Sunday, 31 January 2010


rainy, hot, temps 30

We had the MOST romantic, splendid evening last night. It was one of our last nights in the Presidential Suite so we wanted to take advantage of it. We asked Sabie our butler to give us dinner on the verandah. Not expecting anything except room service.

Well, she set out linen, silverware, an orchid in a vase. she scattered flower petals everywhere. And served us the most wonderful meal. We looked out over the Caribbean Sea - and down below the live band sang love ballads. (not for us, we realize - it was just unbelievable good luck!) So we ate, and danced, and held each other - and thanked Sabie over and over.

She was wonderful.

I will tell you, this vacation is so far better than anything I ever dreamed. Sandals is extraordinary...once we figured out what we wanted and what the resort offered. We're quieter than many of the people here. We don't party or want to be surrounded by parties. Basically, we want a quiet beach, a lovely ocean, romantic times together.

And we have them here.

And the people who love to drink and party, kareoke and limbo, have that too - in another area.

But what moves us and impresses us the most are the people. Their kindness. And it does not feel forced.

This morning the extraordinary Malaika told us we'd be moved into a Rondeval suite!!! tomorrow.

So, no tears. We're really delighted.

Off for lunch. it does feel odd to eat then just leave. Hope we don't do that back home.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Got Milk?

rain and sun mix, warm, temps 28

It seems St. Lucia is like this...a mix of brilliant, blazing sun, and then a rain shower. A little frustrating at times as we skiddadle inside, then outside. As Michael says, it is at least exercise.

Happy to report, the clothes still fit and the salt water and buffet have not yet shrunk them.

Had another massage - heaven - and my upper lip waxed. Decided this needed to be strategic. Do not wax on the last day here because not only do the hairs come out, so does the tan. So I would have ended up with a brown face, and a very white moustache.

I burned yesterday. Ironic since I'd just bought the strongest sun block I could find. When we put it on i had to double check the tube to make sure it wasn't latex paint. After two days in the sun, using sun block, I realized it was working and I was not burning, but neither was i tanning. hate to come back to Canada whiter than when i left - which is quite a feat given few things on earth are whiter than a Canadian in winter. the only thing that distinguishes us from snow is our clothing. yet another good reason to wear clothes in winter. Without them Canada just looks like a bunch of mobile snow drifts. Reminds me of one of my favorite mae West quotes: "I used to be as pure as the driven snow - then I drifted.'

We're doing a lot of drifting here! Continue to relax and unwind and having a fab time. We get kicked out of the Presidential Suite Monday. There'll be claw marks on the floor. Trying to be sanguine about it, but it will be hard to go back to any normal room now that we've seen 'Paree". Still, such fun to have it now!!

We went off to another Sandals - the Regency - for dinner last night. japanese. As the bus pulled out from the Grande (where we're staying) Michael and I looked at each other and laughed...seemed very strange to be leaving. half expected a huge bubble to appear and take us back to the village.

It was a very fun 40 minute drive to the Ragency...great dinner...then home.

The adventure continues...though as you can see, it isn't much of an adventure...though we're discovering untold and buried caverns of laziness. Untapped - and deep.

I think I hear the siren song of the buffet.

Speak in a couple days....

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Our Butler

sunny, hot, temps 32

We've ben here three days and Michael forgot what day it is. I told him it was Michael-Day and he seemed content.

Danced on the beach two nights ago - after dinner. Just us. The live music was in the open air lounge about 20 yards away, but we were behind a stand of palms...coming back from dinner at Gordon's restaurant, which is on stilts over the Carribean sea.

We've met our butlers...Amos is lovely - only met him yesterday - mostly we've been butled by the most gorgeous woman I've ever seen. And clearly the most gorgeous woman Michael has ever seen.

Her name is Malaika. And now, along with the exotic bird calls and gentle rhythm of the waves there is another chorus. Michael saying, 'I think I'll just call Malaika. I'm a little thirsty.'

Actually, I'm as smitten as Michael. It's a very funny feeling to have a butler. sort of uncomfrtable, really since we want to take full advantage of having them, without actually taking advantage of them. Though that latter is becoming less and less of a concern as our vacation moves along.

I wish I could tell you we've learned scuba diving and visited the volcano - or kayaked. We barely get ourselves to the beach! But we do - and lie there reading, slathered in sunblock. We have quite a creative tan/burn. I think this is because we have two differnt types of block - a 30 and 60, and I believe I mixed up the two. So some sections are burned and some are blocked.

Were invited to the General Manager's cocktail party last night. Very elegant. His name is Winston and he has the happy capacity to remember not just what day it is, but peole's names.

Every time we return to our room (The presidential suite!!!! feel the need to repeat that) - some new surprise awaits. Two nights ago, after dinner on the quai and dancing on the beach we returned to find our bedroom lit by candles and flowers strewn on the bed. We both burst into tears. Last night someone had writted our names on the bed using palm fronds.

This is an extraordinary place.

We find ourselves exhausted - and might not actually leave the resort for the remainder of our stay.

We're very happy. And very, very glad to have you along. Happier still to have a butler!!! No - OUR butler. I need to say that because I suspect we won't be able to say that many more times in our lives. Our butler.


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Presidential Suite!!!

showers, warm, temps 80

Oh, my Gooood. By some bit of great good fortune we were upgraded to the presidential suite. I'm not kidding. We arrived yesterday afternoon - a little rainy in Montreal but nothing to worry about (go tell my previous self) - landed in St. Lucia and were picked up by a fellow named Kim...our private chauffeur with a private car - to take us the hour and a half across the island to the Sandals Grande St. Lucian. I was quite glad I'd swallowed my Gravol-type anti-motion sickness pill. Up and down, sharp turns - mountainous roads...but stunning! We drove through the rain forest and could see mountains and valleys covered in mist and vegetation...everything was huge. Felt like we were in the Land of the Giants.

We sure weren't in Kansas anymore! Or Quebec.

It was sunny and warm and humid - but very pleasant.

Someone met us at the front of the Sandals, asked our name and said, Oh yes, you're in our very best room.' Which I thought was both promising and hyperbole. We'd arranged, as you know, for a Butler Level room...the Prime Minister's One bedroom suite.

But a moment later they showed up to the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential suite!!!

