Friday, 31 July 2009

Bury Your Dead - and your summer

overcast, some rain cool, temps 17

Back to rain...sat today in front of the fire, drinking cafe au lait and dipping biscotti. It was, I have to say, quite lovely. I'm actually liking this summer...every now and then the sun comes out and it's hot, hot, hot - so we swim and sit on the porch...then it gets all cool and rainy and we get to enjoy a fire. It's like two seasons in one. The Oreo cookie of seasons.

Have printed out a hard copy of Bury Your Dead, and and reading it. It's quite a different experience, reading the hardcopy. I get it printed by Bob in Sutton...single-spaced, double sided and bound. So it looks and feels like a real book. Very exciting. Then I read it. After thinking all the polishing is done I'm still finding something on almost every page that could be changed. Mostly small things...but often something, for me, as big as a sentence that doesn't work, or a change of topic that is too abrupt. It's a really valuable, and pleasurable, part of the writing process.

Zipped into Sutton to get a baguette, pate, vegetarian pate (for my brother), beer (for an other visiting family member) and other provisions for the weekend. Forecast keeps changing...I honestly don't know why I bother to look!

Might not get the change to blog tomorrow, but will try. Have a terrific weekend, and will get back to you as soon as possible.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

The scent of summer

sunny, hot, beautiful, temps 29

Glorious day - again. Nice breeze - a little humid but most hot days here in Quebec are. Did a couple loads of laundry and put the washing on the clothes line to dry. perfect weather for it. Nothing like the scent of line dried laundry.

Now there's a summer scent...

line dried laundry
fresh mowed grass
heat sizzling off asphalt
barbequed burgers

These things I have loved...

Lovely, quiet day. Nancy, our computer surgeon, came by at 10am to fix my wasn't receiving on my personal account. Now I need to get in touch with her again, because while it is now receiving, it isn't sending from that account.

Still, everything else is going along perfectly. Awaiting family visits this weekend. It's a long weekend for most of Canada, just not Quebec. Weather is supposed to be spectacular so it'll be reading and swimming and barbeques...and the Knowlton literary festival. Such fun to be in the audience, enjoying and not performing.

Be well...hope you've enjoyed your day.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Canadian launch for The Brutal Telling

mainly sunny, very hot and humid temps 31

Now, this is a Quebec summer day in July. We're meeeelting. But what bliss for us. We worked, then took dips in the pool, then worked, and swam. Wonderful.

Had a terrific breakfast in Knowlton with Danny and Lucy. We decided that the local, and Canadian, launch of THE BRUTAL TELLING would be an event. Like last time when we held High Tea at Hovey Manor.

For THE BRUTAL TELLING we're doing a brunch in Knowlton on Sunday, October 4th. Not sure what hotel will host, probably the Lakeview. Danny and Lucy will be selling tickets that will cover the brunch, plus a small donation to the Yamaska Literacy Council, which tutors and works to teach local men and women how to read and write. I'm thrilled we're raising money for them. We'll also have draws for signed books, and a special, limited edition, Vive Gamache cafe au lait mug.

We'd LOVE to see you there. If you're interested call Danny and Lucy at their bookshop (Brome Lake Books) - 450-242-2242. I know for sure they haven't set a price for the brunch, but if you'd like to reserve a few places you might want to call early. If last year's launch is any indication, we'll sell out quite fast, though I think we can go up to 150 places.

Will let you know as it gets closer. It's also a fun excuse for a weekend in the Eastern Townships!

And, there's a great literary festival happening in Knowlton this weekend, called Letters from Knowlton. And among the guests will be Noah Richler, Neil Smith and Heather O'Neill. Michael and I are going to hear Neil - who wrote Bang Crunch and Heather - who wrote Lullabye for Little Criminals - on Saturday afternoon at 1pm...such a fan of their books. If you're interested you can ask Danny and Lucy about tickets too.

Feels like lots of business today! But a great day. Off to see our neighbors for cocktails, then home for a quiet evening...Thunderstorm warning out - not sure if we should take the car. Feels ridiculous to do the car from so close, but better than dodging a downpour and lightning.

Speak tomorrow!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A perfect day

sunny, warm, temps 28

Absolutely stunning day. Slight breeze - enough to chase away most of the deer flies (which can take huge chunks out of you)...and finally warm verging on hot. Quebec is a region of extremes, as you might have noticed in the books. We veer from minue 30 in winter to plus 30 in summer...which is, very roughly, minus 20 fahrenheit to 90 degrees. Often colder and hotter on some days.

We have a fan in our bedroom, on the ceiling, that Gary installed that looks like an art deco propeller. And noiseless. And yet, while it's way better than not having one and really cools the room, I find my sleep restless with it on. Not sure why.

Sometime in the night it almost always cools down enough to drag the blankets back up.

Had a wonderful day...had a few idea for fine-tuning the book. A sentence there, and paragraph inserted over here. Nothing to do with the actual plot, really...mostly character development and a subtler way of saying something without actually saying it. I hope.

Wrote up the Bradley interview. Just a few fact-finding questions I need to clear up with him. But the majority is done.

Linda Lyall - the most magnificent website designer in the world - and I have been working on the home page, and got an updated one up and running. And the newsletters all written.

