Sunday, 31 May 2009

Hello. Goodbye.

rain, sun, rain, sun, rain...temps 16, 12, 16, 12, 16...

Oh, well. Could be worse. I could still be writing the first draft of Bury Your Dead and Michael could still be in the septic tank.

Lupins are blooming! Honeysuckle is out, roses and peony in tight bud. Asperagus harvested! Dock in, yesterday.

Ooops, said Tony, kneeling on the wooden island while Michael and I stood on the part fixed to land. Tony was drifting further out into the pond and the attachment could just barely be seen disappearing to the bottom.

Oh my.

Michael and I did what we do best. We stood and watched. Tony did what he does best - he did something. Grabbed the ladder, as yet unattached to the dock, and slung it across to us. We grabbed it, and no more oops. Except that the attachement was now on the bottom of the pond. Tony though looked into his plastic bag of 'stuff' and found, miraculously, another attachment. And within minutes the dock was whole and Tony was restored to dry land.

Nothing to it.

Our home is called 'Common Ground' because that's what we believe in finding. However we're thinking of re-naming it 'Ooops'.

Had breakfast with Joan this morning. What bliss to be able to re-connect with friends. Called Cheryl but we couldn't organize a time this weekend so I'll call when we return from our trip. Heading to Montreal tomorrow, then on to Toronto for the reading at the Toronto Reference Library Tuesday night. The amazing Wendy Mesley will be reading an excerpt from The Murder Stone. Then she and I will slip away for dinner. If you'd like to come it's going to be huge fun. Books for sale too, and other authors like Gail Bowen and Linwood Barclay. It starts at 7pm and is in the Beeton Auditorium - Toronto Reference Library - 789 Yonge St. Love to see you there.

Then heading to Ottawa Wednesdya morning...have a CBC interview live at 4:40 in studio in Ottawa. Then Thursday is the Arthur Ellis awards - The Murder Stone is up for Best Novel. And Bloody Words starts Friday. Denise Mina is the International Guest of Honour. Barbara Fradkin the local and I'm the Canadian Guest of Honour. So amazingly humbling to be honoured at home like this. I'm so moved. And thrilled.

But - have to say - it's hard to leave home when everything's so beautiful. There have been years when we've headed out at this time for several weeks and I've been in tears knowing i'd miss the peony and first flush of roses and the lupins. Such agony to leave.

It still is, but this time I know we'll be home in just over a week.

And I'm so looking forward to the events and seeing good friends.

Just finished exercising for the day. Great news - my pants are loose - and the ones I wore last summer are also loose...or at least not tight! I do ten minutes a day on the ellipical. Shouldn't really be working as well as it is, but perhaps my body is in shock. But Susan gave me a great tip...she does an elliptical too...she suggested doing some minutes with just the that's what I do...about half the time flat out - just legs. Almost kills me. But it works.

I'm exceptionally lazy and impatient, so a quick intense burst suits my personality. And, apparently, my body. Then i can relax.

Michael's finished the proof pages for The Brutal Telling - wonderful man. I have a manuscript I'm reading with a view to endorsing...want to finish before the end of the day today.

2 loads of laundry in.

A light day.

Will blog from the road - give you updates. Be well...and speak soon.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Six letters I've been longing to write!!

Cloudy, showers, cool, temps 10


At 4:05 this afternoon I wrote:


Oh, my God - an amazing, blessed, feeling. I sat back on the sofa, raised my arms, put my heard back and yelled, 'Yay!' Then I said a little prayer of thanks. Then I says "Yay!' again.


Michael had been so amazing - looking after everything else for three months while I wrote like a fiend.

And - as though life could get any better - the septic tank is in (again!) and the city inspector says it's OK!!!!

Off to Knowlton tomorrow morning to celebrate with breakfast...containers of crap, and a new book. Perfect!

This is the first draft, still need to do revisions and editing and fine tuning and all that...but for me (and I suspect most writers) the first draft is the hardest.

tomorrow I need to update stuff for my agent and write a speech...but what don't I have to do???

oh yes - write a first draft!!!!


Tuesday, 26 May 2009

crazy talk

sunny, chill, but warming up temp 10

Frost warning last night! Honestly, what is it with this spring? No snow in March but a frost warning when it's almost June. Lise was very wise not to put our annual or vegetables in yet!

Lovely day now, though. Warmer, and sunny.