Dear Lord in heaven - take me now.

I don't think I've ever seen Michael so thrilled and amazed - and that includes seeing him at the alter as my mother and I walked down the aisle at our wedding.

Let me describe this suite. You walk into a vestibule (zooming almost unnotived past a powder room the size of our entire bathroom at home) - and facing us is a bank of three huge double drench doors leading onto a verandah looking onto the Caribbean Sea. Sail boats, palm trees, mountains beyond.

And in the foreground, our room. A living room area with back to back huge sofas, One set facing a massive flat screen TV - then behind it a dining room, a kitchen... then upstairs two big bedrooms, each with ensuite. The master bedroom is immense...with a sitting area and biggest flat screen TV I've ever seen - and behind that a four-poster king bed, also with a flat screen. A dressing room. A huge (this is a theme, by the way) bathroom with jacuzzi tub, walk in shower, two sinks, marble counters, separate toilet. And an outside shower...on the terrace...looking onto the other side of the resort...out to the Atlantic.

Both bedrooms have sliding glass doors onto a (yes) massive balcony with chaisse lounges and tables and chairs.

We knew for sure we were in Paradise!!

had dinner at the beach barbeque last night - on the beach. Eating mahi mahi and listening to a steel band. This morning we had breakfast on the verhandah off the living room, looking on the caribbean. It was, and is, very warm, but not uncomfortable. Sunny at first, then cloudy and showers off and on for the day. But we don't care. No one seems to care. Very relaxed and happy atmosphere.

Not at all sure we'll leave the resort, frankly. Quite surprised we left the suite.

Between cloud bursts we swam in the ocean and laid on beach chairs, reading. And feeling very, very grateful and blessed. And blissed.

Will blog again in a few days. Be well - and welcome to St. Lucia!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

One More Sleep

Sunny - but rain expected - temps minus 5

Lovely morning, but a bit of a mess expected overnight and tomorrow. Hope it doesn't affect the flight! I try not to worry, since it's clearly pointless - but it bubbles up every now and then.

I've been very lucky with flights. The only time the weather played a big role while on tour was two years ago. I needed to fly out of Montreal in March for an event in Connecticut - I was supposed to leave Sunday, but a massive blizzard arrived and the airport was shut. I went to the airport at 4 am next morning and it was - of course - chaos. I was on a wait-list, but finallyn got on a flight to NYC around ten am...the even was 1pm. The PR man at Minotaur met the flight, whisked us into a waiting limo and off we zoomed. Missed the lunch, but made the actual discussion. Then I had the whole week of travel, from NYC to Detroit, to Arizona and California ahead of me. A little tough to start off so stressed and tired - but everything else worked out very well.

It's amazing, really, when you consider the number of lights, and connections, over the years while on book tour.

So - fingers crossed for tomorrow. Always a great feeling once the plane takes off, breaks through the clouds and we're on our way. Phew.

I've decided, after some agonizing - to leave the blackberry at home and the computer. My intention is to see if there's a business centre and blog a few days - but not everyday.

Funny - but this was a harder decision that it probably should have been. The problem with having both with me is I have almost no self-control. And it would be deeply sad to spend time on a blackberry or computer when paradise and Michael await.

So - no temptation. The Apple is left at home.

Our friend Cotton is dropping by our Montreal apartment in a few minutes. She's staying here a few nights while we're gone and we need to show her around. Besides that it will be a quiet day. Watched the US Women's Figure skating last night. Nail-biting. Beautiful.

Off now to water the plants asnd check-in to the flight online.

Thank you for all your well-wishes!!! We'll see you in St. Lucia!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

The Oxford Cafe

Mainly sunny, temps minus 5

Glorious day. Lots of fun yesterday - can't quite believe we got everything done without annoying everyone, mostly ourselves. It started off really well at the eye doc. We can, and have, sat there for 3 hours waiting...but this time he took us immediately and Michael was in and out in an hour. Eyes great! Small issue perhaps with the right eye - pressure a little high - but he has an appointment with the glaucoma man when we get back. Then off to do some fast chores...see our friend Sharon's painting in Cafe Creme - a coffee shop/gallery in Westmount. Then we met Jim and Sharon for lunch at another cafe/gallery.

Sharon is full of life and energy and beans. Great artist and wonderful friend. Such a joy seeing them both.

Then off to Charlie's hockey game. Thank God they had heaters in the area. Those places can be refrigerators. Close game...the other team's goalie was fantastic. And the woman sitting next to me - we struck up a conversation she was there to root on her grandson - pointed out that the other team was both girls and boys. Indeed, their best player, by far, was a girl. But until she pointed it out I hadnm't noticed. So much padding. Only the hair sticking out was a clue.

Charlie is a wonderful player. Very fast, very skilled. And his team one. But a squeaker...1-0.

I dropped by the locker room to give him a mass of fudge from the Sutton fudge lady. Enough to share. Then scooted over to the funeral home for Ron Jamieson's visitation. He was 93 and owned as little red sports car. Very lively man. So this really was a celebration.

Then home - and Michael and his son went off for dinner and I watched a fun documentary on Valentino. The designer.

I must admit I wasn't even tempted to watch the telethon on Haiti. We've given quite a bit of money and I just could not stand to see more of the suffering, or hear about it. Perhaps in a few days. I still watch the news. Still organizing an event in the village for when we return, as a fundraiser.

Needed, and took, time 'off'.

This morning Michael and I met sister-in-law Mary (Charlie's mother) and her mother Marg - visiting from Toronto - for breakfast. At Jim and Sharon's suggestion we tried out a place that was new to us - but close to Lower Canada College, where Charlie's hockey tournament is being played. An old style, bit worn, Ma and Pa diner called the Oxford Cafe, in the Notre-dame-de-Grace area. We had a booth, and shared our breakfasts of Eggs Benedict, plain pancakes, mango and black current pancake, fruit plate and bacon. And syrup. And hot chocolates and coffee.

Yuuuum. As you can see, we are in training for Sandals. Hate to have our stomaches shrink.

And now home for a quite afternoon. Bliss.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


partly cloudy, cool, temps minus 5

Nice drive in...crazy squeezing ourselves out of the house. Happily Pat and Tony and their dogs showed up to move in and that always helps.

