Saturday, 30 April 2011


Washington, DC

BURY YOUR DEAD has just won the Agatha for Best Novel at this year's Malice domestic. The only series to ever win 4 Agathas. I am so thrilled. And SO deeply grateful to not only the readers, of course - but my fellow writers, for being so understanding and so generous. And tolerant.


And my fellow Canadian, Mary Jane Maffini, won for Best Short Story! Here's a photo of us together! Yippee....Oh, I might have said that before.

Wish I could say I was off to celebrate - but it's almost midnight and we're going to crawl into bed and go to sleep smiling. And doing our sums.


sunny, mild, temps 65

Wonderful to be here in Washington. Malice Domestic's a riot. Such fun. packed with readers of mysteries. And writers of mysteries. And to be in such a fun place.

Did the interview with Janet Rudolph yesterday at 3. You can see the photo. Not sure it's in focus, but not Michael's fault - we moved around a lot. Janet's a very funny person! With a love of laughter, as you can see. She's also very thoughtful - in many ways...she judges at chocolate-making competitions, and brought me two of her favorite bars. All gone.

Then there was were the opening ceremonies. The photo of all the people is from when the introduced the other nominees for the Agatha for Best Novel. they invited us up to get our certificate, so I took Michael's blackberry and asked everyone to wave. This is what it looks like to be nominated. Beside me (who of course you don't see) were Nancy Pickard, heather Webber, Hank Phillippi Ryan and Donna Andrews.

Then eight of us went off for a quick dinner because we had the Best Novel panel last night at 8pm. Then, met my publicist, Sarah, in the front lobby at 9pm, to get the Advance Reader's Copy of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT!!!

I'd been emailed the cover. But I hadn't yet seen and held the actual book. Now, an ARC is slightly different than the actual published book - in terms of format. It's basically for promotion, so it talks about the marketing plan, advertizing, touring, print run - those sorts of things....and then has the book itself. So it really is a collector's item. Sarah gave it to me and I took it to the live auction Malice Domestic was holding.

The book went for 500 dollars! And someone said if I could find another, they'd match that bid. All the money is going to a local fund for children with cancer. So I called Sarah and got another one. 1,000 dollars raised, for 2 books.

then, bed! It was bliss. We lay in bed sipping diet coke, eating potato chips and watching highlights of the Royal Wedding.

Breakfast this morning at a nearby pancake house - about a ten minute walk. Actually surprisingly chilly, but sunny. it was really the wind - but still, milder than Montreal.

Lunch with the publisher of Minotaur Books, Andy Martin, and Sarah Melnyk, the above mentioned publicist. They found a great french bistro! We had duck confit and creme brule. Off to a party in the bar this afternoon at 5:30, celebrating Ruth Cavin, the storied editior at St. Martin's Press, who died a few months ago, at almost 100. And working to the end.

Then the Agatha Awards banquet. If BURY YOUR DEAD wins it'll be 4 in a row. I'm not sure if this is a Canadian thing, but as much as I'd LOVE to win - I'm also very aware of that spree. And feel a little bashful. I'll let you you know what happens! And between us? The wanting to win far outweighs the bashful. Still, it's a great position to be in - I'd also be happy if it was someone else's turn.

Michael flies home tomorrow to Montreal and I have a morning panel, then grabbing a ride to Pittsburgh for the Monday Mystery Lovers festival in Oakmont, PA. Then up to Bradford, PA on Tuesday. Home Wednesday. And then a cannon couldn't get me out of the house.

We've also been watching the reports of the terrible, terrible destruction of those tornados. And those amateur videos...terrifying explosions of transformers as the tornado ate the electrical poles and got closer and closer. And, of course, the stories of survival. And not.

Everyone here, though happy to be together, is aware of the pain and loss, and shock.

Hope you're well. Michael joins me in hoping you and your family and friends weren't affected by the storms.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Spring is here!!

clear skies, warm, 75 degrees

Do you like the new banner?? Linda Lyall, who manages the site, put up the photo today. So it's official. Spring is here.

We're in Washington! I'll tell you, after looking at the forecast this morning in Montreal I wasn't at all sure we'd make it out of Montreal, never mind actually land in Washington. But we did and without even a delay. Amazing. There were all sorts of warnings out for Montreal today. Apparently a extremely strong winds hit Ottawa and downed trees and powerlines.

there were severe thunderstorm warnings for much of the East coast of the US, including Washington. So I really did doubt today would be smooth. But it was! Sort of.

