Monday, December 17, 2012

Audio book sample

Did you know that all of my Poisoned Pen Press books are available in audio formats?  Read by the wonderful Carrington MacDuffe, they're great for people who travel long distances by car, are sight-impaired, or just like listening to a good book.  Last time I drove across Canada (Picton, Ontario to Victoria B.C. and back) I took two audio books out of the library to keep me entertained on the long boring parts.

They can be expensive, quite a bit more than a paper or e-book, so are ideal for libraries. If you're public library doesn't have copies, why not ask them.

In the meantime, the first chapter of MORE THAN SORROW has been released on YouTube so you can see if you think you'll enjoy it.  Here's it is for your listening pleasure:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Wrap it ! Read it ! Love it !

I’m taking part in this blog hop at the suggestion of Tina Whittle, author of Darker Than Any Shadow and The Dangerous Edge of Things, both from Poisoned Pen Press. (Find Tina at:

So, if you’ve come to this page because you are looking for gift suggestions, you are definitely in the write (sic) place.

I am perhaps Canada’s most varied crime writer.  I write three completely different type of crime novels, so I should have something for all tastes.

The Klondike Gold Rush Series published by Dundurn Press.  These are meant to be light and funny.  Set in 1898, they’re a mad-cap romp thought the muddy streets of Dawson City during the great Klondike Gold Rush.  There are three books in the series: Gold Digger, Gold Rush, Gold Mountain.

It’s the spring of 1898 in Dawson, Yukon Territory. The 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; the former Glasgow street fighter who's now her business partner; a stern, handsome NWMP constable; a love-struck, ex-boxing champion; a wild assortment of dancers, croupiers, gamblers, madams without hearts of gold, hangers-on, cheechakos and sourdoughs; and Fiona's nimble-fingered past don’t get to her first. And then there’s a dead body on centre stage.

The Constable Molly Smith series published by Poisoned Pen Press.  Police procedural novels set in British Columbia.  There are five books so far, In the Shadow of the Glacier, Valley of the Lost, Winter of Secrets, Negative Image, and In the Shadow of the Glacier.  The series has been optioned for TV by Brightlight Pictures!

Set in the small mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, Vicki’s critically acclaimed series follows young Constable Molly Smith, Detective Sergeant John Winters and their families, friends, co-workers in a traditional police procedural series with a very modern twist.

Standalone novels of suspense. If you like your reading with more of a psychological edge and perhaps a hint of the paranormal, then try one of my standalones from Poisoned Pen Press: Scare the Light Away, Burden of Memory or More than Sorrow, my most recent book.  Here’s More than Sorrow:

Once, Hannah Manning was an internationally-renowned journalist and war correspondent. Today, she's a woman suffering from a traumatic brain injury. Unable to read, unable to concentrate, full of pain, lost and confused, haunted by her memories, Hannah goes to her sister's small-scale vegetable farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario to recover. As summer settles on the farm, she finds comfort in the soft rolling hills and neat fields as well as friendship in the company of Hila Popalzai, an Afghan woman also traumatized by war.

Hannah experiences visions of a woman, emerging from the icy cold mist. Is the woman real, a remnant of the Loyalist refugees who settled this land? Or the product of a severely damaged brain?

Which would be worse?

Then Hila disappears. When Hannah cannot account for her time, not even to herself, old enemies begin to circle. In this modern Gothic novel of heart-wrenching suspense, past and present merge into a terrifying threat to the only thing Hannah still holds dear - her ten-year-old niece, Lily.

The books are all available at most chain and online bookstores as well as your favourite independent (if not in stock, ask them!). Here’s a quick link if you want more details:
Or check out my web page at

Happy reading!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Arizona and California book tour

Donis lunching.  Note the surf boards
Donis Casey says it all.  So if you want to read all the details of our wonderful trip to Arizona and California, hurry over to

Suffice to say, we had a great time.  Visited lots of wonderful bookstores, met wonderful booksellers and readers and talked talked talked.  We made it into a vacation and tried to get in as many sights as we could along the way.