Just exercised - not pretty. I think some people do all sorts of things and look adorable. Cry, eat, exercise. I just look like a maniac, a glutton and a slimy lunatic, in that order. Of course, if I didn't eat so much I wouldn't have to exercise so much, and that would look after two of the three. Though there would be a lot more crying.

Two more big scenes to write and the book should be finished. Well, the first draft anyway. Then going out and doing promotion etc in June...then back in July in time to do the first edit, or revision. This one, though, isn't feeling as though it needs too too much editing. Too many characters - some will have to go...but I know which ones...and some characters change names partway through, and some change physical appearance and sex. My first drafts - now there's a mystery.

Some promotion stuff just arrived from the US publishers...needs work...and we're reading the proofs for THE BRUTAL TELLING. One thing that has definitely surprised me about the writers life is how much of it doesn't actually involve writing. Indeed, in my life, the writing is the easiest part. And God help me if I ever get behind. I feel as though I just get my head to the surface and a bunch more work drops. So if I didn't keep up, I'd drown.

Or - maybe nothing would really happen. I have a sense this is all crucial, but maybe not. Not - that's crazy talk. (put that in in case one of the publishers is reading this.)

Off to hose down. Yes, my days are that attractive.

Sunday, 24 May 2009


Mainly sunny, breezy, pleasant temps 20

Not too hot, not too cold. Very nice. But lit the fire this morning since it was a little cooler and some showers. Spent the day writing...can spot the end and am racing toward it...all I want to do is writem but need to stop since I get too tired and don't want to start making mistakes.

Love this stage - it's a real gift...the best part of the writing life. When it all makes sense...everything falling into place. The characters are doing what they need to do and I'm just their diarist.


Email won't work on my computers...small problem. Nancy came this morning and is flumoxed...but will return tomorrow to wrestle it to the ground. If anyone can, she can. And Gary's coming over to the guest house to fix the verandah - one post seems to have spent the past 30 years resting on the septic tank - which apparently isn't a great idea. And now that the tank has been changed, we need to change that, before the verandah collapses.

Always something. But - it's amazing - when you have your health, when you have love, and the writing is going well - it's hard to have a bad day!

Need to write the June Newsletter - must fly. Speak to you soon...I hope tomorrow but with focussing on the book I find my mind isn't on the blog. First things first.

But will blog when I can!

Friday, 22 May 2009

The Great Unwashed

mainly sunny, mild, temps 20

Well, the septic tank is in. But it had some company. While showing the tank to the Pompage BM people yesterday Michael fell into the septic tank. Well, not all the way in, but far enough. He called me to say, in a little boy voice, 'I had an accident.' which could mean anything from 'I've broken my neck' to 'My ice cream fell from the cone.' At no stage did I think it could possibly mean, 'I fell into the septic tank.' A weeping field, maybe. Who hasn't? But a barrel full of poop?

Home he came, off came the clothes. and shoes. Into the washing machine they went, into the shower he went. A cup of tea and date square later and he was feeling better.

Honestly, that is not the way you want to go. Imagine that. And imagine the headlines... Man killed by fall...crap sought for questioning.

And just when we thought we'd seen the last of the damned tank we got a call about an hour ago from the city inspector. We'd put it 1 metre from the house (where the old tank ((and briefly Michael)) had been) - instead of 1.5 metres from the house.

So now we need to dig another hole. Oh well. Frankly, I don't think you can have too many holes in a lawn, but Michael disagrees.

Last night - all night - the alarm kept beeping. Not outright wailing, thank God, but a persistent beeping that was enough to drive us from our room and into a guest room. Called the alarm people and while Michael was supervising the septic situation, having intimate knowledge now of the tank, I supervised the repair of the alarm system. Which mostly meant staying out of Benoit's way.

We've made reservations to go to New York at the end of June. That's be wonderful. Staying at the W, I think.

Before that we have a few events, including being the Canadian Guest of Honour at Bloody Words. Denise Mina - a wonderful Scottish crime writer, is the International Guest of Honour. Received the schedule of my events for that. a one-on-one interview and two panels...and I need to give a short speech at the banquet on Saturday June 6th. Need to write that.

Am hoping to finish the first draft of book 6 by June 1st - then write the speech, then head off for an event in Toronto, then the Ellis awards banquet, then Bloody Words - then back to Montreal in time for the apartment move mid-June. Then off to New York.

whenever I feel stressed - which is fairly often these days - I remember my new least it isn't a tank of crap. At least it isn't a tank of crap. Repeat after me. At least...