It would be great to get everything done before August arrives. Then the only thing I need do is write that novella for literacy. But that isn't due until February 2010...but I'd love to have it written, edited and accepted before Christmas so I'm not heading into the New Year with something hanging over my head.

Beverley Haun, who I stayed with last weekend along with her husband John Moss, has been bidding on and buying rugs for me over at ebay. Trudy, god bless her, has managed to vomit or eat (often one then the other) most of our rugs. She's spared, thank God, the best ones, but that was more dumb luck than design. Anyway, we're in need of new ones and I a) have no expertise in the area b) have no desire to spend thousands on something Trudy or Buttercup or some future family member might enhance... so while visiting Bev showed me her fabulous Oriental carpets she got off eBay, in some cases for very, very little.

So now she's on the hunt for us. Since she a) knows rugs b) knows dogs she's perfect. We've been having great fun with it.

Off for breakfast tomorrow with Danny and Lucy, of Brome Lake Books in Knowlton... they're friends, and have hosted the launch of almost all my we're scheming the local launch for THE BRUTAL TELLING. Come if you can!

Off to fire up the barbeque...burgers and salad, and what's left of Pat's blueberry and pear crisp, with vanilla ice cream.


Monday, 27 July 2009

What a beach

mainly sunny, warm, temps 26

Lovely day...feels like summer. Though I just ellipticated so I suspect most of the humidity is coming off of me. I'm my own micro-climate.

Had a terrific luncheon with Emilita and Charles, Marjorie, Michael and me. Pat made the most wonderful salads...a bulgar and bean, a broccoli and a spinach, strawberry and toasted almond...followed by the famous pear and blueberry crisp. I'd also put out sliced black forest ham, pheasant and pistachio pate and stinky, runny, yummy cheeses.

Janet did us proud with a superb seasfood chowder. I picked it up in the afternoon and she'd put it in a bucket! A nice white plastic on, but it certainly smacked of the seashore...felt as though instead of clam picking we'd managed to find the entire seafood chowder by the shores.

And the weather even, unexpectedly, cleared...with a nice breeze so it wasn't too hot.

Marjorie wanted to take us out to dinner last night but after Emilita and Charles left we decided to just stay in and have left-overs. Sat on the screen porch, watched the sun set, heard the rumble of distant thunder, and nibbled.

This morning after breakfast Marjorie headed out on the next stop of her tour...Kingston. Then home to Elora.

This week I need to finished the polish on book 6, write the August newsletter, write a new top for the homepage of the website, update the events list now that we're beginning to have a better idea of what's happening on the tour...and write up the interview with Alan Bradley for Mystery News Magazine. And we're meeting with Danny and Lucy from the Knowlton bookstore to discuss the local launch of The Brutal Telling. have changd that to Wednesday since we've accepted a dinner invitation from the people renting our cottage for Wednesday...despite my firm promise to myself to decline all invitations until I get other things under control, including my own private time. To that end, though, I called Martine and Andre this morning and asked if instead of dinner we could just do drinks...then we could come home. She was very gracious in the face of a not very gracious favour I was asking.

Still, it's a wonderful office I have here to do all those things. And I have to say, I'm so excited about the launch of The Brutal Telling I'll do whatever it takes to make sure as many people as possible know about it.

I imagine you have a busy week too...we can all have full lives together! So much more fun than feeling we're the only ones! I love knowing I'm not alone.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

the crucial missing letter...

overcast, cool, then sunny and warm! temps 17-25

Another unpredictable day! But now it's mainly sunny and warm. Lovely. Marjorie arrived...since it was going to be rainy and cool I planned a claypot chicken for dinner...but then it's become the most beautiful day. Oh well.

It's lovely to be sitting with Michael and Marjorie on the screen porch, eating chocolate ice cream and drinking pink lemonade! An unexpected summer gift.

Had a quiet day today, now that the editing's done...just percolating...tiny little things occur. A better word here...a slight theme that could be subtly enhanced there. The book's at that wonderful, light polish stage.

Will polish for most of this week.

By the way, I mentioned in yesterday's blog a dessert Pat is making for tomorrow's luncheon. When I went back to re-read the post I roared with laughter to find I'd described it as a blueberry and pea crumble. Blech.

It's actually a blueberry and pear crumble. Much better.

Talk to you soon...

Friday, 24 July 2009

Now, dear, what's that in the middle of the table?

overcast, drizzle, sunny temps 18

Great day...finished the second edit. So odd...there were times I was so thrilled with the book I was tingling...other times I thought it was horrible. Happily, now that I've finished I'm back to thinking it's good.

Just glad to have it done!! Went for breakfast in Knowlton this morning at the cafe floral and spoke with their wonderful chef Janet about doing a soup for a luncheon we're having Sunday. I love eating soups...but not so good at making them, as you might guess.

Then came home - chatted with Tara at Minotaur Books about the US launch. Very exciting. She was saying they're getting overwhelming response to the Advance copies...not only requests, but fabulous reactions coming in now from booksellers and reviewers who have read it. What a relief!!

We're about 2 months away from the release.

Started editing today at 10am and finished just now...6pm. Tomorrow Michael's cousin Marjorie, from Elora, Ontario, is arriving...just for a couple of days. Having some people she knows here for lunch Sunday. Lunch is a 'community' affair. Pat makes the salads, I'll get fresh bread from the bakery, cheese from the fromagerie and sliced meat from a place called La Rumeur. Pat is also making a blueberry and pea crisp. And Janet will do the soup.

