Wednesday, 30 June 2010


overcast, blustery, cool, sunny periods...temps 16

A sort of turbulent day weather-wise. Woke in the middle of the night overwhelmed by things that need to be done (not including writing and editing). Tossed and turned...finally fell asleep and awoke to the wonderful aroma of coffee...God bless Michael. But it was late. 8:15 - and he had a 9:30 barber appointment. And I was meeting Rhianna (a young neighbour writing a book). So up I sprang.

Back now from meeting her. She's 20, and getting well into her novel. Very exciting. i so enjoyed meeting her. A thoughtful, kind, respectful, funny and very smart young woman. So we're going to get together once a month or so and compare notes.

It now looks as though we're going to head to London in September - which is always fun...but one more thing to add to the mix.

We've cleaned up after the visit of the kids. A funny sort of visit when the best behaved turns out to be Buttercup, the hound from Hell. Though we did find a considerable dropping in our bedroom when we returned Monday afternoon. We think it might have been BC, but, honestly, it could have been anyone and doesn't bear close examination.

We're now home...and I've decided I just need to do one or two things each day to get everything done...not bad. At 3am it seems a howling monster, at 2pm it's quite manageable.

Michael's back is almost all better!!! He's so smart...he admits he has an ache, then does his exercises...and voila. Gone.

I am SO enjoying the discussion (on the comments section) on who might play Gamache. I am noting all the suggestions...and having such fun reading them.

Hope you're enjoying the day!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


heavy rains, sunny breaks, torrential rains, clear blue - temps 15

Rreally a very cool (and not in a retro chic way) day. I, of course, am in shorts and sandals.

Doug and Mapy and Dennis (two of dougs friends) and every child in the world, left. But between the time we arrived home yesterday about noon and when they left this morning - the beetle broke down on the highway, young Gordie dove into the pool and hit his face on the bottom (diving into the slope where shallow becomes deep - but not quickly enough apparently). We were SO lucky _ though it took some doing to convince Gordie he was lucky - since all that happened was he broke a tooth. A front tooth. In half. And adult front tooth. In half. What luck.

But clearly it could have been worse. Tragic even.

A little later there was a kid meltdown involving fists and a drink.

Uncle Michael, while playing a role in Gordie's tooth, decided to sit out the slugging. And pretend it wasn 't happening.

But despite all this, it was fun. The worst day with doug and the kids is still better than the best day without them in our lives could ever be. It would be horrible if the kids, or their parents, decided they didn't want to come visit. We're really more like grandparents to the kids than Aunt and Uncle. Very fun. And we've learned over the course of many, many years, that upsets come and go. Such is life in a family.

By 7 this morning they'd all left and we were also on the road, to VW in Sherbrooke, to take the car in. We'd just returned home (a 1 hour drive) when they called to say come pick it up, it needs two parts they don't we'll need to take it back next week.

So today we've taken the car there and back - twice - and done endless loads of laundry.

On the bright side, our wonderful friend Susan, on hearing the stresses suggested a rain check. She was going to come tomorrow and stay through the weekend. As she said, her gift to me was alone time. How perfect to have a friend who knows me so well...and would give up a vacation so I can stare at a wall.

Tomorrow morning I said I'd meet a good neighbour's granddaughter in Sutton. She's an aspiring novelist. And then hoping to come home and finally, finally, do nothing. But that was the plan for today. Oh well...

Absolutely ADORE your thoughts on who should play Gamache in a movie/TV series. I remember one producer explaining that leads in TV series are generally unknown...the series makes their careers. And I suspect that's true. I also know that John Thaw was not how Colin Dexter described Morse, but he was perfect for the role.

So many of you got it absolutely right...the physical appearance is far less important than the sense of the man on screen.

I'd also encourage you, though, to rent Miss Pettigrew lives for a Day. That's where I discovered Ciaran Hinds. since saw him in a few things, to see what I thought, and didn't see him as Gamache in anything else. But he made a perfect Gamache in his role in Miss Pettigrew. I guess that's why they call it acting.

And - to refresh your memories...Gamache is mid-fifties, solidly built, and speaks French, of course...but when he speaks English it's with a slight British accent, since that's where he learned the lnguage.

But again, not of that is as important as a commanding, kindly, warm, strong presence. Please keep the suggestions coming...

Sunday, 27 June 2010


mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

A perfect day...just wonderful. We arrived in Montreal about 9:30 last night. Had breakfast this morning at Nick's, then hopped in the car (top down) and zipped off to Hudson. What a beautiful community. All sorts of gorgeous homes, stone and clapboard...not large (though there is one dreadful eyesore - a kind of trophy home that looks, as prince charles would say, like a carbunkle on the face of Hudson.) I arrived a little early and had a chance to drive around a bit...then called Michael and told him I'd arrived, and planned to buy a home, and he was welcome to join me.

There was a pause. Then he started to laugh.

If we didn't love our home and community in Sutton so much I could definitely see us in Hudson. simply beautiful, and peaceful.

The event was sponsored by the Quebec Writer's Federation, and co-hosted by the Greenwood Centre for living, which is in the Greenwood home...the oldest home in the community - 1700's....with later additions. The volunteers and organizers for the local literary festival called Storyfest hosted a lunch before the event on the verandah of the home, overlooking the lake. It was a warm, sunny day...and the setting was magical. Then we walked the five minutes over to St. Mary's Church hall for the event. A nice turnout - the place was filled. Then after I spoke and did a reading and answered questions we all went back to Greenwood, and had a garden party...where I signed books. Then drove back to Montreal...about 45 minutes.

Nice to get home to Michael.

Poor guy has a back ache. It's been a while since his back has gone when I get back we both did exercises on the floor. A whole lot of groaning, I'll tell ya. Fingers crossed it gets all better.

Now - to follow up on some conversations happening on the comments sections - I'd be curious to hear which actor, if any, come to mind for Gamache - if there was a TV series or movie.

Back to Sutton tomorrow. We've ordered pizzas for dinner tomorrow, will take them down.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Never bored

Overcast, cool, rainy temps 15

Very cool - and not in a good way. Doug and the kids have just headed out to go to Sutton, do some shopping. I think the kids are bored. But when their friends arrive tonight I think that'll get better. Funny, but I feel somehow responsible and guilty when they're bored.

I think it also doesn't help that for some reason I'm just exhausted. Can barely keep my eyes open. No energy. I think it's the stress of finishing the edit and finally being able to exhale...except still have things to do. Do while I've exhaled and sort of collapsed I still have to get up and do things. Like event in Hudson, Quebec. Driving in to Montreal tonight after dinner...stay the night...and driving 45 minutes or so out to Hudson. Lovely place...and fun event.

They're very kind to take me out to lunch first, then speaking and reading at 2pm. It's at the Greenwood Centre for Living History, at 254 Main Road, Hudson. Should be home by 5 or 6pm. We've decided to stay the night in Montreal, then drive out Monday.

Wish I wasn't so tired, but I know this is natural, and just life. And will pass. Right now I dream of having a hot bubble bath, crawling into bed with diet ginger ale and a package of Social Teas. And watching Flipping Out, or Location, Location, or House Hunters International. And do nothing. For a week.

But I suspect many of you feel like that.

