Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Thank you

mainly sunny, temps 14

off to Pittsburgh this afternoon....have an event tonight at Mystery Lovers Bookshop, in Oakmont - from 7 to 8.

Event last night was great at the Runnymede library in Toronto. Lots of people - nice mix of people who know the series and those who don't.

I'm glad so many of you are reading Bury Your Dead. If I can just ask that in your comments you not be specific. I spent a year of my life or more writing and editing and considering this book, am now on a two month tour promoting it, and it is difficult to see people commenting and letting too much out. I appreciate that it's difficult, but maybe for my sake and the sake of others who haven't read it, you can just say that you hated the book, or liked it, and maybe leave it at that. We don't need to know who lived and who died, who did it, who didn't.

I so appreciate all your support over the years and through the difficult times and the great times - but I am asking you to be discreet. I realize you have a perfect right to say anything you like. And I sure don't expect everyone to gush that they loved the book. But I hope maybe if people really are fans of the books and the series you can not spoil it, for me and for others by telling too much.

I'm also deeply grateful to all of you who have posted reviews and been respectful, by not telling too much - just how you feel about it. As I say, I do know it's hard, and you want to share your feelings - but I feel physically sick when I see way too much info out there for my liking. Obviously it's not too much info for some of your liking, but it is for me.

thank you.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Bury Your Dead!!!

cloudy, lots of rain, cool, temps 12


Bury Your Dead is now out in the US and Canada!!!! And will soon be out everywhere!

Wow - and, oddly, while I want it to do well, I'm not actually terrified. Just very, very, happy that you can now read it if you want to.


Monday, 27 September 2010


overcast and cloudy, cool, temps 13

This is about right for this time of year. Nice musky scent in the air, even in Toronto. I'm assuming it's leaves...but...doesn't bear thinking of.

Tomorrow's the BIG day. BURY YOUR DEAD goes on sale in US!!! It has been on sale in Canada for a few days-but the publisher here has worked very hard to make sure there're copies at all my events. I've come to realize that the publication date and the actual 'on sale' date can be two very different things. Like so much in life.

Had fabulous news. The US publisher just found out that People Magazine will be running a review of BURY YOUR DEAD in their Oct 11th magazine - which apparently will be on sale this Friday. Clearly People Magazine is very powerful and can shift time. And books, I hope.


Please let me know what you think of the book - and if you like it, please tell others.

Had a fun day. A couple of interviews this morning, then off to sign books at a supplier called North 49. Then a fabulous lunch with these four dynamic and VERY interesting women who work at at place called CMMI - which does marketing of books for the big stores like The Bay and Zellers and Walmart. We talked books and the changing markets, but mostly we just talked about our own lives. One of them told a hilarious story about her high school history teacher who was near retirement, burned out and angry at the education system and decided that kids needed to learn practical stuff. Like how to negotiate a buffet table. Get small portions and go back often. That was his advice. Each class he'd give them some bit of 'wisdom', which sadly had nothing to do with history. or wisdom, it seems.

Then back home to read a manuscript someone had sent me. I actually sat in the hotel lounge...very nice lounge...with a chamomile tea (I'd forgotten what a comforting aroma it has) and read. Then called Michael, who was having a relaxing day going between the screen porch and the fireside, with his guests, Marjorie and Kate.

They're all going to the Auberge West Brome for dinner.

Tomorrow I have a 9am event at the Toronto Reference Library with Maureen Jennings, Joy Fielding and a few other authors to officially launch the GoodReads literacy books. And to tape some TV interviews.

A lunch later on with Hachette Canada (my Canadian publisher) people. Then I'll be doing an event at 7 tomorrow night at the Runnymede Library.

Fying to Pittsburgh Wednesday, for a 7 pm event at Mystery Lovers Bookshop - which is actually in Oakmont, PA. Then on to Boston the next day.

I mention all this because I'm not sure I'll be able to blog for a few days as things get hectic.

Such an exciting week!!! I will sure try to blog tomorrow, if only briefly, to yipppeee about BURY YOUR DEAD finally being published in the US.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Changing colours

partly cloudy, cool, temps 15

Seasonable day - we are into autumn. Spoke to Michael this morning and he told me the mountain behind our home is now all red and the trees change colours. He was heading out to get croissants for his cousin Marjorie and our mutual friend Kate, who're coming to visit for a few days.

I'm so sorry to miss them. And miss the leaves changing. And miss Michael.

But I'm having fun here. So important, I realize, not to look sideways, at the stuff happening elsewhere. But to enjoy and appreciate exactly where I am.

Today is the celebration of David Thompson's life. The young co-owner of Murder by the Book in Houston who died suddenly, shockingly, almost two weeks ago. McKenna, his wife, and his friends and co-workers have organized a party for today, at the Briar Club in Houston, from 2 to 5. They've also set up a fund to help pay for a lasting memorial to this wonderful man. A scholarship perhaps. For those interested, here's the info from the Murder by the Book site...

Checks to the order of "In Memory of David Thompson" (NOT simply David Thompson)

Mail for deposit to:
7 E. 14th St. #1206
New York, NY 10003

It's being organized by a terrific NYC crime writer, Alafair Burke.

Wish I could be there - but I'm here.