Have no idea what the weather will be like - hope we can sit on the porch.

Tomorrow morning, before Marjorie arrives, we need to clean up...amazing what we've stopped noticing. Mostly books on the stairs, magazines and newspapers on the tables, and mail on the counter. And Maggie's ashes in her wooden box in the dining room. Guests might not appreciate that as a centre piece.

Keep meaning to spread the ashes, along with Seamus and Bonnie - but am reluctant for some reason...I think I wonderful if they'll feel lonely out there, or abandonned. That's really why we waited until there were three of them...felt more like 'company'. But now I worry we'll become the weird people down the street with the pet mausoleum. Or the people with the really macabre centre pieces.

Next weekend we have more family arriving...another chance to clean up! Yippee.

I always thought, before my writing career, that it must be very glamorous - and certainly wonderful to finish a book. I had vague ideas of jetting off to Paris to celebrate...not rounding up the ashes of dead dogs, or trying to figure out whether to serve hot or cold soup.

But, actually, it's quite nice. The writing is a seemless part of my life. Indistinguishable from other events.

Well, that's not totally true. It gives me such pleasure I sometimes feel I'll burst.

Thanks for joining me!!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A fictional supper

rainy, misty, overcast temps 18

Fire in the fireplace again today! This must be the most wretched summer. Oh well, better on the way, apparently. And, still, while I'd prefer a 'real' summer, the weather really doesn't affect me all that much. REally.

The beans have blossoms as do the peas...climbing furiously up the vegetable patch fence.

The field is filled with that when I walk Trudy in bare feet I have to pick it out from between my toes...I look like a flower child. And feel like one too. Even in the mist, this area is gorgeous.

It's 7:30 in the evening and the sun has just appeared. Time for dinner...long day at work for both Michael and me...but a good day...though I still sometimes think the book is something that came out of the business end of a goose. Or two. Or, on really bad days, a bear.

Must make dinner before Michael divorces me...honestly, I must be the worst wife. I stare at a computer screen all day...or into space...sometimes not even answering him when he talks. I gobble candy, huff and puff and turn purple while ellipticating and when dinner arrives it could be anything from a tomato sandwich to a steak. In fact, even though I'm going down to make dinner...I have given it absolutely no thought. Maybe a gummi bear sandwich. On whole wheat. Maybe I can convince him he's already had dinner.

I'll think of something. Clover soup. Oh oh, I hear him moving in the living room...maybe if I wait long enough he'll come up with something.

Wait, maybe we've already had supper.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The goddess of cellulite

overcast, still, humid - temps 24

Not as warm or delightful as yesterday. Went off to Cowansville for our french toast breakfast this morning then scooted home. My sister-in-law, Audi, called from Edmonton and we spent an hour chatting. She's terrific...always makes sure to keep in touch. Much better than I am! We have a family reunion every year. We realized when our mother died (Dad died many years before) that unless we made an effort and committment, we might drift apart. So every year we have a reunion, and take turns hosting it. It changes, of course...or more precisely, the participants change...the one thing we feel strongly about is that the "core" three siblings be there, but kids of course often have other ideas - so the niece and nephew count varies.

This year it's our turn, and my brother Rob (Audi's husband) had a brilliant idea. Why not come for Canadian Thanksgiving, in early/mid October... it's a magical time because the nights are drawing in, everyone's in sweaters, and the woodfires are lit. But mostly the trees are changing colour. Out west, where Rob and Audi live, there aren't so many maples, so they miss, and yearn for, the spectacular autumn colours.

So this year we'll all be together here...SO looking forward to it.

The fall launch events are beginning to be finalized. I'll be doing events near Guelph, Ontario, Kingston, Ont...Sutton, Ont. Toronto. Montreal. Indianapolis, Houston, Phoenix and a few other places not yet pinned down. A little more complicated this year since both the US and Canadian books are being launched at the same time.

Busy day today...the Kingston Writers Festival needed a short essay...I'm their Author of the Week next week. And the CBC is gearing up for The Murder Stone (aka A Rule Against Murder) being their book club selection for the entire month of August. If you're interested in joining, here's the link...

Hope that works. But they needed a whole lot of info and photos and links...felt quite overwhelming...and they need them right away. Still, it's wonderful for us, but feels a little stressful at times.

But managed to get another 48 pages edited. Single zooming along. So far, so good.

Nothing on the schedule for tomorrow, which generally means the world will come calling. Better than silence, I guess.

Off to the elliptical torture machine. Why isn't cellulite considered as attractive as skin and bones??? When I'm in charge of the world, it will be. Until that happy day, it's the elliptical for me!

Wish me luck.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Summer, at last!

sunny, very warm, temps 28

Glorious, glorious day! Sat on the porch and started the second edit. Did 50 pages, smelling the coriander and Japanese lilac and old garden roses.

Actually, after about 45 pages the laptop crashed...and I lost the previouys 5 pages of editing, but since it's only editings, and fairly fine-tuning at this stage it wasn't hard to re-boot and re-create. Michael always backs things up on our 'stick', then downloads it to our desktops...and when a version is finished I email to to if there's a catastrophe there will be an electronic version floating around.

Every now and then we hear about writers who lose their entire, and only, manuscripts. I cannot begin to imagine how terrible that would be. Devastating.