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Beautiful Day

sunny, hot temps 25

Gorgeous, perfect Day. Wayne's out on the tractor, mowing the lawn...smells of fresh cut grass. As I walk around the pond, and near the house, I can smell the apple blossoms. Heaven. The fruit trees have exploded with colour. And the lilacs are close to blooming.

What a beautiful day.

Am halfway through the writing day, but paused to talk to Michael - and am on my way out to walk Trudy...Michael coming too. Makes such a nice break in the day.

The new Septic tank arrived at the guest cottage this morning. I haven't seen it, but Michael was there. He says it's enormous. We could live in it. Perhaps we could just leave it there on the lawn and convince guests its the outhouse. Just poop directly into it.

Maybe charge extra for the charm of it.

Enough, now, about our crap dramas. Except to say the old tank needs to be emptied later today before the new one goes in, so we called the people who do that. They're called Pompage BM...I'm not kidding.

Lovely day -

Am trying to find the soundtrack to a wonderful Canadian musical from the late 70's, early 80's called Billy Bishop Goes to War. I had it once, on tape, but lost it and now it appears out of 'print'. If anyone knows where I can find a copy, please let me know. Fantastic play/musical - set in WW1.

Must go - sunshine and puppy and husband waiting.

Writing going very well - phew.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Dr Blackanddecker

mainly sunny, growing warmer, temps 20

Today started early and cold. Very cold. And very early. Alarm sounded at 5:30 - I rolled over. Michael got up then I dragged myself out of bed, dressed etc - and was in the car before 6. Waving goodbye to Michael and Trudy.

I had a 9am dental appointment in Montreal. A 3 hour appointment.

As soon as I sat down he said to his assistant, 'Get the hammer ready, just in case.'

I started to laugh, thinking he was kidding. he wasn't. Now, there's a sentence you never want to hear from your dentist...or doctor, actually. or accountant.

Happily, the hammer wasn't necessary. Nor was the chain saw or jaws of life. and three hours later i left.

Normally three hour dentist appointment, that involved a 3 hour drive, isn't top of my fun list. But, I happen to adore my dentist and his assistant, and his receptionist and have been going there for about 90 years - since a 1/2 hour in the chair is about a year in normal time. But mostly this was terrific because I REALLY needed the quiet time to think.

Yesterday I worked on the book from 9:30 - as soon as we returned from breakfast (french toast and coffee) to 9 last night. I wrote about a thousand words then decided I needed to map out the remainder of the book. In doing that I realized I'd created a couple of huge structural problems. I was appalled. And felt a little stressed and sick.

How to solve the problems??

How fortunate, then, to have three hours in the car alone, with my music - and my thoughts. And sure enough, a few ideas came. Not sure if they're enough - but a start.

I actually vascillated between really, really wanting not to go, but to get down to writing - to actively solving the problem...throwing myself against the book, over and over, until it shifts.

But I know this was for the best. And now I can hardly wait to get at it, with this new plan. Part of it involved actually writing the final scene...then working backwards and forwards...and meeting someplace I hope.

However, I plan to have the hammer ready, just in case.

Had a lovely interview with the Ottawa Citizen yesterday. A man named James...felt more like a fun conversation...hope I didn't say anything too claiming to have been nominated for an Anthony Award this year.


That actually happened!!! Had the official announcement yesterday morning! THE CRUELEST MONTH has been nominated for an Anthony in the US for Best Novel!!! This, I have to say, is hugely prestigous and exciting.

The other nominees are:

Best Novel
Trigger City by Sean Chercover [William Morrow]
The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly [Little, Brown and Company]
Red Knife by William Kent Krueger [Atria]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny [Minotaur]

Best First Novel
Pushing Up Daisies by Rosemary Harris [Minotaur]
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer [Doubleday]
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson [Knopf]
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet [Midnight Ink]
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith [Grand Central]

The awards will be given out at Bouchercon in mid-October in Indianapolis.

This is thrilling - especially given the company! Congratulations to all.

Between replying to congratulatory messages and interviews we were dealing with sewage - well, septic systems anyway. The universe has a way of balancing things out! Our friend Dwayne came by and he, Tony and Michael tried to decode the hole in the guest cottage lawn.

Seems that wasn't the actual septic tank (didn't smell-as a clue)- more likely part of the weeping field (great name, no? - we have a weeping field). But they dug til they found the tank and discover it was also caving in (it did smell). So now we have two holes (one of which smells). Not certain we're going in the right direction here. And we have a series of summer tenents arriving early June. Some of whom read this blog. So - if you're coming to the cottage I want you to know this:

Everything's F.I.N.E. And I say that sincerely. Now, a few new suggestions - you might want to cut back on fibre and fruits, and consider having a good old fashioned festival du fromage.