We have friends who've retired and once they finish reading the newspaper every day they don't know what to do. Like the kids, they're bored. Bored is never a problem for us.

Friday, 25 June 2010

the long list

overcast, smattering of rain, cool - temps 19

Doug and the kids have arrived for anotehr visit! Including Buttercup, the hound from Hell. Very, very fun to have them. True to form they were here about three minutes and found a wasps nest. No one got stung, except the dogs, but they didn't seen disturbed. I tell ya, these kids are like dowsers, but what they find are wasp nests. It seems a limited gift.

Michael and I went to visit a friend this morning - had a lovely visit... by the time we got back the family was here. If you'd like to hear more about the chaos that ensued, just visit my blog today at The Lipstick Chronicles. They're so kind to have asked me to join, and I'll be blogging once a month.

On another topic, the wonderful George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures magazine, published their Long List for the Barry for Crime/Mystery novel of the decade. As you might remember, Still Life made it onto the shortlist, much to my delight. I'm thrilled...and what company. And what an honour, especially when you consider the books and authors who were closely, as I say, is the long list. I pass this on knowing that it will, and should spark debate about who really does deserve to be nominated....


Lee Child, ONE SHOT

Jasper Fforde, THE EYRE AFFAIR

Arnaldur Indridason, JAR CITY

Joe Lansdale, THE BOTTOMS


Thomas H. Cook, RED LEAVES


Must be off...frankly I'm exhausted. Just want to lie in bed and read...or stare at a blank all. More guests arriving tomorrow...but I also have to admit, we love it! Clearly we wouldn't do it if we didn't. We just adore these kids...and Doug.

Speak to you tomorrow....

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Saint-Jean Baptiste

overcast, showers, temps 21

This is June 24th, which here is a holiday - almost everything's closed! St. John the Baptist is the patron saint of Quebec. Nowhere else in Canada celebrates this one else even knows what their patron saint is! Something else that makes Quebec a 'distinct society'.

Feels so amazing to be finished the draft...and as you've picked up on, being happy with it. Phewph.

Bit of a busy day. Visited a friend in hospital this morning, then off for breakfast in Cowansville. Then started on the pile of things that have been left undone while I wrote...emails, scheduling....spoke to my UK editor...wrote the first draft of the July newsletter. My first blog for The Lipstick Chronicles is tomorrow. I do it once a month. Such terrific women writers over might check it out if you have time.
I wrote the blog today and saved it to be put up at 1am.

Had a lovely visit with our neighbours, Guy and Nicole next door. Sat in the beautiful back garden, and walked their paths.

Amazing to have time now to breathe...ahhh.

Thank you for all your lovely comments. Am now relaxing in front of the TV, watching BBC Canada...Escape to the Country. One of the British real estate shows...such fun.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


sunny, brilliant, wonderful day...well, actually, it's cloudy and rainy, but you'd never know it by the mood in here!!!

Yippee! Finally finished the second draft, and I'm pleased with it. Very pleased. A huge re-write, really, more than a draft...but worth it. And my first drafts are really often not all that good. More like sketches. But vital.

But wow, does this ever feel great!!! Yippeee... worked late yesterday after getting home. Sat on the screen porch. Beautiful sunny day - and watched quite a drama unfold in front of me as I wrote.

First the wonderful Wayne showed up. He'd heard rain was in the forecast so he decided to come and cut the grass while he could. Now, we have about 70 acres, though most is forested, of course, but about 3 acres needs cutting, including trails through said woods. So we have this huge great tractor/mower. Up Wayne gets on it and off he goes. At some point I decided to walk Trudy around the pond and I could hear him in there...for a long time.

But I walked on, not really thinking anythung of it, until I look up and Wayne's standing in front of me on the grass. Without the mower.

'It's stuck,' he said. 'In the woods. A soft spot.'

I resisted the temptation to asked, 'Are you sure?'

Instead I asked, 'What should we do?'

He gave me a list of people to call, while he took the hand mower and continued around the house. I called Carl, I called Dwayne. I called Gary. I called Tony. I called Lise. Of course. Who but My Assistant Lise can come to the rescue? I really should have a special ring which I can point to the sky and yell, "Lise! Lise!'

But I used the old fashoined method and telephoned. She, of everyone, was in! And her husband Del was just getting home. By now it was about 5pm. And Tony had arrived with his pick-up truck and chains.

As I spoke to Lise I saw Wayne walking back across the field, with Tony. Like two mud covered dough boys after a battle. A losing battle.

They stopped in front of the porch.

'We're stuck.'

'Both of you?'

'got my truck stuck too,' admitted Tony.

There was a regular traffic jam in our woods.

Del, bless him, said he'd come first thing in the morning with his big truck, two guys and more chains. But Tony had one more idea. Our neighbour Guy.

Ten minutes later I heard a motor...and I think distant trumpets, but perhaps not. There was Guy riding his tractor full speed with Tony hanging on the back. Into the field, past the fruit trees, around the pond they disappeard. Riding to the rescue.

Fifteen minutes later Guy drove by - triumphant. The battle won, the vehicles freed!

All very thrilling!

Almost as thrilling as finishing this draft!!! Yay. Worked all today and just finished....Now, taking 2 weeks off to get caught up on all the other stuff - and perhaps to play! going to cut some peony and delphiniums and make a little thank you arangement for Guy and Nicole.

Lucky us to have such neighbours. And to be free - of the mud, and the muddle!!!

speak to you tomorrow...

Oh - Pat just called...there's been an earthquake...felt not here but in Ottawa and Toronto. Must hurry and check...

Monday, 21 June 2010

Happy Summer!

sunny, hot, gorgeous day!!! temps 28

A perfect first day of summer...and a wonderful longest day. So strange to wake up at 5:30 and it's bright out. Not just light, but bright. Happy summer, happy solstice.

There seemed a bunch of things to tell you about and now I can't remember a single things. Except we're in Montreal all day and tonight. Spent the day editing/writing. Nearing the end. I'd taken out 16-thousand words (and changed a whole lot more) from the first draft. I'm finding that while for the most part the structure, the characters, the action and the main themes were right - the details weren't. The dialogue was clunky...the themes put on thick, the scenes, while in the right place with the right characters were stilted. So it's like taking an outline and changing all the internal colours. Lots of work, but not too frightening since the skeleton (to change metaphors) was solid.

I was extremely happy to remove 16-thousand words because I knew I'd be adding a bunch back at the end...that in the first draft I'd hurried it too much. Left too many loose ends and came to inelegant conclusions. So now - especially with dropping a bunch of sub-plots - I can really take my time and do it right...and I have the extra space to do it. The breathing room. Like a long distance runner _ to drag out yet another metaphor- i didn't use up all my energy too soon, but saved a kick for the last.

Writing the final scenes now...the exposition. Clealry I won't tell you any specifics except to say it often needs quite a few revisions, because the exposition needs to be clear and simple and elegant. There needs to be explanations without lectures. Action without melodrama. Natural and satisfying, and logical, conclusions.

And, I'm afraid, all of this takes some polishing. So the final ten or fifteen pages often get the most attention. Over and over. I'll sometimes write entire alternate endings...with the same conclusions, of course, but revealed in different ways, in different settings, by different characters. And little by little the very best way becomes clear.