Sitting in the Le Germain hotel room, watching the Sunday morning news programmes, eating fruit salad and drinking coffee. More editing on the newsletter and a last minute question from a reporter. This is a great hotel and excellent room. sort of like a loft - I think that's the look they're going for. A boutique hotel but instead of that being code for 'minuscule rooms' it is actually code for small hotel, huge rooms. And very cool washroom with a glass wall between the bedroom and the shower. And huge floor to ceiling windows looking into downtown montreal. The key is to remember, when standing in the shower, that the only thing between me and people across the way are two windows.

Wonderful mention of En plein coeur on the big Quebec TV morning show today...SalutBonjour.

And lovely review of BURY YOUR DEAD on Jim Napier's website, (he also put it in the Sherbrooke Record, where he does book reviews).

donna, of Hachette Canada - the publishers - is coming by the hotel in about 45 minutes to drive me to Word on the Street in Kitchener for the two events. Not sure what to wear. Turtleneck? Sweater? Coat?

Not a bad life when that's the big issue.

A small update on our friend Louise. She's putting one foot in front of the other. Asking for help from people who specialise in grief counselling. She's amazing. I speak with her often, and email every day. And when I can't speak with her, Michael does. Since he lost his first wife to cancer he and Louise share an experience, a territory, known to them.

Must get dressed. Must remember to close the drapes when I do. don't want to blind Toronto!

Be well, McKenna. My head is here. My heart is in Houston today.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


partly cloudy, mild, temps 18

got up to 30 degrees yesterday...really hot. Impossible to know what to wear these days!

Spent the morning writing the october newsletter...sent it off to Linda in Scotland, and she sent back a few suggestions. Wonderful to work with people, like Linda and Lise and Marjorie, who know me and are so helpful. What a difference that makes.

Nice day. Went off to Sleuth of Baker Street for an event this afternoon. I adore that store! GREAT mystery bookstore in Toronto. Lots of people. My brother Doug and his family came - as they have for every one of the books. So supportive. And my cousin Chris, her husband Carl and my aunt Phyllis came. Phyllis is approaching 90 but looks 60. Soon people will think I'm the aunt.

Great news - En plein coeur continues on the bestseller lists!!!

And now will spend the evening replying to emails, editing the newsletter. Tomorrow I have two US print media interviews in the morning, then at 11:30 Donna is picking me up and we're off to Word on the Street in Kitchener.

do you have that one day literary festival? I don't know when or where it started, but it's a magnificent idea. I believe it's Canada wide, on the same day. Communities host all sorts of authors, who give readings and talks and sign books. Much of it happens outside, on streets that have been closed for the event - and in park, and in tents. I'm doing two events in Kitchener - one for the library, for Bury Your Dead - and one for the GoodReads literacy book, The Hangman.

I've been a little worried about it, since it's a novella and that's not a form I'm familiar or comfortable with. But - well - people seem to be enjoying it. so important for me to hear - especially since it's aimed at people with fairly low reading skills, or interest. Though it's meant to appeal to a wide readership.

So relieved it isn't crap.

Be well. I'll try to blog tomorrow and tell you how Word on the Street went. When I first (and last) did it, Still Life had just come out and no one showed up in my tent. Quite painful, actually - for everyone. But a rite of passage. I'm hoping tomorrow will be different! I'll let you know.

Friday, 24 September 2010


mainly sunny, unseasonably hot - temps 30

Tour is buzzing along. yesterday was a full, and happy day. The kingston Writer's Fest is always a highlight. Terrific authors and amazing volunteers - which really is the key element in a literary festival. passionate, effective, happy volunteers. Spent the morning relaxing on the balcony, looking out over lake Ontario. Then at noon I got dressed and packed and headed to the first event of the day. Thankfully the writer's fest was in the same we all met in the Writer's Lounge on the top floor, and then went downstairs...Peter Robinson, Eric Friesen and me.

I'm always afraid that the room will a) be one will have bought tickets b) those who are there are there for the other author and I'm just an annoyance.

But fortunately the room was packed with readers of both peter and me - which is exciting because there's a cross pollination that happens - especially since we write somewhat similar styles of book. In fact, the book seller ran out of copies of Bury Your Dead!

After the signing I was whisked by 3 librarians about an hour down the road to the Belleville Library, for an event from 6 to 8. Again, stressed that no one would be there....but again the room was packed and they had to bring in more chairs. It is such a pleasure to look out and see friendly faces. And to realize, this is my job. This is what I do for a living. Write books I enjoy for friendly and kind people. And myself. How lucky am I?

Then caught the 9pm train to Toronto, arriving about 11pm...and fell into bed.

The big event today was the 'Eh Series' talk at the Toronto Reference Library...spectacular building in the centre of the city. Jose Latour - a really gifted writers of crime fiction, with a cuban tinge, 'interviewed' me. We had great fun, and he had very thoughtful questions, which makes a big difference. It's always hard to interview a crime writer, without giving too much away. And this book is even trickier, since there are really three deaths or events intertwined. But Jose did a masterful job.

And again, the place was packed! such a difference from the first couple of books, where I pretty much spoke to janitors and people who'd wandered in by mistake and then were too polite to leave.

Am back in the hotel now....beautiful, sunny day out....should go for a walk, but instead I plan to just relax. Marshall my energy. That's the excuse for being just plain old lazy!

Tomorrow between 4 and 6 I'll be at Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto...a wonderful mystery bookstore. Hope to see you there.

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Such Off?

Mainly sunny, warm, temps 20

Now it's oddly mild. Am in Kingston now for the WritersFest. GREAT literary festival - only two years old but has fantastic writers.Including Joyce Carol oates, jane Urquhart, Lisa Moore, Bill richardson. And lots more.

