Friday, 30 July 2010

Running away to the circus

cloudy periods, cool, temps 15

Michael and I just laid and lit a fire in the hearth. It's that cool. But very cosy there. I'm reading Michael's manuscript and he's reading mine. Wow - his just blows me away. This amazing opening. I'm very excited for him.

The big tent for tomorrow's afternoon tea arrived this afternoon - after getting lost and going all over the countryside. Cynthia and John, two of the organizers of the tea, came and we ended up having tomato sandwiches on the screen porch, chatting, and answering the phone with instructions...quite difficult when trees and rocks are pretty much the landmarks, everywhere. Turn right at the big tree doesn't seem all that helpful - nor was it.

But the big top arrived and we put it out by the pond. It really does look like a small circus tent. The second tent was supposed to come tonight but we decided tomorrow morning was soon enough.

The port-a-potty is supposed to arrive today. And then at 11 tomorrow morning the food, drink, auction people start arriving. The last of the volunteers show up about 2:30 - and the tea starts at 3. The trick is to 'drive' everyone toward the silent auction tent. About half the money raised comes from the silent auction.

Linda, the head of the SPCA Monteregie is bringing a couple of rescue dogs, to remind us why we're there.

fortunately the forecast is magnificent! Will let you know how it goes...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

the One with the Big Caboose

overcast, cool, temps 19

but we still drove home from Cowansville with the top down...loving this convertible.

A day of details. Wrote the interview I'll be doing on stage in BC with crime writer Gwen Southin. that takes a little time and thought since I want it to be good, and comfortable, for her.

Replied to a zillion (roughly) emails. Fine tuned the newsletter. Dear Lord, UPS is arriving...thank God we're not swimming. Trudy barking....

Oh, it;'s the large print edition of The Brutal Telling, arriving from the publishers.

We arrange for a few bouquets of flowers to be sent to friends, celebrating. And spent a fair amount of time discussing logistics with the french publisher. So grateful I'm finished this draft of the book so I can concentrate on these other things. All fun details but they can seem a burden when coupled with writing. I realize, as I suspect you do too, that my big challenge is balance.

And, to not take things too seriously. To remember to have fun. I can sometimes feel overwhelmed. But, you know, a huge thing with me is that I simply adore the people I work with. Not one person, now, whose emails I don't enjoy reading - no one I cringe to communicate with. Professionally. There are still a few on the periphery who seem a little odd - but I try to take a deep breath and pray to just not make things worse.

Cheryl is dropping by in about 15 minutes for a visit. We'd hoped to have a swim too, but I think it might be too cool - but we'll see how she feels. It's been so long since I've had one-on-one time with her. I miss my friends sometimes... how lucky I am they seem to understand that some seasons I need to work really hard...and then when I'm off, we can play.

Tomorrow the army of spca tea volunteers begins to arrive with tents and chairs and food and plates and glasses and cups and saucers... this is going to be great fun. And again - how lucky to really be able to concentrate on it and not feel I'm stealing time.

I feel a bit like a hobo today, though. Keep changing what I'm wearing...adding things, taking things off. And now nothing matches. have shorts, and socks, and slippers, and a tank top, and sweater. All we need is a train out west and the image is complete.

Enjoy the day...speak tomorrow I hope!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Peas and Broc and lilies

Mainly sunny, hot, clouding over now - temps 29, but dropping

Storms in the forecast. Lise and Del and Donna and two swarthy youths spent the day here getting the gardens ready for the garden party Saturday. All our energy (well, some) is going toward praying for sun. 150 people expected for afternoon tea - silent auction - spca fundraiser.

The gardens, thanks to My Assistant Lise, always looks fabulous - but they look even better now. We have friends coming down from the city for the weekend - Sharman Yarnell and her husband Walter. Made dinner reservations for us all Saturday night. I think we'll get too tired to cook.

Spent today working on the newsletter, and zipped across to Richford, VT, to mail some packages and get gas. Did errands in Sutton, including picking up our printed and bound manuscripts...very fun to see them. Will take them with us when we go away.