We decided to visit a place called Bikini Village in downtown Montreal. Once we found parking we got side-tracked. Well, I was side-tracked...Michael was on the real mission. Seems he'd lured me downtown with the promise of Bikini Village, but the real agenda was to see Avatar.

I was in no rush to see it - the adds looked ok, but I prefer live-action to animated, or approximated, characters.

I was wrong. It was spectacular. The 3-D is magnificent. I even enjoyed the story. The critiques say the plot is thin - but I think they're confusing simple with thin. It was spell-binding. Highly recommend it.

Then, despite the fact the sun had already set, I dragged him over to Bikini Village. Not that I planned to buy a bikini - I'd have to be really batty to consider that. Sandals would upgrade us to our won desert island. But they have other things.

Michael, dragged against his will, bought two pairs of shorts. And I got a bathing suit and a skirt thing. More stuff to take to St. Lucia.

It's now 6pm and we've just arrived at the appartment in Montreal. Hectic day tomorrow. Michael's eye appointment - meeting friends for a quick lunch - Sharon and I will head to Charlie's hockey game while Jim and Michael head to the visition for our mutual friend. After the game Sharon and I will join them. Then Michael's son coming over for drinks, and the two men will go out for dinner.

I'll watch a video and try not to eat pizza. Hoarding calories for the buffet table. I'm a woman with a plan. Very powerful. Stand back.

Might not blog tomorrow - a little packed...but will chat with you Saturday.

Hope you're thriving. Stay well.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Robert Parker

overcast, foggy, wet snow, temps freezing

Going nuts getting things done. Heading to Montreal tomorrow, so need to be all sorted out here before we leave. Michael and I have been going flat out. Loads of laundry, packing (dear Lord how can my suitcase be full??? My plan was to just bring two bathing suits, a cover-up and books - what is filling up the suitcase???)

You won't believe it, but we've book a butler-level suite at Sandals. And, among other things, he actually unpacks. Hope he also packs up.

Five sleeps to the trip.

Robert Parker died earlier this week. So sad, and so young...just mid-70's. I started that last sentence with "poor Robert...' but took out the 'Poor'. We all die - but wow, did he ever live. Great life, I think. Doing what he loved, and respected for it.

I remember reading the obits of Paul Newman and realizing I couldn't feel badly that he'd died, because he'd lived so fully.

I think, after the Sandals experience, I can die happy too. Just, please Lord, not before!

Thank you for all your lovely comments about the Edgars. Feeling better - these bruises don't last long. But kindness always helps the healing. Thank you!

This Friday Michael had a morning eye doc appointment in Montreal, the I'm off to see our nephew Charlie play in a hockey tournament. He's visiting from Toronto. Friday is also Michael's son's birthday. He's coming to the apartment for drinks, then the two of them are heading out for dinner. A friend, Ron, died on Saturday. he was in his 90's and had also lived a rich life, filled with art and friends and delight. His funeral is Friday. Shaping up to be a busy day.

Breakfast Saturday with Mary - our sister-in-law (charlie's mom) and her mother - Chez Nick's, on Greene Ave.

Did my first Skype event this morning with students at Alexander Galt Regional Highschool in Lennoxville. They'd read a few of my books, and one student even wrote a poem about Bean. I asked her to email it to me. it was amazing. Such fun to speak with them about books and writing and choices...and to hear the questions they had.

What a fabulous thing Skype is - to actually see people from a distance in real time.

Kirk just called - he's on the way with the upholsterer to take the sofa and two arm chairs from the living room. The ones I've mentioned before...made of stone. Better then than me lifting them. Must dash. It is after 4 and I'm still in my pajamas. Another great thing about Skype...who knew I spoke to a high school class while wearing pajamas???

Take care - speak tomorrow.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Kate McGarrigle

partly cloudy, mild, temps plus 2

Everything's melting, a little slushy, but quite nice actually.

Heard the news today that the wonderful Kate McGarrigle has died of cancer at the age of 63. She and her sister Anna formed The McGarrigle Sisters and were a huge part of the folk music scene internationally - a great accomplishment period, but even more so since they were born in a small Quebec village just north of Montreal.

What a loss. I never met them - which is quite an achievement in itself since it would be almost impossible for us to have missed each other. But, sadly for me, we have. I was a fan of theirs.

We've had a hectic of those days where the messages never stopped...and everything seemed to need responding to. Events, books, information, requests. Feels a little overwhelming. This has been the big shock about being a published author - all the 'other' work. But this wouldn't happen if people didn't like the books - so it is the territory.

As is something else that happened today. What a funny life. yesterday I got the news about being nominated for the Dilys, and today, over breakfast, got the news I was not nominated for the Edgar. In past years I knew it was a faint hope and so while slightly disappointed it did not hurt much.

Today it hurt.

Not because I expected to be - but I genuinely thought both A RULE AGAINST MURDER and THE BRUTAL TELLING had a good shot at it. So this stings. Not anything I won't get over. And I feel better already. And I debated whether to even mention anything to you...but then I realized this is part of the process. part of playing in the big leagues is occasionally getting the stuffing knocked out of you. I could sit quietly on the sidelines and not run this risk.

When good stuff happens I feel it and celebrate, and tell you about it. When bad stuff happens I also need to tell you - so you'll know the ups and downs of this business. I feel the sting, but then let it go...after wishing horrible things on the judging committee, but not the nominees. Since I know how thrilled I'd be if I was nominated, I could not help but be very happy for them.

And speaking of which, one of my favorite writers, and people, was nominated in the Best First Novel category - Stefanie Pintoff for her wonderful book, IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM. Well done, Stefanie. I'm about to email you privately as well. So richly deserved.

Running around like mad here with last minute stuff...and then we take off. Counting the sleeps.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Dilys Nominee!!!!

Hi there,

I just had to give you the fabulous news that THE BRUTAL TELLING has been nominated for a Dilys Award in the US! Robin Agnew, of Aunt Agatha's in Ann Arbor just wrote to tell me.

The Dilys is one of my favorite awards - it's given out by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association (IMBA) in the United States and it is for the books they most enjoyed selling in the past year. So it is very meaningful. I'm absolutely beyond thrilled. One of my other books, STILL LIFE, was nominated and even won! I don't think I'll win this year...too many great books on the list. I think Alan Brandley will win for his terrific debut. Here's the list of nominees...