Here are some pics:

Checking out the choices

The Valley Ho in Scottsdale where I love to stay

My room at the Valley Ho

Nice selection

Lunch at Gardens with Jessica and Nan from PPP\

Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island

Halloween celebrations on Coronado


Lunch at a surfer place in Malibu

Thoughts for my garden

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing - A Cold White Sun

 This is fun.  I was invited to take part in a blog circle by Stacy Juba. It’s sort of a ‘tell five friends’ thing. Here’s the link to Stacey’s entry:  See below for the authors to whom I’ve passed the torch.

What is your working title of your book? 

A Cold White Sun: A Constable Molly Smith Novel

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

This is part of the Constable Molly Smith series from Poisoned Press.  It’s the sixth book in the series, so the setting and main characters were already set in my mind before beginning to write the book.  As was the basic trajectory of the protagainst’s lives.  The Molly Smith series is set in the small mountain town of Trafalgar, British Columbia, and the crimes in each book are on a small individual scale. Fatal car accidents, missing people, local politics, betrayals in marriages or friendships. In A Cold White Sun, I’ve continued with this theme, looking at the fall-out to a family (what we call an ordinary family – middle class, Mom, Dad, two kids) when one family member is murdered while walking the dog in the woods on a snowy morning.  To make it difficult for my police characters, they can find no clues, no suspects, no motivation.

What genre does your book fall under? 


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m not going to answer that, because I really don’t know, or care.  However, I will mention that the series has been optioned for Canadian TV.  And if it does come to pass, it’s totally up to the producers to do the casting.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?  

When Cathy Lindsay, high school teacher, is shot by a sniper while walking her dog in the snowy woods Sergeant John Winters has more than a few questions: he has no clues, no suspects, no motivation.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

The book is published by Poisoned Pen Press (

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 

A Cold White Sun is my thirteenth novel, so I rather have the hang of it now.  It took about three months for the first draft.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

Traditional British-style police procedural novels such as those by Peter Robinson, Susan Hill, Louise Penny or Deborah Crombie.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

I love exploring family and personal dynamics.  Put people under unbearable stress and see what happens.  Some will do the right thing… some will not.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 

I hope it’s an exciting crime drama as well as an exploration of the family and personal relationships of my characters.

And here are the wonderful authors I’ve tagged. Have a look at their web pages now, and check back on November 19th when they've answered the questions and tagged five more authors:

Rick Blechta is a novelist and musician who brilliantly merges the two in his standalone crime novels:

Barbara Fradkin writes the multiple-award winning Inspector Green novels:

Donis Casey is the author of the historical Alafair Tucker series from Poisoned Pen Press:

Betty Webb writes both the gritty Lena Jones series and the lighter Gunn Zoo mysteries: (Betty isn't able to participate, but you can still check out her great books!)

Violette Malan writes fantasy, both high and urban:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Turks and Caicos

I had a wonderful week in the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Fabulous place.  As a picture is worth a thousand words, here's an account of my vacation (the beautiful young woman is my youngest daughter, Alexandra).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Some pictures from Bouchercon

Me and Anthony Biduka looking very worried (I don't know why)

Never leave home without an appropriate hat

The great Kraft Dinner Handover with Zoe Sharp

Monday, October 8, 2012

Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore

On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to be a guest author at the 20th anniversary celebrations for Aunt Agatha's mystery bookstore in Ann Arbor Michigan. From there my travel companion, Rick Blechta, went on to Bouchercon in Cleveland.  Because I left my camera at home, I am dependent on others for photos.  I'll post a few as they trickle in.

Here I am talking to a reader while Julia Spencer-Fleming, Steve Hamilton, and Rhys Bowen mug for the camera. Unfortunately Louise Penny who is seated on my other side is cut off.

