Friday, 30 October 2009


misty all day, mild, temps 15

We're in England - specifically I'm sitting in the living room of the nicest Bed and Breakfast I've ever been in. It's in the village of Eye, in Norfolk and it is called Chamomille Cottage Bed and Breakfast. Stunning. Dates from the 1500's. And entire separate wing of the home for the B&B people...with our own living room, fireplace, wide plank floors, beamed ceiling. Our own kitchen with espresso maker, stocked fridge, etc...a solarium/dining area. And upstairs the bedrooms. Ours has beamed ceilings, a queen sized bed and floors our ski team could practice for the Olympics on! Very sloped...but charming. Breakfast is a choice of full english breakfast of sausages, grilled tomato, eggs, mushrooms, toast. Or scambled eggs with smoked salmon. Or kippers. Or eggs benedict.

All in stunning english gardens and walking distance to John and Moira's home, called The Guildhall.

By the time we arrived John was back in hospital. But another good friend of theirs and ours, Dick Oliver - who ran the Financial Times in Madrid - was arriving. So it was decided Michael and Dick and two of John's daughters would go to the hospital first. Then I'd follow with Moira and their son Nigel and daughter-in-law Rona.

It's been a very long and difficult day. We'd been getting mixed news before we arrived and had reason to hope maybe it wasn't as dire as we'd first thought. But when we arrived it was clear it was even worse, and it appears we have arrived on time, but just.

All the way over on the plane - overnight from Montreal to London, leaving Montreal at 9pm and arriving london 3am our time - 7am UK time - Michael read from John's diary of a seminal trip he, Michael, Dick and three others took when they were in Cambridge together more than 50 years ago. it was hilarious. Michael was laughing so hard he wept. Remembering those hellion, halcyon days. When they were young and immortal.

And this afternoon Michael and Dick went to the hospital to sit beside John. Michael kept vowing to be strong, but he was crying as he said it so I suggested he move to Plan B and not try to be strong, just be himself. Poor guy's exhausted. Resting upstairs now before dinner.

So we went in and took turns visiting with John. Holding his hand, talking about this and that. He was awake - had clearly revived at seeing his friends.

Always so moving to me, to see how much men can, and do, love each other.

It's been a long few days, but actually quite wonderful.

Started in the stunningly beautiful Vermont town of Norwich Wednesday...a really terrific event at the Norwich bookstore, thanks to owner Liza and Penny and the other people who work there. This is one of the great Independent bookstores I've been in. Vibrant, light. Amazing selection. And the place was jam-packed for my talk.

Thank you to everyone who came out. It was a rainy evening, and I know how hard it is to lug yourself out once it gets dark. I had such fun!!

Then after some sage advice I decided not to take Highway 91 back to Quebec (isolated and lots of moose on the roads. Hitting a deer is pretty bad, but if you hit a moose it will crush you - the body will fall right into the windshield, killing the moose and whoever is inside the car) So I went back the way I came - via highway 89. left about 9pm and was home by midnight. Very nice drive. Relaxing. A little fog, and was watchful of moose and deer, but that is life in Canada too.

Then Thursday morning we finshed packing, hit the road by 8:30...Michael had a morning eye appointment in Montreal. Everything is fabulous with both eyes!!! I had a 3pm dentist and a 4:30 hair appointment - and needed to buy walking shoes. By the time I arrived back at the apartment the limo to the airport had arrived...just time to go to the bathroom and with Michael we took the luggage down.

Got to the airport, got through security (ugh) - and onto the plane. Flight was packed, but happily uneventful, except when one of the flight attendents said, loudly enough for me to hear, 'I think we're going down.'

That got my attention!

It quickly bcame apparent what she meant was that we were beginning our descent for landing, but for a horrible instant it sounded like something else. But it sure woke me up.

The rest you know. As I said, this is a sad time - but there is also beauty. And simplicity.

I haven't had time to read any comments yet from the last post, but I will. I hope you are well, and happy.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


rainy, cool, temps 10

I'm in Norwich now, tucked up in a four poster bed at the Norwich Inn.

Had the most wonderful time last night at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vermont. Evening started with dinner at 5:30 with Pat, the events co-ordinator and George who works at the store and at the library. he was the one who, a few years ago, discovered Still Life and told everyone about it.

Hand selling. Very powerful.

They were very kind and took me out to dinner at a restaurant called The Black Door. Terrific meal. Then we scooted across the street back to the bookstore. The place was packed. Standing room only. After spending some tours speaking to myself and the janitor, this is always a relief and a delight!

They were so welcoming, so warm. I felt completely comfortable. After the talk and questions I signed books, then headed up the hill to the Montpelier version of the old Hadley house.

Barely slept. I actually turned the room light on. The place gave me the willies. By 2am I still hadn't slept so I read some more then tossed and turned until it was time to call Michael. I'll tell you, he almost got a call at 3am.

Breakfast was a dreary affair with a television going in the background and a single table set for guests. The other guests, though, were delightful. A young couple from England, an older couple from Syracuse, NY, a tug boat captain on his way to South Carolina. We could not, of course, discuss our various experiences in the Bed and Breakfast since the owner and her surly help were listening, and had knives at their disposal. I wondered if everyone found it as dreary as I did. Like a rundown boarding house.

I leapt in the car just after 9am and headed south, toward Norwich. Michael, lovely man, had programmed our GPS for all my stops, so I just put it in and off I went. My 'plan B' - hatched amid the brocade curtains and screaming wallpaper of the B&B, was to go to Quechee and maybe do a massage somewhere. But I adjusted that plan in the night.

We were now on plan C. Which was, to find the Norwich Inn, book a room for the day, and finally get some sleep. But since I left so early I dropped into the village of Quechee, Vermont to visit the Simon Pearce glass factory. It's in an old mill...and is stunning. Beautifully renovated into a showroom for this hand-blown glass, but also local pottery and wood work...all sorts of beutiful pieces for the home. I bought Michael a Christmas gift then filled the car up with gas and headed to Norwich.

Found the bookstore...which looked absolutely picture perfect. White clapboard, traditional. huge windows, comfortable chairs, wooden bookcases...and warm, friendly staff. Apparently my event tonight is sold out. Such a relief to hear that!

By noon I was in a room at the Norwich Inn, reading, then napping.

Sleep would not have been an issue except after the event tonight I need to drive the 3 hours back to Sutton...hoping to arrive home by midnight. This is never optimal, but with very little sleep the night before it is even worse. And, God knows, tomorrow will be a long day.

But the people at the Norwich Inn could not have been kinder...finding me a lovely room and even giving me a reduced rate.

So now I'm awake, showered...and lying in bed writing to you. Not sure if I can blog tomorrow. We're heading to Montreal first thing. Michael has an 11:30 eye appointment, I have a 3pm dentist, then off to the airport and fly to London. We're being picked up by a car service at Heathrow and driven to John and Moira's village in Norfold - Eye. Hoping to see John that afternoon...then we'll take it from there.

Thanks for keeping me, and Michael, company. Hope you packed the hot water bottle for England - we're going to need it!

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Either this wallpaper goes, or I do

overcast, mild, temps 14

Am in Montpelier now, at the Bed and Breakfast. Dreadful place. All heavy Victorian wallpaper and furniture. Glum landlady. Dark and dreary room. I was hoping to arrive early and spend a few hours relaxing in the room before the event. But could not wait to get away. Especially when I had to take a broom to this huge cobweb on the wall.

Happily I'm only here overnight, and this has convinced me that sometime in the future, when Chief Inspector Gamache et al are investigating a murder away from Three Pines (if such a thing exists), they need to stay in a dreary, sullen place. So, actually, this is great! Wasn't really looking forward to yet another stay in a spectacular, large, lovely, clean hotel room, with flatscreen TV, jacuzzi, spa and no spiders. How antiseptic.

