Monday, May 31, 2010

Afternoon Tea for Gold Fever

I wanted to do something different for the launch of Gold Fever: A Klondike Mystery in Oakville. I don't live in Oakville any more, but have many friends and relatives still there. I decided to host afternoon tea for the launch party. As Gold Fever takes place in 1898, and many of the characters including Fiona MacGillivrary, are British, at several times in the book they hop into a restaurant for tea or host tea in their hotel rooms. Now tea in the Klondike might not have been quite what they were used to in the Savoy Hotel in London or a drawing room in Belgravia, but they made do. I did not have to make due and had a lovely event. It was held at the Tea Room on Marine Drive in Oakville, Ontario.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Digging through the Past - Burden of Memory

I spent this morning sitting in the sun on the deck, working on my laptop. Lovely. My back is quite a bit better today so might get the lawn cut this afternoon.
I wrote an article for Mystery Lover’s Journal on paranormal in mysteries. My second book for Poisoned Pen Press, Burden of Memory, has the trace of a ghost story. The question throughout the book is, is there a ghost? Or an over-active imagination.

It was fun to scan through Burden of Memory looking for some parts to include with the article.

Writing standalones is funny in that way – you spend a year, maybe more, intimately involved with the characters. Then another several months out promoting them and their adventures. And then they’re gone. You’re onto another book and these characters are never to be thought of again.

Burden of Memory concerns an elderly, wealthy lady named Moira Madison who hires a biographer, one Elaine Benson, to come to her cottage on Lake Muskoka, Ontario, to spend several months writing Miss Madison’s memoirs of when she was a Canadian Army Nursing Sister in World War II.

It is only when Elaine arrives at the cottage that she realizes she was the second biographer hired. The first drowned in the lake her second day on the job. Elaine begins to suspect that someone in the powerful close-knit family does not want the memoirs to be written.

Family loyalty and betrayal. Flashbacks to the idyllic summer of 1939, London during the Blitz, the Italian Campaign.

Something is moving in the woods.

Or is there?

Nice to have a trip down memory lane with these characters once again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Day of Rest

I have hurt my back. Poor me. I must have slept crooked the night before last. It was bad yesterday and I was hobbling around the house, but today seems to be a good bit better. I had planned on working in the garden for a good part of today, but had better not as I wouldn’t want to chance damaging the healing muscles any more.

So here follows the planned activities for a writers day of rest.

• Read newspapers and newsblogs online. Check e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.
• Three hours work on Among the Departed. Cst. Molly Smith book #5. Big fight scene outside a bar.
• Write blog post for Type M for Murder.
• Write blog post for One Woman Crime Wave
• Work on costume for next weekend’s Bloody Words. (I am on a panel discussing writing several series at once and will come suitably attired).
• Read MS evaluation I have been assigned for Bloody Words
• Type up report and prepare for meeting with writer of MS evaluation
• Make certificates to be handed to Bony Pete short story contest winners at Bloody Words.
• Send changes to Scene of the Crime web page to web developer.
• Start article for Mystery Readers Journal on paranormal mysteries.

Anything else?

(Type M for Murder blog post was inadvertently posted here first. Oh, well, keep it up.)

Fight! Fight! Trying to get it right.

Three hours work today on Among the Departed, Molly Smith #5. I worked on an action scene, which I find difficult to write. Difficult meaning trouble getting the words down and the action described properly. In this scene Smith is called to a fight outside a bar. Probably a typical Saturday night fight: drunken louts swinging at each other, drunken onlookers cheering them on. Smith arrives and the fight breaks up.

But one of the fighters pulls a knife on her.

She’s come alone, her backup is delayed, the bouncer nowhere to be seen.

I myself have never been in a fight in my life. I’ve never even seen one – other than on TV or at the movies. How does Molly Smith feel? Is she frightened? Is she calm? All I can do is try to write the scene as I would expect a person in that situation would feel.

I try to play the scene over and over in my mind, using what I’ve read in books or seen on the screen. To watch the characters moving so I can describe it – how she turns, faces the guy, how he comes in towards her, the look on his face, how he’s holding the knife, the swing of the knife, light flashing on the blade, someone calling out a warning.

I get to my feet and stand in the living room, pretending someone’s coming at me. (I am hoping none of the neighbours are peeking in the windows). What do I do? How do I move? Yes, yes, let’s pretend I won’t scream at the top of my lungs and run for the hills. Let’s also pretend that I don’t say “ouch, ouch,” when I swing my hips because I’ve pulled a muscle in my back.

This scene isn’t the climax of the book, and in the overall plot it isn’t all that important. It takes place somewhere in the middle, and is only used as an illustration of what Molly Smith does on the job. She's a beat cop remember. Young and new and very green. She is not a detective, and I try hard to show the ordinary street cop going about a shift. Police officers have a lot more things on the go at any one time than just that one mystery to solve, you know.

An action scene takes a lot of work, and it takes more time, for me, than most other parts of a book. It’s important to get it right, or at least believable.