The event last night in Ottawa went very well....but I had something to eat before that didn't quite agree with me, so halfway through my talk and reading, as I sat on the stage and face the audience, I could feel my stomach kinda twist. Oh. My.

fortunately nothing bad - and memorable - happened. I'm deeply grateful to the god who looks after these things that a) nothing bad happened. b) that I am now very comfortable speaking about the books and doing a reading or two. Was a time when in was deeply nerve-wracking. And that steals a lot of energy, and a lot of enjoyment. I realize many actors say they need to be nervous before a performance - some even throw-up (which I can understand)... but frankly if that's how I felt years into my career, I'd stay at home. Or hire someone to impersonate me. Ernest Borgnine comes to mind.

There was a satisfyingly long line-up to sign books - but I always feel a little stressed because I want to chat briefly with everyone, but don't want those at the back to have to wait an hour. So I end up scrawling a bit in everyone's books. Now, my handwriting is never all that wonderful, then add the need for speed (or perceived need) - and this is a recipe for disaster.

One narrowly averted yesterday. Two young women were there - one having a birthday, the other buying books for herself and I wrote a few things in each book, and signed.

Then this morning I heard from a woman - Gail - who'd been there. When she left with her signed books she noticed the two young women sitting outside, looking at the books I'd just signed and the one said to the other, 'I can't believe she just wrote that in your book.'

They looked, apparently, quite upset and insulted. Gail - bless her - went over and enquired and they showed her my scrawl. She was curious to see what in the world I could possibly have written to get this reaction. It needed, she admitted, a little de-coding - but it seemed clear I'd written: 'Such fun meeting you.'

Gail told them that's what she saw and the woman took another look and her brow cleared...'Oh, yes. I can see that now. Thank you.'

I would pay money to find out what they thought I'd written. As I sat in the train down here, listening to music and staring out the window at the early autumn countryside, I wondered... Such fun meeting you... What could that look like?

Well, two incidents narrowly missed.

Miss Michael, of course. He calls and describes sitting on the screen porch, or walking Trudy, or reading his manuscript with a cafe au lait by the fire - and I just want to be there. But then I remember that this book tour is a dream - and Sutton will be there when I get home...all the sweeter for having been away.

I also realized I've been counting the days until I get home...but it's not 60 days - the count started at 18. And I realized those were the days until I see Michael again - when we meet for Canadian Thanksgiving at the family reunion in Regina.

Michael is my home.

but in the meantime, the tour is going gangbusters.

Have an event at 1:30 tomorrow as part of the Kingston Writers Fest, with Peter Robinson - called Cops and Authors. then someone's driving me down the road to the Belleville Public Library for an event 6 to 8pm. then hop the train tomorrow night for toronto, arriving about 11pm.

Will be very, very careful about what I eat. Stick to gummi bears. At least I know they agree with me. Such good dispositions.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Day One

cloudy, rainy, cool temps 12


It was supposed to be sunny and warm, so I put on a light top, and light sweater. And then it ended up being...not sunny and hot. But fortunately the Lord Elgin hotel is within walking distance of the Ottawa library. So no problem. Train trip here yesterday was easy...had huge fun with Michel at the C'est La Vie CBC Radio interview. The topic was how books are translated into French. Fascinating. Bernard St-Laurent, the host, was terrific.

Arrived in Ottawa about 7pm. But not before realizing I'd forgotten my agenda in Sutton!! This was like leaving my right leg there. Very crippling! Everything is in there. Thank God Michael saved the day. As soon as he got back to Sutton he FedExed it to the publisher in Toronto. And I have a tour schedule with me, sent by the publisher, so at least I'm not bumbling all over Ottawa, knocking on doors saying, 'I'm Louise. Am I suppose to speak to you?'

Had an event this morning at the library for the literacy novella, The Hangman. Spoke to a bunch of literacy advocates about the book.

Have another event tonight for The Brutal Telling. But I think I'll also read from Bury Your Dead as well.

So far so good. Tomorrow's an easy day...just travel to Kingston.

Oh, and have added a few new events...mostly book signings - including one in North Conway, Vermont, at White Birch books, on November 2nd.

Speak to you tomorrow...hope you're enjoying your day!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

C'est la vie

mainly sunny, mild, temps 15

Thank you so much for your good wishes and energy. Yesterday was long but very beautiful. jacques' funeral was lovely. it was a bright sunny day, and the cemetery is in a lovely village, surrounded by hills and forests. It smelled of fall, that slight musky scent. there were tears and laughs and great peace.

Louise's best friend- Louise - (I'm not kidding) was there, of course. Lending wisdom and support. This Louise often comments on the blog as 'frouch'. Hi Louise! We're known as LouLouLou. But what a wonderful thing for Louise to have her lifetime best friend there. And 'frouch' was so kind to bring a gift for me! Gummi bears.

then scooted to Sutton for the signing for En plein coeur at the Livre d'or. wonderful event!! Interestingly, my quebec publisher (louise) was there, and she brought her husband and best friend - Louise.

I'm not kidding. it was like a plague. A good plague, if such a thing exists. All these Louise's were kind and loving and supportive. But it did feel like the Bob Newhart show. My brother Darrell and my other brother Darrell.

And - wonderful news - En plein coeur is number 3 on the bestsellers lists. Very happy about that!