I'm feeling itchy...bed bugs? ugh. Still, I have to say this really is part of the book tour territory. I've stayed in some horrible places and some astonishingly fabulous places. Crap shoot, really. The publishers do their best, and Sarah - the publicist - sent me links to three places here inMontpelier...and I chose this one. D'oh.

not that long ago I was at a book festival and my room was so small my feet went off the end of the bed and were in the bathroom. The walls were also made of paper so I could hear everything anyone said in the corridor. I was at another book festival and the hotel was infested with young americans who streamed across the border (this was a Canadian border town) because the legal drinking age in Canada is lower than in the US. So on Friday night the kids booked into the hotel with the sole purpose of getting drunk. And running riot. At least they had the great good sense to book into a hotel and didn't try to drive home.

Had a great drive down here to Montpelier...two and a half hours. Denis in Cowansville had put the winter tires on the volvo this morning...lovely man made space for us in his hectic fall schedule. But I'm driving the other car since it has GPS. Arrived with three hours to kill before going for dinner with the BEar Pond Books people. As soon as I saw the B&B room I wanted to flee. A reader who will be at the event tonight suggested place called La Brioche, on Main is an off-shoot of the New England Culinary Institute, so I skidaddled out of the B&B and raced over to La Brioche for a medicinal Cafe Latte and eclair. Yum.

but am back at the B&B now. Hoping, with familiarity, it will seem less dreary. It seems to be working. At least I don't have to share a bathroom. And the place, despite the cobwebs, actually seems clean. Just dark and dreary.

Loved the comments from yesterday's blog - and all the odd placenames...I thought no one could ever beat the Brits, but I have to say Intercourse, Michigan, just down the road from the town of Blue Balls is pretty good. Though, as I said in the comment, in Quebec it would be Saint Intercourse. And Saint Blue Balls. We put a saint in front of everything. We have a Saint Louis de Ha Ha. Can't imagine what he is the patron saint of.

Off to Bear Pond Books for a dinner at 5:30 then the event at 7pm. Then driving tomorrow (probably crack of dawn) to Norwich for an event at the Norwich Bookstore at 7 tomorrow night.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Toad Suck Ferry

mainly sunny, crisp, beautiful late fall day temps 7

Frost on the ground...melting where the sun hit it this morning, but staying in the shadows so the grass was a patchwork of green and crystal white. Deer hooves in the frosty grass this morning by the pond. A picture perfect Quebec autumn day. Walked over to the guest cottage where Gary is putting on new siding. To get there we needed rubber boots and to walk along winding paths through the forest. It smelled so sweet. I said to Michael that I wished I could describe it, do this justice. but I realize I can't because it isn't a sensation. It isn't a sight, a fragrance. It's a feeling.

How much I love this place.

And thank you so much, all of you who sent good wishes for Michael and his John. Lifelong friends. How wonderful to have made a friend like that.

We arrived back in Sutton yesterday and immediately 'hit the ground'...mail, phone messages, letters to respond to, packages to get ready to be sent, laundry, laundry, laundry.

I'm heading to Bear Pond books in Montpelier, Vermont, for an event at 7pm tomorrow. Staying the night, then off to Norwich bookstore, in Norwich for a 7pm event Wednesday...then driving home. Arriving, I hope, about midnight. Then off to the UK Thursday. So I need to pack today. and have all the details worked out.

I think most are done. Even managed to make an appointment for tomorrow morning with the garage to put the winter tires on the Volvo!

So far so good...not a lot of wiggle-room for something to go wrong. So I will have to put that at the top of the 'To Do' list. Make sure nothing goes wrong.

huh huh.

Once again, thank you for all your thoughts. I'm REALLY glad so many of you are listening to the pronunciation guide too. yay. It was a lot of fun to do.

And fun to hear of other odd place names, like Truth or Consquences, which I believe someone said was in Arizona. And another US names - Toad Suck Ferry. Unless someone was kidding...

Will try to post from Montpelier tomorrow. Off we go again!

Saturday, 24 October 2009


rainy, mild, temps 13

We're back in does it feel good to be home. But I have to say we had just a riot on tour. Let me catch you up. thursday night was the launch and signing at Sleuth of Baker street...a fabulous mystery bookstore in Toronto...with Marian and JD. Loads of people...readers who have been with the series from the beginning and some new people. Loads of friend - lots of people who know my brother Doug - and are his friends...and have become friends of mine. So it felt very warm and comfortable. Had dinner before with an old friend, Margaret. We yakked and got caught up even though we hadn't seen each other in years. Wonderful to have friends like that.

Then yesterday we were picked up at the hotel by Kelly Bernstein, of the Keswick library and whisked to one of Ontario's fine Inns...the Briars. This magnificent old home - rambling...with small, initmate, lovely little sitting rooms all over the place. Our room looked over Lake Simcoe and had a fireplace and a canopy bed. While Michael napped I took the newspaper down to this small sitting room with a muttering fireplace and a sofa facing it. There was a coffee machine so I brewed myself some, sat there quietly and peacefully for an hour, read and looked out the window at the rain, and into the lovely fire. Can't remember the last time I felt so at peace.

Then Mary and her sister Patty picked us up for dinner. We met Kelly and her husband at the restuarnt. This is all part of the One Book, One Community celebrations. The idea is that a community choose a book and over the course of the year they get as many people as possible to read it. Now, I thought they'd chosen Still Life, but in fact they decided to choose the entire series. They had a Three Pines themed dinner earlier in the year, and a car rally with clues from the books!

All this culminated in my visit last night to talk to the town, answer questions, etc. A wonderful glass artist had made the most exquisite stained glass window of Three Pines, with the trees, the Northern Lights, the village. Auctioned off to raise money for the library. I bid - and lost!

But after I spoke they presented me with a glorious necklace, made by the same man, with a scene from Dead Cold/A Fatal Grace...of Three Pines in the winter...with stars twinkling. So beautiofully and very moving.

Went back to the hotel and slept like a baby...though woke up in the middle of the night and thought maybe the place was haunted. Odd, that. But eventually went back to sleep. If it was haunted they seemed very pleasant ghosts.

Mary and Patty picked us up and took us to the train to Montreal. And Michael and I subsided into our seats...spent the 5 hours listening to music, staring out the window, dreaming. Very peaceful, again.

The only difficulty in our lives now has prompted a major change to the tour schedule for the next two weeks or so. I will still go to Vermont next week and do Tuesday's event at Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, and then Norwich Books, in Norwich, Vermont the next night. I was going to spend Wednesday night in Norwich, but now will drive home to Sutton because the next day...this coming Thursday, we suddenly have to head to England.

Michael's best friend, John, is in the last stages of cancer. We spoke with him and his wife Moira about two weeks ago, just before I headed out on tour. We knew he had cancer, but it had been in remission for 14 years. But in that call he said it was back, but the docs were going to treat it. We talked about seeing them in April, when we plan to be in the UK. But then, last week in Toronto, we heard from John's daughter - Michael's goddaughter, that her father had taken a very bad turn and to come quickly.

So, we've re-scheduled everything from next Thursday on, and will get to England asap.

This means I won't be able to speak at next Sunday's Books and Breakfast, put on by Paragraphe Books in Montreal. Nor will I be at the Phoenix bookstore on Tuesday, Nov 3rd, or flying to Arizona for an event at poinsoned Pen bookstore Nov 5th.

But I have managed to re-schedule most things and will let you know about them soon.