Even if most of my readers are people just like me – mild-mannered middle-class women who would clutch their pearls and have the vapours if someone threw a punch at them – we all, me as well as the reader, want to believe that we’re in Molly Smith’s head and standing in her shoes and we are watching her go through her moves.

Incidentally, I learned what little I know about fight techniques from observing O.P.P. in-service training. Thanks, as always, to the many police officers who help me with the books.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's working!

For the last three days, I have switched off my modem and wireless router, moved the laptop to the dining room and settled down to work. I am delighted to report that the book is back on track and going well. It is really making a difference. Mostly I suspect because when I am stuck on a sentence or an idea, instead of clicking on my e-mail inbox to see what nuggets of wisdom have come my way, I lean back in my chair and actually THINK about what to do next. And then, I type what I have thought.

Sounds so simple doesn't it? It's taken me a very long time to get to this point. Hopefully one day I will be able to return to my home office where the router is and actually sit beside it and leave it off.

Makes me think though - I grew up without e-mail. I had a computer when I started writing, so have never had to type it out on a typewriter or, horrors, by hand. But it's only over the last say two to three years, that the internet has been so ubiquitous in my life. What does the future hold for those who are growing up with it. Will they ever know that sometimes you have to be disconnected?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Curse of the Internet

My name is Vicki and I am an Internet addict. There - I've said it.

I have been thinking lately of the way the Internet has taken control of my life. Sure it is great for following news stories, keeping in touch with my daughters and mother, doing research for books. I wouldn't give it up. But I do find that I almost never get deeply into reading a book anymore. That sense of falling into another world and being transported there for hours on end - gone. I keep hopping up and down to see if anything important has popped into my in-box lately. It's the same with my writing. I am struggling right now with the first draft of Molly Smith #5 - Among the Departed (due date: fall 2011). I'm in the soggy middle where it can be difficult to keep the story interesting while working towards the end. I've had several bad writing days where I spent far more time on the Internet than writing. Somehow my fingers just gravitated towards that e-mail icon.

Today, I decided that serious measures are called for. I switched off the router and took the laptop to another room. It worked. At first my fingers started to move but they soon realized that clicking on facebook would only bring up an error message. I allotted myself 1 1/2 hours and then plugged the router in and checked e-mail. Then off it went again for another 1 1/2 hours.

And I think I had a good writing day.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Afternoon Tea Party

I lived in Oakville, Ontario for many years and still have a lot of friends there as well as my mother and an aunt. So I wanted to do something in Oakville for my new book, Gold Fever. What better to celebrate a book set in 1898 than that most Victorian of all meals: afternoon tea. Please join me at the Tea Room, 2417 Marine Drive, Oakville on Sunday May 16th. 2 - 4 PM.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Writing Round-up

I did a guest blog stint at Cozy Chicks yesterday on the Klondike Gold Rush series as an anti-noir. Today I discussed a booksigning I went to in Picton, Ontario for the book Locavore that was a celebration of local food at Fatal Foodies ( and I am happy to say I have an article in the current issue of Mystery Scene magazine. It is not available online, so you will have to rush out and buy a copy. The article is on adjusting historical facts to fit historical fiction.

Also, I am on Twitter @vickidelany and you can click the Facebook icon opposite to friend me on Facebook. Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Malice Go-Round with Louise Penny

I'm home from Malice Domestic and the Festival of Mystery. Had a super time at both events. Here's a picture of Louise and I at the Malice-Go-Round I talked about in the last post. I was very pleased that Louise won the Agatha award for her book The Brutal Telling. Great book and the award was well deserved. The Canadians did pretty well this year - Best first novel went to Alan Bradley for The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the Malice Grant for unpublished writers went to my good friend Patricia Gouthro.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Malice Domestic

Having a super time at Malice Domestic. The weather has been just great and it’s so nice to see spring accelerate as we came further south. I drove down with my good friends Mary Jane Maffini and Robin (R.J. Harlick). An easy comfortable drive. I’m rooming with Mary Jane who can always be relied on for a good laugh.

Yesterday I participated in something quite unique – Malice Go Round. Fill a room with 20 tables, ten places per table. Pair up two authors and let them loose, speed dating with authors. Each pair has four minutes to pitch to their table and then the bell rings and they leap up and rush to the next table. By the end my poor throat was starting to close up – not only are you talking fast but also trying to project in a packed room.

I was lucky enough to pair up with Louise Penny, the hugely successful Canadian author and genuinely nice person. I felt a bit like a guppy trailing after the big fish in Louise’s wake, but she is so kind that she put in a plug for my books at every table. Louise’s book The Brutal Telling is nominated for an Agatha Award at Malice Domestic and she received word yesterday that The Brutal Telling was chosen as one of Booklists top 10 mysteries of the year.

Tonight is the banquet and I am sponsoring a table. I was relieved to see that people signed up for my table quickly and it wasn’t left as the last resort for those who couldn’t get anything better.

We writers really do lay our egos on the line sometimes!

Off to enjoy the sunshine in Washington and talk in the National Art Gallery.