Then the celebration party for Jacques last night. Louise - such a courageous woman - spoke, as did Michael. I ate.

then home and we sat in the living room with tea, and talked. Louise described putting the lamp on beside Jacques' chair and talking to him. Then setting the timer and saying, 'I'll give you another 15 minutes, and then I need to get into action.' She wants to make sure she doesn't sink into sorrow. But has balance...grief. But also picks herself up. Amazing woman.

We're so glad she spent the night with us, not least of all because today was Jacques' birthday. So we put a picture of him on the table - and toasted his birthday.

And now Michael and I are in Montreal. He has an eye appointment tomorrow monring - then he's heading home. I can't quite believe we're going to be apart for almost 3 weeks. We've been apart for 5 days on past tours - but never this long. I know it'll be OK - but sad.

After he's gone I have an interview with C'est La Vie, with the fabulous Michel Saint Germain, who translated the book - and Bernard St-Laurent, the host of the show...and an old friend of mine. Fabulous journalist - especially brilliant on the issue of quebec politics. Love being on his show.

then hopping a train to Ottawa for two events Tuesday. One is for The Hangman, the literacy book - in the morning - with an adult literacy group...then at 7 on Tuesday night I'll be at the main branch of the Ottawa library. Love to see you there.

Long post, but I suspect I won't have time to blog tomorrow. Be well. Thanks for the company.

Friday, 17 September 2010


sunny, cool, temps 12

Saw my breath for the first time this autumn two days ago. Had that strange moment, as though it had never happened before, of looking at it and thinking, 'What's that?' I actually reminded me, briefly, of my days as a smoker. Here in Canada we all begin to 'smoke' in the fall. Though I remember when I smoked about a pack a day I could be indoors and hold my breath, then strain, and when I opened my mouth smoke would come out....even if I didn't have a cigarette going.

At about that time I began to consider quitting.

The above photo was taken while Michael and I were barbequing - and looking at our breaths. Ironically, there was a breath-taking sight right there. Can you see the rainbow? to the left of the photo...very faint. Stronger in person. Gorgeous.

We're in Montreal...had a few things to attend to yesterday. Heading home now, but stopping off in Granby to take Louise out for lunch. The service is tomorrow morning - small - for family mostly though Louise asked us to be there. Then a lunch at the church all after. We can't make that since I have a book signing for En plein coeur at the fabulous bookstore in Sutton tomorrow. From 1:30 to 3:30...though a newspaper reporter will be meeting me there at 1pm.

We've asked Louise to come to our place after her lunch, to relax. Catch her breath. Then we've organized a celebration of Jacques life tomorrow evening - with pot luck supper. Again, at a local church hall. Lots of loving friends. But exhausting for Louise. This was Jacques wishes, and hers - but tomorrow is just going to be draining for her.

She'll spend the night with us...and she's arranged for a spa day sunday...a form of therapy.

I spent Wednesday packing up and throwing out clothing...sorting what's left into plastic boxes which are now in the basement. Yesterday morning was garbage day. And there were five huge bags waiting for them.

But when I got up and went to get dressed I realized...I have NOTHING to wear. I'd packed up or thrown out everything! The cupboard was bare. And I began to remember all the things I tossed. Things no one else would (or should) wear - but that might be good for one last trip to Montreal.

I could just see rushing out to the curb and going through the garbage bags for that day's wardrobe. Fighting off the garbage men. Dumpster diving for fashion. Never mind good taste - the new criterion will be good smell.

Fortunately before suffering that event (which almost certainly would but a chink in our marriage, though I survive fishing Michael out of the septic tank last year - so he can survive a wife dressed in garbage. What a power-couple we are!) I found something hiding in the bottom of a drawer - quite a nice sweater actually - which people will be seeing quite a bit of over the next few days.

By the way, I'm blogging today over at The Lipstick Chronicles. Visit if you get a chance. it's about jacques and David.

Don't think I'll get a chance to blog tomorrow - but will talk to you on Sunday. have a terrific weekend.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Time to Make the Doughnuts....

overcast, cool, temps 13

chilly day. Laid the fire in the hearth, but haven't yet had time to light it and sit there. A whole bunch of details that need to be taken care of before we leave. Happily everyone we called said, 'We'll be right over.' So got the water system at the guest cottage taken care of, got the TV's in the main home taken care of. And have spent the morning sorting, throwing out, and packing up clothing.

Wow! Does it ever feel great to go through the drawers and closets and realize how many clothes I no longer wear, and haven't for a long time. The ones in good shape we'll clean and donate...the rest get chucked. And, there're all these clothes I'd forgotten I had!! And love. It's like going shopping, without having to leave home or spend money.

Do you do the same thing? I really should be more disciplined about sorting. So this is a real godsend.

But we need more plastic containers!!! I've used them all - and there's none for Michael. But we'll be in Montreal tomorrow so can pick some more up. Have even's this for brains? sort the boxes into Summer and Winter. so that when we return I can just pull out the winter stuff.

And did an interview for one of the French papers.

Spoke to Louise last night and again this morning. She's very funny. Said that for the past year, when jacques health took a nose-dive, she got used to doing various things...a routine. That grew more and more exhausting. Til at the end she said she'd get out of bed, drag herself down the hall murmuring to herself, 'Time to make the doughnuts. Time to make the doughnuts.'

A reference to an old TV commercial about a doughnut maker who got up at the crack of dawn and like a zombie went about his work. 'Time to make the doughnuts.'