So I'm at that stage now. I actually really, really like this. De-muddling. (you may use that word yourselves at will). And since I'm so close to the end I'm not afraid anymore.

After breakfast this morning Michael and I dropped into Tony's Shoes on Greene Ave and bought those Sketchers...the ones with the rolly help with posture and strengthen legs and butts. We'll see. So far all they've done is made me slightly seasick. But I think I just need to get used to them.

Took them out for a walk this afternoon, to pick up snorkling equipment. We enjoyed doing it in Ste Lucia, but both of us felt we needed we'll practice in the pool and maybe the pond.

Back home tomorrow. Hope you're enjoying this first day of summer. We certainly are.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Happy Father's Day!

cloud bursts, pelting rain, now sunny, temps 25

Turned into a gorgeous day. Wrote this morning then Michael and I headed to Granby for a surprise birthday party for our friend Louise. Her husband Jacques organized it and it was a blast. Lunch in a delicatessen. Then we drove into Montreal. Through absolutely teeming rain. But now it is beautiful.

I'm lying on the bed watching the US Open gold. Poor leader is melting down...lost a 5 shot lead. How horrible that must feel.

Michael's off picking up his son Vic for a father's day dinner together. Michael was so excited to see the skies clear, so he could put the top down on the car (guess which one we brought) and give Vic a drive. They'll be here in a few minutes for drinks, then walk over to Greene Ave for dinner in the bistro. I'll stay at home, watching the golf. Very fun.

Want to thank Gary for sending Linda the photos of the bug...and Linda for putting them up. And yes, quite right...this is no longer MY car. Oh well, who can resist a smile like Michael's?? A happy boy.

Writing all day tomorrow. Hoping to be finished this edit on Wednesday. Fingers crossed.

And Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Starred Kirkus!!

mainly sunny, humid, now overcast and raining temps 28

Hot, muggy day. Spent most of it on the porch, writing/editing. Got to page 211 of 233...closing in on The End. I'm liking a lot of the new edit. Taking a lot out out the first draft...but this couldn't have been done without the first draft. Each builds on the last.

Had GREAT news yesterday. BURY YOUR DEAD has received a rare starred review in Kirkus. There're four big pre-publication journals - mostly for insiders...libraries, booksellers, other reviewers. So a good review is important. And a starred review is as wonderful as you suspect it is! And Kirkus is notoriously stingy with stars, so this is GREAT news. Here's a small excerpt - from the last paragraph:

Gamache’s excruciating grief over a wrong decision, Beauvoir’s softening toward the unconventional, a plot twist so unexpected it’s chilling, and a description of Québec intriguing enough to make you book your next vacation there, all add up to a superior read. Bring on the awards.


Had great fun yesterday. A fish and chips dinner at a places called Les Appalache in Sutton with Gary and Cheryl, then Cheryl, Michael and I went over to Joan's meditation centre for a special evening listening to Joan read her poetry and short stories. She's an inspired writer, and reads wonderfully. It was terrific. and the place was packed!

Today we're off to a party tonight. Tomorrow in to Montreal for Father's Day.

I want to end by giving my heartfelt thanks to Lee Ann, for being willing to expose her heart to us. And for turning her grief into action. Swords into ploughshares.

Thank you Lee Ann for the beautiful post. And reminding me in the flurry of my average day, what matters.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Rockville Memorial Library

overcast, some sun, temps 20

Now is the day. Lee Ann, who sometimes posts comments, and is always kind and supportive, has sent the blog - despite, as you'll read, a few bumps. But it has all been sorted out.

I do want to say that because it's late, and because this is such a lovely, moving, important post, I'll be keeping it up until Saturday...but I also wanted to thank all of you for your wonderful comments about the new blog design! Thank you.

Now, back to Lee Ann's post...and thanks Linda for putting up the photos. When I read this I have to say, I wept. In gratitude, for the lost and in gratitude for people like Lee Ann and many of you, who get back up, and do good things.

Now here is what Lee Ann sent -

Louise kindly invited me to blog on Memorial Day in celebration of the renaming of our local library: on Friday, May 28th, the Rockville Library became the Rockville Memorial Library, in honor of our fallen service members including my son Thomas who was killed in action in Iraq on November 11, 2004. We have been working for this change for three years, stubbornly refusing to go away, something I am sure the local politicians really wished that we would do. This blog post had to be delayed when my oldest daughter was hospitalized that weekend for a complication after the birth of her baby on May 20th but all is well now and I would like to share this story.

Memorial Day began in the United States after the Civil War. There does not seem to be a particular reason that it’s at the end of May, though perhaps it’s because the approach of summer means that the flags and flowers placed on graves then will last for a while (it was originally known as Decoration Day). Until we lost Thomas, my family had no particular reason to observe Memorial Day, other than the respect and gratitude we owe to all those who have served and died. Now we take this day and its spirit of honoring the fallen very personally. Getting our community to honor the fallen with us has been our goal since we were introduced to the idea of renaming the library.

I first contacted Louise after I quoted an extensive passage from The Cruelest Month in my blog. This is what I said in my blog:

I've been reading a mystery (I'm almost always reading a mystery!): this one by a Canadian named Louise Penny. The book is called The Cruelest Month, an allusion to T.S. Eliot's assessment of April. Lots of poetry, a strong story of good and evil and how we tend to encompass both. But what struck me about this book was a short passage when Armand Gamache, the protagonist, enters the village church which oddly is named St. Thomas:

He'd been in St Thomas's often enough and on this fine morning knew light from an old stained glass window would be spilling out onto the gleaming pews and wooden floor. The image wasn't of Christ or the lives and glorious deaths of saints, but of three young men in the Great War. Two were in profile, marching forward. But one was looking straight at the congregation. Not accusing, not in sorrow or fear. But with great love as though to say this was his gift to them. Use it well.
Beneath were inscribed the names of those lost in the wars and one more line.
They Were Our Children.

Here is a fictional story about an imaginary village that somehow manages to capture a truth that eludes my local elected officials. Remembering our dead is important. Remembering why they died is paramount. Remembering that they loved us makes sense of it all.

Reading this passage had reminded me and even reassured me that what we were doing was good and right. I’ve travelled a little in Europe and the U.K. and in every town I visit there is a monument to the fallen of the Great War and World War II, sometimes in the town square and sometimes, as in this story, in a stained glass window or carved into the wall of a church. I never have to look for these monuments: they are always right out there, front and center, in places you will pass as a casual visitor. It became my dream, not quite obsession, that we do the same for our community—very little of our county is incorporated into towns, so doing this in the county seat seemed right and appropriate. The library is on a beautiful open square where people pass on their way to restaurants or shops or just to sit in an open space to watch the world go by. Now when they sit on the square, drinking their lemonade or eating their burgers or reading a book, they can look up and see the words “Rockville Memorial Library” and maybe they will ponder what those words mean, at least for a second.

The rededication ceremony was held on Friday, the 28th of May. The four families who had worked for the renaming were invited, as well as the man who originated the idea, a retired judge named Irwin Cohen. The mother of our most recent lost soldier (March 4th) came. The politicians came and took some credit. The library director welcomed us and introduced speakers, while also noting that this was event close to her heart as well: her brother lost his life serving in Viet Nam. A Viet Nam vet spoke, and the brother of a POW who died by his own hand after he returned home. My husband spoke about Thomas’s love of reading and writing and his dream, not realized, of becoming a writer when he came home. The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs presented a proclamation from the governor. And then came the unveiling.