I spent the morning writing. then closed the laptop. Very anxiety-making - to leave a first draft for a week. For me it's like leaving a newborn on the side of a road, and hoping it'll still be there when I come back. But, having said that, I'm well into it, have established the place, the main suspects, the characters, the themes. I'm sure I'll be able to get back - though the first day back will be a little stressful. will probably spend that day just editing the previous chapter...and gentle way to re-introduce myself.

then we called a cab and headed to the airport. Got through security etc very quickly, and onto the plane without delay. Amazing. And mainly clear skies all day.

Until we boarded the plane.

We were sitting on the plane, on the tarmac, when the skies opened up - huge rains and winds. And I thought - huh oh. But then it cleared and the plane zipped into the air. Smooth flight, until the last ten minutes, over washington. I thought I'd experienced bad turbulence in the past, but seems I was wrong. Not even sure if what we experienced today was really bad, but it was the worst I'd been in.

It was all incredibly smooth, then we went through a cloud, which is never a big deal, except this time it was like hitting a wall. Suddenly the plane dropped and twisted and jerked sideways. The flight attendant, who was behind me, grasped her way back to her chair and strapped in.

More than anything those few seconds were disorienting. But not, strangely enough, all that scary. Had it gone on more than a second or two I'm sure I'd have been terrified, but as it was, it was over before I had a chance to be afraid. Then, every time we went through a cloud, something similar, though less severe, happened. It was as though the clouds had suddenly become substance.

I grew suspicious of clouds. And quickly developed a dislike of them.

But then we got down low and swooped into Washington, flying right by the White House and the various monuments. So impressive.

the conference - Malice Domestic - is being held this year in Bethesda. Such a pretty drive along the river to Bethesda. The trees are in leaf and in bloom. through the open window of the cab we could smell fresh mown grass. For the first time in many, many months. I'd forgotten what a wonderful smell that is. The sun was out. It was glorious. And warm!!! We arrived, of course, in turtlenecks and jackets and scarves. Stripped down when we got in and are now in short sleeves and light nighttime sweaters.

Bliss to just walk out of the hotel without winterboots or coats or hats.

We met Margaret Maron in the lobby and joined her and Joe for drinks in the bar. Vickie Delany and Rhys Bowen joined us. then Michael and I walked a few blocks to a place called Black's Bar and Grill...for seafood. A few minutes later Margaret and Joe walked in, so we all had dinner together. I had wood grilled peach salad, while michael had half a dozen oysters. Then we both had scallops while margaret and joe shared a cold seafood platter.

Had a wonderful time talking about our all our lives, and hearing Margaret's stories from when she first started writing. Hilarious. And extremely interesting, how publishing has changed.

Got back to the hotel in time to meet Sue Grafton, the guest of honour, and share an elevator.

Off to bed. Will ask for a wake-up, to watch the royal wedding - but not sure if we won't just roll right over and go back to sleep. Watch the highlights later. I suspect we'll be doing that!

I'll be doing an on-stage interview with Janet Rudolph, who's receiving the Poirot Award here. The internew is tomorrow at 3pm. Then at 5 there's the opening ceremonies. And I'm on a panel at 8 o'clock tomorrow evening, of all those nominated for the Best Novel Agatha. So, a long day tomorrow. But not as long as Will and Kate's!

Are you going to watch the wedding? If we were home I definitely would. With my nespresso cafe au lait. Not because I'm a huge royal watcher, but I saw his parent's wedding, and that was fun. And heaven knows, he deserves to be happy. And they seem so much in love.

Off to bed now. sleep tight.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Nespresso and John Steed

some rain and drizzle, some sun, mild, temps 16

Wonderfully mild. the first green sparks on the lilac at home. always amazes me. And just when I think we need to go away next year in April, this happens and I think, 'Gosh, I wouldn't miss this for the world.'

Drove to Montreal after Pat and Tony arrived to stay at our place and look after Trudy. They have 2 dogs themselves including a new rescue - Daisy. So, lots of romping.

Did a bunch of chores in Cowansville and Montreal, including recycling old capsules and getting some new Nespresso caps. It's our new addiction. This book has definitely been fueled by Nespresso cafe au laits and Zipped episodes of classic TV. Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, The Avengers. Just watched the very first 3 episodes on DVD. Made in 1963 - black and white, of course. With Honor Blackman as Mrs. _____ - just forgotten her name...but not Mrs. Peel. Diana Rigg came later. These first episodes are fascinating because they're quite different in tone and style - but you can see the glimmer of what it was about to become.

And, of course, bathtime! One of the things I miss when away. Long, leisurely baths. I write hunched over - I think most people do. For four or five hours of the day. So a lavender or rose water bubble bath is bliss.