Everyday, for weeks and months, that was how she felt, and that was what she mumbled to herself.

Until yesterday. She said one of the hardest things was not going to the hospital. She actually drove by it...slowing down. But didn't stop.

Mostly, though, she's decided to not run away from the pain in frantic activity. Or even in television. But to sit quietly, and feel it completely. And then, one day, to feel it ease. She knows the only way to really let something go is to own it first. And she has the courage to do that. At least for today.

Thank you SO much for all your beautiful comments about Jacques and David. And Louise and McKenna. Sent off a card to McKenna - and will see her, I hope, in a few weeks.

Off to Montreal tomorrow. But just a brief visit. Will try to blog tomorrow. Thanks for being with us through this. By the way, I'll be blogging for The Lipstick Chronicles this Friday.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Stop the Clocks

overcast, cold, temps 13

This morning I received this message....

Murder by the Book posted the following at Facebook - "It is with deep sadness that we must share the news that David Thompson passed away suddenly on September 13, 2010. David worked at MBTB for 21 years, & he made an indelible impression on the store & everyone who met him. There will be a memorial service, and we will share the details as soon as they are available. In the meantime, David's wife, McKenna Jordan, asks that no tributes be sent to the bookstore for now. We appreciate the loving support that customers have always given the store, and in the difficult days to come we will need it more than ever."

I feel physically sick. David was young. A remarkable man. Not just a supporter of crime fiction, but he'd recently even started his own imprint. He was young. He was an enthusiastic, energetic, kind man. Knowledgeable. Passionate. Effective. Young. But more than any of that, he was a man who loved deeply. And who did he love? His glorious, remarkable bride, McKenna. Together they took over Murder By the Book. And then married, in a true love match, two kindred spirits, just a few years ago.

When Jacques died it wasn't a surprise. We could see that truck coming.

But this has laid me flat. And though I try to imagine how McKenna is feeling I can't. I spend most of my days imagining sudden death - trying to crawl into the hearts of those who lose loved ones suddenly. But when it actually happens, I realize I don't even come close.

And once again, I'm reminded of an Auden poem...and David and McKenna. Stop the Clocks.

Monday, 13 September 2010

au revoir

mixed day...mostly cloudy and heavy rain - then sunny. cool- temps 13

Jacques died this morning at 5:30. Louise called about 6:30. We hopped in the car - and at her suggestion we met at a Granby restaurant for breakfast. I'm reminded of the poem by Auden about the old masters. And how life goes on. The mundane continues even in the face of tragedy. How odd it seems that people still drive cars and eat and walk dogs. Unaware of the loss.

And yet, there we were with Louise, in a quiet, far corner. Drinking coffee and eating pancakes and hearing about Jacques last moments - and beyond. And Louise alternately crying and laughing. After he died, Louise packed up his few belongings. Then she went around and thanked each and every nurse, every other person on the ward who'd been kind to Jacques and her. To the cleaners.

And then we had breakfast. After that we went back to their home, and sat in the living room. Louise put a photo of Jacques on the coffee table, and lit a candle, and we talked about him. And the joy (yes joy) they'd experienced in the last 45 days while he was in hospital. Busy not so much dying, but living to the very end.

It felt, and indeed was, a celebration of a full and beautiful life.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

A Five Bag Day

overcast, temps 16

Chilly, windy, fall day. Sat on the screen porch for much of the morning, finishing Michael's manuscript. Fabulous book!!! I'm so excited for him. Huge amount of work - research, writing and re-writing. It's thrilling to read it. And to celebrate with him.

finished it. Then hopped in the car and drove to Knowlton to deliver stuff for My Assistant Lise. She actually lives quite a distance away, so our 'drop' is Brome Lake Books. While there I also signed copies of The Hangman. It's the Gamache/Three Pines novella written for adult encourage people upgrading their reading skills to read. They're understandably frustrated with being given children's books. So literacy organizations in Canada have started approaching novelists to write shorter, but still complex books, for adults.

If you're interested, Brome Lake Books carries the full range, not just The Hangman. Apparently kids - teens - like them too. Which would be wonderful! And it also helps raise money for literacy organizations - and God knows, they could use the help.

On my way home I had a sudden thought... our friends Cheryl and Gary and their kids will be staying in our home while we're away - since they're building their own home. Clearly this is a fabulous solution for all of us. But - I suddenly realized it they're all staying here they might appreciate some closet space. Some room in the dressers. Some place for their food! For their toothbrush.


Poor guy. He was relaxing in front of the fireplace and I came storming in like a Tasmanian Devil - Within an hour we'd thrown out five big garbage bags worth of junk! And have other boxes filled with salvageable stuff for Pat and Tony.

Been thinking a lot about the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand. We watched, stunned. Having been there, we have some sense of what a gorgeous and important city it is. In Canadian terms is would be as though Halifax was all but destroyed. Perhaps others have a better comparison. But this must be staggering to New Zealanders. And to everyone who has affection for that jewel of a country.

On a much lighter note, I watched Jaws yesterday. Hadn't seen it in years and had forgotten just what a brilliant movie it is.

Hope you've enjoyed the weekend.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Peaceful day

sunny, mild, temps 23

Gorgeous September day. One of the trees outside our window has started to turn. Each autumn is different in Quebec. Some are exceptionally colourful - others almost dull. Depends on all sorts of precipitation and temperatures. I'd say more, but I'd just be making it up. Not sure yet if this fall will be stunning, but the tree outside the window sure is. And when the light catches it, it's like being in a glorious, cheerful cathedral.