Now, up to this point, this was a very solemn ceremony. For the unveiling, the families went to one side of the front canopy and the elected officials went to the other side where cords were hanging, waiting to pull down the cover over the new sign. What no one had allowed for was the effect of baking heat (90 degrees) on duct tape. Ultimately, building services staff equipped with ladders had to be called in to peel the tape off and release the sign. Thomas would have loved it: he was never very tolerant of people who took themselves too seriously and I’m pretty sure he would have been deeply embarrassed by the entire proceeding. We had to laugh, and that was also fitting.

We ended with Taps and the retiring of the colors. The reception afterwards gave us all a chance to visit and to say goodbye for now—we will have other causes to bring us together I am sure. My personal mission for now is on behalf of returning veterans: our county, in spite of everything, has shown a deep concern for those veterans and I am now part of a collaborative group of organizations working to help those men and women reintegrate into life at home. My role is small but I hope that I can do some good there. I hope Thomas would understand and be proud.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Deadly Diversions

overcast, mild, temps 18

Warmer than it seems. Cold wind through the windows last night. Had to get up to lower them a bit. Then in the middle of the night Trudy started shaking her head. Over and over. Her flapping ears woke me up, poor one. Very unusual for her. So I got up and sure enough, she had an ear infection. So, downstairs to the dog medication station. She gets so many ear infections she's used to it now. I just say, 'Trudy's ears" and she comes to me and sits down. Cleaned them out, put medicine in, gave her a 'medicine treat' - and went to bed.

Awoke to a great email from Linda Lyall, in Scotland. She designs and maintains my website. She'd been considering the blog design and realized she could now tailor it a she asked if I minded. I immediately replied to amend away. And this is the result.

Some of you've already sent comments - and I'm delighted!!! LOve it. We'll (she'll) put up a new photo of me - probably one of the great ones Gary took a few days ago with the new car.

Nice quiet day of writing and walking. Editing going slowly...bit of a slog - but I like what I'm doing so far. Getting closer, of course, to the end. Am at page 180 of 238. So, 60 more pages, more or less. But as we near the end I'll be adding more I think.

Michael and I are having breakfast tomorrow in Knowlton with Jana, who has the farm just down the road and looks after Markus. Then there's a 10am news conference to annouce details of the upcoming WordFest literary festival, in Knowlton in mid-July...I'm the honourary chairperson, so I'll be at the news conference. Then our friend Jim Napier and I are grabbing a coffee. Jim's the crime fiction reviewer for the Sherbrooke REcord. He and I are doing a workshop in writing crime fiction as part of WordFest.

I NEVER do workshops...but I was asked to do one for WordFest and because it's a local festival I said yes, but only if Jim could be a part...and they were thrilled. Jim taught crime fiction writing for many years. I'll tell you more about it on tomorrow's blog. For those of you looking for an excuse to come to Quebec's eastern townships, this is a pretty good reason. WordFest.

So - busy day tomorrow...and hoping, though, to get a few hours writing in tomorrow afternoon.

Oh, by the way, Jim has a new website up - with interviews and reviews of lots of the top crime/mystery fiction writers internationally. Here's the link:

Hope you're enjoying your day. And thanks for all your supportive comments about the new blog design.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Lap dance with a box

sunny, mild, temps 22

Cowansville day! Our favorite. Breakfast in cowansville, then chores. Not much today, thankfully. Bank, fruit and vegetable shop, then the pool place where we bought these float things. We'd, of course, completely forgotten the New World Order, where the beetle rules. But is a tiny, perfect empress.

The floats would not fit into the car. Not the trunk, not the back seat (taken up with the windscreen.) finally we wedged one under the screen and the other, this huge white box, sat on my lap all the way home. I think Michael quite liked the new arrangement since it stopped me from saying, 'Watch out for the pothole", 'you can pass now' - there's a moose.

All I saw was a white box. Might as well have been in soviet moscow. Got home, renewed the peonies and lupines in the vases and got to work.

And then the parade started. Wayne, God Bless him, showed up to cut the lawn. Deanna showed up to do the windows. Tony showed up with gas cans.

And about a million geese showed up! (I counted). I couldn't believe it. Eight adults and a gazillion little ones. We can practically walk on the pond, it is now solid, wall-to-wall geese. Now, I have to say, they're beautiful to watch. What is a lot less beautiful is what they drop on the lawn. One goose - about the size of a dinosaur - poops so big if we would dry it out we could build a log cabin out of it.

We're now a leeetle worried. We have a garden party coming up in July, a fundraiser for the SPCA,...and people might have to come in their party frocks and wellies. Blech.

More writing/editing today. Saw the cover for the French version of Still Life - En Plein Coeur. LOVE it. Very exciting.

Hope you're well. Speak tomorrow, I hope.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Does it go here? or here? or over here???

rainy, cold, temps 19

Started out very warm. but then the rain came. At first it was lovely...a warm summer rain, but then the wind changed and it got not just cool but cold. I'd left laundry on the line last night and fortunately took it in before the rains came. We ate breakfast on the screen porch and started working out there, on the laptop...few things more peaceful than sitting in a screen porch listening to the rain fall.

But as soon as it turned cold, we skiddadled inside. Michael laid and lit the fire and we spent the rest of the day there. Have just taken a break...watching some of the World Cup - but will get back to the book. Solved the problem, did more editing...but am now in another mire...noticing stuff I've repeated, so now I need to figure out where it is best to give this information. Trial and error, really. Moving back and forth. By page count it seems not much progress, but this has to be done. And kinda fun, really. Like a puzzle, again.

What a wonderful feeling!!! Nothing to do today except write/edit. Off for breakfast in Cowansville tomorrow - then home again to more writing. And nothing else.

I yearn for days like this, as you know. Well, back to work.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

The View From Here

sunny, warm, temps 28

A splendid, unexpected, day. It was supposed to rain, but not a drop. Instead it is sunny and cool, then warm, and now hot.

Spent the morning struggling some more. Writing, erasing, re-organizing, erasing. Arrgh. I know what the problem is. I need to streamline the thoughts, and it's a complex spot. But it needs to not read as though it's complex. There are four or five things that need to be said, that have to get in. And one right way of putting them all in. It's like the rubic's cube or any puzzle. And so I try this and try that. Getting closer, then something just doesn't fit and I need to try again.

But then we needed to head off for an early lunch with Cheryl, on the terrasse of the Cafe Floral in Knowlton. Gary was supposed to be there but golf called. Poor man, smitten by golf. Of course, my guy's smitten by a VW. I wonder which is worse?

So it was Cheryl, Michael and I...wonderful lunch. Great chats. Then off to Mansonville, about 20 minutes down a very picturesque road - toward the US border - to do an event in the local library. Michael, of course, drove. Lise was saying when he drove away the otehr day in the car, with the top down, and she and donna were working in the garden...and he tooted the horn, they turned to each other and said, 'Louise has lost the car.' What they failed to appreciate is that I've also lost a husband. If he could marry the beetle he would. I suspect it's in the will.