I will be in Arizona and California touring with Donis Casey from October 25th to Nov 7th.  To see dates and locations, please click on the link at the above left.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


More than Sorrow is getting some great reviews, I'm happy and relieved to say.  And as usual, the best ones are by what we might call 'amateurs'.  Perhaps that's because amateurs writing on their own blogs in their own time have more room to discuss a book in depth than reviewers paid by magazines or newspapers, who are limited in space as well as probably told what to review.

Here are links to two of my favourites.  I really am pleased that both of these women caught the essence of what I was trying to achieve in this book.

Lesa Holstine is a librarian in Glendale Arizona. Hugely popular in the mystery community she regularly hosts authors at her library in a series she calls Authors@theTeague.  I'm delighted that Donis Casey and I have been invited to visit the Teague on Thursday October 24th. 2:00 pm.

As much as I love Vicki Delany's Constable Molly Smith books, she's outdone herself with her standalone, More Than Sorrow. She carefully weaves together two storylines, one contemporary and one historical, in a thoughtful, unforgettable story of the damage and tragedy of war. But, Delany makes this a personal story. This isn't the trauma fighting men suffer. This is a suspense novel featuring women as victims and heroes.

To read the full review and find out what other mysteries Lesa is reading:

Judith Starkson is a reviewer new to me, who I'll be checking in with regularly from now on.  She says:
Plenty of action and suspense, but to me the sustaining force of the book lies in the way we are invited to think about women and the interplay between courageous acts of independence, garden-variety daily repression across centuries and cultures, and villainous acts of suppression. Being a woman can be tough. Nice to meet some female characters who face the job with courage even in the midst of tragedy.

Thanks, women. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

How True is True - A guest blog for 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror

I'd like to welcome Carole Shmurak, one of my fellow authors from the brand new e-book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror, 52 Authors Look Back.  Carole is stopping by as part of the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog Tour. If you enjoy magazine columns and Chicken Soup for the Soul books, then we're sure you'll enjoy our collection of essays, designed to warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. Get a full listing of authors, essay titles and retailers here:

Follow the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog and Radio Tour schedule here and enter for some neat My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software:

And don't miss the chance to join the 25 Years in the Rearview  Mirror Yahoo Group, a fun and inspirational group that discusses the past and will help you to stay on track for the future.

Now, Welcome Carole. 

When I see a movie that says “based on a true story,” I always wonder: what exactly does that mean? How true is it?  

So, full disclosure here: I often base my books on events that really happened, but I transfer them to times and places that are purely fictional. And the people who inhabit my books are often modeled on real people — including myself. Authors have always done this; Dorothy L. Sayers, for example, based Harriet Vane largely on herself and used an unhappy love affair of her own as the basis for Strong Poison. My detective, Susan Lombardi, shares my work history: she’s a former high school science teacher who is now a professor of education at a state university in Connecticut, but as Sue Grafton once said of her detective Kinsey Millhone, she’s “smarter, younger and thinner” than I am.

When I started to write Deadmistress, I wanted to capture the fishbowl setting of a New England boarding school, similar to the one at which I’d taught for fifteen years. So, with tongue firmly in cheek, I created Wintonbury Academy for Girls, familiarly called WAG, and I populated it with characters based on my former colleagues and students. Such a closed community obviously called for a traditional Christie-esque mystery, with carefully planted clues and red herrings, as well as a map and cast of characters. So for Deadmistress, the plot was purely imaginary, but the characters and setting were essentially real.

The plot for Death by Committee, on the other hand, was “ripped from the headlines.”  An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education bore the headline, “Worst tenure case ever,” and reported a tenure battle at a Midwestern university that had involved death threats, a hunger strike, and political infighting of the worst sort. All I had to do was transplant the tenure case to Susan’s department, and imagine how my university colleagues would react to such events. And of course, I had to have one of the death threats get carried out.