2009 Nominees

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley, Delacorte
A Quiet Belief in Angels, R.J. Ellroy, Overlook
The Dark Horse, Craig Johnson, Viking
The Girl Who Played with Fire, Steig Larsson, Alfred A. Knopf
The Ghosts of Belfast, Stuart Neville, Soho
The Brutal Telling, Louise Penny, Minotaur
The Shanghai Moon, S. J. Rozan, Minotaur

Yay - such great company.

quiet day

overcast, slight drizzle - slush. mild. temps freezing

another overcast day - but this seems to be the January thaw. Normally a January thaw in Canada is quite spectacular. Very mild, even warm, temps, melt all the snow...grass appears, sometimes even small green shoots. And then...February appears. Goodbye thaw.

Just finished ellipticating. Grrr. Wish I could say I like it. But I hate it. I keep trying to change my attitude, knowing that if I'm going to exercise, then hating it sure doesn't help. I think it's a combination of not liking to exercise and liking food. So, less food and more ellipicating makes me grouchy.

And then I think of what is happening with other people, and I'm less grouchy. Still Stinky, though.

Thoughts are underway here to do an event for Haiti when we get back from holiday...mid-February. So important to get help now. But equally crucial to continue the effort after the first not forget. Our IGA (grocery store) has joined so many around the world in collecting money...very easy. Just add 5, 10 - one dollar to the bill and it goes to the Red Cross. Brilliant, elegant idea. Easy and effective.

1,400 Canadians are missing in Haiti. The top Canadian cop - an RCMP Superintendent - was killed when the UK building collapsed. 40 of the 50 Habitat for Humanity workers are missing. But people are still being saved.

Hope. Now there's a quality. both a gift and a curse.

More stuff to do here before we head off to St. Lucia. Thank God Pat and Tony come and stay - look after all the details to do with the feeding the birds and finding the bats. And Trudy, of course.

Amazing, though, the details to be sifted through to clear up the agenda before vacation. Slugging away. All well worth it.

A blessedly quiet day ahead...I think... writing the newsletter - working on permissions and a few translation questions. Tomorrow we're meeting My Assistant Lise for lunch - that's always a treat.

Talk to you tomorrow. Take care.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

You're welcome

overcast, mild, temps minus 3

Lovely spring-like day.

Had a message from Lise (My Assistant Lise, who is also head of Research and Development for our military-industrial complex) - she's read the blog. Honestly, this blog is getting me into trouble! She wrote an email subject line: Thanks A Lot!

hmmm. I sensed sarcasm.

then she went on to explain that since she not only is president of R&D and My Assistant Lise, she is also our gardener, she will almost certainly be the one dealing with Monsieur ou Madame Bat in the spring, which when last seen had been chucked into the shed. The garden shed.


Now, her assistant, Donna, is a profoundly courageous woman when it comes to emotions and doing what is right. But a profound chicken when it comes to anything with a heartbeat other than herself. This isn't a problem when dealing with roses and tulips and dirt. But it is a problem when dealing with snakes (which our garden grows), mice, spiders, and perhaps no surprise, bats.

Donna also reads this blog.

I can see that the problem is not the bat, it is the blog. And reading it.

Hoping to finish the mass market proofs today, send off the changes, and write the February Newsletter. If you receive it you know I launched a contest...asking people to send me their favorite quotes. I've been happily deluged. I adore quotes and this is riches beyond my dreams.

It was always going to be hard choosing the 'winner' - but now I think I will choose one that also speaks to what is happening in Haiti...the grief and the courage - and the generosity.

So I'll be sitting safe and warm and content in front of the fire, reading this wonderful quotes, and pondering.

Quiet day. How lucky I am.

Friday, 15 January 2010

batty after all

overcast, dull gray, mild temps freezing

I'm not sure what's worse...brilliant blue skies but minus 25, or dull, dreary skies and mild temperatures? What I do know for sure is we don't have a choice. Actually, the truth is, I'm not overly affected by the weather. I don't much care. For the most part I like it all...but I also realize I'm very lucky. Michael and I don't have to function in it, and that makes a huge difference.

Had breakfast with Cheryl and Gary, at Chez Camil in Sutton. They're just back from a week at an all-inclusive in Cuba. Sounds like they had a fun time, rained and was cloudy most of the time. One day it was even cold! No surprise, I suppose, to those of you in Florida. But not much fun when this is your one big week on vacation. Gary says he checked the weather for this week and its sunny and hot! Best not to know. But I'll sometimes do that. Buy something, then compare prices at other stores, just to torture myself. passes the time.

When we got back from Montreal yesterday I laid a fire in the grate, lit it and a log rolled off to the side, so I reached for the leather gauntlets on the hearth. We use them all the time to move burning logs around in the grate. I put the gloves on, but noticed something brown, like a small glove, still lying on the hearth. I leaned close. Then quickly leaned away.

It was a bat.

Stunned...sleepy...but apparently waking up. It had fallen asleep under the big leather gloves. Thank God it hadn't fallen asleep inside the big leather gloves! I stared at it for a stunned moment, then scooped the poor thing up in the gloves, creating a small pocket between my hands for it to breath. I could feel it stirring inside. Not exactly the wake-up it was expecting, I suppose. But then, it wasn't what I was expecting either.

So there I stood in the middle of the living room wearing two massive gauntlets and holding a bat.

Michael walked into the room. Stopped. And stared.

'It's a bat,' I said.

This didn't seem to enlighten him.

'In my hands. I found him under the gloves.'

Then he understood. Now the two of us stood in the middle of the living room. One with a bat, the other without.

'We have to do something,' I finally said, walking toward the kitchen. 'Should I put him outside?'

Michael, while now in motion, still said nothing. I had, it seems, mistaken him for a bat expert.

'I'll open the door,' he finally offered. And that was helpful since without him I would still be holding the poor bat. He opened the back door and I was about to let the bat go when I realized it wouldn't last long outside. He should be hibernating now.

So we put on our boots and took the bat to our shed. It was now quite active in the palm of my hands. Michael opened the shed door a sliver and I tossed the bat in. It disappeared into the darkness as Michael slammed the door closed.