But what a magnificent drive. Sunny, warm, feeling so free in this peppy, fabulous car. And waching the scenery go by and relaxing I had some ideas for how to solve this little problem. Most frustrating. In the book it will be about 2 pages...but it needs to be right. And it's close. Tomorrow I have nothing...a blank with luck i will solve it by then.

Loved the talk at the Mansonville library. Not that I was so brilliant, but there were lots of people and everyone just made me feel so comfortable. Such nice people. Including Lise - who came out in the most beautiful floral sundress on her day off.

Then Michael and I piled into the bug and drove over the mountain back to Sutton, stopping for ice cream on the way. Am now home, writing to you, sitting with a ginger ale, cranberry and raspberry drink on the screen porch. From where I sit I can hear birds in the trees, a single bee. I can see the Japanese lilac in bloom, as well as alliums, tall digitalis in soft pink. Striking blue irises and bright orange poppies. By the pool one of the peonies has burst into bloom.

Peace and quiet. Ahhh.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

a cafe au lait, in a bowl with a chocolatine, svp

mainly sunny, mild, temps 21

Well, this is just heaven...and so like heaven, it is unexpected. I'm sitting on the terrasse of Le Cafetier in Sutton, having just ordered a ... well, I think you know. Accessing their high speed, which makes me giddy with excitment. And now, at this moment, two huge draft horses are walking by, pulling a cart filled with kids. And down the street I can see our little VW.

I was supposed to meet a friend - Susan - for coffee...but she called to say she was under the Michael's having a coffee with a friend - Tim - and I decided to come in and sit at another table...and just relax.

Doesn't happen very often where I suddenly find I have an hour or so 'free'. And I have to say, as most of you have experienced, it is glorious to sit on a terrasse in summer, watching the world. And, as an added bonus, a Leonard Cohen album is playing.

Spent the morning and most of the afternoon doing more editing/writing. Had a few ideas and am pursuing them. Thank you for all your encouraging words.

Again, as a sort of gift from heaven, a young neighbor dropped by about 3pm. Eugene. We saw him grow up but hadn't really seen him in a few years...and now he's a young man with a beard!!! But he was talking about his older brother, Amos, who's a muscian...and how much respect he has for Amos. He says he thinks of Amos as a soldier. Strapping this huge backpack on, called his career, and marching ahead. No matter what happens.

I felt like crying.

What a powerful analogy...and coming from this remarkable young man, who has such admiration for his brother.

And I dare to think maybe that's a little of what I'm doing. It inspired keep going.

Fortunately, we are not that what we do might be difficult, but no one is trying to harm us. And when we reach the summit, what joy!

Am going to sit back, relax, sip my coffee, eat my chocolatine, and and wave to the kids going by.

Friday, 11 June 2010


cloudy, rainy, sunny, cold and warm. oh

Gary came by at 5:30 and he, Michael, Trudy and I took the photos of the new baby blue VW beetle (convertible) for the article for the Globe and Mail. Now, there's a mouthful. Thankfully I write good. Even more fortunately, Gary photos good.

Happily the unexpected rain, which came while Lise and Donna were working in the garden this morning, cleared up just as they left and Gary arrived. We drove the beetled into the field by the pond, put the top down and Gary took all sorts of fun photos...including the one Lise suggested with me in the stationary car, but this long scarf billowing out behind me - thanks to a huge fan and Michael holding the scarf out with a bit of nylon thread tied to the scarf and a broom handle.

Again - just like Jane Austen and Dennis Lehane!

But we had just a riot...and it was an exquisite day. For photos.

From a writing/editing point of view it was a bit of torment. It's always like this for me, so fortunately there's no panic, and not a huge amount of stress...but life would be easier if the book was perfect the first time!!!

I'm definitely in the 'muddle in the middle'...and I need, when I get discourage or concerned, to remember the parts I adore - and remember that, at least for me, writing is a process. Like art. It's an analogy I've used before and sometimes forget when I'm in the middle of the struggle. That, like painting a picture = like Clara's portraits of ruth and the Three Graces - it doesn't happen with a single stroke. It's layer after layer, adding nuance, shading and light - shaping. going over it and over it.

Interestingly, I know when things are working and when they don't. Sometimes there're just one or two sentences in a page that I isolate those and erase the rest, and build back up. In one case today I moved big chunks around. Added a new scene and a new subplot...really just a touch here and there. To add depth. Nothing huge. Again, like a portrait...amazing the impact a single dot of colour or light can have. It doesn't need to all be put on with a trowel.

So - back to work tomorrow morning. At this point I also need to keep reminding myself to take the time needed. If I do only half a page, but it's great, then it's far better than doing ten that still aren't right. And there'll be more edits. With Bury Your Dead I have six edits on my computer before I even showed it to Michael...and a few more after that before my agent, editors and I were finally satisfied it was as good as it could be.

So, it's early days yet for this book...only halfway through, or slightly more, the first edit (or second draft, depending on how you look at it - comes to the same thing, really.)

Still, disconcerting to hit a big, mucky, slog... but it will all work out.

thank you, too, for all your celebrating about the Anthony, the Macavity and the Barry nominations! And for not getting tired of celebrating. I SO appreciate it. Yippee!!

Not sure I'll be able to blog tomorrow...very busy afternoon and evening - but will try.

Wanted to mention that I have an event Sunday, from 2 to 4pm - at the Mansonville Library. My Assistant Lise will be there, as will will the little blue bug! Love to see you there too!

Thursday, 10 June 2010


cloudy, drizzle, cool, temps 17

You'll never guess what happened...and you'll probably think I'm making this up now, I've had such great good fortune recently - but STILL LIFE has been shortlisted for an award...almost six years after being published. The Barry Award for Best Crime/Mystery Novel of the Decade!

Since this is 2010 it seemed a good time for the people at Deadly Pleasures magazine to look back on the past decade, so they put together this special Barry for this year.

Here's the list


Ken Bruen - The Guards
Michael Connelly - The Lincoln Lawyer
Stieg Larsson - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Dennis Lehane - Mystic River
Louise Penny - Still Life
Carlos Ruiz Zafon - The Shadow of the Wind

What I love about this category is that I suspect it will be hotly debated...the ones left off. The ones on it. However, I will not be one of the people debating!

More editing/writing today...going well...slowly, but well. Off tonight to do a Skype. Skype doesn't work in our home - we're too remote, so we've discovered we need to go into the village and use the highspeed there. The cafe called Cafetier offers free highspeed. Now the problem is that it closes at 7pm, and the skype tonight is at 8pm...but I've been assured that if I sit in the car outside the cafe I can still get the high speed.

I think Jane Austen had to do exactly this...and Dennis Lehane, all the time.

But I'm happy to do Skype and meet readers, and this is with the Chicago Library system, so that's fun.

I'm just afraid I'll hare off out of here and forget the laptop!

rainy today so Gary's coming tomorrow to take the photos for the Globe and Mail of the baby blue beetle.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


mainly sunny, mild, temps 17

Lovely day. Wayne came to mow. It's his 70th birthday!!! Yippee. He said he's quite stunned to find himself 70. But as we all know, people are living healthy, active lives easily into their 90'. So 70 is the new 50.