How kind people are when told. I know they've put a lot of effort into making the event a huge success and then to have me pull the plug at the last minute is upsetting. But everyone, to a person, was supportive. How kind people are. And clearly I will try to make up the dates.

We've decided to get to London - then head to the village of Eye (I'm not kidding, that's what it's called!! only the brits - though in Canada we have Kicking Horse Pass and Come-by-chance so we can't really claim higher ground) - but we'll get to the village - see John and Moira for a few days, then head to London and stay there for a couple of weeks...going up every now and then to see John.

Michael's sister Carol is also recovering from a big operation so this will give us a chance to see her and David, and perhaps do some small chores, like getting food. Details like that.

I also need to do the final (I hope) edits on Bury Your Dead (books 6) and staying in London will allow me to do that.

We just don't know, do we, what life has in store. As Michael said the other day after we'd hung up the phone...we need to make every moment count. And know how lucky we are.

Speak soon - off on another journey.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Pronunciation Guide

overcast, mild, temps 14

Still in Toronto - had a fabulous time last night in Orangeville at the Millcroft Inn. I gave a talk and reading and answered questions, as a fundraiser for Alzheimers...all organized by the amazing Nancy Frater, the owner of Booklore in Orangeville.

First had a glorious dinner with nancy, heather, Sandy and Michael at the millcroft...yum. Then the event. Then poor Nancy had to drive us back to Toronto, through rain and heavy fog. Blech.

But there were loads of people and great questions, and they made us feel very welcome.

Wanted to mention that I recorded the pronunciation guide, with Lise's help...and the help of the local community radio station - CIDI. And Linda has put it up on the website.

Off for dinner with a friend - Margaret - then to the event at Sleuth of Baker Street tonight. Always love that...get lots of friends and acquaintances out. And love Marian and JD. Then off tomorrow to Keswick, Ontario. The area took part in the one town, one book event...where the community chose a single book to many read it as were planned around it...culminating in a dinner with the author. They chose Still wonderful is that?? So we're off for the final event tomorrow night. Then home by train Saturday.

Be well, must fly.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Diet? Does Jenny Craig know about this???

Cloudy, drizzle, but mild, temps 14

We're in to an event in nearby Orangeville tonight. It's at the Millcroft Inn and is organized by Nancy Frater, the owner of Booklore Stores - a truly great Canadian independent bookstore - and the local Alzheimers Association. A fundraiser.

Love doing fundraisers.

Limo will pick us up at the hotel and take us there...dinner with Nancy first, then to the event where I will talk, read, answer questions, sign books, and drive back to by midnight. Tomorrow there's the launch at Sleuth of Baker Street...always a hoot.

Still wrestling with the company name...great suggestions from readers, though. Thank you!!

Village Green Inc.
Steak Frites Inc.
Lord Love a Duck Inc
Pine, Pine and Pine, Inc
Oink ink
Pennywise Inc
A Wee Plan Inc
Spiderweb Inc

And lots more. Someone suggested that Quel Cochon - my original idea - might also translate as 'What a pervert" not just 'Porn Productions'...she said if I went with that as a company name she'd design the logo for free. Almost worth it...if only to see the lawyer, Richard's face.

Adding, perhaps, to his impression I'm up to no good must be a typo in an earlier blog from last week, where I describe meeting a friend - Tony Bidalka - for a drink in the Bouchercon bar in Indianapolis. I wanted - according to my blog - a diet cock.

Now, some kind soul did email and say I might want to edit that...but she was too much of a lady to say what I had written and I thought, really how bad could it be?

That bad. Finally, last night, my brother Doug wrote and, like brothers, was quite explicit and delighted.

Here we are, at the world HQ of Porn Productions, ordering Diet Cocks. THIS is how you get onto the New York times bestseller list! I now wonder if the suggestion of A Wee Plan Inc was a euphemism.

Another company name I love that someone sent (Marjorie) was an anagram of Armand Gamache... A Managed Charm, Inc.

Do you have other ideas? Any preferences? Honestly, this is just for bookkeeping and will never be in neon lights. But it is nice to choose one that has meaning. I actually am leaning toward Oink Ink. Can't imagine that isn't taken, though.

Oh, by the way - the pronunciation guide is finally up on the website...will try to write more about that tomorrow, and highlight it. But thought you might like to know.

Be well. And thanks for all these fun suggestions...WAY more creative than I am!

Monday, 19 October 2009

Quel Cochon!

mainly sunny, temps 13

Lovely day, but only got outside long enough to run across the street for the Lone Star Texas restaurant. I had a faijitas and Michael had ribs. Then scooted back.

Had a massage too.

Spent most of the day in the room, in my sweats...mostly answering email and doing interviews. But the other thing Michael has been trying to organize is creating a company. Our accountant, Frank, has ben after us for a while to incorporate, because of the novels and tax purposes. So figured it was finally time.

But the first thing we had to do was choose a name. And the corporate lawyer, Richard, would then have to search it to make sure it wasn't already taken. first I chose Village Inc. He said that was taken. Then I thought about it and decided on, Some Pig Creations.

This is a reference to Charlottes Web - the book that convinced me, at the age of 8, that I wanted to be a writer. It also happens to be a clue in The Brutal Telling. And Minotaur Books, to celebrate the launch of The Brutal Telling, found a first edition of Charlotte's Web and gave it to me. This was my wonderful editor's idea...Hope Dellon.

Can you imagine a more wonderful gift - a more thoughtful and meaningful gift? What a fabulous editor she is, and an amazing imprint, Minotaur Books.

Some Pig is what Charlotte wrote in her web in the hopes of saving Wilbur, the pig.

So for me it means my dreams of being a writer, it means The Brutal Telling, it means Hope and Minotaur. But it also means small 'h' hope. And second chances. And friendship. And community.

And i could think of no better name for a company that would represent the Gamache books.

The lawyer, however, could. Indeed, in his opinion almost any other name would be better. Michael and I could not understand his he explained it vewy, vewy slowly.

To incorporate in Quebec your company name must be translated into French...which would make it Creations Quel Cochon.

Yes, so? we said, still not understanding his objections.

Cochon? Richard tried again.

Yes...we said.

He thought for a moment then plunged on. (Richard is a delightful, almost courtly man who chooses his words carefully) 'If my 20 year old son was going to a stag party and watching those special films, they would be called "cochon" films.'

It took us a moment, then our eyes widened.

Our company, in French, would be the equivalent of, Porno Creations. Or, more precisely, Some Porn Productions.

Can you imagine? though sales of the books would certainly sky-rocket. Funny, I never realized that cochon meant porn. Must be generational. And gender.

Still, it was a close call.

So now we're in search of another name. Three Pines Inc. New Knowledge Inc. Remain Calm Inc. Ink inc.

Feeling a lot better about the Connelly thing - actually, I'm feeling neutral about it...forgotten...except I wanted you to know I was no longer concerned or hurt. A flesh wound. Healed.

thank you for your balm.

Relaxed day tomorrow too. have a book club conference call at 6:30pm but nothing else.

Hope you're well.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


brilliant sunshine, cool, temps 8

Gorgeous day! flight from Indianapolis sift and sure...very easy. getting through Canadian customs is always a crap-shoot. Not actually making it through, but whether there will be dreadfully long lines...(see trip back from NYC about a month ago!) But last night it was easy...sailed right through.

slept soundly in this wonderful hotel room at the InterContinental downtown...I always take the Club Floor...not surprise to Michael. He'd sleep in a phonebooth. Really doesn't much care about his surroundings. Whereas, I care deeply. He has now succumbed to the inevitability of my asking for an upgrade everytime we arrive at a hotel...and it often works. Never demand, never expect, always smile and always accept graciously when it isn't possible. but it's shocking how often the desk people will give out free room upgrades.

