Friday, April 19, 2013

An AE Nomination!

Colour me pleased.  I found out when I got up this morning that A WINTER KILL, my book for reluctant readers from Rapid Reads has been nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for best novella.

The news is timely as well, as I'm in Juba right now and working on the next book in that line, JUBA GOOD, which will be about an RCMP officer with the UN here in South Sudan.

Education is a priorty here, and the good people at Rapid Reads donated a stack of books for me to bring.  I handed them out to what I hope will be eager readers.  I wonder if they will quite be able to understand the signifigance of the fact that the dead body in A WINTER KILL isn't wearing gloves in the snow.

Probably not.

The AE awards will be presented in Toronto on May 30th.  I am so disappointed to have to miss it, but I'll be in Yellowknife at the NorthWords Literary Festival. (

Barbara Fradkin, who I am travelling to the north with, has been nomiated for the same award. It sould be a lively evening in Yellowknife.

Want a peek: Only $2.95 for Kindle, special offer.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Juba, South Sudan

I'm spending three weeks in South Sudan visiting my daughter.  Long time readers of this blog will remember that I was here in November 2011. 

South Sudan is the world's newest country having achieved independence from Sudan in July 2011. It was a long, hard struggle - about twenty years of civil war.

The war meant that South Sudan is, essentially, about 20 years behind the rest of East Africa in terms of development and economy.  It's either the world's poorest country, or pretty close to the bottom. It has the world's highest maternal mortality rates.

Juba is a busy, busy, place. People are flooding in from the countryside in search of a better life; the UN and NGOs are here to help.

You might have heard of the attack on a UN peacekeeping convoy last week, which killed a substantial number of UN soldiers and civilian staff.  But that was in the countryside, far to the north. We're pretty safe here in Juba.

There have been some changes since I was here last. Buildings are under construction. I think in 2011 there wasn't one building over two stories tall.  Now there are some of five or six stories.

The potholes in the road are now trenches, and there is more garbage. Largely because the governmen tran out of money. Because of conflict with Sudan, the oil fields were shut down for several months. The oil is in the South, and the pipelines go through the north to the sea.

Just this month the oil was turned back on, and everyone is hopeful it will stay on!

I don't take a lot of pictures here. The concept of a tourist is completely unknown (I like to say I am the first tourist) and many people are suffering from severe PTSD, one of the consequences of which is paranoia. You're not allowed to take pictures of anything militarily sensitive. And they will decide on the spur of the moment what's sensitive.  A lot of people don't like to have their picture taken.

Today, I snuck out with my little camera and tried to act nonchalant. Here are my results.

These pictures were all taken on the street where my daughter lives. So, if you think diplomats live a life of luxury - think again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


I've just finished a wonderful vacation in Uganda. I just loved the country and the people. So many wonderful places.  This picture was taken at Chobe Safari Lodge in Murcheson Falls NP. Perhaps the most spectacular setting of any hotel I have stayed at.