Wonderful day...after finishing the days editing around 2pm I made Michael lunch (I'd snacked all morning and wasn't hungry) then I hopped into Sutton for groceries...mostly milk and fruit. Peaches are in, they taste like summer - and huge, white cherries...and water mellon. I adore fruit.

The massive marshmallows have appeared in the field close to home. These are actually bales of hay, covered in white plastic to help drying...but it looks like the field is suddenly growning huge marshmallows. Also a sign of summer.

Then home to lounge by the pool with People magazine...swimming, eating cherries, sipping diet ginger ale. Replying to some emails on the blackberry. Some people who hear that are appalled, and want me to know I should set the BB aside...and perhaps they're right, but where would I rather be answering them? The emails must be replied to and what better office than beside the pool. No, I adore my blackberry. I leave it at home on social occassions...but it's a terrific way to manage my stuff without worrying about having to spend two hours in a stuffy office.

Feels great to be back at the book...and it's going well. And by the pool. The family of geese is back...I think the parents are having difficulty getting the kids to leave the nest. I wish they'd go. As romantic as they look from afar they sure leave a lot of merde behind.

Take care - will blog tomorrow.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


overcast, windy, temp 16

Back in Montreal now after a long and eventful couple of days. Got to Peterborough, which is about a 5 hour drive from Montreal after a very relaxing and leisurely drive. Stopped for breakfast at a place callThe Fifth Wheel, whioch is a truck stop. Michael and I love stopping there. Get breakfast, get gas, get back on the road. Michael stayed home this time to write his own fabulous book - so I just meandered along on my own. Weather was terrific.

What Michael, lovely man, did was made reservations for me to have two massages at thge Euphoria Spa in Pterborough, at 3 and 4 pm. I arrived just afternoon, did some shopping, got to the spa early, and ecided to have my hair it was a full body reconstruction day!


After the hair cut I had a Swedish massage, then a hot stone massage. Absolutely divine. And, I've been having, like most people myu age, some chronic lower back problems...nothing bad, just stiffness and a slight discomfort at times...but I haven't felt so good in a year! No pain at all now and this is almost a day later.

Of course, my wonderful new cut and style was compromised...well, not the cut but the style sure was. After the head massage with warm oil - I got back to the dressing rooms and I looked like Bozo the Clown. Or Gumby.

Got to the Mosses, had a wonderful evening chatting and laughing...and making notes for future books - always fun to hear other people talk and their experiences. And the Mosses are not only warm and kind, they're extremely accomplished.

Then, next morning, Saturday, it was off to the nearby village of Lakefield for the Literary Festival. My panel was at 2pm with two fabulous mystery writers...Andrew Pyper and Pat Capponi. The moderator (always a difficult and thankless task) was brilliantly performed by Betsy Struthers, a poet and crime writer.

After the panel and signing I hopped in the car, turned on the GPS, and skiddadled back to Montreal. Weather terrific for driving, but in the last two hours this massive, dramatic storm clouds loomed to the north, and I could see the sheets of hit the gas and tried to outrun it...and actually managed it! Felt like I was in an action flick, outrunning the enemy...notice my idea of action is running away!

I love driving on my own because I listen to music and let my mind a lot of daydreaming...think about the books, the characters...dream about the launch of The Brutal Telling, and how well it might do. That's the great delight of this stage in a book's's all potential. Anything can happen. So I might as well dream.

Got home about 9:30 last night and fell into Michael's arms, which smelled suspiciously of barbequed chicken. Well, not perhaps his arms, but certainly his fingers. Well, mine smelled of trail mix and chocolate, so together we're a perfect, if indulgent, meal.

Off for breakfast. Our friends aren't quite up to lunch today, but will try again later in the week. Perhaps just a short visit.

Be well.

Friday, 17 July 2009

an early start

dark...not sure what the temp is...

Well, it's 4:30 am...about to head out to Peterborough, Ontario and the Lakefield festival...which is tomorrow. Was planning to leave mid-morning but then remembered this weekend is the start of the annual two week 'construction holiday' in Quebec...and is a terror on the roads. So thought i'd get a ridiculously early start, beat the traffic and stop along the way. Can also talk my time.

Am staying with John and Bev Moss in Peterborough, who has kindly opened their home to me...he's a terrific mystery/crime/thriller writer. Will arrive in time for dinner. Then hoping to get an early bedtime.

There's a lunch at the literary festival, then the panel at 2pm...then will head back to Montreal, arriving about 9pm Saturday.

Back to Sutton, Sunday...though hoping to have luynch with friends on Sunday. She's just been through a grueling treatment of chemo and radiation, so some days are good for her and some days she's just too tired. But it would be lovely to see them in Knowlton Sunday.

Then start the second edit on Bury Your DEad (book 6). I think we have a quiet week coming up. Hope so.

Will try to blog Sunday with an update!

Have had a great 2 days in Montreal. Met Hannah Sung, of CBC radio's Canada REads book Club for a series of written and video interviews. They're doing THE MURDER STONE( AKA A RULE AGAINST MURDER) for their August can join by going to the CBC website.

Take care, will report in from the literary road!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

bit and pieces

overcast, rain, blech temps 18

Another fire in the grate. Cafe au lait. Writing synopsis and replying to email. And now need to hop in the car and do some mailing. bit and pieces. Just got off the phone with the redoubtable Teresa, my agent. Fun, long call. Just catching up and discussing the launch of THE BRUTAL TELLING.

