iPod. I thought that I might go out and walk more if I could listen to music or the radio. And it’s really working out well. I’m looking forward to my daily walk these days.

The woodstove is chewing through wood like crazy. I am impressed at how well it heats the house, even the top floor, is usually quite comfortable in the morning.

I making a mushroom and bean stew for dinner. My first attempt to use the beans I gathered in the fall. It’s looking and smelling yummy.

I want to get a new publicity photo. To that end my daughter took a bunch the other week in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Here’s one suggestion. Let me know what you think.

Monday, December 7, 2009

T.V. and Me

Further to my post of a couple of weeks ago, in which I said that no event is too small (becuase anything can happen) I have found a copy of the TV programme that featured me. Click here to see it.

Friday, December 4, 2009

How many books a year is too much?

I arrived in Ottawa a day early because #1 Daughter needed some help getting ready for a party she is having on the weekend. Always nice to be needed.
She’s gone off to work, so I am going to spend the morning writing, then wander into the Market, do a little shopping, have a nice lunch, wander back and get ready for my book singing later at Chapters, South Keys. Ah, the life of the Urban Professional.

Nice for a day or two. Then I need to be back home on the farm. I’m getting a bit tired and a bit burned out.

Generally I really enjoy book signings. I find I can really get my energy level going and can run through my patter, “Winter of Secrets is...” with enthusiasm every single time. Last week I was flagging a bit on the Sunday and I actually barked at a woman who asked me a question, thinking I was a store employee. Then she stopped and looked at my books and bought one! I was horrified at how I’d behaved and settled myself back into my groove. And had a very successful day.

Winter of Secrets is my third book out this year, and that’s been too much. Next year I have only (only!) two, Gold Fever in the spring and Negative Image in November.

Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, I will be signing at Prime Crime on Bank Street. An absolutely fabulous little mystery bookstore that is everything you want in an independent store. Sadly, this will probably be my last event there. I’ll check with them tomorrow on what’s happening, but I know it isn’t good news.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Notes from Book Signings

Book signings are funny things. You have to have a pretty tough skin, which I guess I do, because some people can be darn rude.

Here’s one incident, which will probably go down in the annals of memorial moments: A woman came up to the table, looked at everything, listened to my canned speech, and picked up the last copy of In the Shadow of the Glacier. She said, “I might be interested in this. I’ll look at it while I have my coffee.” And took it away.

For about an hour I explained to everyone who came that I was sold out of the first book in the series. I could have sold that book several times over.

The woman came back just as I was preparing to leave, pointed out a typo, and put the book back.

I was genuinely shocked.

Then there was the woman carrying a couple of paperbacks of bestselling American authors. I said, “I see you like mysteries, may I introduce you to mine?”
She said (having not even picked one up), “I wouldn’t like those. I only read authors I like.”

And I said something like, “That’s too bad for you.” I was not going to bother being polite.

But I have found that the good moments usually outweigh the bad ones, such as last week in Bellville when a woman came in with a bag bulging with books. She had all of mine, even Winter of Secrets, and wanted them signed. Or in Kingston when two women came in with a couple of my books to be signed and bought two they didn’t yet have.

There are people who seem genuinely pleased to have met me, and really interested in my books. And the ones who want to take fifteen minutes to tell me about their writing project.

I try and have fun with it, to roll with the punches and enjoy the good moments. After all, no one is making me do this.