I paid to get onto the Club floor here, and I then asked if a suite, or a larger room was available. it wasn't last night, but this morning they came and said they can give me an even bigger one today. I'm just a glutton for space.

This is a great hotel...right up there with the SoHo Met just down the street...though they are very different. The soho is very chic, very cool - GREAT design. And fabulous general manager in David Kelley. This one, the InterContinental, has bright, large rooms - mine overlooks the lake and I can see small plane in the distance landing on the Island airport...and the Club level is amazing!

Listen to this... there is a large, lovely lounge on the 8th floor where breakfast is served each morning (included in the room price) with again, massive windows. Very relaxing and cheery. Then mid afternoon they serve an English cream tea with scones and sandwiches (also included) and then from 5 to 7pm there's the cocktail 'hour'...must pay for alcoholic drinks but others are included...and wonderful hot hors d'oeurves. Yummy.

Now, I have to admit, I have many flaws, but I am not cheap. I'm more than willing to pay (if I have the money) for great rooms and service...and always leave the housekeepers good tips... but I love great service...and gravitate to that. Who doesn't? So this InterContinental Club floor is terrific.

I tell Michael how fortunate he is to have a wife who does not need or even want the trophy home, or jewelery, or fancy cars or clothing. But I do love to travel well. He has so far stayed mum on whether this is such a great thing!

Will meet his train tonight at 5pm...can hardly wait! In the meantime, a lovely, luxurious day of doing nothing. Reading the Sunday Times and sipping coffee in my bright room, gazing outside every now and then, watching graceful little plane drift to a landing on the island in the lake. How great is this???

Are you still enjoying the tour? We have a few days off...though I might do some writing tomorrow...then a few events later in the week. And no - the InterContinental did not pay me for this advert - though...

be well - talk to you tomorrow.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

There, there

mostly sunny, cool, temps 40

But mild enough to walk to the nearby theatre for the Anthony Awards.

I didn't win - but I sure had a gas. Indeed, so far I have a perfect record. Three noms, three losses. But you know, as much as I love to win, and there is always that little 'ooof' when I hear someone else's name, I know how much mad good luck I've had and do not demand more of the universe.

Having said that, there was one issue that actually hurt quite a bit. I debated saying anything, but thought that this is certainly part of playing in the big leagues...or perhaps not in the big leagues

Michael Connelly won - in a fabulous field made up of William Kent Kruger, Sean Chercover, Stieg Larson and me.

I began to feel a little annoyed when Connelly, as guest of honor, was actually in the lobby when the ceremony began and needed to be called to the front to receive his guest of honor statue...he meandered down the aisle and up the steps and gave a brief speech. He seemed bored. Then when he won our catagory, he again wandered up. Now you must understand, everyone else bounded up - gave gracious talks mentioning the other nominees and the great honor of the award, and seemed thrilled, giddy even, to have won.

Connelly seemed, again, bored. Saying 'thanks'. He did say some nice things about SJ Rozen who was MCing the event. then he sat down.

As one of the nominees I was...I was thinking of saying disappointed, upset, baffled by his apparent ingratitude. But I realize I need to be honest. I was angry. Probably have no right to be, and perhaps an over-reaction due to a certain fatigue. I wasn't actually angry that he didn't mention the other nominees - but that he seemed not to care about winning an award that meant so much to me. I felt like standing up and shouting, 'If it means so little to you, then give it to someone who does care.'

It just didn't feel at all good...a kinmd of entitlement. Especially funny after SJ Rozen had commented that the previous winner had been almost faint with excitement and gratitude and how sad the day will be when she's won so many awards she just says 'Thanks'.

And that's what Connelly did. Not to be funny - but because he didn't seem to be able to muster more enthusiasm.

but, after the awards - about 5 minutes later, I went over to him, put out my hand, smiled, introduced myself and congratulatd Michael Connelly. He looked bored, shook my hand, said 'thanks' and looked away. He obviously had no idea who I was and didn't care.

That also hurt. It was very humbling. Not enough to lose, I must now feel two inches tall.

I also debated whether I should tell you so clearly how I feel. part of me thinks I should just tell you about the good stuff, or pretend to a thicker skin than I have. But then I realize it would'd be much of a journey together - and you have been so generous with your kindness - that I felt I really needed to show warts too. I recognize that my pain at this encounter comes from my own insecurity. My hopes that Michael Connelly, a huge name in crime fiction, might know me. But he didn't. And he didn't seem to care.

Anyway, am at the airport, waiting for the flight to Toronto...trying to shake off a funk. I know I'll feel better by the time we arrive. These things are short-lived and part of the price of competing. And living a somewhat public life. You expose yourself, become vulnerable. Sometimes it feels most of this glorious Bouchercon did - but sometimes it doesn't feel so good.

Like most jobs, writing is the whole package. I do want to say that I really don't mind losing. On Thursday when both the Macavity and Barry awards went to someone else, I was delighted...not a problem at all.

The kind of casualness of connelly is what hurt. Just one more award. One more fan congratulating him.

I suppose he's tired too.

But the rest of the day was fabulous. Breakfast with my friend Dan Mayer, of Barnes and Noble. Then lunch with my friend Robin Agnew, who owns and runs the Independent Mystery Bookstore, Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor. wonderful store.

Then Robin and I went up to our panel...a riot! Robin moderated, and sitting with me were the great Willian Kent Kruger (known to his friends just as Kent Kruger) and the terrific Sean Chercover. Our topic was the importance of independent mystery bookstores. We ended up trading war stories of life on tour. Kent and Sean were hilarious. Robin moved it along and asked fun, smart questions.

The Nikki taped an interview with me.

Then headed over to the Anthony awards...and did I mention what happened there? Never mind.

I'm already feeling better. Flight about to leave. Speak to you tomorrow. Michael is still in Montreal - going to his McGill Medical 50th year reunion! And coming to Toronto by train tomorrow. I miss him. Wish I could just curl up in his arms and he'd take the hurt away. Probably good for me to be able to do it for myself, shrug it off. Count my considerable blessings.

But it will be good to hold him. And have him hold me. And say, 'there, there.'

Speak tomorrow. Oh and also want to make sure I congratulate Jim Huang, of The Mystery Company in Muncie, for organizing one of the best Bouchercon's ever!!! Fabulous.

Mystery News Mystery

partly cloudy, crispy, temps 30

I suspect it'll warm up - but for now it's might chilly...though not as cold as some places! I'm still in indianapolis at Bouchercon. I like this city. But mostly I like the people...very friendly. Winnipeg, in Canada, is a little like this. Flat - but way prettier than people who don't live here think - and warm hearts of the residents.

Yesterday was hectic but fun. Breakfast with Sarah - then 30 minutes at the Mystery News table in the book dealer room. Sat with Lynn Kaczmarek and Chris Aldrich - the owners and editors of Mystery News...which does articles on crime writers and mostly this really thoughtful, intelligent reviews of mystery and crime and thirller books. Their final issue is about to come out - they've decided to close the publication after 12 years of doing it themselves, and a number of years it was published by others.

Just too much work - too stressful...sound familiar?? I really respect them for making that difficult decision...and really respect them for 12 years of huge contribution to the crime writers and readers community!

Lynn and I have become good friends and I knew how emotional this decision was...and I didn't know how to thank her for all she'd done for all of us, including me. I thought if I was a quilter I might make them a quilt...or an artist I'd paint a picture. I was feel quite inadequate because I didn't have a craft. Then I realized I do have a craft.

I'm a perhaps you've heard. A foul rumour I can't seem to quash. So I've decided to embrace it. And in this case I decided the only way I could come even close to thanking her for all her support was to write her, and Chris, a story.