Wonderful news yesterday. Indeed, it was Marjorie from Connecticut who wrote to congratulate me. I'm afraid I didn't quite believe it...until poor woman sent me the link to Janet Rudolph's blog. She's the head of Mystery Reader's international.

The Brutal Telling has now been nominated for a Macavity award! Here's the announcement and the other nominees....

Macavity Award Nominations 2010

The Macavity Awards are nominated and voted on by members of Mystery Readers International. The 2010 Macavity Nominations are for books and stories published in 2009. Mystery Readers Journal is MRI's publication. The winners will be announced at Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention, in October. Bouchercon will be held in San Francisco in 2010. This award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats).

Congratulations to all!

Best Mystery Novel
• Bury Me Deep by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
• Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman (Busted Flush Press)
• Necessary as Blood by Deborah Crombie (Wm. Morrow)
• Nemesis by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett (HarperCollins)
• The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
• The Shanghai Moon by S.J. Rozan (Minotaur)

Best First Mystery Novel
• The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (Delacorte)
• Running from the Devil by Jamie Freveletti (Wm. Morrow)
• A Bad Day for Sorry by Sophie Littlefield (Minotaur)
• The Ghosts of Belfast by Stuart Neville (Soho Crime)
• A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (Picador)

Best Mystery Nonfiction
• L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City by John Buntin (Random House: Harmony Books)
• Talking about Detective Fiction by P.D. James (Alfred A. Knopf)
• Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books)
• The Line Up: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives, edited by Otto Penzler (Little, Brown & Co)
• Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo (Penguin Press)
• Dame Agatha’s Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion by Elena Santangelo (Bella Rosa Books)

Best Mystery Short Story
• “Last Fair Deal Gone Down” by Ace Atkins in Crossroad Blues (Busted Flush Press)
• “Femme Sole” by Dana Cameron in Boston Noir (Akashic Books)
• “Digby, Attorney at Law” by Jim Fusilli, (AHMM, May 2009)
• “Your Turn” by Carolyn Hart in Two of the Deadliest (Harper)
• “On the House” by Hank Phillippi Ryan in Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers (Level Best Books)
• “The Desert Here and the Desert Far Away” by Marcus Sakey in Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can’t Put Down (Mira)
• “Amapola” by Luis Alberto Urrea in Phoenix Noir (Akashic Books)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery
• A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell (Forge)
• In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur)
• A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd (Wm. Morrow)
• Serpent in the Thorns by Jeri Westerson (Minotaur)
• Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (Henry Holt)

Lots of fabulous reading.

And thank you all for your messages and celebrations. I feel sort of overwhelemed...both joyous and perhaps a little shy about this embarrassment of riches!!! But I'm sure I'll get over that shyness! But not the joy.

And what a list! Wonderful books and authors.

Must go. Globe calling in a few minutes to interview about the new book. Love your comments about the Karmann Ghias. As kids that was our dream car. I think we mostly liked the name. So exotic. Made us feel very 'in the know' and mature.

Have to drive into Sutton to do a Skype test. Fingers crossed we can find a highspeed link there.

I'm sorry, I just have to go back to the Macavity! I really am so happy about that. All that work on the book, all alone. for a year - every day. Like all the other nominees. And then to have this happen. It sure feels great!!!


Speak to you tomorrow! Oh, am up to 125 pages (out of what is now 248 pages - halfway)...and the wordcount is now 110,400. Yay. The lower the better, I figure. Within reason, of course. But sure don't want to fall into the trap of getting more and more wordy and self-indulgent as the series goes on. Indeed, I need to become more and more disciplined. Not bloated.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A string and a prayer

sunny, cloudy, warm, cold, dry - then torrential rains. All normal.

Back home in Sutton!! Feel I've been away longer than I have. So wonderful to be home. Played with Trudy, hugged Michael, cut the first peonies and some lupines out at the pond. visited Markus. Wrote. Took Trudy to the Vets, with Michael - just for some rabies shots and other shots...and some heart worm prevention stuff. All's well.

All's better than well.

When I stepped out of the car and hugged and kissed Michael and asked how his breakfast in Cowansville was he said - It was grovelous.


He started to say 'Grotesque' (as it massive) - and changed halfway to 'marvelous' (as in massive).

Feels so amazingly good to be home. But it was also a wonderful time away...everything, as you saw, went so smoothly.

Met Simone at 8 at the cafe creme in Westmount. hadn't met her before. She's the publicist for the launch of Still Life in French. The French title is En Plein Coeur - which means Right in the Heart. The literal, exact, translation of Still Life is - Nature Mort. A GREAT title, but so great it's been used a million times. So we went with the other, which is also a magnificent title.

The publisher herself, from Flammarion Quebec, Louise Loiselle, also came, which was a lovely surprise. She was on vacation. so the three of us sat around and talked strategy and touring and timing. And it became clear that this fall I would in fact be juggling three tours.

The US and Canadian tours for Bury Your Dead.
The Canadian tour for the literacy novella The Hangman
And the Canadian/Quebec tour for the French translation of Still Life, En Plein Coeur

Very exciting. But crucial to pay close attention to scheduling. fortunately, everyone is very reasonable and fairly flexible...though there are some dates that can't be the Miami and nashville and Montreal Book Fairs, and the literary festivals.

I had two very large, extra strong, cafe au laits - no breakfast - and boing...what a caffeine rush! Drove - having to pay close attention - to my dentist for a cleaning - then home.

It was very cold this morning, but Michael told me he bundled up, put the roof down, and drove the beetle to Cowansville for breakfast. I tell you - he's in love with this car.

Our neighbor saw him and remembered he - like one of you - used to have a karman Gia (sp?) Said he might just see if he can get one again. We might have to rename the road...VW way.

Gary's coming on Thursday to take a photo of me with the car for The Globe and Mail. I thought it would be fun to sit in the car and have old fashioned goggles and a scarf appear to be flapping out behind me...but I would obviously be stationary. So I did what I always do... Oh, Lise...

Emailed My Assistant Lise and asked her how she'd get that effect. A few hours later she sent back the funniest email, with a bunch of suggestions! What a creative woman she is...and i have to think, not many assistants get urgent requests like that.

her winning suggestion is to tie some thin nylon string to the end and hold it up (out of camera range) with a pole. so it looks like it's heading straight out behind me. Will let you know how it goes on Thursday.

Speak to you tomorrow!

Monday, 7 June 2010

That GPS would be pushing up daisies if it wasn't nailed to the dash -

Overcast, sunny breaks, some showers, cool, temps 17

Back home...very long day yesterday but VERY fun. Didn't start until 10:30, when Donna Nopper, of Hachette Canada picked me up at the hotel. She'd rented a car (hers is filled with dog hair - too late she found out that is actually my natural habitat) - and took her husband's Tomtom GPS system, so we could find our way from the Toronto waterfront to the town of Shelburne in the Orangeville area. They had it programmed to John Cleese's voice.

but it soon became clear that Mr Cleese does not have a good sense of direction. He had us haring off all over Toronto. I was completely lost. fortunately Donna wasn't about to join the 'ministry of silly drives' - so she pulled the plug. And we found our own way out of the city (further complicated by a bike-a-thon for cancer that closed streets.)