Death at Hilliard High was based on two true stories: one that I had read in a local newspaper about an African-American teacher harassed by her white students at a suburban high school and one that was told to me at my high school reunion about one of our former teachers who, rumor had it, murdered his wife. I combined the two stories and again transplanted them to a Connecticut setting, an affluent suburban high school at which Susan consults.  This also gave me the opportunity to bring back one of my favorite characters from Deadmistress, Shauna Thompson, once a student at WAG, now a Yale graduate who is the only black teacher at the high school. Shauna too was based on a student I had known.

My latest book, Most Likely to Murder, came directly out of my own high school reunion. Having edited the reunion booklet, I had the life stories of nearly 200 people in my head, and I knew that some of them would make wonderful fictional characters. But since Susan Lombardi is quite a bit younger than I am, I had to make my characters younger than my classmates and I. That meant changing the names to those that were trendy among babies in 1962 (Carols and Barbaras became Sharons and Lisas), and updating the music that they danced to at the reunion to the late 1970s (the Everly Brothers morphed into the BeeGees). The real joy of Most Likely to Murder was creating Susan’s high school. Since I’d mentioned in an earlier book that Susan had grown up in New Jersey, I decided to name the school after a famous New Jerseyite. To my delight, I found that the jazz musician, Count Basie, had grown up in New Jersey, so I named the high school after him. That enabled me to name the school newspaper The Jazz and the yearbook The Jitterbug, and then to add some of my own high school reminiscences. And of course, I got to bump off one of my fictional classmates and make a few of the others prime suspects.

So there’s a lot of truth in my mysteries and a lot of fiction. Is there ever an instance when the line between the two gets blurred? Well, there’s Susan’s husband, Michael Buckler (also known as Swash) who is independently wealthy and a gourmet cook; my own husband Steve is neither of those.  Yet a number of our friends and acquaintances have asked Steve about his blue silk pajamas (described in Deadmistress) — and our dentist repeatedly calls him “Swash.”

Carole B. Shmurak, Professor Emerita at Central Connecticut State University, is the author of eleven books, including  Deadmistress, which introduced professor/sleuth Susan Lombardi, Death by Committee, Death at Hilliard High and Most Likely to Murder.   Under the pseudonym Carroll Thomas, she is the co-author of the Matty Trescott young adult novels, one of which (Ring Out Wild Bells) was nominated for the Agatha for best young adult mystery of 2001.
  You can find Carole online at:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Welcome to Karen McCullough

Continuine the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog tour today's guest is Karen McCullough.  To find out more about the 25 Years Porject, have a peek at Monday's entry or visit:

Reading – It’s All Good

When my son was young, he wasn’t much of a reader. It was pure work for him and he found no pleasure in it. That caused much dismay on the part of his parents, both avid readers and writers. We'd spent countless hours reading to our children when they were young, trying to instill the love of stories, and our two daughters dove right into reading themselves as soon as they were able.  But not Joe. For years we did everything we could to encourage him to read on his own, but nothing worked – until he picked up his first comic book.

It was love at first word—or maybe it was the pictures, but it doesn’t matter because he read every word of that comic book, and the many, many more that followed it. Then he got into role-playing games, which caused him to pore over rules books and companion modules. Eventually he also became an avid reader of science fiction and military history. He got a degree in history from UNC, and is now a senior editor for a British publishing company that specializes in military history books.

A few people raised their eyebrows that we allowed—even encouraged—him to read comic books and role-playing game modules. But we believe in reading, and anything that sparks the imagination and helps forge the connection between words on paper and images in the mind works for us. Comic books are a gateway drug to the addiction to reading.

In fact, my husband and I both read comic books while we were growing up.  I also devoured Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and then worked my way through my father's library of mystery, adventure, science fiction and fantasy works.

I won't say there were no lines I would have drawn when it comes to my kids' reading, because obviously there are things I wouldn't let children have. But I encouraged them to tackle pretty much anything they wanted to read that wasn't completely inappropriate for their ages.

It’s all about discovering that words are more than just squiggles on paper, more than just a way to communicate information from one person to others. They’re the sparks that fire your imagination and carry you away to another world. A world that’s entirely within your own head, but is often more real to you than anything else around.