So this past summer/fall I wrote a novella, called THE MYSTERY NEWS MYSTERY in which Lynn and Chris wander into Myrna's bookstore and find...guess what??...a body! Of one of their reviewers!

chief Inspector Gamache and his Surete team are called in... mystery and hilarity ensue!

It was such fun to write...seeing Lynn and Chris interviewed by Gamache and Beauvoir. Seeing them walk through the village and having cafe au lait in the bistro.

So I gave that to them yesterday while at their table.

Then off for a great lunch at a place called the Meridian restaurant WAY outside Indianapolis, with Andy and Matthew, of St. Martins and Minotaur. The publisher of St. Martin's - Sally - was supposed to join us but her flight from NY was cancelled and she was re-booked to come to Indianapolis, by flying through Atlanta. Can you imagine???

We all thought she'd just cancel, but she didn't. she got on the flights and arrived in time for the Minotaur Books cocktail last night. People are amazing. And she is just of the most powerful women in publishing in the world and kind and gracious. I find the higher up you go you often find really decent people. Not always true...and I don't know if they get to that stage because while being cut-throat might get you so far, finally it will defeat you. And the decent people go all the way. Or maybe they were cut-throat and competitve, but once at the top they relax and their better tendencies can come out.

Or maybe - they're nice at cocktail parties and social events - but not so nice elsewhere. Hmmm.

But I do know I have yet to meet anyone at St. Martin's Press or Minotaur Books (an imprint of SMP) who hasn't been wonderful.

I won't go blow-by-blow through the day, but it was really fun. The panel is terrific - and to a standing-room-only crowd. had drinks in the hotel bar (I had diet cock, of course) with Anthony Bidulka, Vicki Delany, Robin Harlick - other Canadian writers.

Then cocktail party and dinner. Loads of fun - tiring. And LOTS of hand washing!!! Have to remember. Indeed, there's a huge sign up warning people not to shake hands...but of course we do. But for the first time I carry that disinfectant Purcell stuff. though for the most part I don't worry...just don't want to be completely foolish.

have decided to fly to Toronto tonight, not have a full day of events, and the Anthony awards ceremony late this afternoon, then off to the airport to hop a plane...that gives me tomorrow off. Yay!!!

Speak tomorrow. Be well. Hope you're enjoying Bouchercon in Indianapolis. It is wonderfully organized. Jim Huang of The Mystery Company and his team should be very proud of themselves.

Friday, 16 October 2009


cloudy, rain expected, temps 40

Am in Indianapolis - and back to what seems to be my natural habitat - turtleneck weather. But also see the winter storm in the US Northeast. Wow.

Had huge fun at Murder By the Book in Houston, Wednesday night. Loads of people, great questions...very knowledgeable and passionate about the Gamache books.

BUT - remember from yesterday's post where I describe visiting the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and how great that the american museums are free??? Well, I was describing this at the event and I suddenly saw a sea of people shaking their heads.


'they're not free,' someone called out.


Seems I'd waltzed right by the ticket people and into the museum. Without paying!


Arrived at Bouchercon - the huge crime readers/writers conference - yesterday after a very nice, relaxing flight from Houston.

I'd forgotten have enervating Bouchercon is. Walked into the Hyatt Regency - the conference hotel - and before I'd even registered I was meeting people. And it didn't stop. It's both exhilerating and exhausting...but VERY fun. Have a fabulous hotel room too - floor to ceiling windows looking out over the capital dome. Gorgeous.

Yesterday is a bit of a blur in my mind...I remember snippets of meeting all sorts of people, going to the book dealers room and meeting Lynn and Chris and Mike and Barbara etc, etc...signing a bunch of books. Meeting more people. Feel a bit like being pulled in all directions, but for someone like me, whose worst fear is not fitting in or being excluded, it sure feels wonderful. Like falling into the middle of a huge family.

Then grabbed a salad for lunch about 4pm - and went to the ceremony for the Derringer, Shamus, Macavity and Barry awards. It was packed...and very warm feeling.

And congratulations to the winners...which you might have gathered by now, did not include me. But that really is OK. I never expect to win, and it was really, genuinely lovely to see the joy of the people who did. In my catagories, the fabulous Deborah Crombie won the Macavity for best novel. And in the Barry for best novel, well this is embarrassing but I can't spell his name...a swedish writer. Andur Arn - something. But I'm sure his book is brilliant. Better be - to beat The Cruelest Month!

Congratulations to Andur and Deborah!

We have one more award to go - the very prestigious Anthony (unless I don't win, in which case it will become just another award...((kidding))

At 7pm Sarah Melnyk, from Minotaur Books swept me up and off we ran to the hotel lobby to meet Hector (head of publicity) and Andy Martin - the publisher...and a fabulous limo...hired to take us to the Barnes and Noble in Greenwood, Indiana - about 20 minutes away. We were late, so whizzed along. Arrived just in time for this terrific panel the B&N Greenwood people had organized to coincide with Bouchercon and Mystery Month at Barnes and Noble. Also on the panel were Donna Andrews, Chelsea Cain and William Kent Kruger. It was such fun...and if you were among the many people who came out, then thank you. And brilliantly organized by Laura and the rest of the B&N crew.

It was also the first time I'd seen the huge displays of THE BRUTAL TELLING set up at Barnes and Nobles across the US. As you might know, THE BRUTAL TELLING was voted by B&N employees their latest Main Selection. I was overwhelmed and moved...all these emotions surged up. Gratitude. Astonishment. Up until that moment last night I knew it was happening...I was excited and a little stressed (not knowing if it would fall flat)...but I think a little removed, since I live in Canada. To actually be there and see it - WOW.

Got back to the hotel around 10:30. Ordered a burger and fries and rice pudding - comfort food...called Michael. then turned on the TV and vegged out for an hour. Went to sleep, feeling pooped but very happy. What a life. this is a GREAT job. - Though I suppose you know, it doesn't really feel like a job. work, yes, but not a job.

Busy day today. 10:30 coffee with Sarah, my publicist. 11:30 signing at the Mystery News table at Bouchercon. 12:15 - lunch with Andrew martin - publisher of Minotaur Books, Sally Richardson - publisher of St. Martin's Press, Matthew Shear - publisher of St. Martin's paperbacks. Hope I don't dribble anything. Or say anything terribly stupid.

Have a panel then on 'Ordinary people rising to the occasion' at 3pm. Coffee with the wonderful Anthony Bidulka - a Canadian crime writer from Saskatchewan - at 5pm...then the Minotaur Books cocktail party at 6pm at another hotel...and finally dinner with Lynn Kaczmarek, of Mystery News - at 7:30. Back in the hotel by 10. And glorious sleep.

then it begins all over again tomorrow, with a breakfast meeting with Dan Mayer, the mystery book buyer for Barnes and Noble nationally.

As Linda Ellerbee would say - And so it goes...

Just spoke to Michael again...his sister Carol was having a big operation on her back in London this week. He called with an update...the operation was a success. Phew. Carol is such a nice person.

Hope you're well...hope you're enjoying the book tour and Bouchercon. Carb up! (that's my excuse)

Oh - in all this excitement - did I mention that THE BRUTAL TELLING is STILL on the New York Times bestseller list??? Third week in a row. It's the extended list - number 33...but still there. That's my baby!

Speak to you tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Library and Museum

Mix sun and cloud, some rain, temps 90

Dear Lord - 90 degrees and genius here brought turtle necks and a tweed jacket. And a scarf. And fuzzy gloves. I wonder, if I was going to Alaska, would I take a sun dress?