Off to Washington thursday, for Malice Domestic. Sarah Melnyk, from Minotaur Books, will be bringing some advance copies of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. That's an amazing moment. To hold the new book. Wow.

I'm a little stressed, though, that over at the marvelous site, GoodReads there's been a mix-up somehow - apparently to do with the isbn numbers....and reviews of another book have been credited to A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. It is obviously impossible that those reviews are for my book since no one has read it yet. The arcs aren't even out. And, to make it worse, that mix-up book is clearly mediocre!

I just cringe to think people believe A TRICK OF THE LIGHT is rated quite poorly. Especially at a site as well regarded and influential as GoodReads. The same ISBN mix-up happened briefly at Amazon a few weeks ago, but that got sorted quickly, before the other person's not-great ratings went up. My editor, Hope, and the others at Minotaur and St. Martins Press are trying to sort it out. Indeed, when the listing first went up at GoodReads and even Amazon, it described A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny as a novel of WW2 intrigue in Denmark. Huh?

Unfortunately, while the description has changed, the ratings haven't. So please, if you go to GoodReads, or anywhere else right now and they have ratings for A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, by me - disregard them!

It's unfortunate this has happened - but when you think of the number of books, of isbn numbers, of websites, it's a bit of a shock this doesn't happen more often.

Speak to you before too long - am off to pretend (via google) to be shopping for flats in central London. That gets Michael's heart pounding. His cardio for the day.

No huge deal, but at this stage, when people know so little about the book, I'd just hate for there to be a sense it's disappointing - when actually I'm extremely excited about it. Oh well.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


a little overcast now, cool, temps 4

Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Happy Spring.

Yesterday it pelted rain, but that meant all the snow is well and truly gone, until the next storm. But none in the forecast, for now.

One wonderful sign of spring that I often forget is the peepers. The early frogs in the ponds and marshlands. We have two ponds around our home, and quite a bit of wetlands. At dusk and dawn especially, you can hear them. In fact, driving along the country road you can tell when passing wetlands because there's a near deafening sounds of frogs.

We always worry when there's the inevitable cold snap or snow - and for a few days the peepers disappear - but then they come back. Like the earliest spring flowers. How in the world do the crocuses and bluebells survive a heavy layer of snow. But they do. The snow goes and the flowers are still in bloom. Ain't nature grand?

Doug left at 6 this morning. We stayed up, made breakfast and ate in front of the fireplace. While I got to work. Good day. Lots of re-organizing, and re-familiarizing myself with where I was at in the book. Getting back in to that world. I'm still worried this first draft is long...but they always are.

Especially when I set one in a different place, in this case, the monastery. I take a long time creating that world. Much longer than will ever appear in the final book. More for myself really. Then I can edit in the next draft.

I keep telling myself not to worry. And then I worry. More of a nag, really, than that sharp thrust of real concern.

Nice day. Very quiet. Great for concentrating.

Something else about peepers. We never see them. As we get close, they go quiet and disappear. I'm not sure I've ever seen one. Seen loads of frogs in the summer...but not these.

Take care of yourselves.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Cruelest Month

sunny, warm, perfect spring day temps plus 8

Snowed to white-out at times yesterday. Doug arrived about 10pm. We sat by the fire and talked almost to midnight. Snow still falling outside. I took the photo yesterday at about five thirty. You can just see two geese in the foreground. More snow hit a few minutes later.

Doug - from Toronto - was shocked. Though, as we've already established, this is April, and April is The Cruelest Month. (Do you hear the organ music?) I think our lives should have soundtracks, so that instead of living in near perpetual anticipation of something bad happening, we'd be warned. By the organ music.

But this does bring me to the next bit of fun news. St. Martin's Press has decided to re-issue all the books, with snazzy new covers. I reeeeeally love the new design. In many ways more in keeping with the actual tone of the books, which are comforting and comfortable on one level, but something not so comforting is happening beneath. They're about duality. Appearances versus reality.

And that's why the new cover for The Cruelest Month - set at an Easter celebration in Three Pines - is perfect. As you can see above (I grabbed the image off it show cheery painted eggs, and the very subtle crack in reveal something rotten. How perfect. In one picture it has summed up the themes of the series. That beauty and joy exist, but so does cruelty. As in the cover, joy outnumbers the rancid elements. But the rotten is still there. And often hidden. Indeed, in my books, and my experience, always hidden. Behind a cheerful and benign exterior.

And - the exterior is also real. We really are cheerful. The killer is genuinely good. And genuinely rotten.