Without even realizing it, reading and stories begin to shape your world and how you view. It enriches your life and extends your experience to times and places and events you could never participate in otherwise.

Karen McCullough is the author of eleven published novels in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres and has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy. She’s also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Welcome to Donna Fletcher Crow

I'd like to welcome Donna Fletcher Crow, one of my fellow authors from the brand new e-book 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror, 52 Authors Look Back.  Donna is stopping by as part of the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog Tour. If you enjoy magazine columns and Chicken Soup for the Soul books, then we're sure you'll enjoy our collection of essays, designed to warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. Get a full listing of authors, essay titles and retailers here:

Follow the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Blog and Radio Tour schedule here and enter for some neat My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software:

And don't miss the chance to join the 25 Years in the Rearview  Mirror Yahoo Group, a fun and inspirational group that discusses the past and will help you to stay on track for the future.

Welcome Donna!

Hi Vicki, thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog today— and for being a guest on mine. I love blog exchanges, so let me invite your readers to come over to “Deeds of Darkness; Deeds of Light” to read your article when they finish this one.

I was so interested in reading the reviews of your MORE THAN SORROW because I see that you bring a lot of history into your contemporary gothic mystery and that’s exactly what I do in A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH as well, so I think we and our readers will enjoy each other’s books.

In A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH, which is the second in my Monastery Murders series, Felicity Howard, a thoroughly modern American woman who, rather rashly— as she does most things— has gone off to study theology in a monastery in Yorkshire. The Father Superior has asked Felicity and her church history lecturer Antony to find a valuable missing icon. But Felicity can’t possibly help. She’s off to become a nun. Then her impossible mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered. . .

In the midst of breathtaking chase scenes, mystical worship services and dashes through remote waterlogged landscapes Felicity learns the wisdom of holy women from today and ages past and Antony explores the arcane rites of the Knights Hospitaller. But what good will any of that do them if Felicity can’t save Antony’s life?

And especially since our exchange is part of the 25 YEARS IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR tour where we are two of the 52 authors telling their stories of what we were doing 25 years ago today, ( I should share how the background of this book grew out of what I was doing 25 years ago.

All of the backgrounds of my nearly 40 books draw on my fascination with British history and all have required onsite research trips— for which I took our daughter Elizabeth along on numerous journeys. That resulted in her eventually studying at Oxford, teaching in London, and going off to study theology at a monastery on a green hillside in Yorkshire— funnily enough exactly what my heroine Felicity Howard does.  Elizabeth fell in love and married an Anglican priest. Well, the jury is still out on Felicity and Antony’s relationship, but I’m hoping it will end as happily as Elizabeth and Lee’s.

I hope your readers, Vicki, will take a look at 25 YEARS IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR and visit me at to see the trailers for my Monastery Murders books, pictures from my research trips and a visit to my rose garden.

Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels dealing with British history.  The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.  She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave  and A Darkly Hidden Truth, as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho.  They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fun Among the Tomatoes

My table

I had a great two days at Vicki's Veggies Heirloom Tomato Tasting Weekend in Prince Edward County.  I don't normally do shows like that, but as MORE THAN SORROW is set on a farm just like Vicki's, and Vicki's Veggies was the inspiration for J&J Farms in the book, I thought it would be fun and that the book would appeal to locals and tourists.

It was fun and it did.  I sold out!

Here's some pics of the day.

Staff start laying out the goodies


The building is the shop - in MORE THAN SORROW it's the original Loyalist  home

Customers flock to my table

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Loyalist Wednesday: Some of The People

Last week I examined what might seem to some a paradox in the nature of people who were Loyalists: Scots who’d come to America after Culloden remaining loyal to the British crowd.

Some history books attempt to make it sound as if all the loyalists were wealthy, elderly conservative (kinda ironic, right?) landowners wanting to keep their own privilege.

But such was not the case.

People had many reasons for taking one side or the other in the revolution. Often it was a case of families divided. I’ve read sources that suggest the Revolution was in fact a Civil War.