Oh, I hear Michael on the phone with Dwayne arranging for a backhoe. More holes.


Monday, 18 May 2009

odds and ends

clearing, cool, temps 11

Still well below seasonable, but at least it's lovely and sunny this evening. So pretty. Checked the lilies this afternoon for japanese beetles...they're terrible...look a bit like Lady Bugs, if you don't know what a lady bug looks like. These pests are red/orange and shaped like a very, very small cigar. And they'll destroy all the lilies in hours.

Didn't find any - but will keep looking. had a few last year.

Had a bbq tonight. Hamburgers. While they were cooking I tied up some clematis that we want to train up a post in the middle of a bed. If you wait too long they've wrapped themsevles around all the other plants in the area.

So that felt good.

Good days writing, I think. Feels good, anyway.

Got on the elliptical - the monster. Thought, for a horrifying moment, it said my heartbeat got up to 215...but then it bounced down to 157.

It feels very good when I stop.

It was a lovely, quiet day at home...and then we were surprised by the skies clearing early this evening. Beautiful.

Tomorrow we're off to Cowansville early for breakfast, then home before 10 to write. Have a 2pm interview with the Ottawa Citizen. Try not to forget.

Oh, we've been watching the level of the pool and we think maybe we don't have a leak...sure hope not!

Sunday, 17 May 2009


partly cloudy, cold, temps 8

I swear it was almost cold enough to snow this morning. Blech. But at least it isn't raining!

The pool seems to have sprung another leak.

Trying not to stress about it - we've decided to note the waterline and see if it goes lower - then contact our pool guy.

The really wonderful spot is that Gary has managed to fix the roof of the screen porch so it doesn't leak!!! (Perhaps the leak has just moved over to the pool...maybe we're destined to always have a leak someplace) We are beyond thrilled and relieved. Gives us back the use of the porch. poor guy was here for 5 hours on Friday fixing it. And God knows, we had a great test with the torrential rains yesterday.

Writing going well...mapping out where I'm going next is this stage the writing is easy and fun - it's just the structure that's a challenge. Needing, as I've said before, to bring everything together and do it with some elegance.

Just returned from Brunch over at Susan's. Always fun. And Mike - who is leaving CBC Radio for the Guardian - I think I told you about that earlier in the week - sent some emails from listeners after his big announcement on Thursday. I'd begged him to do it, and needed to almost threaten the poor guy before he agreed to send some. But they're very moving. Mike has really made a difference to the listeners - creating a fabulous, insightful, smart but also warm show. So that was really fun, reading all the great things people were saying about our wonderful friend.

Be well - will talk tomorrow...if I don't spring a leak, though that might look after the water retention.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Mind the gap

rainy, windy, cool temps 13

But - yesterday was gorgeous! We drove in to Montreal (after a breakfasting in cowansville, bien sur!). Dropped some boxes at the apartment, then headed north to Outremont. Perhaps the loveliest quartier of Montreal. In my books, Reine Marie and Armand live there. It's built just below Mont Royal and is filled with parks and mature trees, with gracious old row houses with outside stairs leading to the upper flats. No home is more than 3 floors high and each has a pocket garden, some planted with flowers some with vegetables. It's a rich area, culturally, with the Quebecois intelligencia and a large Hasidic community, as well as some Italian and Greek. And a few Anglos.

We were in town to meet Peter, who is the head of International Sales for Headline - my UK publishers. He was in Toronto for meetings and decided to fly to Montreal so we could talk over lunch. Plan strategy etc. We like Peter, and he included Michael which makes us like him even more.

I'd wondered what to waer but decided to go casual (no, not my flannels). A week or so ago we were also in town because an endowement we'd created at the Montreal Children's hospital had finally reached a level where the interest could be handed over to the head of research into childhood cancers. so there was a little ceremony. But I didn't think I'd make it because of a two important dental appointments - so I'd simply worn some old clothes.

but the appointments went much faster than planned and I had lots and time. I called Michae;l - yes, I could still make it. it was in 20 minutes. But I was in clothing only fit for dental dribble.

Oh oh.

I ran over to place Alexis Nihon - the ceremony was in a board room above it...but below were shops. I had 10 minutes to find something presentable to wear. I tore around there like a new reality show. Survivor Montreal. Believe it or not I found a really nice camisole and a lovely sweater.