Our vegetable gardens are producing a great harvest, thanks to Donna. Broccoli and peas. Yum. And we have these massive lilies - oriental and fragrant....we've cut them and now they're all over the house.

Such a relief to not be editing/writing now - I can concentrate on other things....

It's cooling off. As I mentioned, storms are rolling in. We need some rain, and it'll make for good sleeping weather.

Cheryl coming by tomorrow about 3:30 for a swim and a visit. that's the hardest part of all this - keeping in touch with friends. When I have the time I have so little energy I just want to crawl in to bed. Fortunately my friends are all very understanding and supportive of my career and don't make me feel guilty! Thank heaven.

Must be off. Called the neighbours to warn them about the party...they didn't seem concerned that the tea and garden party was likely to turn into a riot. We'll just see about that.

Monday, 26 July 2010


Beautiful, perfectly blue skies - temps 26

Spent the whole day - except for walking to Nick's for breakfast - writing. Just finished - quarter to seven this evening. And finished this draft!

right now I don't really have an opinion - more a wild and passionate prayer it's good. Am pretty tired. But thrilled to be done. Yippee.

And Michael has finished his second draft! Such fun to sit over breakfasts and talk about our books. I, as you might expect, am immense help in trying to cure childhood cancers for his book. He, though, has discovered a vast, untapped and apparently limitless talent for murder. Very cunning my, this Michael.

And today we're both finished! have just ordered a pizza. Will eat it on the bed while watching Entourage on dvd.

Life is good, life is great. Back to Sutton tomorrow. have decided to not try to get another draft in before we leave for an event in Stratford, Ontario next week - then out to the Sunshine Coast Literary Festival right after that. I'll have the manuscript printed and bound, and will read it while out there.

For now we're just luxuriating in finishing our writing!!! Thanks for holding our hands through all this! Enjoy the pizza!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Writing with Eclairs

sunny, cloudy, sunny. temps 26

We're in Montreal. Ahh. Really more or less fled here. Felt too many hands grasping at us. Nothing hurtful - all great and understandable - but it added up to just too much stress. So we ran away to the big city. God, does it feel great. And how lucky we are to have this small bolt-hole in this great city. We met friends last night, then headed in, arriving about 9pm. Phew. You all know what it's like...when you break free of stress. Wow.

It's amazing when the least stressful thing in my life is writing the book. If I could just concentrate on that - and had no other distractions - I'd be fine. But, such is life. And most of the distractions come from a successful career. But I think I need to get better at boundaries. Saying no.

Honestly, thank God for Lise and Michael - and Marjorie, the Facebook elf! And even so, I stagger sometimes. Cn you imagine what my life would be like if I actually had to live it myself?

Michael and I had breakfast at Nick's, then back to the apartment to write. I'd hoped to finish this third draft of the book, but didn't quite manage it. Had 45 pages to do, and only managed 20 in seven hours. One scene needed to be severely edited and re-organized, and that took a great deal of time...and most of the rest of the 20 pages needed work. Not huge, but sometimes the little things take the longest...trying to find just the right connection...the turn of phrase. Taking out something that's clunky, but needing to find something subtle and suitable.

Of course, gobbling pastries did eat into some of that time. The literary life.

Now I'm hoping to finish tomorrow. It is bliss writing interruptions! If I finish tomorrow that means I can concentrate on the upcoming spca tea. It's coming together really well - thanks to a whole lot of work by a whole lot of volunteers.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Zoot alors - encore

mainly sunny, warm, temps 25

An absolutely splendid morning. Glorious. A golden day, calm and fragrant, and the gardens and lawn never looked better. Our lawn is actually - of you look closely - clover. Which is why if Wayne doesn't cut it fairly often, you don't have to look too closely. It's covered in white flowers. And after a rain, if it gets very hot, the whole place smells of sweet clover.

The geese have gone! 30 of them at last count. The poop was legend. People could have written epic poems about it.