Back in the hotel room now between events. I suppose some writers go out and explore the city, which would make some sense. I, however, Miss Tweed, love cocooning in the hotel room. But - another stroke of genius - when I left for the Houston library event at noon I left the Do Not Disturb sign on the door, so they didn't. Housekeeping hasn't been - so i called down and can't get into my flannels (my real outer skin) until they've been and gone. So I'm waiting for them.

When they come I'll head out - oops just came...speak later. helloooo.

Back in the room now. After all that about not seeing Houston I decided to take advantage of the chamber maids working to print tomorrow's boarding pass and wander around outside. Well - what did I find??? The hotel is right across the street from the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. And it's FREE. Not that I mind paying at all. Indeed, I expect to since we pay entrance to museums in Canada. But this one I sailed into...and spent a wonderful half hour or so wandering. Kept thinking how much Michael would have loved it. And clearly half and hour is not nearly enough...but it gave me a taste, and it was cool, and tranquil and quite amazing.


Now back in the room...will order lunch and relax. Have the event at Murder By the Book tonight...then flying to Indianapolis tomorrow. Arrive in Indianapolis for Bouchercon mid-afternoon...then the Barry and Macavity awards cocktail is at 6pm - The Cruelest Month is nominated for both (don't, of course, expect to win...up against fabulous writers)...then have a 7:30 event at a Barnes and Noble. Back to the hotel room by 10pm I expect.

Bouchercon is always a mad-house. But loads of fun. I don't think I will get a chance to write until Friday. Take care - I'll write if I find work.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


partly cloudy, hot, humid, temps 82

And I'm in a turtleneck and jacket! but I'm here. and this is the first time I'm using the MacBook. Very scary. Couldn't even figure out how to turn it on...or actually plug it in. At least I managed to get it out of it's soft case. but here we are. a new day. In Houston with a MacBook. Yippee.

Yesterday was fun. Thanksgiving Monday. Michael's sons Michael and Victor stayed at the cottage the night before and came over for a breakfast of blueberry pancakes and bacon. My brother Doug had already left to return to Toronto - at 2:30 in the morning. knocked on our door to say goodbye. We knew he'd be leaving them - beat the traffic. Beat the sun. Beat common sense, which was chasing him but never quite caught up.

Then Michael's sons left for Montreal and we left for Burlington. Michael drove Rob and Audi and me to the hotel, then to Church street to shoe shop (didn't find any) then lunch of burgers - yum. Then back to the hotel and he headed off to Sutton. Emailed at the border to say he'd made it just fine. I worry with his sight - and with the setting sun. But he made it home in daylight and in one piece. As did the car.

Then up this morning to catch flights...Rob and Audi to New Orleans and me here to Houston. Could not have been easier. The hairiest part was the cab ride from the airport to this wonderful hotel. (Hotel Zaza - fabulous!!!) The cab driver was on his second day on the job, did not speak english, or read it, had no idea where the hotel was and could not work the sat nav. GPS. So while cars honked I put the hotel address into it and then read the directions out to him...which worked until the power went off because he didn't have it plugged in and the battery died as we whizzed along highway 59.

I'm afraid I was less than completely gracious as he yelled at he, 'Which way, honey!? Which way?'

finally I suggested he call a friend, since polling the audience wasn't working. He called, and seemed to get directions because I kept hearing the word Zaza. I think. I also heard other words, but those were inside my head and none of them was Zaza. Anyway, I'm here. Even gave him a tip...I suspected he'd need it.

Hotel is fabulous, room is gorgeous. I unpacked, called Michael, ordered a burger from room service and am now writing you.

Tomorrow I have an event at the Houston Public Library at noon - a reading, talk and signing. Love to see you there.

Then, tomorrow night at 6:30 I have an event at this wonderful Houston Independent mystery bookstore called Murder By the Book. It's going to be such fun! I LOVE this store and the people there - and really looking forward to meeting some Houston readers of the Gamache series.

Speak tomorrow - am enjoying this Mac.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

brilliant, sunny day, temps 10

Didn't wake up to this! In fact, when Doug and I took Trudy around the pond for her morning walk it was dreadful. Driving rain, cold, almost sleet...all the way around all you heard was Doug and me begging, 'Pee!! Pooooop!' finally, Trudy did the deed and we skiddadled back home.

Rob and Audi were stuffing the turkey and Michael was making coffee. Wonderful. Now the turkey's in the oven, the gibblets are boiling on the stove, potatoes all ready to be boiled and mashed. Pumpkin pie in the fridge and the cream ready to whip. A fire laid in the hearth.

And the sun has come out.

And we are surrounded by family. How lucky we are. Such an amazing feeling to have my two tall, sturdy brothers here. As we walked around the pond yesterday morning, just the three of us, I had the oddest feeling. Not sure I can even describe it. Gratitude, but also something that feel so right. Primal, almost. It surprised me, and almost hurt it was so intense. Joy, yes, but even more than that.

We miss the rest of the family, those who couldn't make it, and those who are no longer with us. But those who were meant to be here made it.

Heading out early tomorrow for Burlington, Vermont. Rob needs to buy some dress shoes. He's getting the Award of Distinction from the Canadian Transportation Association in Vancouver next Sunday. He has everything, except the shoes. So Burlington it is, then we stay the night at an airport hotel, and Rob and Audi fly out to New orleans for a vacation and I head to Houston. Will be speaking at Murder by the Book - a fabulous bookstore in Houston, on Wednesday.

Taking the MacBook. If you don't hear from me, you'll know I haven't figured out how to work it.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Saturday, 10 October 2009

NYT list Again! And, a MacBook!

overcast, drizzle, but clearly later - apparently! temps 10

Doug arrived this morning...drove through the night from Toronto. Quite a smart thing to do since the roads are crazy during the day with people doing Thanksgiving travel.

Had blueberry pancakes and bacon for breakfast...and we're now all chatting and catching up. The wonderful Nancy has come by to help with our latest purchase...

Wait for it...

No, not a pony...

A MacBook!!!! Yay. But Nancy is getting it all configured and installing stuff. They would have done it at the shop but we needed to rush to get Rob and Audi at the airport.

If I write a long enough blog, the breakfast dishes will be done. I can hear the clinking from downstairs.

Can hardly wait to take the MacBook on tour next week.

Thank you ALL so much for your advice. And to the lovely Bev in Peterborough for her help too.

It's a beautiful little machine. I'm very excited about it.

And, another piece of fabulous news. We're on the New York Times list for the second week in a row. Dropped to 24th - but I am thrilled!!! And I didn't even have to buy 10,000 copies myself, though I was willing to.

We're hoping to have a quiet day here, talking, going for walks, eating pies, and reading by the fire. Will talk to you tomorrow.

Thank you for all you give to me.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The Divine

drizzle, mild, dreary temps 9

Actually, I say dreary, but the fact is we've had a marvelous day! My older brother Rob and his wife Audi arrived in Montreal yesterday, from Edmonton. We met the plane and jumped in the car. Long, slow, drive down, but we'd bought lots of sandwiches and soft drinks so we had a kind of picnic in the car. Audi, having been raised in the west, hasn't seen the spectacular colours, so we took a back route.

The colours are at their height. Stunning.

It was dark by the time we got home so we unpacked - lit a fire - and relaxed...nibbling cheese and pate, apples and chocolate. Rob had a scotch, Audi a beer, Michael and I had diet ginger ale, and we just talked. Music on the stereo, some Cuban salsa, some wonderful Jane Sibbery (who we grew up with!), some Josh Groban.

So lovely to have them here.