So I wore those to see Peter too. I should shop under duress more often. god know, Michael does.

We wanted Peter to get a taste of French Montreal, and we know Lili and David have a home in that area, so we asked and she suggested the restaurant Lemeac, on Laurier.

Perfect. I made reservations, we drove up, parked - arriving intenionally early so we could wander. It's acxtually forgotten how lovely it is. laurier is stuffed with boutiques and bistros, cheese places, pastry shops, cafes, bookstores. In fact, we met Peter wandering up and down too. He'd arrived early. so we all went into a French bookstore and browsed.

then off to lunch. It was sunny and mild and I'd asked for a table on the terrasse. We were placed beside a lilac bush, with fresh flowers. It was beautiful and fragrant...the whole thing felt magical. Including the meal. Michael and peter had the calves liver...I had the scallops. We ended with cafe au laits and creme brules - though Michael had a line of mini-profiterols. I didn't think we'd get him out of there.

then we zipped home.

It's the long weekend in Quebec...Victoria day for the anglos...and patriots Day for the Francophones. Oh well. Neither can claim higher ground.

Susan was coming out for the weekend, and coming over for dinner. As you know we think of susan as a sister, so we don't go to much trouble...some salads, a fruit salad for dessert and a confit de canard on the BBQ. When we'd left that morning we'd gone by the cottage to leave off some flowers and a message...

Welcome. Hope the drive was good. See you for dinner. Love, Michael and louise. PS, try not to fall into the big hole of crap.

Yes - a big hole of crap has opened up on the lawn of the guest cottage. Normally we'd blame susan but sadly it appeared before she did.

I do wonder if it's karmic. Piles of bear crap on our lawn, we just clean that up when the septic whatever yawns open next door. It's everywhere.

So this morning, before the rains came, Monsieur Cote arrived to look into it and pass judgement.

Yup - it's crap.
Yup - it's a very old septic system.
Yup - you need to replace it.
Nope - it's not free. And apparently we can't pay in dog biscuits either.

It's always something.

Happily, the lovely Susan came for dinner last night - and brought not only herself but homemade granola and a birthday gift for Michael since she couldn't make the party. Eccles Cakes. Susan makes the best.

So, once again, Michael and I ate our troubles away. We understand that's a healthy thing to do.

Will let you know tomorrow what other piece of crap falls on us. However, I have to admit, it still smells sweet, and far more good stuff lands on us than bad. Really, who doesn't have an effluent hole in their front lawn. Just one more conversation piece.

If you see me coming at a cocktail party - run.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

If I only had a brain...

very windy, rainy chilly, temps 14

Power keeps flickering off today. Sitting once again by a fire - in mid-May. Listening to the wind biffet the house. Thank God for brick homes. Have put water in the tub in case the power goes off and we need it to prime the pump. Will take Trudy out soon. Actually, I want to cut the last of the daffodils in the cutting garden, and some tulips and take them over to the cottage. Susan arriving tomorrow for the long weekend.

Listened to our great friend Mike Finnerty on his CBC Radio show this am. He announced what we already knew but couldn't say - he's leaving Daybreak to move back to London. His partner Dom has a wonderful job there...and Dom (such an amazing person) - gave up his career in London so that Mike could follow his dream...and now it's time for Mike to go back so that Dom and pick up. And Dom - because he's brilliant - has a great new job there...even in this economy!

And Mike - because he's brilliant - has also got a fabulous and exciting new job in London. He'll be working at The Guardian! A journalists dream...and they're so smart to hire Mike. He'll be their editor for - their website and comcasts. Thrilling new field.

But we're heartbroken to lose him - from our radios but mostly from our lives. Still, we'll be visiting, and they'll be visiting us.

Lise came today - some book work, but mostly she and Donna dove into the garden and worked there. It looks great. Lets home a tree, or a house, doesn't land on it. If we see a bunch of Munchkins out the window we'll know we're not in Quebec anymore.

Wrote well over 2,000 words this morning...hit another turning point but I think I negotiated it ok...feels good. Right now I'm trying to turn everything to the endgame. So everything is driving toward the solution.

Exciting, but often scary, stage.

Well, off into the storm with Toto. Auntie Em, Auntie Em...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Always editing!!

sunny, cooler than usual, temps 13

Hi There: A note - I've taken down a paragraph from this post because I announced something that shouldn't, as yet, be announced. Not for a few days yet...but here's the rest of the post!