A woman named Clara wrote a few days ago asking if I'd do an interview on her blog. I agreed and she just wrote this morning to say it's up. If you're interested you can go to:

Did the torture machine (elliptical) this morning...ten minutes...much a full blast. Then collapse. Not sure it's the best way to exercise, but oddly I feel better for is..though not during it.

Must run...mailing, then back home for lunch, and packing for Montreal and Lakefield.

Be well.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Edit one done!

overcast, rainy, thunderstorms, temps 18

Another very odd day. Sometimes sunny, but mostly overcast and rainy. Drove to knowlton and there huge downpours...then drove to Sutton and it was bone dry. havoc with the weather.

Finished the first edit for book 6! Very pleased. Took out about 1,000 words, but the point of the edit for this book wasn't word count (with was already just fine) but fine-tuning and watching out for structure and plot.

What a relief to come to the end and actually like the book! Doesn't always happen with the first edit. Phew!!!

Tomorrow I have a few synopsis I need to write.

CBC asked me to be a judge for their national literary competition but I had to say no - it for this fall and that's a busy time, promoting The Brutal Telling. Oh, the Advance Readers Copies of the UK/Canada/Commonwealth version arrived today. they look fabulous!!! Very exciting. Will be giving one away on the August newsletter.

Had the broccoli from the garden for dinner last night. such a difference. And when we walk Trudy around the pond we snack on wild raspberries. They're everywhere. Nothing like eating raspberries, off the bush, still warm from the sun. Yum.

Such a relief to have finished the edit. Deep sigh.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Seeing the lightning, if not the light...

overcast, cool, temps 18

Almost jumped out of my skin last night. The rain came teeming down and was so ferocous I went onto the screen porch to watch it. thunder, lightning. Then a huge flash of fork lightning. I leaned forward to start counting how far away it was and -


I had my answer! The storm was right overhead...and seemed to have lodged in my chest. I'm not at all afraid of storms (though Gary told us a terribly frightening story of having to hide on a golf course during a storm as trees exploded from lightning strikes all around them!!) but this boom terrified me. There actually seemed to be a percussion about it.

Went out last night to a meeting...dashing from car to door, getting soaked...the out to dinner with David and Lili. They have a stunning home and a fabulous view across a valley to the Vermont mountains beyond. David James is a very talented sculptor...specializing in glass. Lili is a marketing exec and sits on a huge number of boards, including the Montreal symphony. It was very relaxing being with them since we know them so well.

But coming home we would see the lightning in the a battle. Quite disconcerting, especially since the storm seemed stalled over our home. But everything turned out OK.

Deer are making a meal of the garden. funny, because there's so much else to eat in summer, it seems unfortunate to eat our flowers. Discouraging, especially for Lise, to see all her hard work eaten. Not sure we'll see a single daylily this year.

Did a huge amount of editing today...still haven't fixed the problem. Actually, I have edited out the problem...but haven't found a solution. Am hoping for a miracle, or perhaps a direct lightning strike.

Have eleven more pages to go. Will finish tomorrow...I hope! Then get to a bunch of things piling up that need to be done before Wednesday.

If you're in the Toronto, Kingston, Peterborough area, come by the Lakefield Literary Festival next's just outside Peterborough, Ontario. I have a 2pm panel discussion. To be honest, I've forgetten who else is on the panel - but I'm sure they're much more interesting than me. Hope so!

Have a Thursday interview in Montreal with Hannah, the host of the CBC Summer book club - then driving to Peterborough Friday. Hope to get to the Musee d'art contemporaine (or MAC) in Montreal on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. I hear they have a terrific exhibition on native art.

I don't know if I'm editing this too fast. the advantage is that I see very clearly where the repetitions are, where the holes are...but I might not be actually enjoying the writing, and appreciating where the 'art' works and where it doesn't. But maybe that's for the next edit, which I plan to start as soon as I return from the Lakefield festival.

Time to think about dinner. There's broccoli up in the vegetable garden already! Will go out and harvest some for dinner.

Talk tomorrow.

Friday, 10 July 2009

What if Gamache...

mainly sunny, warm, temps 23

Beautiful day...not exactly hot, but very comfortable. Went for breakfast to Cowansville (french toast) then Loblaws for groceries. Also went to the nursery there to pick up some perennials on sale...two mallows and two digitalis. Then when Michael went to the bank I went to the post office to mail off some things.

then home by 10:30. Took the laptop to the screen porch and spent the day editing. Went through 40 pages...took until 5:30pm...without a break. But - I found a problem in the story...not really in the plot, but in a particular and important clue. It doesn't work...need to re-think what to do.

So Michael and I went for a swim and talked about it. Still not clear. Now need to really think...might have to even break out the gummi bears (emergency supply).

speaking of which - I climbed back on the elliptical torture machine after the swim. Helps to think. Sadly, even that didn't do the trick.

but I know a solution is out there...something better than what I have. Something that actually makes sense! That would be good. Odd to walk around all evening trying to solve this one problem...picking it up and turning it around and around, looking at different angles. What if Gamache... What if... How about... Suppose...

Still, nothing. But it will come.