But we got onto the highway, found shelburne and were there early so we sat in the car and discussed plans for the upcoming launch of Bury Your Dead. Sat so long we almost missed getting into the Grace Tippling Hall to meet with the 10 people who'd won the contests.

This is all part of The Brutal Telling being chosen for the One Book, One County book for this year...thanks to lots of people but especially Nancy Frater, of the fabulous bookstore, Booklore. The idea was to get the whole county reading The Brutal Telling.

Over the past few months the libraries and Booklore held all sorts of events, sparked by the book - for instance, a judge started the whole thing off. Then there was a workshop on forensics a month or so ago. And a few weeks back an antiques expert talked about the antiques discussed in the book. So there were all sorts of ways to pull people in. Including a trivia contest...and I was to meet the winners for coffee and cakes in the local village bistro! Great idea - except Donna and I stayed chatting in the car for so long we were then running late.

And we didn't really pay attention to the approaching bagpipes - which was a mistake.

When we got out of the car we noticed a crowd of people gathered right in front of the hall. In uniform. They were veterans and supporters commemorating the invasion of Normandy. June 6th.

We felt awful. Here were these heroic men who'd had courage - holding a solemn ceremony...and we needed to get inside. What to do?

Well, we stood outside, listening respectfully, for a few minutes - then Donna noticed a side door. So we snuck in. Just wanting to be invisible. Yech.

Once in we met the contest winners and by then the ceremony outside was finished and we went off to the bistro. Then back to the hall, which was filling up.

The event was such fun. Place was packed...and Nancy and the others had even found this amazing blues guitarist and singer, Brian Blain who is from the Eastern Townships originally. He'd written a number of songs about it and performed them live. I'm hoping to get him to the Sutton en Blues festival the village has started!

Then I spoke for almost an hour - answering questions at the end. Then there was a draw. I brought two mugs and two calendars - and Donna brought the piece de resistence... an advance copy of Bury Your Dead. It was so exciting.

then I signed books for half an hour or so - then had to scoot back to Toronto to catch the 6:30 train back to Montreal. Donna was wonderful, doing all that driving. And designing posters and all sorts of things for the One Book, One County campaign.


Next year I'll be in Prince Edward Island...the whole province had chosen to make Still Life the One Book, One Province book!

the train back was relaxing - though there was this fellow one row back and across from me who had his music turned up so loud in his ears I could hear it. Can you imagine what mush that was making of his brain. It must have attacked him impulse control first because about 10pm - when we were all trying to sleep - he started to sing along to whatever he was listening to. Sing is perhaps generous.

But I plugged into my ipod (after turning it on with the ear buds out of my ears to make sure no sound was leaking out) and stared into the night. Ahhhh.

Got into the apartment by midnight. A little wired. But fell asleep by just after 1am.

Wrote/edited this morning...wonderful to again have a quiet day where that's all I have to do. Phew. Am now at page 110 - of 260 pages. And have dropped about 3,000 words so far. I think I might be able to get another 3,000 out. Am actually hoping the finished manuscript will be around 110,000 words. Am aiming to be finished this first edit (second draft) by June 20th.

Walked over to Westmount Square for salad and sandwich to bring home for lunch - and some sushi for dinner. Vegetarian sushi, that is.

Tomorrow I have an 8am breakfast meeting with the publicist, Simone, for the launch of Still Life in french in early september. Then dentist at 10am - then home. Hope I'm in time to wrestle the beetle away from Michael - but I have my doubts. I think he might have slept in it last night.

Oh, there's an early review of Bury Your Dead posted. Here's the link...

Had a message from Catherine McKenzie. She's a Montreal writer...her book is called Spin - and she's started an interesting project. It's designed to make under-appreciated books and authors into bestsellers. Here's the link to her project.

Here is the link:

Hope the link works. If not, she his info on her website.

What a long post! I'll talk to you tomorrow, from home home...ahhh.

Saturday, 5 June 2010


sunny, mild, temps...not sure actually

Thank you SO much for your Anthony nomination celebrations - I'm still flying!!!

Train down was one beside me! Like winning the lottery...and, icing alert...the nice person in front of me didn't put his seat all the way back. And - my window seat on VIA1 actually had a window. Many have just a wall with a curtain...with a wall behind it. No glass.

And - the meal was actually yummy. I spent the 5 and a half hours listening to music on my ipod and staring out the window. Just pondering the books. Imagining scenes from the book I'm writing...and even had some ideas for the next one. Brought my notebook and made notes...and stared...and made notes. And stared. Very, very relaxing. Lovely trip.

But VIA is pathetic. Used to be a magnificent train service, something to be proud of...but they haven't updated the interiors in literally decades. Toilets barely work - only one in our compartment worked. Everything looks and feels shabby. BUT - the VIA workers are wonderful!

One thing I thought was weird was the this lovely older couple sat behind me. Clearly a little befuddled and sometimes querulous, but very adorable with each other (I could hear them talking behind me) - but they were placed in the emergency row. Before we left the conductor came and gave them instructions on what to do if there's an emergency (breaking glass, deciding if it's safe to leave by that window, help others out) and they were totally confused. And even if they weren't, they just were not going to be able to help. So since I was pretty close I just told them I'd help if need be.

Then I spoke to the conductor quietly and said I was amazed that VIA wouldn't find them an equally comfortable seat and move someone more able to help. It's not as though there have never been an fatal VIA accidents, on exactly this Mtl to TO route.

He just said it was the ticketing people's fault. I left it at that - but felt very badly for the elderly couple who spent at least part of the trip trying to figure out what they should do - asking each other, and fretting. I tried to help, but they'd sort of gotten themselves into a bit of a state...and I also felt badly for people in the car who thought VIA would do all possible to ensure their safety, and clearly did not.

Happily, of course, nothing happened...and it is extremely unlikely...but such an easy fix.

Am in a wonderful room in Toronto - they booked me into a suite...and Donna of Hachette Canada will pick me up at 10:30 tomorrow morning to drive to Orangeville for the culmination of their One Book, One County event. Their book this year is The Brutal Telling. Yay.

At 1pm I meet with 10 contest winners, then do a talk/reading/question and answer starting at 2pm...a signing...and then Donna drives me back to the train station and I grab the 6:30 back to Montreal - arriving about midnight. I could have stayed the night in Toronto, but if I get back tomorrow night that gives me all Monday to write/edit.

Bliss. Otherwise I lose the day, and even more momentum.

Probably will not blog tomorrow...but will try on Monday.

Thank you again for ALL your good Anthony wishes!!! Yay.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Anthony Nomination!

mainly sunny, beautiful day...temps 20

Great news...The Brutal Telling has been nominated for an Anthony Award in the States as the Best Crime Novel of the Year!!!

Here's the list of nominees - in alphabetical order:


THE LAST CHILD - John Hart [Minotaur Books]
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE - Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland [Quercus/Knopf]
THE BRUTAL TELLING - Louise Penny [Minotaur Books]
THE SHANGHAI MOON - S.J. Rozan [Minotaur Books]


THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE - Alan Bradley [Delacorte Press]
STARVATION LAKE - Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]
A BAD DAY FOR SORRY - Sophie Littlefield [Minotaur Books]
THE TWELVE/THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST - Stuart Neville [Harvill Secker/Soho Press]
IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM - Stefanie Pintoff [Minotaur Books]


BURY ME DEEP - Megan Abbott [Simon & Schuster]
TOWER - Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman [Busted Flush Press]
QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE - Max Allan Collins [Hard Case Crime]
STARVATION LAKE - Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]
DEATH AND THE LIT CHICK - G.M. Malliet [Midnight Ink]
AIR TIME - Hank Phillippi Ryan [Mira]

Fabulously strong fields!!! I wanted you to see the other nominees because I suspect most of you love reading good crime and mystery fiction and these are the best - whoever wins.