It's slightly below seasonable, but wow is it ever great to see the sun. The grass it very long and because of all the rain Wayne can't get the tractor/mower into the field. It's now covered with dandelions. Very pretty, actually, but we'll soon all be out there like Mrs and Mrs Grim Reaper, with scyths. Tony actually still cuts with one on occasion. I swear, if anything disasterous ever happens (that meteor hits) I'm heading over to Pat and Tony's. They're the only people I know who could survive without any of the mod-cons. Though they'd probably eat us.

Had wonderful news later yesterday-

A RULE AGAINST MURDER (THE MURDER STONE) has just been named one of Booklist's top 10mysteries of 2009! Seemed a little premature to me, but their year goes from May to it's all books reviewed between April 2008 and May 1st 2009. Among the others on that list are the wonderful Louise Ure, Lee Child, John Harvey and Ian Rankin.


I wonder how this sounds to you? I hope it doesn't feel like 'same old, same old.' It sure doesn't to me. I hope I never reach the stage where I just shrug and carry on as though these honours were trivial. I never forget how hard it was to get here, and how many wonderful, talented writers are out there. And what a blessing it is to be recognized. It really is amazing.

How many people would love to have the good fortune I've had? Lots. So how horrible not to know how lucky I am? I never want good luck to be wasted on me.

I also know the only reason most of these honours come my way is because you've read the books, and tell others. I am so grateful. I was so excited last night when I read about Booklist (and especially seeing the other names there).


Took Trudy to the vet this morning for her regular heart worm medicine and something for her chronic ear infection (goldens!) but also because we were suddenly concerned she wasn't seeing very well. We'd toss the ball and she wouldn't run, wouldn't follow it with her eyes or head. And when it fell behind her the noise surprised her. She might have been like this for a long time but when we had Maggie perhaps we weren't quite as focussed on this...or maybe Trudy just reacted when Maggie reacted and so it wasn't obvious.

The vet did the 'cotton ball' test. had her sit quietly in front of him. He dropped a cotton ball on the left side of her vision - she immediate looked at it and watched it fall. But on the right there was no reaction...until about the third time. So either she just wasn't interested, already knew what it was, or didn't see the cotton ball - it isn't clear. The great news is her eyes looked fine in examination, and she didn't seem hesitant or timid, nor did she she might be fine.

Still, we've made an appointment at the vet hospital, which is a teaching hospital, in a town about an hour away, for next week.

The other great news is that even if something's wrong with her right eye, her left seems perfect...better than nothing.

Had her shaved for summer - she now looks like Stuart Little.

Monday, 11 May 2009


mainly sunny, breezy, cool temps 8

Much cooler than normal, but I'm beginning to appreciate there is no 'normal'. the great news is when I took trudy around the pond we saw a whole hot ot bees. Phew. bouncing up and down on the dandelions. Last year there weren't many at all, so this is a relief. have to make sure we don't step on them, or eat them (trudy).

Did the first 'new' writing today. 2,000 words. felt good...a relief. and I like what I did. It's getting to that complex stage where all the threads need to start coming together. But in what order? And how to make it seem natural? And while it's necessarily complex when you're reading it I want it to feel as though this is the only way the events could possibly have happened. I want it to feel simple. But rich. Like ice cream. There, I said it. My books are edible.

A dear friend, Bob Knightly, wrote to say his first crime novel, Bodies in Winter, is coming out (under the name Robert Knightly) in the UK in August and the US in November. He's a great guy. Michael and I met him at the wonderful Black Orchid mystery bookstore (with Bonnie, the legendary owner) a few years ago. The bookstore has since closed, and Bob had moved to Albany. He's a retired Brooklyn cop. A lovely, kind man. Like John Lamb, a former cop who does that wonderful Teddy Bear mystery series. Only Bob's writing tends to the more noir.

And heard from another friend today - Mike Harding in Winnipeg. His wife Leslie is raising money for Habitat for Humanity...going on a 1,000 mile bike ride, through North and South Dakota. People do amazing things for other people! I think we'll give a modest donation.

Am off now - make lunch. Feels good to be back writing. Always afraid it won't happen and I'll be left with a book 3/4th finished...and you'll have to figure out the rest for yourselves! Doesn't seem worth the money.

Speak tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Creeping up on the book....

overcast, cold, rain temps 5

Dear God - is it ever cold! And damp - and rainy. Torrential downpours yesterday - we now have three 'lakes' around our home - thank heaven Trudy's a water dog. So are we, now.