The book with the new cover just went on sale - and I wanted you to see it. My wonderful editor in New York, Hope Dellon, posted it on my facebook page yesterday.

Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Or simply, happy Friday. By noon here the snow had disappeared and the geese had left, but we had two ducks on the pond.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Food Photos

snow! (unless those mushrooms in the omlette were odd) temp at freezing.

had breakfast this morning at Le Cafetier in Sutton with Cheryl, to celebrate her birthday. Lots of fun, and gabbed away. The only downside to this amazing time in my life is that I don't have the time for friends I used to. Saddens me. But my friends are very understanding, and I think they know I do what I can.

hard to find balance. But it sure feels good to be with friends. Re-invigorating.

Then Michael and I scooted across the Quebec it's called the 'frontier' - into Vermont to mail some stuff and get gas. Cheaper in the states, which gives you some insight into how expensive it is here. though it's hard to tell how much cheaper it is in Vermont since we do Canadian dollars per litre and they do American dollars per gallon.

I once tried to figure it out but lost interest after a few minutes. Now I just assume.

Got Michael's car back - did I tell you that? 3 months being repaired after the accident. They could have built a new one in the meantime. they kept saying the parts were back ordered and needed to come from the factory. Honestly - the space shuttle went and returned in the meantime. if the factory was in outer space it would have been faster to get the parts.

Oh well - we have it now, and the family's complete.

We also voted the other day. Canada is in the midst of a federal election. I can barely think about it without feeling my brain boil. So we made sure to vote. I won't tell you how I voted, but I suspect if you read the blog, and the books, you can probably guess.

Susan sent some of the photos from our trip to Quebec City, to celebrate her birthday. This is a season for birthdays! She took about 45 of the food, and one of the view from the hotel. You can see it above, over the St. Lawrence river. Of the other two photos, one is of our sea bass dinner at Pananche, the other is poutine. I'll let you guess which is which.

My brother, Doug, is coming tonight, for Easter. We told him he could bring his crazy dog, Buttercup - the Hound from Hell. But he says she might have other engagements - like eating a motor home or all the silverware.

Buttercup is a yellow lab, without a mean bone in her body - but a surfeit of joy. She loves everything and everyone, and makes spectacular messes as she demonstrates her passion. Trudy wasn't sure what to make of the whirlwind, but after a few visits they've become good friends. I think BC is that fun, whacky friend, who does all the things you wish you could. And gets blamed for everything, even the stuff you do.

Our savior, Nancy, came over for a few hours this afternoon to clean up Michael's computer. We're in the middle of nowhere, so no high speed. Just a satellite link. It must be an old soviet satellite, or one run by our car repair people, because it is veeeerrry sloooow.

Well, off to exercise. And by exercise I mean have a hot bath and watch old episodes of The Avengers.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Julia Spencer-Fleming!

bright sunny day, temps 4, gorgeous day

But - snow and rain (or what some people call snain) in forecast for tonight. Blech. Now I could use that poutine!

What I really want to tell you about is my friend Julia Spencer-Fleming's new book. It is just out and is called ONE WAS A SOLDIER. It is brilliant. I had a chance to read an advance copy and I believe this is the BEST yet in her series, and that is saying a lot.

If you're not already of fan of Julia's, check her out. She's also won just about every award going, and rightfully so.

And - in news of my own - we now have an audio sample of Ralph Cosham reading the first few pages of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. Just click here and you'll get a chance to hear it.

Hope the link works. It's also up on the home page of my website.

It's odd for me because it feels like showing just a little ankle. Or an artist revealing a corner of a painting. Very hard to get the full impact. But perhaps enough to whet your appetite. I'm going for the world record of metaphors in two lines.

Oh, and over at Facebook, I'll be starting the Advance Readers Copy contest in the next day or so. I'll also be giving some away on the Newsletter, which you can sign up for on my website. And, yes, definitely I'll be offering ARCs of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT to you - who have been with me almost since day one.

But I'll be starting at Facebook, to thank them for making the switch from a personal page to a fanpage. I know, if you don't know facebook this is just blah, blah, blah.

Off to answer more emails. it seems every day I forget more things. you too?

Monday, 18 April 2011

Coming home

overcast, cold, temps about freezing

Blustery as well. But I keep thinking of those people in North Carolina, Virginia and the other places hit by those monstrous tornadoes. Trying to imagine how terrifying that must be. And almost no warning, of course. heard about the people in the big box store herded to the back of the store by the manager and workers (most of whom were probably very young themselves) within seconds of the tornado hitting. Everyone saved - but would almost certainly have been killed had the employees not reacted.

the difference a split second can make.