They all left yesterday - but somehow one get left behind. I went out to the pond in a rain shower, taking some bread, to keep it company. it was honking and wailing. God, it broke my heart. So I sat there, getting soaked, and honked back. But after a while I suspected far from comforting this poor lost one, I was just upsetting it. so I stopped. And went home. And prayed that in the morning it would be gone or the others would have returned.

And sure enough this morning four had returned. Then, while Michael and I worked on the porch, we heard a great honking and they all rose up together. And left. Phew.

Did editing this morning. Some sections a little rough. Some I find unexpectedly moving. Very strange when I'm moved by my own writing. As though someone else had written it.

Then had the pre-interview in french at 2pm to decide if my french was good enough to do a TV interview in August to promote the french version of Still Life _ En plein coeur. Marie-Josee phoned and we talked. Well, she talked and I bumbled along - then, to my surprise, at the end she said my french was fine.

Now - she either has a very high tolerance for idiocy, or she was drunk. Or perhaps she hates her host and wants to inflict a moron on her. But she seemed to believe it would be fine. I have just under a month to brush up. Very frustrating to have complex thoughts and only simple words to express them.

I must say, though - I'm delighted.

Must run down to Vermont to do some mailing before the post office closes. Speak to you tomorrow! Hope you're enjoying the summer!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

SPCA Tea Time

rainy, clearing, sunny and mild, temps 20

A little on the cool side - but great sleeping weather. Awoke in the middle of the night by a deafening clap of thunder...the whole house shook. But only the one. Odd.

Michael and I treated ourselves to breakfast in Cowansville - then to the stationary store, the post office, the bank. then off to Brome Lake Books to drop something off for Lise. and to say hi to the fabulous Danny and Lucy. Then home.

We got back by noon, played with Trudy for a while - then got down to work. Set a goal of 30 pages edited today, and just finished. Started off quickly - 10 pages in half an hour...then took an hour and a half to do another ten pages. Often the fine-tuning takes the longest...I know something's slightly off, but not sure what. Often it's just a word here or there, or a sentence in the wrong place.

Now I have a few interviews to complete, and prepare for, and many emails to return. As usual. Oh, and I almost forgot! I need to write my post for tomorrow's Lipstick Chronicles. Yikes - almost forgot.

But as you see, the title of this blog is the SPCA Tea Time. It's coming up next Saturday, July 31st - Michael and I are hosting it here. Among other things, there's a silent Auction - including an ARC of Bury Your Dead. One of the organizers is dropping by later this afternoon with some of the auction items, to put in our dining room.

I know many of you reading this live in the area, or in Montreal, and you might be interested in coming...the more the merrier...and it all raises money for the SPCA. If you'd like to come to the afternoon tea - just get in touch with Brome Lake Books...Danny and Lucy have tickets. And it's tax deductible. Their phone number is: 450-242-2242.

I'll be mentioning this again, as it gets closer. Hope you can come! Though I know many of you support your local no-kill shelters. Excellent.

Speak to you tomorrow!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Mike Finnerty

started sunny, then clouded over and rumblings of thunder in the distance. warm. temps 26

Another lovely summer day. Michael and I sat on the porch and wrote. Michael's still at it...I've decided my cadence is to write/edit from 9am to 3pm - without break except to walk Trudy and make lunch. Then stop...and spend two hours doing the 'business' - returning emails, doing mail, organizing things. And try to be finished for the day around 5pm.

I've found I have to keep up a certain pace or I get swamped - and then its no fun.

Have a pre-interview Friday. A researcher from a prominent Quebec television show on literature will call, to see if my French is good enough to do a live interview in August. It's a terrific opportunity to promote the French version of Still Life - En plein coeur. But honestly, I'm not sure my French really is good enough. It's ok for social situations, and even meetings etc...but this demands expressing complex and nuanced thoughts. I realize my French probably makes me sound like a 14 or 15 year old. That's about the level of my complexity and subtlety. It's have deep thoughts and feelings, and not to be able to properly express them. Gives me a little insight into how stroke victims might feel - having all these thoughts and unable to express them except in the most blunt way.