This morning after breakfast we got in the car and drove the back roads again, to the monastery of St-Benoit-du-lac, on the shores of Lake Memphremagog. We arrived in time to hear the monks singing service - Gregorian chants. Then off to the gift shop where they sell their wares...award-winning cheeses, chocolates and pies.

Dear Lord. Take me now. If that's the way to heaven I'm already an Archangel.

Cannot begin to tell you how much food we came back with.

then had lunch in KNowlton and returned home to find our friend and neighbor Debbie had left two big buckets of flowers from her garden at our back door. She has the most spectacular gardens and she was cutting them down, and she knew we had guests. Voila. Flowers for every room.

A few boxes of books to sign had also arrived.

So now, the fire is laid, the drinks pours, the sweet potatoes are cooking to make the Thanksgiving casserole.

A great life. Doug arrived first thing in the morning, and then we are almost complete. Michael's two sons, Michael and Victor, are coming on Sunday. Hope there's enough food. Ha.

Will try to blog tomorrow. In the meantime, be well. How lucky I am!

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

An unforseen flaw in the internet...woodpeckers

rainy, mild, temps 13

Busy day...doing laundry, changing sheets, Gary came to sand and varnish the screen porch screen (well, the wood surrounds) but it was so rainy he had to actually take them off. then Pat and Tony arrived.

the place is abuzz with news of neighbors being arrested in the US on major drug busts. Grass is a huge crop around here. We'll see, though, how much of the rumor is true.

Recorded the pronunciation guide...might need to re-do it someday. REalized halfway through I should have organized it into, greetings, character names. Lise, God bless her (HUGE amount of work) did it alphabetically...and that works, but I should have spent time organzing myself. Did start off each guide (one for each book) simply giving the main character names.

then home to make the baked beans, and boil up some potatoes...and discover that Michael has a bad tooth! I tell you, his whole head needs a tune up. I'm getting out the dish gloves and the spatula.

the only appointment we could get with the dentist in Montreal is 9:30 tomorrow we're going to hop in the car and head out to the city tonight. Called Pat and Tony and they'll come over.

Oh, the big drama today was that at 9am the phones went dead. We called Bell Canada. And they sent a tech who explained woodpeckers had eaten the lines! Apparently this is happening more and more. The internet cables give off a slight buzz which - to a woodpecker - sounds like bugs. So off they go...pecking away.

Not sure if the Bell guy - or the peckers - have been sampling that special crop. But by 4pm the phones were back on.

Must rush and sister in law arriving in Mtl tomorrow...will drive them out tomorrow night. Not sure when I can blog again. Will try though.

Have decided, did I mention, to go with a MacBook - but will wait and see if a new version comes out.

Be well...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Boston Baked Beans

Mainly sunny, mild, temps 12

A typical fall day here - our weather forecaster, the mountain in the distance, disappeared behind a curtain of cloud or mist. this normally means rain or snow. But the got neither. Indeed, the day cleared and was very nice.

Wayne and his wife Shirley came to do what might be the last cut of the grass before winter.

Michael and I zipped in to town to do some banking, grocery shopping, go to the post office. I'd ordered winter boots for the both of us, as well as turtle neck tops for me and a new winter coat. All mail order. Out in the country we are still a little like the people 100 years ago who would wait for the Eaton's catalogue and order all their clothing etc in one go.

Huge grocery arriving so wanted to get a jump on the food. This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Made the cranberry sauce this afternoon, and decided to also make Boston Baked Beans. A winter/autumn tradition in our family. My father used to make it, and it was a wonderful, magical memory from childhood. Coming in after toboganning or skating and smelling the baked beans. He also cooked Boston Brown Bread, in tin cans, if I remember. He was a wonderful cook. Died when he was 51. My age. Strange to think. I know it's disturbing for my older brother, who is now older than Dad was. They were quite close.

Anyway, Rob and his wife Audi are arriving from Edmonton on Thursday. They're really looking forward to an old fashioned Quebec Thanksgiving. In fact, Audi has never seen an eastern autumn, with all the leaves in full colour. It is spectacularily beautiful We chatted on the phone yesterday and Rob said he's exhausted and dreaming of just sitting by the fire, reading, playing cribbage, going for long walks through the crisp air (i assured him the air would be very crisp). And I thought, maybe, he'd also like to smell home-made boston baked beans. God knows what they'll taste like - I'm betting glue - but at least they should smell like home, and love. Our other brother Doug, is a vegetarian, so I haven't put in the pork the beans would normally have.

The beans are soaking now - overnight - and tomorrow I add the molasses and brown sugar and maple syrup etc.

Lise - God bless her - has finished doing all the French words for all of the books, as well as a shorter guide just for the names of main characters like armand and reine-marie.

I have an hour of studio time booked tomorrow at the local radio station - CIDI. They're wonderful! Maurice says he'll even put it onto mp3 format, which Linda my webmanager says we need so you can click on it and hear what I record.

I just nod and try to look intelligent when they talk about that. I started my broadcast career as a technician...can you believe it? In Thunder Bay. And I was quite good. Loved recording and mixing and editing. But the technology has sailed away without me. I'm standing on some distant shore, with a club and a rock.

Read through the US editors notes on book 6 and tomorrow the UK editors notes should arrive. I'm very excited about this book...makes a great follow, I thing, to THE BRUTAL TELLING.

Had a really lovely day. No work...or very little. Sat by the fire most of the afternoon, reading the Sunday Times, looking up recipes, scanning the manuscript for book 6. Beginning to think about some of the editing challenges. I find these things are best left to perculate for a while - and an answer will present itself. Something, I'm hoping, simple and elegant - and better than what is there now.

Be well.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sigh, sigh, said Pooh.

partly cloudy, some sun, some rain, temps 13

Funny sort of day. Changable.

but a great day in every other way. Michael's eye sight out of that eye is no longer cloudy. He can now see - almost as well as before! The pressure is good, according to the eye doc. All is wonderful - better than we dared hope.

Phew. And SO glad I stayed with him. It might have been OK, but it should would never have felt OK.

Have breakfast in Cowansville then drove in to Montreal - hit bad traffic on the bridge but we were in no rush so it didn't matter. Since Montreal is an island that often happens.

Even arrived with time to drop by the Mac Shop in Montreal to see if we could be seduced by an Apple laptop. We need something smaller and lighter than our normal laptop, for traveling. We're considering the PC notebooks. But seemed a good idea to also check out Mac.

This, however, was a bit like going to the shelter to 'just see'.

We didn't actually come home with a MacBook, but it was close. Need to do some research. Clearly more expensive than PC - double actually. So are they really worth it? And surely the MacBook is considered 'old' by now. But does that matter? The laptop I write all my books on is probably 9 even 10 years old. Not even sure it has a modem. A real clunker. But reliable - sturdy. Does the job.


What a blessed relief that that is the degree of stress in our lives now. Mac or PC?


Sunday, 4 October 2009

Knowlton launch

mainly sunny, very mild, temps 18

Now it's WAY above seasonable. A fabulous day. Heavy dew on the grass when walking Trudy this morning.

The launch brunch was amazing. There really is no place like home - and Danny and Lucy, who run and own Brome Lake Books are just the best. They put pine cones at everyone's place - and did excerpts from the book and people's places too. The place was packed and the brunch was yummy at the lakeview Inn. When I do things like this I'm generally not hungry...concentrating on other things...but I had a nice plate of food. Skipped dessert.

Lise and Donna were there. Lise is my assistant - and has finished finding all the french words in all the books, so now I can record the pronunciation guide for the website. And Donna is Lise's assistant. For gardening.

Lots of wonderful friends there...Janet, Guy, Nicole, Peter, Jane, Louise and Jacques. On and on.