On a much lighter note, Susan and I drove back from Quebec City yesterday. We had a fabulous time. I went to the Salon du Livres to sign and meet people on Saturday and Sunday. What a terrific event. Just packed with readers. And tons of kids. All excited. About reading, and meeting their favorite writers.

Wish there was something like this in the rest of Canada. There are festivals, but it's not the same as having booth after book of authors, just there to say hello, to talk to, to sign books. A few panels and talks, but mostly a warehouse of books and writers there for the reading public.

I realize Susan, who was the official photographer of our weekend to celebrate her birthday, took loads of photographs - but all of them of our meals. So we have pictures of steak frites, pouding chomeur, croissant, our magnificent meal at Panache, and finally our last meal in Quebec City - as we drove out.

All weekend Susan had been going on and on about this one restaurant. I kept trying to ignore it, thinking she must be kidding. But no. It was the one place she wanted to eat on her actual birthday, which was yesterday.


It's a Quebec fast food chain, like McDonald's...where poutine (that most Quebecois of Quebec dishes) was apparently invented. Though places in Drummondville and Victoriaville both claim to have invented poutine. Why anyone would fight over that honour is a mystery.

When I mentioned poutine in an early Gamache book both US and UK editors wrote to ask, 'What's poutine.' When I told them they thought I was making it up.

It's french fries, gravy and melting cheese curds. There are some fancy Quebec restaurants who make it with lobster. and fois fras. I'm not kidding.

Susan was pining for real poutine, in the cradle of poutine-dom. So we stopped at Ashton's. When she sends me the photo of that meal I'll post it. You might want to keep your children away. it might blind, or blight, them.

Then we drove home. I dropped her off and got back to the apartment by 7pm. Too tired to drive back to Sutton.

got up early - put in a few hours of writing. I was worried that it would be difficult to get back into it, but it wasn't. I'd felt uneasy about what I'd written just before leaving for QC. Not the content, which was necessary, but worrying that it didn't belong just there. That it was also too dense.

So when I got back to it this morning I pledged to trust my instincts, and sure enough, about a quarter though, I realized I needed to stop there, and change the scene. I loved it up to there....then I just knew something else had to happen. And I knew what.

So I saved the rest to a 'bits and pieces' file - about 4,000 words... and wrote a fresh scene.

Feels much better. And I know I'll use the other stuff I took out....eventually.

Well, off to pack up and head home. It sure will feel good! Oh, and great news. We're finally getting out car back!! The mercedes. Our accident was in January - and here it is mid-april, and we're just getting it back. Idiot garage the insurance people had us take it to didn't order the new parts until they came to need it was delayed by weeks and weeks while awaiting parts. Then they'd start work again and discover they needed more parts. Then ordered them.

It's incredible. If I worked like that I'd never hit a deadline - and would certainly lose my contract. I sometimes feel like a crotchety old woman. I could use another word, but won't. You can fill in the blank.

And you know what? It sometimes feels good. And sometimes is necessary.

Hope you're well, and safe. and prayers for the people affected by the horrendous storms.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Quebec City

overcast, really quite cold, minus 4

And we feel every degree! Windy as well, coming from the arctic. A damp, ugly cold. But even that can't blight this magnificent city. The publishers - Flammarion Quebec - has put us up at the Hotel Le Germain-dominion, in the basse ville. The lower town. I took this photo when Susan and I went for a walk this morning. Along a narrow cobbled stone street, suddenly it opens up and there's Place Royale. The Church is one I mention briefly in Bury Your Dead...Notre Dame des Victoires...our lady of victories....built to commemorate a victory over the English.

We took the Funicular up the side of the cliff, to the Chateau Frontenac, then walked around, stopped for a croissant and some mushroom soup at Le Paillard, on rue St Jean. Then we had to scoot to the Convention Centre for the Book Fair. Susan continued to shop - and I went to work.

Two hours of signing at the fair. Loads of fun - packed with people. Fun for me to speak in french, and everyone so patient with me. It's a little tiring...not necessarily speaking and concentrating in a second language, but really it's being "on" all the time. But the people really give at least as much energy as they get, so it's a great deal.

Hopped a cab back to the hotel - then taking Susan out for her birthday one of the best restaurants in Canada. Called Panache. Luckily it's just around the corner. Lucky in so many ways....there's a SNOW warning out for tonight. Up to 15 cm of snow. And a Rainfall warning. Up to 20 mm of rain.