Like so many others around the world, we're thinking of this anniversary. September 11th. And how it changed all our lives - but mostly the lives of the families of those lost on that day - and subsequently. All over the world.

We're having a quiet day. Beginning to think seriously about what to pack for a two month tour that takes me from Arizona to November in London. Long underwear and a bathing suit. And perhaps a few other articles of clothing. I think we should start a whole line of Author Tour clothing. All made of cardboard. Disposable after a couple of weeks - biodegradable - and then you pick up some more.

Or, better still. Edible. So that on long plane rides we can nibble at our sleeves. And that way, at conferences and events, you can tell which authors have been on the road for a long time. Those with gnawed dresses and socks, or standing only in the underwear, but having a trace of a tie attached to their cheek, have probably been out for longer than is good for them. We could call the clothing line, 'Good Taste' - or 'Tastes Good'.

The dry cleaning went in today. Am trying to decide if I should take my sweats - for relaxing in the hotel room when I'm not working. A luxury, to be sure, since sweats are bulky. I bought on pair of sox designed to be quick drying, for overnight washing in the sink.

somehow, doing my laundry in the hotel room at night isn't quite how I saw my publishing career going. But I have to admit, a two month tour bodes well for the success of the books. It better- or I'll eat my hat.

Be well today.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Mission Impossible

overcast, rain, temps 23

Odd day. Cool, but humid - so it manages to feel both hot and cold at the same time. Hard to get comfortable. We drove in from Sutton this morning. Stopped at Nespresso in Montreal to recycle the coffee caps and get some more. then into the apple store to asks about a problem with the USB port. (Michael's territory) Then into the apartment.

Finally got the new homepage written for the re-launch of the web site, once Bury Your Dead comes out.

And Michael and I are now relaxing on the bed watching episodes of the old TV show Mission Impossible. Very fun. And relaxing.

Tomorrow we're meeting our friends Bal and Linda for breakfast - then off to do the research - then home to Sutton. Gary's coming by in the late afternoon to take more publicity shots.

It sure is a full life. Oh, and Michael brought home a cherry pie. Not bad! Two more and it'll be paradise.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Three Pies

overcast, cool, rain, heavy at times temps 17

Sat by the fire and did one more smoothing of the manuscript before sending it out. Phew.

And's gone. Off. Out of my grip. Yikes. But actually, a huge relief. for a few days. and then I start to worry how the first readers like it. And then I become convinced it's crap. All part of the territory. But I have to admit, with each book I feel less frightened. More confident. A little less crazy. I'm not completely convinced Michael would agree that I'm less wacky now than with other books. I think the key to a good relationship is that either I get less crazy, or he becomes more crazy.

A friend recently wrote me an email about the books that included a typo. She called the village, Three Pies. I thought, Damn - that would have been a GREAT name for the village!

We're off to Montreal tomorrow - some appointments....then on Friday I have an interview and tour of a place I'm thinking of setting the next book. It'll be set at about this time of year, so I'd like to see it now, speak to people, take photos....and after some back and forthing the very nice people there say Friday would work well. Great timing from my POV - finish one, begin work on the next, especially before heading out on tour for Bury Your Dead.

I'm obviously being coy about where we're going - but I don't want to give too much away.

Mostly, though, my excitement about the launch of Bury Your Dead grows. That's what I'm concentrating on. that and En plein coeur. Very, very fun. Have two more interviews coming up. CBC radio national show, C'est La Vie and the Journal de Quebec.

But a huge relief to have sent off the manuscript. Wow.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Eternal Life

Cloudy, rainy, cold - then sunny, hot and humid. Canada, eh? temps 15-28

Had a quite amazing day. Found out after only 4 days on sale En plein coeur is on the bestseller list.

And, if you're wondering who the man holding En plein coeur in the photo is, it's Jean Gamache - the man who was the initial inspiration for Armand! Eight years ago Michael and I were going to England for a wedding and Michael needed a new suit. Someone suggested this tailor in Grandy - Jean Gamache. I was just beginning to write Still Life and struggling with who the main character was, even his name was unclear. Off we went to the tailor - and there he was. Partly it was his physical appearance that inspired me - but mostly it was his character. Thoughtful, courteous in an old world way, with deep brown eyes that were many things, but mostly kind.

Voila. Gamache.

As you know, many others contributed characteristics, including Michael, my husband, but meeting Monsieur Gamache was the breakthrough. And as a homage to the man I used his last name.

I can't tell you how desperately moving it was to go there today to present him with a signed copy of the first book out in French. And he was still kindly and cheerful, intelligent and courteous.

Before that, earlier in the day, Michael and I had visited Louise and Jacques in the hospital. We'd talked about prayer the last time we visited, and the prayer of St Francis in particular. So Michael printed out a few copies and we sat around Jacques' bed, holding hands, while Louise read it, in English then in French. And then we all took turns talking about what it means to us.

As Louise said, reading it with jacques, at that time, gave each word of the beautiful prayer a significance and power it hadn't had for us before. Like most people, we all saw it was inspired. As a stunning example of grace. As well as a practical blueprint to how to live a happy life. But saying the words with Jacques, especially the last line, sent electricity through all of us. Not of fear or discomfort. But of power. And, oddly, calm.

It was a very beautiful time.