We then called Pat and Tony, then the vet, then I contacted a friend who is a biologist with a local zoo. Thankfully they all thought the shed was a great idea.

However, they aren't the ones who now have to go in there. With luck he'll hibernate again and wake up in the spring...and then...

but how'd he come to be sleeping beside the fireplace? We figure he came in on one of the logs this autumn, and woke up with the warmth when his 'home' as brought up from the basement.

This made me quite alert today when I went down to get more wood. Do we now have a bat cave downstairs?

Bats in the shed. Bats in the wood. Bats in the basement. Suspicions confirmed!

We're still, with Danny and Lucy, pursuing the possibility of a radiothon to raise money for Haiti. My God, it's almost unbearable to watch...and yet it seems too facile to look away.

I LOVE border guards - honest

freezing drizzle, mild, temps plus one

What magificent comments about Haiti. Terrible, heartbreaking situation. We saw our governor General - the honourary head of state for Canada on television. She was born and raised in Haiti. She was in the middle of giving a statement when she suddenly started crying. So many of her family and friends are missing. But it was more than that. She seemed to be weeping for a country she loves that has already suffered too much. And now this.

We've decided to (and have) donate to Medecines sans Frontieres (Docotrs without Borders) - which we belong to. And the Red Cross. The Haitian community in Montreal - which is massive, since most Haitians are French-speaking - has asked that donations be made through the Red Cross. But clearly a donation to anty reputable organization - referably with a history in Haiti - will help.

We're in Montreal - had to pop in yesterday. Michael had a tooth ache and we wanted to tend to it. Turns out it got better on its own, about five minutes after seeing the dentist. Such a nice man to fit us in quickly.

Crossed the US border the day before yesterday - to gas up and get come groceries etc at Hannaford's in Vermont. this is for the St. Lucia trip (have I mentioned it??? ha) Apparently the 90 minute drive from the airport to the resort is a bit of a rtoller-coaster and it's recommended that anyone who suffers motion sickness might want to pop a pill.

I went to our phramacist and he said he would not recommend Gravol. But said if I can get to the States I could buy Dramamine there...much better. But, for reasons I don't want to think about - it is not available in Canada.

So I went across the border to get it. Waiting at US customs the very nice officer searched the car then in handing me back my passport asked how the book tour went. I was stunned since I hadn't mentioned I was a writer and he was a guard I'd never met before. then he said, 'I like your blog. Especially the one about the border guard.'

I stared at him - mouth open. Not sure what to say or do. So I laughed nervously. Ha ha. (Dear Lord, I thought - now I'm screwed - who'd have thought this blog isn't private???) I remember writing that entry. It was after a female border guard (not the very nice, handsome and powerful one who just stopped me) decided that being a writer on book tour demanded a full investigation. It suggested a couple of things to me...which I will not repeat since I adore all border guards, especially the ones into Vermont. And at airports)... But one thing it suggested that I will mention is that telling the truth is not necessarily rewarded or valued or respected - except by the very nice, handsome and powerful guard who stopped me. And all the others I might ever meet. I love you.

Came back from the US with a trunkload of legal drugs...for everything. (even declared them!) Dramamine for motion sickness, stuff for the runs, stuff for the opposite, stuff for colds, stuff for the flu. We'll be taking all those, plus a bathing suit. And a book. Seems about right. I'm not at all normally concerned about germs and getting sick. But when I'm on book tour, or holiday, I really watch out. And, as we know, you can never have (if you're a border guard, please stop reading) too many drugs.

Well, back to Sutton this morning. We're trying to decide if we should try to organize a fundraiser in the village - for Haiti. Perhaps an event at the bookstore, or a radiothon with the local community station. I'm of two minds. The forefront says most people who would respond to that have already given and given generously. And perhaps our time and effort is better served doing something more practical for the people of Haiti.

Will make some calls, but I think we will content ourselves networking with friends - and digging deep ourselves.

Be well.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010


partly cloudy, calm, cold, temps minus 10

Poor Haiti. Dear Lord.

Here is a list, from the Canadian Press, of reputable aid organizations currently seeking cash donations for relief efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Donations can be made at the web pages or by calling the appropriate phone numbers.

Canadian Red Cross (hoping to raise at least $2 million):, or call toll free 1-800-418-1111, visit any Red Cross office.

Humanitarian Coalition (consists of CARE Canada, Oxfam Canada, Oxfam-Quebec and Save the Children Canada):

Plan Canada:

Salvation Army:, or call 1-800-725-2769.

Rogers Wireless and Bell Mobility customers can make $5 donations by texting the word "haiti" to 45678.

Donations can be mailed to Army Territorial Headquarters, Canada and Bermuda, 2 Overlea Blvd., Toronto, Ontario M4H 1P4. Donations can also be dropped off at local Salvation Army units. Specify "Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund."

Unicef Canada:

United Jewish Appeal of Greater Toronto: or call 416-631-5705.

World Vision Canada:

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade has also compiled a guide designed to help the public avoid scams and ensure their donations are of maximum value: lp-aide-canadien.aspx

I know there are many, many organizations in your area too...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Just plain cold

overcast, temps minus 24

OK, jokes over. We can return to normally scheduled programming now. Please. This is cold by even Quebec standards. And where the ice and snow in the trees was glorious yesterday, now I notice many trees bending over, and branches on the ground where they've grown too brittle and broken. Must get out there with a broom and whack our honeysuckle bush.

Still, this is actually pretty much winter here. A few days every winter of desperate cold. Followed by three months of just plain very cold. And a couple months of simply cold.

I actually quite like it. Except for the cold, of course.

Am by the fireplace again, sending My Assistant Lise info on permissions for the sixth book...poetry. Mostly Margaret Atwood. and need to register for Bouchercon. It's a huge crime readers and writers convention. Moves around each year. This year it's in San Francisco in October.

Listening to the soundtrack to The Piano. Loved the the score.

Some people have asked about THE HANGMAN. It's a novella I've written featuring Gamache and a murder in Three Pines. It's part of a new Canadian literacy project called Quick Reads, based on a very successful programme in the UK. Recognizing that emerging readers, adults, are not interested in reading books for kids - that it is in fact insulting and counter-productive to offer them that - the literacy groups decided to approach writers and ask for very short books (slightly longer than a short story) that can be read by adults at a grade 3 to 5 reading level. I was asked to be part of the first wave of Canadian novelists. Very exciting. As you might know, I'm quite involved in literacy campaigns here. How exciting to help someone discover not only the practicalities of reading, but the joy and power! The comfort. The excitement.