Fortunately the worst will be over by the time we drive home tomorrow afternoon.

We're having a blast. Have to keep a close eye on Susan otherwise she'd wander off with any Quebecois man who said, 'merci'. (I put that in because I know some of her family read this...and she dared me).

The hotel is wonderful too. They gave Susan a box of chocolates in her room when they heard it was her birthday. Small things make such a difference. I realize that that's something big companies often don't realize. It doesn't take much to make people feel terrific, and gain their loyalty - whether they be emplyees or customers. Equally, it doesn't take much to make people feel like merde.

Off to reply to a pile of emails. Not sure there's time for a nap, but at least a quiet time...back to the Salon du Livres tomorrow.

Hope you're well!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

New Facebook page

overcast, sunny periods. temps 5

Quite nice day actually. A bit of rain, but now the sun's out. I'm in Montreal, while Michael and Trudy hold the fort at home. Fruit flies have bitten the dust. Composter has been moved further from the house - apparently that might have been part of the problem. (d'oh!) Thanks to My Assistant Lise's husband - Del - for lugging the thing across the dog run.

Couple fun pieces of news those of you who do Facebook know - this was the Big Day! At the publisher's suggestion I switched from a personal page to a fan page. Now, the only reason to do this - and it seems a ridiculous distinction to me - is that with a personal page you can only have 5,000 friends. Why? I don't know.

But - and you might already know this - if you have a fan page, well, it can go into the tens of millions, which I anticipate hitting any day now.

We weren't yet at 5,000, but thanks to Marjorie's help (who basically took me from my brother, my niece and a few crack heads playing with a stolen Mac, as friends) to 24-hundred friends...we wanted to make the change before we got really close and it was thrust upon us.

So - welcome to the new fan page. The only difference is that if you go there, it has less content than the old one. Why can't we just bring all the older posts over to the fan page? I don't know.

But to those of you who made the switch - thank you! and welcome. And I hope to make it worth your while by holding contests for advance reader's copies (ARCs) of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT - soon. The publishers are trying to figure out the best way to hold the facebook contest for the arcs. I'll let you know as soon as it's open - in the next few days I hope.

As well - BURY YOUR DEAD has been announced as the One Book, One Community selection for the Waterloo region, in Ontario. Thanks to their very dynamic head librarian, Sharron Smith.

Did a CTV television interview about it this afternoon...which meant getting out of my sweats, wiping the croissant flakes from my face and hoping I didn't have anything (like ink) on my teeth. The downside to chewing pens as I write - or think. As you can see, it's pretty much a crap shoot what you'll get when inviting me to an event.

Off to Quebec City tomorrow afternoon with Susan - to celebrate her birthday, and to do a couple of signings at the Salon du Livres. Will take my laptop and try to blog from there.

Be well, my friends.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Death, where is thy sting?

overcast, drizzle, temps 5

A typical April day here. But actually, perfect. It feels and smells like spring. Fall is often described as musky smelling, but I find spring more so. Fall I always find smells quite sweet, as all the leaves and pine needs warm in the sun. But in the spring they've all sort of fermented and turned to mud.

You can see why I don't write travel brochures for Quebec.

Ah, to be in Montreal now that April is here. Smells like fermented mud. I can just see the poster too. Actually, choosing to concentrate on the mud is a kindness for Quebec in spring.

We have had a very embarrassing infestation of fruit flies off and on since late summer, early autumn. Right by where we keep the small compost container in the kitchen. We put on our thinking caps and came to the conclusion the fruit flies might be from, just might, the small compost container. In the kitchen.

So we bought a new container. Still flies.

We put all the fruit in the fridge. Even more flies.

Got rid of all food on the counter, including oils and vinegars. Even more flies. It was as though they were being born out of thin air. A miracle, of sorts. Virgin births. In our kitchen.

thankfully, Tony showed us a trick to catch them. He put small yogurt containers around, put beer into each, covered them with saran, kept in place with an elastic band, and picked lots of holes in the top of the saran using a toothpick.

The fruit flies, while perhaps tiny miracles, weren't above a trip to the tavern. Each morning we'd find a huge number of flies in the beer. As WC Fields said, 'Drown in a vat of whiskey, eh? Death where is thy sting?'

But still, they kept coming. We'd finally had enough and called an exterminator, who came today. We left, took trudy, so that not more than the flies would get it. The joys of living in the country. Tony also reminded us to take down our bird feeder so the bear didn't get it this year.

We're surrounded. Clouds of fruit flies in the kitchen, bears outside.

Well, more fodder for the tourism campaign.