Back at it tomorrow. Then dinner over at Lili and David's home. Lili's wonderful...she reads my final drafts and corrects my terrible written French. However, it's getting better...but still can't remember where the accents go on 'Allo'. As in, 'Oui, allo.'

Did an interview last night with Sisters in Crime...their Guppy division, which is this wonderful organization for aspiring writers of crime fiction. If that sounds like you, check them out. I believe if you go to SinC you'll find a link.

Take care...hope you're well and enjoying your summer!!!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

strange - but good.

Mainly sunny - at last!!! temps 24

Lovely day...sunny, not too hot. Lise and Donna came this morning to do the garden, first day in a long time they could work in it without torrential rain. Wayne arrived, climbed onto his trusty tractor, and mowed the lawn. Ken and Mary came and cleaned the pool. Deanna dropped by...who does the house.

It was a party! The property was practically purring by the end of the day.

I retreated into the living room to do the editing. As I walked in I looked out the windows on either side of the fireplace, and saw, of course, all shades of green, from the plants next to the window, to the grass, to the forest beyond. And thought how many times I walked into the room to write this book, and looking out the window I saw snow.

I hope not to be walking into the room to continue the editing, seeing the changing leaves!

But I did another 50 pages today...really liked it. Some rough patches. But they at least were obvious. So much clearer when I can see the arch of things, feel the flow, or lack of it. The mistakes hit like a wall. Though sometimes the solution is less than clear.

But the most frustrating for someone with my temperment is when I hit something that I think is inconsistent with an event or fact earlier in the book...then I have to go back and find it! Very boring...but necessary. I really am not all that great at details. Character, yes, plots and clues, yes...but small consistencies bore me. Which is why, sometimes in the early drafts, Gamache can have lunch twice in a day...or have five drinks before I stop him. (Ruth - very bad influence).

Happily, we're a team and what I fail to see others will.

but I also force myself to go back and fix things, reminding myself that's what 'editing' means...and it's not going to get easier with subsequent edits. So might as well do it right away.

At this stage the big enemy is time. It seems crucial, for my process, to do this stage as quickly as possible, without interruption. If interrupted I can lose the flow and pacing of it...and forget whether I just read something and hearing it again is repetitive, or was that an earlier version?? So - I'm really trying to get this first edit done before I head to the Lakefield Literary festival next week. Actually, I have an interview with the CBC book club on Thursday - the host is coming to need to go in and meet her...then drive to Lakefield, Ontario Friday, for the event Saturday afternoon. Then home. But if I don't get this first edit done, then I'll have three, maybe four days away - more than enough time to lose the flow.

Then, once back, I need to dive immediately back in, and do the second edit, while it's still fresh. Smoothing, smoothing, adding the fine points...seeing the smaller problems, the details that aren't quite right, or could be better. Then one more time, not to change anything big, but to work a bit on language, the words used...tone down a bit, shade...a turn of phrase.

LOVE that stage. Actually, I quite like this one, but it is a little stressful. Always afraid I'm going to hit a big pile of merde on the next page. And sometimes I do.


this afternoon, when everyone had left, Michael and I slid into the pool, then lay out there in the sun. Wow, did it feel good. Strange, but good.

Be well.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Pathetic Fallacy

sunny, rainy, cloudy, cool...where is summer??? temps 18

A mixed day, like the weather. Great day editing...and lots of other things getting done too. Long day. Started at 9am, and now 9pm and just finishing. But better than wondering what to do with my days! I dream of going on a cruise. The Queen Mary 2...through the Panama Canal. In the Queens Grills suites of course.

This would kill Michael. Not only the expense but being stuck on a boat for 2 weeks with nothing to do. He's not the ballroom dancing type. Actually, neither am I. And my fear with cruises is that we'll be stuck with a bunch of people who bore us to tears. I can smile and chat and pretend for a couple of nights, after that better wear your life vest.

But for me I love the thought of enforced relaxation. Nothing to do but eat, read, get sp treatments, watch the world go by.

We're actually considering a vacation this winter in Sanibel, Florida. But I suspect we'll stay home by the fire and relax. Not a bad option either! But I love to virtual vacations. In fact, I have a couple of scenes in Bury Your Dead where Clara, Myrna and Gabri are going on virtual vacations, but Peter can't quite let himself 'go'.

I think dreaming is a fine quality, and I plan to be doing it quite soon.

On the down side, found out a friend in Winnipeg has cancer...she'd been operated on 10 days ago and we were all awaiting the pathologists report. It came in yesterday and she wrote today. Ugh.

Was talking to someone else today who was also saying she has so many friends now with cancer. I feel at times like a soldier on a battlefield, seeing others hit, at random.

Got in touch with my friend, and she'll have chemo and radiation...and I'm sure by the time her hair grows bad the cancer won't.

But so hard for her. And for those who love her.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

fun chores

rainy, thunderstorms, sun - temps 20

Dear Lord, a month of weather in a day. Aren't we fortunate. One part of Quebec, the Saguenay, got 100 millimeters of rain in a day. Unbelievable.

Fun day - started early taking Michael to the walk-in clinic. Got there at opens at 8am. people had started lining up at 6:30 am! Fortunately we were only the 4th in line. By the time the nurse opened the doors there were about 15 of us. But apparently yesterday, after a long weekend, there were tons of people. They only let the first 20 people in. Last time we went we lined up, but then when the nurse opened the door there was a crush and people who'd just arrived pushed to the front.