I keep thinking of things to put on the blog, and then forgetting them. Oh, well, perhaps for tomorrows. Nothing earth-shattering.

Off for a Cowansville breakfast tomorrow, then driving in to Montreal for an eye check-up. Then driving back out. Family starts arriving Thursday for Thanksgiving. Should probably think about what to feed them. Peas are thawed, anyway.

Sent the QuickReads novella off to the publisher today. Hope to hear in the next week. And expect to get some of the editors notes on book 6 tomorrow.

Light a candle.

Talk to you then...

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Nagging, with a side order of peas

partly cloudy, windy, smattering of rain, temps 5

So far no snow...but it sure felt like sleet while walking Trudy around the pond. She took off after a deer in the field, but I know all I need do is break a cookie in half and she's back. And she could never catch the deer - thank heaven.

Michael continues to improve. Every hour he puts a cold compress on his face. At first it was ice cubes, but then I switched that to a bag of frozen peas. Not sure it helps but it looks funny - so it helps me. Might give him a leg of lamb tomorrow. But honestly, he's doing brilliantly. He's very disciplined about the drops too...nothing cavalier, which is a relief. I don't have to keep nagging him.

Though, as I point out ad nauseum, at least he has a wife who loves him enough to care. Who wants him well. I read somewhere that the healthier men have wives who nag. Physically healthiest...not so sure about mentally.

Nag, of course, is an insult...and belittles women and their right to a voice. I use it to mock myself, but it's not a perception I actually buy in to. I figure his health effects both of us, so I have a right to a say. Just as he has a right to a voice in my health.

Except for that colonoscopy he's been nagging me to get.

Had a lovely message from a reader, Erin Casey, who wrote about yesterday's blog:

I was particularly pleased that you mentioned the donation of tissue in your blog. Canada is not a leader when it comes to donations of organs and tissue. The problem is education, as I am sure your husband, a physician, is intimately aware.

Somewhere out there is a family who may read your blog or hear of it.Though they may never know if it was their loved one who gave the gift, they will see the joy it has brought yourselves and know their loved one made that difference.

If you have any further thoughts on tissue or organ donation, I hope you shall share them with your readers. We live, we love, we share and we grow.

that's what Erin wrote.

Well, for what it's worth, I'm an organ donor - though between us I'm hoping they'll be all worn out by the time donation is an issue. And if any of you are offered my liver? Say no.

But clearly Michael and I have been given what Erin, in a later email, called a wonderous gift. Michael's sight has been saved because some poor one died, and a family in the midst of their grief allowed his or her organs to be donated.

The least we can do is pass ours on. And how wonderful to think we might live on, through someone else.

On another front - I finished the QuickReads novella today. I'd done the first draft a few weeks ago, then let it rest while I worked on something else. Then, this week, got to do the editing.

Have decided the story is actually quite good. Feels VERY different from the regular Gamache books. Shorter, of course, so less depth of character and fewer characters. And, because its target audience is adults in literacy programmes - emerging readers - the sentences and words are very simple. It's written at a 3.6 grade level.

But I'm hoping that, like poetry, there is great beauty and truth in simplicity. As I wrote and edited I thought a lot about Josephine Tey and Georges Simenon and Hemingway. And the wonderful Alice Munro. We'll see if I even come close, and clearly if I've failed it wasn't for lack of great writers as inspiration.

But, you know, I actually am very pleased with it. We'll see. Perhaps you'll see. The novella will be published in a year and will be available around the world. It's a fundraiser for literacy projects.

Tomorrow is the official launch of THE BRUTAL TELLING! Very exciting. There's a brunch at the Lakeview Inn in Knowlton at 11am. I'll be giving a short talk and reading. And signing. It's also a fundraiser for literacy.

Another bit of great news is that we made this week's USA Today bestseller list of top 150 books. THE BRUTAL TELLING is just clinging on at #146, and is preparing for the big tumble right off the list. Still, we've never been on it, and this is particularly great because their top 150 includes not just fiction, but non-fiction, hardcovers, paperbacks, childrens, science fiction, TV tie-ins and even vampires!

So, to say I'm thrilled is an understatement. I might go and put frozen peas on my face, just to calm down.

Be well. Thanks for keeping me company.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Doc says Michael's great!

partly cloudy, cool, temps 8

Cutting to the chase, the doc says Michael's eye is doing really well!!

Phew. I think we're both exhausted. We were going to stay in Montreal until Monday, with me scooting back to Knowlton for the brunch/launch event, then heading back to Montreal...but after seeing the eye doc this morning, and getting the great news...we decided to just head back to the country.

Basically, the damage has stopped - the eye has stopped leaking. The tear has been mended, thanks to donated eye tissue. This was donated by the family of someone who died suddenly and tragically. Can you imagine? And it has saved Michael's vision.

It is both terrible and beautiful.

The pressure in that eye was down to almost zero, according to the doctor during the operation...but now it's back up to 8. Apparently a normal eye pressure is 12-14...but he is thrilled with it being at 8 so quickly.

We have another appointment in Montreal Monday at 1pm - but have every expectation everything is terrific. We feel, too, a responsibility to the person who donated the eye tissue, and to their family. We can't absolutely make it 'take' - but we can do loads not to mess it up ourselves.

We're kind of pooped now. But wonderful to be back in the country. I sat in a bubble bath for an hour...and read...wait for it...People Magazine!!!

Did you see the great review? Yippee.

It's almost 5pm - time for Trudy's dinner...then I actually think I might change all the clocks in the house, convince Michael it's 8pm - time for our dinner then bed.

Hope to spend tomorrow on the first big edit of the literacy novella. Right now I'm pretty sure it's crap. I'm trying to see that as a good sign.

Be well - and thank you, thank you, thank you for holding our hands and our hearts through this time. You are beautiful.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Michael's home and doing GREAT!

overcast, spitting, damp and cool temps 6

Michael's out of surgery and home - sitting in the living room in his sweats drinking a HUGE cafe au lait and eating a pastry. All is right with the world!


His eye is covered with a big blue plastic patch (someone not long ago hilariously commented on the blog that he could take up a second career as a pirate, if need be. 'Have you ever been to sea, Billy?' Arrgh).

Hardly any pain - just a bit of scratchy feeling. I went out and got him some Tylenol - and the coffee.

We arrived at the Montreal General around 8:30...they took him right away to change and prep, and I had to go three floor up to the waiting room. Four hours later they took him, and an hour after that he was finished. By 2:30 we were home.

The doctor is VERY pleased with what he saw. And now Michael just needs to stay quiet - so his plans for the triathalon are on hold. Very disappointed too that his plans to train for the Iron Man must be cancelled.

We have a 6:15 appointment tomorrow morning (I KNOW - can you believe it???) for the doc to see if it looks like he saved the eye. The operation was for glaucoma - sort of. Michael's had glaucoma for 30 years and it has been brillaintly managed - but an operation he had about 10 years ago to relieve the pressure finally failed. We all knew it would and just hoped in the meantime another procedure might have been developed. Basically, his eye has been leaking and if it kept up he'd go blind before too long - but just in that eye, thank God. And - how fortunate!!! An operation has been developed to repair this very problem, involving a shunt - which i keep think of as a railway event, or a tap. I suspect it is neither.

So tomorrow, more news... But it's looking great - and we will live in the great good fortune of today - to have the operation over!!! And mouths full of pastry. And being together.

Mostly, Michael and I want to thank all of you. For your active prayers, for your thoughts and good wishes. For your messages, written and unwritten, but all received.

People have far worse things in their lives...many of you are facing worse things, I know. And yet you take the time to reach out to us. Michael has asked me to thank you sincerely. And I thank you too.

Bless you. Thank you.