I'm so sorry to have disappointed those of you hoping we could meet in St Louis for Bouchercon. I genuinely am sorry. Especially those of you making the trip specially. I hope our paths will cross on another tour stop, though.

And thank you all, for your supportive comments....and your wonderful birthday wishes for Michael! he read them all and really appreciates every one of them!

Well, back to work. Wrote 3,000 words today....but now I've figured out my rhythm for this section of the book. I put a huge number of words on the page one day...then the next day or so I go back over them and shape them. Then move forward and do the same I progress in steps. Trying not to call it 'lurches'. It actually feels exactly right, for this section. Each stage, and indeed each book, seems to have its own needs and pace. And approach.

Off to do a CTV interview tomorrow afternoon, after my writing day. Then to Quebec Ctiy this weekend for the Salon du Livres. It's also our friend Susan's birthday, so I've asked if she'd like to come along. She didn't need much convincing, since QC is just about her favorite place too. So we'll have a gals weekend in Quebec! But I'll speak to you before then, and I'll try to blog from there.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Happy Birthday Michael!!!

light, high clouds, temps 9

Actually, that's a guess....but it seems likely. I haven't been out today.

I'm about to head out to the train station in Montreal to pick up Michael and his son Victor. What an adventure they've had! Chicago...then Michael's son Mike couldn't make it - was stuck in Toronto - so they guys flew to Toronto to be with him yesterday...and are training home now. Via Rail. Very relaxing.

It's Michael's 77th birthday! And not a day goes by when we're not very, very aware of how lucky we are with his health. Nothing wrong! His eyes are better than ever. He had a stress test and passed with flying colours. He has way more stamina than I, and can go all day. As you know, i basically lurch from cafe to bistro to bench.

And speaking of bistro - we're having dinner at the bistro on the Avenue tonight, to celebrate.

Happy Birthday, Michael.

I spent yesterday mostly writing. 3,000 words. One of those great days. Then went for a walk, had a shower, and did the Skype conversation for Nikki's bookclub at the Barnes and Noble in Ithica, NY. What a great tool, Skype is. For those not aware of Skype, it's this free tool that allows the camera on your laptop to connect live to people around the world. So I can see them and they can see me. And we can hear each other. Most of the time. At yesterday's skype event, the audio kept breaking up and fading out, and the video kept locking. But we bumbled through - thanks to a great deal of patience on the part of the club members. What wonderful questions, about how much I plan the series, and how much I respond to reader's comments - does that help influence future plots and books.... about Rosa. And Agent Morin. And Olivier.

Of course, I couldn't say much because not everyone had read all the books. But I do want to say now that I really enjoyed the Skype visit. As you might know, I'm now saying a polite (I hope) "No thank you" to almost all invitations.

In fact, I've cancelled my appearance at Bouchercon in St. Louis. I've been to Bouchercon for six years in a row - and need to pull back, take a break, and find time for myself...and do other events.

So with the help of Sarah Melnyk, the publicist in NYC, we're picking and choosing. This isn't, believe me, out of ego or some sense I'm too big to do smaller events. It's really just exhaustion. Seven years of near constant writing, promotion, editing, touring and all the other things.

My friend Louise, as part of a course she's taking on grieving, was given an assignment. (this is not the non-sequitor it appears to be) Not sure if I told you about this - she was given a glass, half filled with water. And a bunch of empty glasses. And told to label the empty glasses and pour an appropriate amount of water into each.

One she labelled "Jacques" - her husband who died in September. One was "work". One was 'Family" and so on. One was herself.

Then she started pouring. And realized she had nothing left for herself. And very little left for the things she loved.

She found this extremely illuminating. And so did I. I realized we all only have so much energy. It really is finite, not infinite. And we need to make choices.

Now, some of those glasses give back more than they get. But some just keep sucking. And will take it all, if I allow it, and am not careful. It's nobody's fault but mine if I give all my energy away. Especially to people, or things, that really don't care. And why should they? It's my energy. If I'm silly enough to agree to something, it can't be blamed on the people who are simply asking.

I also, like many of you, find it hard to say "no". But I'm getting way better!

So please, don't stop asking....but understand if I decline. It's not out of disrespect for you, or your invitation. It's simply out of a renewed respect for myself, and the people I love.

On a way different topic, a reader yesterday sent me a wonderful link - to a segment on the news. I thought you'd like to see it too.

Be well - I have a bit of a crazy week coming up. have to make a video, do a television interview, sign books, do a conference call, drive back and forth to the country, drive to Quebec City and spend all of next weekend at the Salon du Livres, signing. And speaking. French. Oh, and write a book.