THE HANGMAN is the novella I came up with. Just being edited now. I believe it will be published this fall and should be available in the States as well as Canada.

I hope it isn't crap. That would be disappointing.

Quiet day today. Will continue reading the mass market proofs for THE BRUTAL TELLING...finding some odd mistakes...and one howler, as some of you know... will say no more.

I adore days like this...quiet reading, small easy tasks, feeding the birds with Trudy...and working myself up to a bath. Bliss.

Hope this find you enjoying your Sunday. Sorry about the blast of cold Canadian air we've sent south. I blame society.

Saturday, 9 January 2010


Sunny, spectacular day, temps minus 14

Desperately beautiful day. A day to gasp. Not a breath of wind, so the fluffy snow that fell over the past two days is balancing on everything - tree limbs, power lines, fences. Every tiny thing is outlined in snow. And then with the sun on it it just looks brilliant. This is what glory must look like.

Am listening to the Barry Lyndon soundtrack - baroque music - haven't heard it in decades, so it is like discovering an old friend. Fireplace on...power on. Not a given this time of year. We lost power twice yesterday. Once in the afternoon just as we arrived home. Hadn't yet had time to fill the tub with water. When our power goes out, since we're on a well, the pump stops - so no running water. First thing we do when we hear a storm is approaching is fill the tub with water.

Am about to dive back into THE HANGMAN - and make a cafe au lait in the Gamache mug (product placement alert). Oh, saw Julie and Julia last night with Michael. I adore Amy Adams but agree that mostly I just wanted to be with Meryl Streep and the great Stanley Tucci in France.

Speak tomorrow.

Friday, 8 January 2010

no sun!

soft flurries, temps minus 8

Back home in Sutton after a fun, quick, trip to Vermont. Did the interview with Fran Stoddard for her Vermont Public Television show 'Profile". almost 30 minutes...bliss. She's a riot, and very, very thoughtful. the time just flew by. And I looked like neither Bozo nor Phyllis Diller. Since I did my own make-up and am very lazy (apparently once you put mascara on one eye you really should do the other - and I can never be bothered to do both the upper and lower I get the upper done and figure good enough) I ended up looking quite a bit like Gloria Swanson. Not the Sunset Blvd Gloria, but the Carol Burnett one.

On top of that, Fran is tiny and I am not. We looked like different species. I thought, as the interview progressed, it would be fun to slowly, slowly sit up straighter and straighter, so that it looked like I was being inflated. But I didn't. Instead I contented myself with looking like an expanded Gloria Swanson to her delicate, delightful ingenue.

I'll let you know when it airs and put the link up on the website...along with the link for Shelagh Shapiro's radio interview yesterday. Now, wouldn't you know it - but Shelagh and I are exactly the same height - but on radio it is hardly noticeable.

We also met Michael and Nancy - a lovely couple from St. Albans - who came to VPTV so I could sign their books. Such fun to meet them.

Speaking of the website, had a hilarious email from the fabulous Linda Lyall, who manages and designs my website and newsletter. We've never met, though she feels like a sister/daughter (I realized fairly recently that yes, she is young enough to be my daughter!!) As you know, Britain is being slammed by winter weather - snow in particular. Very's what Linda, from Scotland, wrote...

Britain seems to have gone into a state of panic (well in England anyway) apparently (according to sky news) we are going to run out of food, road grit, gas then die a cold death, after that the polar bears are going emigrate here!. You have to take your hats of to our media they love to create as much wide scale panic as possible as soon as a bit of harsh weather rolls in. Anyway so far we are doing fine, I can only imagine how hard a Canadian winter gets, we should send some of these reporters over to your country and they might start to realise we have it pretty easy.

If you're reading this from the UK, know that we do sympathize. Snow can be pretty scary. Linda, in Scotland, is wonderful. she's had her kids making snowmen and toboganning etc...trying to make the best of it.

For our part, we drove home through snow squalls, but it was very beautiful. if you're equipped with winter tires and the experience it isn't too bad. And the snow wasn't terribly heavy. Got back to Sutton in time for lunch at the Tintoretto - then home. Trudy was happy to see us...and we were thrilled to see her.

But as beautiful as this snow is, we can hardly wait to head to St. Lucia! Trying not to wish away the next two weeks...not totally successfully.

Tomorrow I'll be doing another small edit on the novella called THE HANGMAN. The challenge with the novella is that since it is for emerging readers there are certain 'rules' to watch for. the sentences must be shorter. They should not start with an 'And' or a 'But' (many of mine do)...and a few other things that I pay no attention to normally. It's a fascinating balancing act between my style and voice in storytelling, and making it as accessible to new adult readers as possible.

It's almost there - but one more polish is necessary. Laurel, the editor, has sent some suggestions. I haven't read them yet, but will tomorrow, and hope to get it done quickly. I hate to say this, but I'm fighting to start my time off - which I thought would start Jan 1st - but it keeps getting nibbled away. I'm getting pretty close to just saying, nicely I hope - 'Enough'.

Take care - will speak with you tomorrow! Watch out for polar bears.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


sunny breaks, mild, temps minus 1

Still in Burlington - having loads of fun. Went to Macy's and other shops in the big mall off Church Street to find clothes for our vacation to St. Lucia. Both Michael and I found some great things...very loose...this is an all-inclusive vacation, after all.

We really like Burlington. Unfortunately we were in a bit of a rush. Had to head back to the Essex Inn for an interview with Shelagh Shapiro for her show "Write the Book". Got back just in time for a quick shower and met her in the library of the Inn. She was set up in front of the fireplace. What a terrific woman and interview. It was 45 minutes, which is so rare, and such a pleasure. We could actually talk about things to do with the books and writing.

Then...ta da...I have an 80 minute massage. Heaven. They've just in the last 8 months opened the new spa here and it is stunning. Gorgeous aesthetic - modern, warm, clean, very, very impressive. As was the massage itself.