Very upsetting.

this time we made a pact not to allow that to happen. Once again, some people tried, but we maintained order. funny how quickly a situation, even one as begnine as this, can become, "we" and 'they".

Doc examined Michael and gave him penicillin. Then we were off to the pharmacy to fill it, then au laits, scrambled eggs and toast. then met Kirk, who drove us to Granby to look at wallpaper and fabric for the new apartment.

Took us about 30 minutes to decide. We're quite decisive and Kirk had chosen some wonderful combinations, so we really couldn't go wrong. And Michael, being an artist, has a marvelous eye.

Then out to lunch with Kirk in Bromont. Sat outside and in the course of lunch it was cloudy, rainy and sunny.

No hail.

Then picked up Trudy at Pat's and home...don't think I'll edit book 6 today. Getting late and I need to do a few things...some letters to get out etc. But, oh bliss, I have a week with nothing to do but edit!!!! Cannot tell you how wonderful that committments at all! Not a breakfast, lunch, dinner, phone call, coffee, anything!! Just lock the door, hunker down, froth up some cafe au laits and have at Bury Your Dead.

Be well, and thank you for all your wonderfully kind words about Michael and his writing. We are very excited.

And we'll see about the made-for-TV films. I have some hope...but we'll see. Will be fun to see who would play Gamache.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Michael - ready for his close-up!!

mainly sunny, some cloudy periods and spitting rain, temps 18

still cooler than normal, but quite a nice day. I think the bar is now set pretty low. No hail? Then it's a great day.

fun, but hectic, days. Just back from Montreal...had breakfast yesterday in Sutton with Gary and Cheryl - it was Gary's birthday. Then headed to the city...

But the big news yesterday was the Michael (who is writing a narrative non-fiction book about two scientists and their fight to find a cure for a terrible childhood cancer) had sent out a query letter to the top New York literary agent for this non-fiction. Hadn't heard for weeks and weeks and decided she wasn't interested...then got an email yesterday - the sunday of the 4th of July long weekend, to say she was interested!!!!

Did you hear our shrieks??? Unbelievelably exciting!!!

He has to put together a proposal...and polish it...but he worked on that until 10pm, while I edited book 6. Such fun to work side by side on our books!

then this morning we went to Nick's on Greene Ave in Montreal to meet a film director for coffee. Won't give you his name, but he's won an Emmy for an HBO film and he's directed all sorts of terrific films. We've turned down a lot of offers, since I'm not interested in doing anything cheap...and I'm not interested in selling the rights to the characters. The project has to be very specific.

And this man is wonderful. Love his work. It's quality. And he clearly understands the books. His thought is to make the first 4 into films, for TV. Now, I realize this almost certainly will never happen. Not because he's insincere or I am, but just because so many things can go wrong...there are so many many stars need to align.

But it's wonderful to meet a prominent director who is passionate about the books.

So it was an exciting weekend. Celebrated a friend's birthday. Michael heard from the top New York agent and we met to discuss films of my books. What can we do for an encore???

Came home, had lunch in Knowlton, said Hi to Danny in the bookstore, and arrived back with a couple of hours to edit, on the screen porch, looking into the sunny day.

How fun is that? And so wonderful to see the glee in Michael. And to have him reap the rewards after he's supported me for so long!!

But, his cough is continuing and is a little chesty, so we're off to the medical clinic at 7:30 tomorrow morning, then meeting Kirk and Jane to discuss decorating the city apartment. They have thoughts. We have the cheque book.

Be well...will keep you updated.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Happy 4th of July

driving rain, very cool, temps 13

Happy Birthday US! Hope the weather has co-operated for you, your picnics and fireworks and all the celebrations.

I edited in front of the fire today! It's cold and wet here...blech. Still, while I'd rather have sunny and warm, I find the weather doesn't really affect me too badly. I suppose if the whole summer was like this, yes, but so far I haven't felt upset.

Editing going much better. Got to page 43 today, of a 268 page manuscript (single spaced) Hoping to be finished this draft by the time I leave for the lakefield literary festival in mid-July. but we'll see. So far I like what I'm reading, but it needs smoothing, shaving, some adding here and there. A lot of it is lightening the touch.

Had a terrific interview with Lynn Kaczmarek, one of the publishers of Mystery News magazine, last night. She also happens to be a personal friend. The interview is for the fall cover story, which is wonderful! And of course, since she knows me so well, she winkled out lots of stuff. Tattoo parlours, my days with the Hells Angels, that sex change...(kidding, Michael).

Joan dropped by for tea this afternoon...had a fun visit. And tomorrow Michael and I are having breakfast with Cheryl and Gary, to celebrate his 51st. We're practically twins...a fact that must delight Gary.

then Michael and I are off to Montreal. Hope to do some editing in the apartment tomorrow afternoon (while watching the golf), then have breakfast with a film maker interested in the books (he does lots of things for HBO), then a dentist appointment at 10:30. Then home to Sutton and more editing.

Life now is basically editing, and then whatever else there's time for! Once I get this first edit done life relaxes (presuming it's not total crap). Then I can really enjoy the next edit, which is really mostly a smoothing.

the main thing is making sure the structure works and the characters are full, complex, real. And consistent. Once that's done, the rest is shading, highlights, details. the fun stuff.