Louise was asked by CBC Radio's The Current to talk about her experience right now, losing the man she loves. You can hear the interview tomorrow morning on the national radio programme....or it will be available on their website later. It's in a larger package examining euthanasia - a big debate these days in Quebec.

Monday, 6 September 2010

A maid needs a man...

mainly sunny, cool, temps 15

Doug left this morning at 7 for the quite long drive back to Toronto - had such a fun visit with him. Great dinner last night - very simple - of pasta with pesto - and baguette.

Went to the village for breakfast with Joan...decided to go a little early to mail some books. Got all the way up the post office steps when I's labour day. so back down - then decided to add air to my tires...the front driver's side was getting flat. Need to have Denis check it out tomorrow - but in the meantime I figured I should put air in.

I've never done that before.

I stood in front of the air machine...realizing I needed to put 50 cents in. that I could figure out. And I knew tires have a valve. And the nozzle fits into it. And the car door told me the tires should be 33 something or other. so - put the money in. A roar started. So I got the nozzle and tried to fit it over the valve. Only then realizing there was a plastic cap that needed to be unscrewed. I unscrewed it - glancing around to make sure no one was watching. Then put the nozzle in and tried to figure out if the tire was inflating.

And then I called Tony. God bless him - he jumped in his truck and came right over. The good news is, I did manage to inflate the tires. The bad news it I'd made the volkswagen beetle into a Monster Truck - with huge cartoon wheels. Tony deflated them and we started again.

Seems a pressure gauge is a good thing to have. Who knew? Tony, apparently.

Then breakfast with Joan - got to listen to three of her new and brilliant poems. then home. doing bits and pieces. Need to write a new home page for the website, for when we re-launch it for BURY YOUR DEAD. All these things that don't get done when I'm writing. Hope to get everything done, and then spend most of the next two weeks doing...nothing!!!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Brutal Telling - paperback!

Mostly cloudy, cold, temps 15

I wanted to make sure I told you that THE BRUTAL TELLING is now out in trade paperback. It's a fabulous cover and great package. Hope you like it too! And if you could tell others about it now being available in paperback, that would be wonderful. I'm assuming most of you have already read it in hardcover, either through your library or buying it. Or listening to the wonderful audio version. So thank you!

Had a wonderful dinner last night with Doug. He was here when we returned from the meeting - and already boiling water for the fresh corn. Simple, lovely meal of broccoli and potatoes and corn, and barbequed steak. Then to bed to read. Up in time for breakfast with Cheryl, while Doug and Michael ate at another table.

Then off to visit Cheryl and Gary's new home, under construction. It's in the forest, and so beautiful. What a dream. I'd love for Michael and me to build our own home. Wouldn't that be fun. A small place. No more trophy homes. And Cheryl and Gary's home is just wonderful.

Then - home! To sit quietly in front of the fire with a cafe au lait and reading Michael's manuscript. Did I tell you what the bugger did? Remember when we were in BC at the festival a few weeks ago and Michael had given me his finished manuscript...I sat on the dock and read it, making notes. Loving it. Well, when we got home and I gave it back he looked at it and blushed.

'what is it?' I asked.

'hee, hee,' he replied. Michael very rarely giggles. It is almost never a good sign.

'Go on,' I said.

'Well, it's a funny thing.' (which was a guarantee it wasn't going to be all that funny), 'but I gave you the wrong version. That was an old one.'

I then said a few things...

And now I'm reading the 'real' manuscript. And if it isn't, I don't want to know. But the thing is, as much as I adored the draft I read, this one really is even better. I'm very, very happy for him!

So we're both sitting by the fire, reading. I made chicken noodle soup and fresh tomato sandwiches for lunch. Eaten by the fire. Doug brought his dog - Buttercup, the Hound from Hell. Who drank most of the pond then threw it back up. So we've been going for long walks with BC and Trudy.

Lovely day. Breakfast tomorrow with Joan. As you know, it's my meal of choice. Not sure what's for dinner tonight. We have baguette and cheese - by the fire - and perhaps a pasta and pesto.

Speak tomorrow. Happy Labour Day long weekend.

Saturday, 4 September 2010


Changeable, sunny, cloudy, warm, cold - rain, then sun - odd day

But fabulous news from the Lise front!!! She won four first prize ribbons - for her amazing hooked rug (which you can see here), a hooked runner, a decoupage plate and a pillow. Lise dominates the Brome County Fair! This is the second year in a row she's won the first place hooking ribbon. So proud of her. As part of the today's hooking demonstration at the Fair she tried to teach me how - allowing me to do a few 'hooks' on the picture she's doing. It wasn't pretty. Nor was it easy! All thumbs. On the right you can see Lise doing her thing - making it look so easy.

Congratulations, Lise!

Michael stayed home, so after the demonstration and congratulating Lise I went and got some peaches and corn for tonight. And then two Derby burgers - a Brome County Fair must! Made by our neighbours down the road, Charlie and Sheila Derby and their children and grandchildren. A real fair tradition. Their granddaughter, Rhianna, and I have spent time together comparing notes as writers. She was also there, running between food stands. It's a crazy weekend it you're a Derby. I am not - so I got to simply order two burgers, with saute-ed onions. then hopped back in the beetle and off home before the burgers got too cold.

Just finished some work - odds and ends that pile up. Doug is arriving tonight. I'm having breakfast with Cheryl tomorrow, while Michael and Doug have breakfast together. Gary's invited but I think he needs to spend every moment building their home. We can hardly wait to see it.