Most of the Native tribes were on the side of the British. They are personified by Molly Brant and her bother Joseph (Thayendanegea) .  Molly was the widow of one Sir William Johnson as well as a prominent leader in the Mohawk tribes of New York State.  (The Mohawks had a strong matrilineal leadership tradition).  Molly was very influential in persuading the Iroquois to fight along with the British.  Molly Brant is considered a Canadian heroine and has appeared on a stamp.
Across the Bay of Quinte from Prince Edward County, is the First Nations Reserve of Tyendenaga.  This is Loyalist territory.  The Mohawks lost their land when their side lost the war, moved to Canada, and were given land of their own.   

Joseph settled further west in the area now known as Brantford.

Many black people were loyalists also.  When the revolution began several of the colonies declared that any slave who fought with the British would be given their freedom.  Some then went further and declared that any slave who deserted the Rebels would be given “full protection, freedom, and land.”

Thousands of black people did so, and were later settled mostly in Nova Scotia.  Some went from there back to Africa and settled in Freetown, Sierra Leone.  

The story of the black Loyalists is told in Lawrence Hill’s exceptional novel, The Book of Negros.  (  In the US the book has been retitled Someone Knows My Name (

It is worth noting that the slaves of Loyalists were not given their freedom, and when the black Loyalists arrived in Nova Scotia it was to find that many promises to them had not been kept. But,  as I have discussed earlier, slavery was outlawed in Upper Canada in 1791 and throughout the British Empire in 1834.

The British made use of German mercenaries called Hessians.  Many Hessians (including deserters) settled in the County after the war rather than return to Germany.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Loyalist Wednesday: Why remain Loyal?

American history sometimes represents the Loyalists as a small handful of rich reactionaries determined to stand against the tide of freedom in protection of their own selfish interests.

History, as we often forget, is far more nuanced.  In fact, sources I have read say that a good 1/3 of the residents of the American colonies were not in favour of independence.  Only a few years prior to 1776 almost no one in the colony, including those who became the leading “patriots”, were even arguing for independence, but for a slightly fairer tax system.  It can be argued, and often has, that the revolution could easily have been prevented if the British had merely bent a little rather than remaining firmly intransigent.  See: The March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman.  (Highly recommended - one of the books that has had the most influence on my political thought.)

Tarred and Feathered
Many Loyalists simply thought that there was no reason to go to war over a tax dispute.  Many agreed with aims of eventually achieving some degree of independence, but thought that Treason was not a good way to begin a county.  Many were appalled at the actions of the mob – outright ‘confiscation of property’ aka theft, beating and killing supposed opponents – and thought no good could come of it. (In the famous quote attributed to Mather Byles, Boston Clergyman, “which is better – to be ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away, or by three thousand tyrants not a mile away?” ) Many simply didn’t want to take sides, and found themselves being forced to when their homes were torched and their property taken. 

I was surprised to learn what firm Loyalists many Scots were.  One would assume that having fought so hard against the British in 1745 they would be on the anti-British side. Nope.   A lot of Scots who’d come to America after Culloden were Loyalists.  They feared what rebellion could do.   One of Scotland’s greatest heroines, Flora McDonald, saviour of Bonnie Prince Charlie after Culloden, moved to America when she was released from prison, and was a staunch Loyalist.   She returned to Skye via Canada after the American Revolution where she remained until she died. 

According to a source I read, the Jacobites did not consider themselves to be ‘rebels’ in any way. They supported what they considered to be the true King of Scotland. Thus were not inclined to support rebellion in America.
Flora McDonald

The Loyalist characters in More than Sorrow are Hamish and Maggie Macgregor, as I wanted to pay homage to those tough Scotsmen and women.

The Loyalists were an incredibly mixed bag, and next week I’ll try to talk a bit more about the type of people they were.