And this is post-pledge to decline invitations. Makes you wonder what my life was like before that.

I'm an idiot.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

A new species of reader

brilliant sunshine, temps 4

Cooler than normal, but at least it's sunny!

this is a fun photo, sent yesterday by a reader named Annie. It's of her cat Phoebe reading Bury Your Dead. Belongs in a TS Eliot poem!

Got up early to drive Michael and his son Vic to the airport. They're off to Chicago for a guys weekend. Meeting oldest son, Mike, there. Mike is celebrating his 50th birthday, and Michael is celebrating his 77th. They staying on the Magnificent Mile, and going to a Second City show, and doing a Frank Lloyd Wright tour tomorrow - and going to another show Friday night.

They do this every year on the birthday weekend. last year the three of them did New York.

I have to say that Chicago is one of my favorite cities. don't get there nearly often enough. Last time we were there, a couple of years ago, Michael and I went on a fascinating river tour. Amazing stories from the history of that city.

Then, once I dropped them at the airport, I scooted home and then off to Nick's, on Greene Ave, for coffee with the head of the film studio. We talked about the films of the first two Gamache books.

It is such a different process - and while I'm an Exec on the project I thank God it's not my job to try to put the deal together. Money, production partners, other countries. all very intricate.

Anyway, right now it looks good. So interesting, though, to get some insight into how the film business works. I can't tell you much right now (it seems to involve farm animals, photoshop, and a few studio execs) but will fill you in as soon as I can.

A day away from writing today. have a newspaper interview in a few minutes. Watching Anatomy of a Murder - old Jimmy Stewart film. We own it, so this isn't the first time I've seen it. wonderful.

thanks for the casting suggestions, by the way. I'm making notes!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


rain, cool, temps plus 3

A regular April day. Keep wondering if Michael and I can take off for Florida or Arizona or New Mexico for a couple of weeks. Write there. But I look at our schedule and realize we can't. It doesn't really matter...just yearning for change. And warmth.

We're in Montreal - came back for peace and quiet. But now they're re-doing the floors upstairs. Sanding. Above our heads. All day. If, in book 8, you read about floors being sanded in the monastery, or people's teeth being drilled, you'll know where that comes from.

After finishing writing yesterday Michael and I headed out to do some chores in the city...mailings, that sort of thing. Then decided to pop into the Tavern on the Square for lunch. He had honey garlic shrimp salad and I had just the soup. Not overly hungry these days. It was a fabulous soup. Cauliflower and green apple soup, and fresh baguette on the side. Perfect.

Teeming with rain yesterday. And more today. Heading out again - to the bank this time. Never fun. Apparently the Royal Bank of Canada does not recognize British pounds. And so refuses to honour a cheque in pounds. We will have a little discussion.

But, in the scheme of problems, that's a small one. Worst case scenario is that we simply change banks. But I don't think that will be necessary.

Hope you're enjoying your day. The writing is actually going very well. almost 2,000 words today. And my 'worry' quotient is quite low.

Speak soon - be well.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


Sunny, warm, temps plus 5 -

Gorgeous spring day - after a snow storm Friday...and more bad weather forecast for tomorrow. I know the midwest is getting hammered!

We have some regular, and unusual visitors these days. Wild turkeys. We tried to take pictures out the solarium window...the just look like big blobs, but in person they are formidable. Very impressive. And fun.

As you might have read in the newsletter, I've just, and finally agreed to option the first two books for movie rights.

We decided to limit it to Still Life and Dead cold/A Fatal Grace just in case its a disaster. that way the damage is contained. Not that I'm expecting a disaster...I'd never have agreed if I thought that was a possibility. But you just never know.

After 6 years of turning down all offers, I agreed because of the passion this production company showed. For the books, the characters, the themes. And to do a great job. And I was impressed that they offered me the job of Executive Producer. As my agent, who never holds back, said - I wonder if they know what they're getting in to?

this is a Canadian company. I felt strongly that the lead should be taken by a Canadian production company...but there will be international partners. British and American. So if the made-for-TV films are made, they will almost certainly be shown in the UK and the US.

Very fun to imagine the best case scenario. And so important for me to remain vigilant, to protect the characters without strangling or micro-managing the production. the fact is, film is different than books. And I'm not a film person.

The head of the production company's coming to Montreal on Thursday so we can meet and discuss plans.

Must hop's a hectic time here - and I'm sure you're busy too! But I wanted you to know about the films because we've discussed it before on the blog.

Feel free to offer casting ideas!