And tomorrow afternoon? Well, secretly, I hope it's rainy and cold. And we can come home, light the fire and read. Might grab a bath.

I read your comments about deep fried butter, and totally agree. Just the thought...

Speak to you tomorrow.

Friday, 3 September 2010

My Assistant the Hooker

sunny, hot, temps 33

Drove home from Toronto today. Woke up at 5:15am (by wake-up call) - on the road by 5:45. Toronto traffic is hideous, so we wanted to blow town before it closed in. And the Friday before a long weekend, well, you just never know.

The event yesterday at the CNE went very well. As Linwood, the handlers, Michael and I made our way through the giant exhibition hall we saw a demonstration of 'cheese' was taking place. And so, our goal was the try to draw a larger crowd than the aged cheddar. I think we just barely managed it. But we had great fun. This was part of the International Festival of Authors - a huge literary festival in Toronto in October. The IFOA puts on satellite events all year round, and this was one. Their first, though, at the Ex. Competing with stilton.

It was judged a success. And, we sure had fun, as I say. I got to meet Ruth and Jane and a few others who read this blog...hi gals...and that is always a good day when I meet you. As well, three people from my publishers, Hachette Canada came, including the remarkable Donna Nopper, my publicist. The big topic of conversation among them, though, was the hot item of food at this years exhibition. Deep fried butter. I thought it was a joke. Deep fried butter. Why not just put a grenade in your mouth? Deep fried butter. I can't stop saying it, in the hopes with repetition it'll start making sense. But it just becomes more and more ridiculous. Apparently it tastes like vanilla cake mix with a centre of, you guessed it, melted butter.

We were definitely upstaged by the deep fried butter. Perhaps next year the IFOA might try deep frying their authors. And wrapping them in a nice piece of brie.

Got to bed early (again - the life of international jet setting authors...pretty much a hunt for privacy and sleep - though I suspect it would have been different had all this happened in my 20's...I'd have had more fun, but I wouldn't have appreciated it nearly as much). then drove home.

Stinking hot. Unpacked - played with Trudy. Then leapt into the pool. They lay beside it, smelling a very sweet scent of late bloom roses, closed my eyes and felt very much at peace.

Quiet weekend. The major event is that My Assistant Lise (who pretty much masters everything she puts her mind to) is such a great hooker of rugs that she's doing a demonstration at 2pm Saturday (tomorrow) at the Brome County Fair. Michael and I will be there to cheer her on. Everyone's invited. She really is remarkable.

Oh and had the fabulous news that the largest bookstore chain in Quebec, Archambaults, has chose En plein coeur as their 'Book of the Month'! Which means they'll be promoting it in newspapers, magazines, on television and radio. Yippee...

And further great book news, we returned home to copies of THE BRUTAL TELLING, now available in trade paperback! And it looks simply fabulous. And - as a bonus - at the back is the first chapter of BURY YOUR DEAD.

What an exciting time. And how glorious to be home for 2 weeks! My brother Doug is coming down from Toronto this weekend, and I'll finally have a chance to catch up with friends. Bliss.

Hope to speak to you tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

En plein coeur - bien sur!

overcast, hot, temps 30

This is the day. The first of my books is now in stores in French! I'd never have thought it would be this emotional for me. I always knew I felt it was a shame that the series couldn't be read where I live, and by the people I write about...but the degree of joy I feel has quite taken me by surprise.

and now the trick is not to let it slop over into worrying about how it's doing! Stay in the moment and the delight.

Still Life is called En plein coeur, in French. And the second book will be coming out January 7th. Very fun.

We're in Toronto for an event at the Courtyard Stage, as part of the Canadian national Exhibition. I'll be doing a reading along with linwood Barclay. It's at 5:30. someone will be coming to the hotel to escort us there. or, as Michael likes to say - 'they're coming to take you away, ha ha.'


Had fun Tuesday. Breakfast in Cowansville, then off to see jacques and Louise in the Granby hospital. Stayed about 1 and a half hours. When I bent down to kiss Jacques goodbye I, click, click. And immediately knew what it was. The long string of pearls I was wearing had dropped into Jacques urinal, hanging on the side of his bed. I stared at Jacques, wide eyed. He stared at me, wide eyed - then he smiled - and reassured me there was nothing in the urinal...except pearls.

I can't help but think this wasn't what my grandmother, or mother, had in mind when they passed them down to me. I sometimes think my life is not so much unfolding as unraveling.

Then we hopped into the car and scooted to the manoir Hovey for lunch and a TV interview with the CBC French network - Radio Canada. Their telejournal. It went well, thanks mostly to the lovely host, Anne-Marie, and the kind cameraman, Alain. I stumbled and bumbled. But I'm hoping they'll think it charming.

Then off to Montreal - and yesterday we were up early to come to Toronto. Met susan for lunch - she's here for meetings. Then borther Doug and his son Brian came to the hotel to stay the night with us. We hadn't seen Brian for a year and really miss him. wow - he's turned into a man! Tall, low voice, and a man's outlook. god, how does this happen. And gorgeous too. And very funny. Had Tex-Mex for dinner....then they watched a movie and we went to bed.

they've left now - and I'm off for a haircut - finally. Let's hope for the best - these things are always 'iffy'. But Hope, my US editor, gave me a bottle of pills that cure bad hair cuts. I have them with me!

Speak to you tomorrow I hope!

Happy En plein coeur day!!!