Still, it's not bad at all. I love this stage of writing (except for the cold terror). Sat by the fire today, sipping cafe au laits, eating cereal, and writing. Actually, for the past 2 days I've been editing. Have been away for 10 days and that's really hard at this stage in a manuscript. Took 2 days to get caught up on paperwork - then started in on the book yesterday.

I was frightened. Wanted to do anything but work on it. Afraid I'd lost the thread. Afraid I'd lost the desire. Afraid I'd get back to it and discover it really was crap.

So I decided to be kind to creep up on it. So I put up the previous 4 chapters and started by reading/editing them. To get back into the world I'd created. The characters. Remind myself where I was with the plot and sub-plots. It worked and I think I'm back to spped. What I think I'll do now is speed ahead with the main story line, and finish that. Drive it home. Then in the first revision pick up the threads of the sub-plots.

That's the plan.

Books, of course, never go to plan. Remember that wonderful Somerset Maughm quote - There are five rules for writing great novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.

Set up the screen porch Friday night - put out the table and chairs, rocking chairs and uncovered the sofa. Had a wonderful breakfast out there yesterday - then the rains came. Our porch roof has leaked for a year now...almost ruining last summer which was warm but rainy so we couldn't eat out there.

Fingers crossed it gets fixed soon...Gary's coming Thursday so we hope this is it. Frustrating for him and for us.

God - it's raining again.

Exercised today - always feels good and now Michael and I are curled up in the TV room watching the Players...they're all bunched up together, within a couple shots of each other. Very exciting!

Will try to blog tomorrow...I feel like I'm finally getting back into my routine. Terror level down to amber.

Friday, 8 May 2009

When we grow up...

overcast, some rain and some sun highs 14

Really quite warm when the sun is out. Continuing to find it blissful to be home. We're so lucky with the people in our lives...since we've been home we've had a parade of people coming by to help us fix things...the pool has a leak and digging needed to be done, the computers crashed and a bunch of other things so it sometimes feels like a train station, with cars and trucks lined up in the driveway!

But they're all friends, and all doing us favours, and it sure is fun to see them. We're so thankful - honestly, I sometimes feel like an insurance person (what's the name)who calculates how long people might live. I'm constantly hoping I go before anyone else, because without them my life would be a misery!

Went off to Richford, vermont, for gas and to mail a bunch of packages to people in the States. Young US border guard asked all sorts of questions. I could feel myself blushing...I'm a blusher. Always feel, and look, guilty. Of course, sometimes I am. Happily, not this time and after a brief search he let me through.

Now doing a hundred odds and ends, some to do with the books and some to do with our move...downsizing in Montreal to a smaller apartment. Better located too. Looking forward to it!

Have been fielding appearance requests and have had to decline almost all...just not enough time anymore. But I did say yes to Bear Pond Books in Vermont - for sometimes in october. Will be doing it at same times as a bookstore in Norwich, Vermont. And, I also wanted to tell you about an event coming up in Toronto. It's at the Toronto Referecne Library on June 2nd at 7pm.

A bunch of mystery writers will be having their works read by local celebrities. Also there will be Maureen Jennings, Vicki Delany, Linwood Barclay, Gail Bowen and Susanne Kearsley.

My best friend from high school will be reading an excerpt from THE MURDER STONE (A RULE AGAINST MURDER). Wendy Mesley. I can't tell you how thrilled I am she's doing it. I'm already so moved at the thought of her up there reading...and remembering all the hours and hours we sent together, dreaming of what we'd be doing when we grow up. And here she is, perhaps the most respected journalist in Canada. And as kind as she is clever.

Can hardly wait.

And it's open to the public, so if you'd like to come it would be such fun to see you! And all the authors books will be for sale and we'd all be happy to sign.

Off to respond to an email from the Japanese translator for The Cruelest Month. She's marvelous...always wants to make certain she understand the references.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


rain, cool, temps 15

HOME! Oh, does this feel wonderful. Everything is emerald green and young and fresh and achingly beautiful. And home, home, home.

It feels like such a long time away...and sorry I couldn't blog sooner, but very glad not to have taken the laptop busy anyway.

Love that it's raining here, and I don't care. Indeed, want to lay a fire, and lie in front of it this afternoon, reading and relaxing, drinking tea and snoozing. Plan to take next couple of days away from writing to get caught up. Loads of emailing and mailing of books and other things. Feels like a mountain. You know what it's like - getting back to work after time away. Still, one thing at a time and it all gets done.