Caveat:  I am not a historian and I am not an expert on this period.  All my sources come from reading other people’s work.  If I am wrong, please feel free to let me know.  I’d also appreciate hearing from those who know far more about the Loyalists that I do.

Pre-order:  More than Sorrow is now available for pre-order.  Books and Company in Picton, and Greenleys in Bellville are taking orders.  Also at,, Chapters/Indigo.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

25 Years in the Rearview Mirror

Here's a fun little project I was involved in.  For one year the writer Stacy Juba featured stories on her blog to do with something that happened 25 years ago.  The stories could be real life experiences or characters' lives.  At the time, I was about to release Negative Image, which concerns the murder of Eliza Winter's ex-fiance.  By sheer coincidence, in the book Eliza remembers when she met John Winters - 25 years ago. I sent Stacy a short segment as Eliza thinks about that fateful night.

It now appears, along with 52 other short essays, in the book 25 Years in the Rear View Mirror, and is available on Amazon and other online sources.

25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back - This collection of poignant and uplifting essays is the perfect book to enjoy over your morning coffee.  Read about school days, quirky jobs, romance, raising a family, hard times, the writing journey, and find out what makes your favorite characters tick. The stories will warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Loyalist Wednesday: Hardship

 I live in Prince Edward County, Ontario. A pleasant land of soft rolling hills, prosperous farms, neat county roads, stately stone century homes, fashionable new houses and plenty of cottages.

The View from my desk 

When I first sat down to write the backstory in my novel More than Sorrow, about the Loyalist settlers, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I guess I had in mind some 18th century version of neat prosperous farms and soft rolling hills and cheerful welcoming townsfolk eager to help the newcomers out.

Fleeing their homes
I hadn’t been aware that there was almost nothing in the way of settlement in what we call  Ontario today.    The French had settled along the shores of the St. Lawrence, built cities – Montreal and Quebec City – towns, and prosperous farms. As we all know the English took Quebec in 1759, but it remained a French-speaking, Catholic area, governed by French civil law.  When the Loyalists began arriving from the United States they were not welcome in Quebec, and they didn’t want to live there, under foreign laws and customs, in any event.   Many Loyalists went to Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, where there were some small settlements already established.  As for Ontario there was a rough settlement near Niagara, and that was it.

About a thousand decided to head off into the great Canadian wilderness to carve out new lives and new futures.  The group I followed in my novel was led by Captain Peter Van Alstine, formerly of Kinderhook, New York.   They left New York City, the last outpost of the British in the United States, in late summer of 1783.  All who wanted to leave were given transport by the British on ships. Van Alstine’s group spent a thoroughly miserable winter in Lachine, near Montreal. Remember that most of these people left their homes with little more than the clothes they wore and few were even farmers, much less woodsmen or soldiers.

My Loyalist character, Maggie Macgregor, was the only daughter of one of the wealthiest families in the Mohawk Valley. She married into an equally well-off family.  Her’s was a life of servants, fine clothes, good and adequate food, watercolour lessons and piano practice. She and Hamish honeymooned in Charleston:  a joyous month of dances and parties and teas.  

A few years later she was living in a tent during a Quebec winter, then setting out on a bateaux down the St. Lawrence River and into Lake Ontario.  The county they came to was nothing but dark, foreboding forest and storm-tossed open lake, and rock-filled ground. The settlers were given land on which to settle.  The land ran in long strips back from the lake or river because there were no roads.  No roads, no towns, no shops, no doctors.  And not much in the way of farming implements, livestock, or even knowledge.

Nor did they have local experts around to offer advice. A few Natives visited the area on hunting and fishing trips, but by the 18th century there were no longer any Indians living permanenty in what is now the County. 

It’s a wonder any of the settlers survived.

But they did.

And I’m living here today on the land they cleared and on which they prospered.

PERSONAL APPEARANCE:  I will be at Vicki’s Veggies ( in the County on September 1st and 2nd as part of their popular Heirloom Tomato tasting weekend.  I’ll be signing MORE THAN SORROW, so please stop by and say hi.