Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Word on the Street

I just love Word on the Street. Imagine, tens of thousands of people gathering to celebrate books. So many little kids as well. As I have done before this year I was in charge of the Crime Writers of Canada booth. I like the event, I like going, and I'm happy to be able to do something for the CWC. We had authors rotating all day, everyone from relative unknowns to a couple of big names. We had a huge basket of books donated by our members to raffle away and plenty of people signed up for Cool Canadian Crime, our newsletter. This picture is of Mel Bradshaw and me. Mel is a great writer and he is published by Rendezvous Crime, my Canadian publishers. The event is held in cities across Canada, alwasy on the last Sunday of September. Mark your calendars for next year.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Four Crime Writers and Nine Bottles of Wine

The pictures pretty much say it all. Barbara Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini and I ventured into the woods of Quebec for a couple of days at R.J.(Robin) Harlick’s cabin. Food, wine (and lots of it), laughs, dogs, walks, book talk, publishing-industry talk.

I’ve said before that what I like best about being a crime writer is the other crime writers. I have made so many great friends.
Weather was good except for a downpour the second morning. We were able to both sit outside for lunch, and have a fire in the fireplace in the morning and evenings.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Open Farms Prince Edward County

I had just the best day today. As regular readers of my various blogs know, I am very interested in food and where it comes from and how it is produced. I worry about cruelty to animals and also about the sustainability of fossil-fuel based agriculture. (That steak you ate last night was almost certainly raised on corn fertilized with petrochemical products and it is quite possible your vegetables were shipped half-way around the world, or at least across the continent).

Today was a perfect early fall day here in Prince Edward County, Ontario. And it was the first year of Open Farms. What that means is that farms across the county (and other parts of Eastern Ontario) opened their doors to the public.

I visited a dairy goat farm (where I had to protect my T-shirt from nibbling goats) to see the goats that produce the milk that is used at the cheese factory about a half hour drive away.

At another farm, I ordered my Christmas Turkey after viewing the turkeys in their barn and bought two cartons of eggs produced by the chickens I’d watched scratching in the weeds and dirt.

I went to a very experimental organic farm where they produce all of their own electricity. So experimental, they have avocados and kumquats and papaya growing in a geodesic dome to see if they can be grown in Canada.

I also visited an 83 acre organic vegetable farm worked by a RETIRED couple on their own. (The retired bit blew my mind). Now part of that 83 acres is wetland and bush, but they probably have about 30 acres under cultivation. And they make maple syrup from the bush.

Perhaps the farm I enjoyed best was an animal farm very close to my house. A one-family operation, they raise turkey, meat chickens, laying hens, pigs, sheep, and cattle. They grow feed for their own animals and also have a sugar bush from which they make their own maple syrup. The turkeys and meat chickens are kept in cages out in the fields but the hens wander the property, scratching and pecking. Laying hens, the farmer told me, are smart enough to return to the safety of the coop before dark. Broilers and turkeys are not, so they have to be kept contained. Cows and sheep came up to investigate me when I approached the fence. The barn is open and cows and sheep come and go as they please. The pigs were in a pen, but they had plenty of room to run about (and they bolted when I arrived) and clean straw beds.

I am going to a friend’s cottage tomorrow for a couple of days with a group of good friends (R.J. Harlick, Barbara Frankin, and Mary Jane Maffini) and will arrive loaded down with greens, heirloom tomatoes, fresh eggs, goat’s cheese, yellow carrots, tiny colourful sweet peppers. And wine. Can’t forget good PEC wine.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

They Spelled my Name Wrong !! - Negative Image for Kindle

I have been wondering why the Kindle version of Negative Image isn't showing up on Not wondering too hard mind, as I assumed it wasn't ready yet. Fortunately I found it today following a link from someone else. My name is spelled wrong. Thus if you search on "Vicki Delany" you don't find it. If you search on "Negative Image" it brings up the hardcover and then you can search the various other versions of the book. But no Kindle. Anyway, here it is. For some reason the book seems to have been released this week on Kindle, but the actual release date is Nov. 1st. I'm trying to find out what's happening.