Sadly, the rest of the Essex Inn isn't up to the same standard. Well meaning - but not very special. Food ok - turns out this is no longer a campus for the New England Culinary Institute. This campus closed last year and it consolidated in Montpelier, Vt. So no students. No teachers. I don't know if the food was better before it closed, but now it is OK, nothing more.

The room, too is a little odd. Large. Very orange. I'm wondering if they're trying for a mid-century modern vibe. If so, they've missed. hard to pull off that look when you're also striving so a country inn feel. But our main problem is that whoever designed or decorated the room did not think how it might be used. Instead of a sofa in front of the electric (!) fireplace there are two comfortable club chairs separated by a large, tall, dining table. The chair I'm in has no lamp so it's quite dim. And there is one plug for the laptop and blackberry chargers...on the wall by the everything sits on the floor. It seems no one thought it through.

But this got Michael and me thinking about all the hotels, wonderful and otherwise we'd been in last year. Such fun! I adore home, but I also love a great hotel room. they're inportant to me. I guess because I'm a nester. I stayed in a wonderful hotel in Houston. A fun one in Quebec City. But our favorite by far was the Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Arizona. It went for and nailed the mid-century modern. Very cool - but also exceptionally well designed for real people with real lives and needs. Brilliant. Thrilling design. We adored it.

Will not mention the bad hotels - but of course they serve to make the good ones all the better.

Have a Vermont Public TV interview tomorrow (my hair in standing on end after the head massage - so I will look like either Bozo or Phyllis Diller...depending on the amount of make-up they put on. I'm thinking any moment now the publisher will pull the promotional plug.

Back to sutton tomorrow. This has been a fun visit. Must say, Burlington is a GREAT city. Well worth visiting.

Speak tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

My other brother Daryl

freezing rain, snow, temps minus 6

We've fled to the Kingdom to the South. Vermont. And are huddled up in the Essex Inn and Spa. As you can see, it's a soft landing. We were actually booked to come here tomorrow, but the freezing rain kept coming, trees bowed down, power went out. And we skiddadled, which is my Olympic sport. It's actually a triathlon. Skiddadling, Massage, Gourmet meal. Followed by shopping, for those really in shape.

The problem at home, or really the final issue, was when the power went out. I must say it's a little frightening for those of us who went through the ice storm. And this is reminiscent of that. It really should not be freezing raining with temperatures this cold - but it is. An inversion of some sort. The ice has been building up for three days, and today seemed to be the tipping points, where trees started breaking. The pines along our drive had their boughs so low we could barely get the car underneath.

At the same time, it is staggeringly beautiful. A crystal world.

The contradiction we live - where the weather is both gorgeous and deadly.

So Pat and Tony are looking after the house and Trudy and we decided to come down a day early before the weather got really bad. What a relief to arrive. We assumed there was black ice under the road...not a bad assumption. Happily the freezing rain disappeared and turned into snow half way here.

The Essex Inn and Spa is actually the campus of the New England Culinary Institute. So far it is nice, the room is lovely with a fireplace...but the whole place lacks charm. However, the people (students?) seem really wonderful. I think part of the problem is the decoration isn't very inspired. Kind of drab. But the staff is warm and enthusiastic. Looking forward to trying the dinner.

Oh, it feels so good to be here!

Did a newspaper interview this morning, then Kirk and Jane came by with fabric for the living room (one we all adored but Michael didn't...we were spared having to beat him when Kirk realized the fabulous fabric was pure silk and would not survive long in our home.

Then the power went out. I realize here in Quebec we call power 'hydro' because for the most part it comes from huge power dams, water power, in the north. But someone did point out the rest of the world might not know what that means. I know in Ontario it's called hydro too...but not sure about other parts of the world. Though I'm sure you could figure it out. However, if someone said the 'wind' had gone out I'm not sure I'd conclude they had wind generated power and that's what they meant.

Sadly, the hydro went out about ten minutes before I was supposed to test the Skype for an upcoming conference call with a school. So will try for another test.

Hope you're well...will report on the Inn and Spa activities tomorrow. Have a radio interview with Shelagh Shapiro for her show 'Write the Book' 2pm.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


flurries, temps minus 7

Got the car dug out this morning - amazing what the promise of french toast and bacon will do. Do you think that's what motivated the pioneers? Being told there was a plate of French toast and bacon waiting for them in the West? For that I might survive. Step aside Lewis and Clark, coming through...

Did a bunch of chores in Cowansville, then lunch with Cotton at the Cafe Inn...loads of fun. Also stopped by the bookstore. Danny and Lucy, when not selling books, are madly packing Vive Gamache mugs...such fun to think of so many of you also sipping a favorite beverage from them.

And now we're home, with absolutely no intention of heading out snowshoeing. Tomorrow, as we know, is another day. Speaking of tomorrow I have a newspaper interview at 10am, Kirk and Jane are coming at 10:30 with fabric samples, and have a skype test at noon for a conference call that is fast approaching.

And then I think I will finally take down the Christmas decorations. Was thinking of going for the record but have capitulated.

Must say it is excruciatingly beautiful outside. The trees are covered in snow...difficult to tell where the forest ends and the sky begins. Everything looks like it has been dusted in icing sugar. or snow.

Off to the bath...or perhaps I should exercise. Damn. Wish I hadn't remembered.

Speak to you tomorrow...stay safe.

Monday, 4 January 2010

The Donner Party

snow, blowing snow, freezing rain - temps minus 7

I know - freezing rain when it's minus 7? But there's a crust under the fresh snow now and a layer of ice clinging to the trees. When the wind blows it sounds like guests at a wedding party demanding a kiss.

After a day and a half indoors with the blizzard Michael and I took the snowshoes out of the basement and decided to take Trudy around the pond. What a to-do. first we had to remember what clothes we wear (leggings and thermal socks), then we had to adjust the snowshoes to our new winter boots - falling all over each other as we stood on one foot, then the other. Dancing with the Idiots. All the while Trudy is staring at us, her ice-encrusted ball in her mouth.

Finally, after a struggle, we ready. It's snowing and blowing - but we're determined. For the first ten feet. Then I for one was ready to head back in and get a hot chocolate. We weren't even in the snow yet, but still on the driveway.

But Michael thought I was kidding, so on we went. Up to our thighs in snow. Ploughing through it. It was, I have to say, seriously exhausting. I looked back at the house (in the near distance) and realized if I was a pioneer I'd be the first one eaten. I'd just curl up and die. No way could I have done what they did. First canoe portage? Shoot me. First mountain range? leave me here to die.