Congratulations to all the nominees...I know this is an exciting day for all of us.

Am in Montreal...arrived just after 9 last night. Driving over the bridge in construction season is always terrible, so we find it best to do it extremely early in the morning or fairly late at night. Coming in last night gave me the entire day to work on editing the next book. Got lots done. As I get further into the book less needs to be done, as the themes and characters became clearer. Am also winnowing it down, making it sharper and clearer. I hope!

Michael called to say he'd taken our new baby - the beetle - into Knowlton for lunch. Top down. He showed it off to everyone and even took Lucy from Brome Lake books for a spin. What a guy. I'm not gone 12 hours and he'd picking up pretty women and showing off his 'etchings'. He sure sounded hyped though - having a blast.

Off to Toronto tomorrow morning - by train...such a nice trip. Will blog from there.

Be well.

Thursday, 3 June 2010


cloudy, rain, temps 18

All this rain has really eased the forest fire situation. Thank God. We've had more rain than they have, but I understand most of the fires are now under control. Very frightening for a while. We continue to watch.

As we watch the dreadful situation in the gulf. It seems inconceivable that this should happen - and yet it is. Hubris.

On a much lighter note, we got the car!!! And I'm smitten - as is Michael. We took turns driving it, because of course we had to use his car to get's about an hour away. so I took the first turn on the highway. Was hoping to be able to put the top down, but the rains came (including in the distance some magnificent and unsettling fork lightning). So the top stayed up.

What a peppy - and surprisingly roomy - little car! Nothing fancy - and I love that. No sat nav, no mp3 hook up, hardly any electronics...just good old fashioned and very clear dials. It does have heated seats - practically a necessity in Canada - and a CD player - also a necessity given the distances we sometimes have to drive.

So I adore the car but the most important thing?? The colour. It's perfect!!! A baby blue. Powder blue perhaps more accurately. either way, it's the colour I wanted. As the salesperson was describing the features I just stared at the colour. He also gave us a lesson on taking down and putting up the convertible top. I must say it sort of confused me...and I didn't do it very well - but thankfully Michael got it right away.

So now we have a new baby in the driveway...and both of us just drift by it, casually, all day long. Catching glimpses of it.

Off to Montreal tonight...leaving Michael and Trudy, and Pat who comes to look after them, here. With the new car. My gift to The Big Guy. I have to take the train to Toronto Saturday so the car would just sit in the underground parking. He might as well have it here to play with.

Did the photo shoot for Vita magazine yesterday. Four women came director, make-up, photographer and her assistant. We had a riot. Michael was wonderful - catered the event. While I was having the make-up applied (scaffolding, caulking, cranes) he was making tomato and cucumber sandwiches and what we call 'mixes' - combination of cranberry, pomegranate and ginger ale. Yum.

Took four people (not including me) three hours to get two usable photographs. And you know - it's exhausting. I remember reading interviews with the Hollywood starlets complaining about how hard their lives were - endless photo shoots and interviews...and thinking...well, I won't tell you what I was thinking.

but now - very humbling - I find it is tiring! Not actually sure what makes it so - it's not like I'm digging a ditch or repairing a heart or doing anything actually useful. But interviews and photos isn't quite the cake-walk I thought they were. Still - to be fair - it's not a bad way to pass an afternoon.

Writing/editing going slowly but well. I decided to drop yet another subplot...complicated and not actually totally in the character's character. An easy fix, though it does present some structural issues later - but better than keeping it in. I find most of my second and subsequent drafts are really about simplifying and lightening up.

Off to pack and then meet a friend in Sutton for a coffee - then driving to Montreal tonight.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Blue Beetle!

torrential rains, temps 18

An absolute deluge today...but we're happy for it. Lovely, misty, mystical evening. Rain stopped, and everything is fragrant. The roses are just coming out and there's the faintest scene of them in the front garden.

We went off to VW in Sherbrooke last night - Walter drove me in his beetle convertible - top down - and Michael followed in his car. It was SO exciting. I can't remember the last time I was this happy about a car - except maybe my very first, which was also a VW convertible. But it was a rabbit. Bright red. Manual. I bought it sight unseen in Thunder Bay...I was in Toronto and about to start my very first professional job - co-hosting the morning show in Thunder Bay. I was 21. I got off the plane and took a taxi to the car dealership. Picked up the car - and then remembered. I don't drive standard. But at 21, who cares?

It leaped and stalled and lurched its way off the lot. I'm sure I saw the salesperson turn away in horror.

Took me weeks to figure out how to get out of second gear.

But I adored that car. Drove it well in to fall with the top down. Ecstasy. Finally sold it years later in Quebec City. By then it was a wreck - the windshield washers wouldn't turn off...there was a tear in the roof from where someone had tried to cut it to break in. The poor thing was on its last legs. But I still loved it.

And by this time tomorrow I'll have another VW convertible. but this time a new beetle. A powder blue. Fabulous. We got home about 10:30 last night. Exhausted but delighted.

Been emailing with Michael's wonderful sister Carol, in London. Her first car was one of the original's one of her emails from today...(with her permission)

Yes, I had a beetle, but it had its problems. In the end it was what I had told them all along but they wouldn't believe me. It had water in the petrol tank. I would drive up north to ski and it would conk out or just go slow and then speed up and then go slow until it drove me mad. I sent it in for servicing and ended up with VW taking a keen interest in this knit of a
woman who was calling them out of false pretences. At one point they came all the way up to St. Agathe and, of course, the car worked a dream while they were there and as soon as they had left, literally, it started its little game all over again. I had to threaten to paint lemons all over it before they took it in and actually lent me another car for a week (which I managed to back into a telephone pole giving the back bumper a dent). When I picked it up I asked them what they had done. With sheepish faces they said that all was well. How well? Well, a new petrol tank. Oh, yes and where is it? Well its up in the top of our work room. Can I see it - I just want to see the rust. Well, yes, there had been some water rusting up the petrol tank.... After that it was a dream car and I loved it. I could manage to change gears without using the clutch if I got the revs right, but
don't please try that one. Yours will be known as the 'powder-blue-blondie-with-no-roof-on-top - and nobody will be able to steal it 'cause there won't be another around! What fun you will both have!

Writing today has been distracted...stop start. So far only 2 pages done...yikes. I like what I've done but this is really, really slow. Still, trying not to worry. Better at this stage to be good than to be swift. I think I'll be working until midnight! Oh well - I have a used VW powder blue new beetle convertible. How bad can life be???

Tomorrow is a busy day. Writing in the morning - the a photo shoot for Vita Magazine - a french mag - then off to Sherbrooke to pick up the car!!! Yippee. You can be sure I'll have a goofy smile on my face for the Vita photos!