Also, I'll take the opportunity to let you know that Negative Image will be released in paperback at the same time as the hardcover. Before the paperback didn't come out until the next book was released.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Creating a Book Cover

I am very pleased that Francois Thisdale is going to do the book cover for Among the Departed. He has done all the other Smith and Winters covers and they look just great.

We were talking about the design (he kindly asks me what I’d like to see) and throwing around a few ideas. I suggested an old photograph for the foreground image, as the story is about a person who disappeared 15 years before. Then I wrote the piece on Monday about the police dog experience and included that photo and BINGO what a great image for the cover! It suits the story as well as Norman, the RCMP dog in the books, has an important part to play in the beginning. The dog in the picture BTW is just an Internet image, not any dog in particular.

(Reminder: Negative Image is the next book: November 2010. Among the Departed will be out in May 2011.)
Here’s a link to Francios’s web page where you can see the other sort of work he does.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Four Cops, Two Paramedics, and One Crime Writer

That's how many people it took to wake one man up to go to work. There is humour in the police officer's job. That's one thing I'm learning from the ride-alongs I've been on over the past two years. It's a tough, often unpleasant, job and they put their lives on the line every day. But boy, do they get a good laugh some times.

One time, the car I was in was called to a home where a man wasn't answering the door to his friend who had come to take him to work. It was the usual time and the usual routine, and the friend was worried because the man had a medical condition.

When we got there, the officer banged on the door, and bellowed, and peered in windows, and banged and bellowed again. He called for an ambulance. Reinforcements arrived. Someone crouched down and yelled into the cat door. (And took a sniff - ug). Eventually there were four cops, two paramedics, and one crime writer at the top of a rickety set of stairs leading to the upstairs apartment. Permission to knock down the door was given, the door was kicked in, and everyone rushed in. Save me, who hung behind not wanting to see anything ucky. Then I heard a shout, "XX, what are you doing in bed. Aren't you going to work?" Yup, the guy was tucked up in bed. Didn't feel like going to work, didn't bother phoning in, and didn't particularly want to get up and open the door.

Out we all trooped, one crime writer, two paramedics, four cops, leaving XX in bed and a broken door.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Police Dog – theory AND practice

As I wrote yesterday, I met with the police dog handler for a city near where I live. We went to a coffee shop and he was nice enough to give me an hour of his time talking about his job, the training, the dog, and telling some good stories.

I try really hard in my B.C. police procedural series to get the policing right, but I don’t have any experience in law enforcement at all. I don’t trust TV or movies, and I can’t rely on the vast majority of books, which are British or American, to tell me how Canadian police operate. So I reply on real police officers to tell me.
They have been very, very generous with their time.

Anyway, back to yesterday. The main thing the police dog does is track. Track the path of a lost child or Alzheimer patient, search for a suspect who has fled the scene – on foot obviously. The training to get the dog to do that, and to stay on course once found and not be distracted is considerable. For both handler and dog, I might mention.

After learning all about the theory and training of police dogs, I went home. That evening by pure co-incidence, I had been invited for a ride-along by another police force. AND THE DOG WAS CALLED OUT.

Cool! The office shed at a salvage yard had been broken into. The dog arrived, with tactical support as is the norm. Because the dog is intent on the trail, and the handler is totally focused on the dog, they need someone to protect them if such is needed.

The patrol car I was riding in was assigned to set the perimeter. The point is to try to contain the suspect so that the dog can catch up to them. Set the parameter too narrow, and the suspect might be outside of it before it’s in place; set it too wide and the dog has too big of a trail to follow. So we sat in the woods, lights flashing red (you want the suspect to know you’re there and be frightened – creates a better scent) and watched as the dog and officers came out of the woods following the trail.

I’m sorry to say that the dog lost the trail but I was just thrilled to be able to watch him in action.

It was a good night. I can say that the curse of BatVicki has been broken. And as an added extra: A great scene just popped into my head. Want to see something spooky? Try a scrap yard at night. Throw in some swirling mist – and voila.