Had a blast in Pittsburgh, and the road trip with Marcia Talley, Elaine Viets, Rhys Bowen, Mary Jane Maffini and GM Maillet. We laughed and laughed. And I got a chance to listen to Elaine and Marcia (whose car I was in for about 10 hours or more) talk about their experiences as mystery writers, and the community. Hilarious at times, but also very informative.

And had more great news...THE CRUELEST MONTH has been shortlisted for a Macavity Awards, which will be given out at Bouchercon in october. It's up for Best Novel. GM's book, DEATH OF A COZY WRITER is up for Best First. And Rhys Bowen's A ROYAL PAIN is up for Best Historical. Very fun...and fun to be with that group.

And now I'm going to head off...more correspondence and interviews to do. Before breakfast, after walking Trudy, I went into the cutting garden and got a whole lot of stunning tulips. Will return shortly for daffodils.

What a life. Hectic, buccolic, peaceful and frantic. Wonderful.

Sunday, 3 May 2009


rainy, misty

We won!!!! The Agatha for best novel!!! I was absolutely floored and still am. Stunned and staggered. And thrilled. It was such a strong field. Not certain what I said in my speech except, somehow, I remember saying something about Anne perry's facial hair. Dear Lord. Well, not her actual hair, but they put a photo of her up on a screen and the screen had a semi-circular smudge, right at her upper lip. Looked exactly like a moustache.

Wish i hadn't said that. Just spoke to her now and made certain she knew it wasn't meant as an insult. She really is lovely.

Other winners of Agatha's were:

GM Maillet, Best First Novel, for Death of a Cozy Writer
Kathy Lynn Emerson, Best Non-Fiction, How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries
Dana Cameron, Best Short Story, The Night things changed
Chris Grabenstein, Best Young Adult, The Crossroads

Congratulations to everyone.

I'm still trembling. I was no expecting it, which helped. meant I was totally relaxed. Michael and I were hosting a table. We'd taken hardcover copies of The Crulest Month and handmade chocolates from the chocolate place in Sutton. And were just having a fun time. Unlike me, really, not to be nervous. But when The Cruelest Month was read out I brought my hands to my face and paused there a monent. Then kissed (almost up on assualt charges) everyone in my path - whether they wanted it or not. Poor Michael I almost pawed.

The publisher, Andy martin, sprang from his chair, ran across the room, hugged me and whispered. "I can't believe it!'

Actually, I know what he meant. I can't either.

Michael's on his way home...but just emailed from the airport to say the plane has been delayed almost 2 hours! Yech. I go home Tuesday, but at the rate he's going I might get there first. I'll be happy when he phones and emails to say the plane has landed...always feels better.

Off to do a few more things then check out of the hotel.

But, one more things to do...


Saturday, 2 May 2009


overcast. mild - I think

We're in the hotel in Washington - having a great time at the convention...but not getting out except to walk to a local restaurant for dinner. No time to see Washington, though we've done that before. It's an odd feeling - being here but we could be anywhere.

Had a really fun lun with Michael and Jim Huang of the Mytery Company bookstore in Indianapolis. He's organizing bouchercon this year...that's the huge mystery readers/writers convention.

Did the panel this morning of the writers shortlisted for the Agatha for Best Novel. Rhys Bowen, Donna Andrews, Anne Perry and me...Julia spencer-fleming is also nominated but she couldn't make the convention.

This is loads of fun but exhausting...always feel 'on'. At the end of the day we just collapse. As you know, I'm not naturally sociable. I like people a lot, but in small doses...and these huge gatherings are exciting and invigorating but can also be draining. I suspect most people feel as I do - that it's nice to be with others, but it's also nice to have quiet time.

Tonight is the banquet where they're announcing the Agatha winners. I'm hosting a table. have brought handmade chocolate from the village and hardcover copies of The Cruelest Month, for those at our table.

Michael flies home tomorrow...I have a breakfast with Andy martin, my publisher at Minotaur Books and Sarah Melnyk, the publicist. Then a few events - and heading out to the B&N for tomorrow night's events.

This feels like a travelogue and not very interesting...but lots of fun things are happening...I think I'm a little overwhelmed and a little tired. But surrounded by friends.

Will try to blog tomorrow with the results. I think Anne Perry will win, and I know everyone on the shortlist should win, so there's no shame in losing to any of them.

Hope you're later.