I'm definitely more of an indoor pioneer. Exploring internal landscapes. They can be pretty scary too. And sometimes, I eat my young.

We made it halfway around the pond, gave Trudy her treat, and retraced our steps, into the wind and blowing snow. That was easier because we'd already broken the trail. Snowshoeing is great exercise. Probably better if you go more than 100 yards. But we did make a discovery. We like it by the fireplace better...but the only thing better than the hearth, is the hearth with a hot chocolate after being out in a blizzard. It was seriously fun.

Then I got on the phone, called our travel agent, and booked another week in St. Lucia. A few more paces through the snow and we'd have bought a place there. So - now it's 2 weeks at Sandals. We are almost giddy with excitement!

Had a nice day. Did some slight updates on the website. Read the mass market pages for The Brutal Telling, to correct any mistakes (16, 17??) - heading out tomorrow for breakfast in Cowansville (once we dig the car out) - and meeting Cotton for lunch in Knowlton.

I realize some of our friends here have strange names, but we get so used to it they no longer seem like anything other than their names. Cotton. Wilder. I once worked at CBC with a guy named Havoc. Indeed, Wilder and I worked together at CBC thirty years ago. This should have been a clue about what I was getting into when two of my co-workers are named Wilder and Havoc.

Speak to you tomorrow - hope you've enjoyed the day!

Sunday, 3 January 2010


blizzard, blowing snow, temps minus 14

But inside it's snug and warm, fire laid ready to be set. Coffee on the pine table beside me. Laptop open. Surrounded by notes and manuscripts, books. Michael writing. Trudy sleeping - wet and stinky from chasing her ball through the storm, digging for it, finding it, tossing it into the air herself. Rolling on it.

And today is the gift. No one coming. We're going nowhere. Will sit by the fire or the television, or in the bath. Doing what I want to do.

Rock Cornish Game hens for dinner.

Tomorrow...more snow. More quietude. More peace.


As we all know - anything can happen! Still, for now while the blizzard snows us in and throws itself against our home, we are inside with everything we need.

Saturday, 2 January 2010


steady snow, mild, temps minus 2

Just fed the birds...the feeders are thick with blue jays, wood peckers, doves and blackcapped chickadees. Lost Trudy's ball in the snow, but after much mutual digging, and against all odds, we found it. In spring, when the feet of snow melt, we find all sorts of things in the snow. Some more pleasant than others.

blizzard warning out for tonight and tomorrow. What fun.

Nancy came and got both Michael and me all hooked up to Skype on our laptops. Now when I do book clubs the option is there to do it via skype. What a great piece of technology.

Am going out tonight, as we do every Saturday night when we're home, to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Sutton. Today I'm celebrating 16 years without a drink. Sober. Free. I realized this morning that I have now been sober longer than I drank. It feels significant.

But mostly it feels gentle. Feels right. Feels like me. Life, while full and often hectic, is really very simple now. No need to lie. Or hide. I have a private life, but not a secret one.

And my needs are simple...I need my beliefs and my sobriety. Everything else stems from there. If those are gone I have nothing. No love, no friends, no creations. Just loneliness.

How lucky I am. Lucky to have been a drunk, and even luckier to be in recovery.

I don't talk of this often. Once a year on the blog I mention it, out of gratitude. But my sobriety, and what I have learned in the 12 step programme, informs everything I say and do and think.

Be well, my friends. Thanks for the company.

Friday, 1 January 2010


light snow all day, mild, temps hovering around freezing

So far I love 2010. Quiet, peaceful, gentle. Even had a nap on the sofa in front of the fireplace. No year can be bad that starts so well.

Cafe au lait and the last of the Christmas cake. Editing mass market edition of THE BRUTAL TELLING. Heaven.

Having a wonderful time reading and responding to the flood of quotes from subscribers to the newsletter. A reader sent a quote recently and I put it on the top of the January newsletter and decided to hold an on-going contest. Every month I'd place a new quote at the top, sent by a reader, and if theirs is chosen they get a small gift as thank you. I adore quotes, and clearly lots of other people do too. What fun this is.

Indeed, Cathy in Toronto just sent this quote and it seemed appropriate to share it with you now:

"Write it in your heart that every day is the best day of the year" Ralph Waldo Emerson

This being the start of a new year and new decade one becomes reflective. I've had such great fortune in the past year. A Rule Against Murder came out in January in the US and hit the NY Times list...the first of my books to do it. A thrill I will never recover from.

Michael and I had a fabulous, quite miraculous month in Quebec City researching Bury Your Dead - the 6th Gamache book. that got written through the late winter and spring - editing through the summer and into the autumn.

The Cruelest Month won the Agatha. Cannot begin to describe how exciting that was!

THE BRUTAL TELLING came out and went immediately onto the New York Times Bestseller list and stayed there for 3 weeks! And was chosen an IndieNext pick by the Independent Booksellers, but also by Barnes and Noble as their Main Selection. It was thrilling - I cried when I heard the news I was so dumbfounded and happy.

Lots of great professional news, and on the personal front Michael and I continue to be blessed - with a few hurts along the way, of course. Losing Maggie was hard...such a brave puppy. Lose John was harder. Such a brave man. As was Michael.

But Michael's eyes, always fragile, underwent a delicate procedure that would either cure it or leave him blind in that eye with the other threatened. I cancelled touring with THE BRUTAL TELLING (with the full blessing and support of Minotaur Books in the US - which I will never forget)...and the operation was a complete success.

I know many of you have seen loved ones struggle with ill health. Some of you have seen bad news turn worse. And been there at the end. I know some of you have received dreadful news about your own health. And continued to put one graceful foot in front of the other.

this time last year I could never have predicted what would happen. The moments of joy, of delight and gratitude. And the others. The sorrow.

I wonder what I'll be writing about a year from now? All I really hope is that Michael is healthy and happy - and that whatever comes we can accept, and make everyday the best day of the year.

Here in Quebec there's an expression. Bien Etre. Well Being.

I wish you all, and myself, Bien Etre as we head into 2010. I must say, it sure sounds like a good year. Not sure just does. 2010.