Take care - not sure I'll have time to blog tomorrow, but will try. Enjoy the weekend. Hope it doesn't snow here. Now that, I have to say, would be depressing.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Editing away angst

overcast, some storms, some rain...the same as ever! temps 22

Started the first revision this morning...very scary. I'd made a lot of notes on scraps of paper and different little notebooks I carry, so the first thing I did was transfer them all to the main notebook I keep. I have one for each book.

Started at about 9am, and finished at 4 - no break for lunch, though made mysefl two huge cafe au laits (in the Vive Gamache mugs) and ate Social Teas. Yum. Very comforting.

The first part of the book is always the hardest, and longest, to edit because most of the work is there...the adjusting. Characters need to be taken out, who I realize later in the book aren't necessary and so 'disappear". Characters need to be put in earlier...some characters need to change their 'character'...and the themes become clearer as the book went on, so it needs to be edited with those themes in mind. In the case of book 6 (Bury Your Dead) one of the main themes is memory, history and time - and the roles they play in who we are and the choices we make.

I'd hoped to do at least 20 pages today, but only got 10 done. Still, it will pick up pace as the book goes on. I was very happy with what I'd written, and happier at the end of the day. The scenes were right, but needed tuning. And the fine-tuning can often take a while. I want to make sure everything is subtle...done with a light touch.

I realize one of the things the paralysed me, and kept me from writing the first book, was the certainty I had to get it right the first time. That was not only wrong, it was impossible...and if I had, it would have meant the book wasn't very deep. I suppose some people can get it right and don't need much editing...and still managed to be deep. I can't.

Thank God for editing!

Andre and Martine, our guests in the cottage, dropped by today. Such lovely people. They had birthday gifts for us...a beautiful Cross pen for me and a throw pillow and blanket for Michael with the Whitehead coat-of-arms. Absolutely gorgeous. And we were so moved by their thoughtfulness! So great to have them there.

Heading down to relax now. Getting less stressed about editing the book...always feel better when I get into action and out of anticipatory angst.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Home Again

rainy, humid, temps 20

Back home now. Had the BEST time at Hovey. Stayed in a room called The Birches, which is actually in the woods above the Inn...with huge windows looking into the forest on one side and out over the lake at the front. A huge room, with a huge bathroom. I could actually live there, I'm convinced. Such fun to dress for dinner in our finery and walk through the woods to a formal, candle-lit dinner.

I think my favorite meals at Hovey, though, are breakfast. This morning it was two soft boiled eggs, ham and shallots, asperagus and a confit of red pepper. With a side of smoked bacon. Plus the cold buffet of fruit compot, home-made granola, cheese, croissants, cinnamon buns. Dear Lord, take me now.

What bliss.

Then arrived home to a torrent of problems...all of them fairly minor. Problems with the water at the guest cottage (and we have guests so that's not great)... our Sharp Aquos TV (a real lemon) has broken again and is taking 3 weeks to repair...this is the second time in a year. We've had televisions that haven't broken in 25 years...and this supposedly high end thing breaks twice in a year. The warrenty is about to I asked the company for a) an extended warrenty since this is clearly a problem TV or a replacement.

I think Aquos has a fine reputation. We seem, uniquely, to have a lemon.

But so far the company seems unimpressed with our requests. Will go up the chain. But again, this is an irritant when there are other things to concentrate on. Oh well, it could be worse. The TV could have decided to poop. God, that's probably next. Day after the warrenty expires.

For now all the phone calls are made...personal war has not been declared, emails have been returned and forwarded and replied to. Sent out the newsletter on July first - or at least he wonderful Linda Lyall did...and had hundreds of responses. I can no longer personally respond to them all, but have replied at random to a number of them.

Am giving away a signed ARC for The Brutal Telling. Will also give one away next month on the newsletter.

Will start editing book 6 (the Quebec City one) tomorrow in hopes of finishing it completely by the end of august. One foot in front of the other. And remembering to count my blessings. So important. And not hard, after that blessed time away with Michael.

Be well - talk tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Day

blustery, a little threatening, humid, temps 23

Happy Canada Day! Such fun! There'll be fireworks tonight in North Hatley, and the skies are forecast to clear just in time. I love fireworks.

Having a wonderful time here at Hovey and a terrific day. As you might know, it's my birthday. 51. Have to say, so for the 50's are pretty fantastic. Not a thing I miss from other decades. And I seem to have gained some facial hair and a bit more padding. Lucky me. Though I don't think the padding can be blamed on the decade...more the decadance.

Had another massage today. Wonderful.

And Michael gave me the most wonderful gift. I opened the jewelery case, baffled. I don't wear much jewelery and what I do has significance. A single ring on my right hand that I bought when I was barely 20, from money I'd made doing my first radio news report for the BBC. And on my left hand my wedding and engagement rings. And that's it.

It's not that I don't like jewelery, but I am a bit of a minimalist. Well, in some things. In things you can't eat.

I opened the box, stared, and burst into tears. He'd had a pendent designed. It was a simple round sterling silver disk, and on it were etched three, simple, pine trees. We both cried and hugged.

How beautiful it is to have a husband, a love, who understands that these are not just books, that this is not simply a series of fictional characters and what I'm living isn't a career. It's a dream. A fulfillment.

How blessed I am.

Happy Canada Day. Happy day.