But - we'll see. Perhaps a miracle will occur. Zoot alors. (see what I mean?)

We heard the fabulous news yesterday that our friend Mike Finnerty has been confirmed as the new host of the Montreal CBC Radio morning show, Daybreak!!! He resigned a couple of years ago to head back to London to work at the Guardian. But he missed live radio and Montreal. So now he's coming back!!

He's a magnificent journalist and wonderful host and we are beyond happy - as friends, and CBC Radio listeners. Yay!

OK, off now to reply to some emails and get some books ready to mail.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The best office in the world!

heavy mist, then lovely sunny and warm. temps 26

Turned onto a glorious day. Sunny and warm - just got out of the pool. Pretty tired, but very happy. We got up just before 5am - fed and walked Trudy, then hopped in the baby blue beetle, to drive to Sherbrooke for a 7am appointment with the dealership to fix a couple of things. Again. We hope this is it. Love the car - just adore it. But this hobby of going to the dealership is getting a little wearisome.

Still, the pay-off (and it isn't trivial) is that we get to go to Hovey manor for breakfast while we wait! Which is exactly what we did.

But I have to tell you that our drive to Sherbrooke this morning was stunning. All misty through the mountains and forests. Breath-taking. Got there about 6:45. Got a rental...and headed to Hovey. Arrived there about 15 minutes before the breakfast started, but they know us so well, they let us in early for coffee and croissants, cheese and granola, and this wonderful fruit compote.

The dining room has a bank of french doors looking out over the rose garden, then the lake beyond. Magical.

then we ordered breakfast and decided to go with the chef's 'inspiration' - two poached eggs on a bed of broccoli and smoked ham and covered in bechemel sauce. Dear Lord - it was as wonderful as it sounds.

Headed back to get the car and drove, with the top down, an hour and a half to Granby to meet with two friends, one of whom is quite ill. Had a marvelous lunch together.

As the day progressed I checked the email on my blackberry with mounting horror as more and more messages poured in, all of which needed replies and many of them not simple replies! Finally got home about 4pm and have spent the last two hours getting the business taken care of.

if there's been a shock about life as an author, it's the amount of 'paper work'...all the ancillary work. Still - better than no one caring or noticing. But it gets a little overwhelming at times. Thank God for Lise who got forwarded at least two of the more hefty requests.

It's a beautiful evening. Am off to fire up the barbeque - prepare two books to be mailed - announce the Facebook winners. Turn the corn on the cob on. I'll tell you - this makes a pretty spectacular office!

Monday, 19 July 2010


rainy, cool, temps 19

We actually had the fireplace on! Didn't actually need it, except as atmosphere. So typical of a Canadian summer, though I think this one has had more wild temperature swings than usual.

When I title this post Housekeeping - I don't, of course, mean it literally. Poor Pat and Deanna - when they come to clean they'll sometimes ask about an attachment for the central vac and I just look blank. Never used it. But I do do laundry. And cook. Sort of. I mean really more like bits and pieces of publishing housekeeping.

Spent most of the day on the edit of book 7. Slow going - but I'm liking it, a lot. Only up to page 70 of 245. But added a thousand words or so today...and adjusted quite a few too. Then needed to do some mailings, some books and cards. Replying to emails too...and a critique...and a web interview.

Then re-jigged the home page for the website. Wanting to put the emphasis on BURY YOUR DEAD.

And finally, I selected the winners of the Facebook draw for the arc of bury your dead.

Tomorrow we get up at 5am to get the car in to VW. More small things that need to be done. Have a 7am appointment - takes about an hour and a half to get there. While they work on the car we'll take a loaner to Hovey for breakfast. Then pick up the beetle and head to Granby for coffee with friends. Then home by 1pm, I hope.

And, for the rest of the week, sweet nothing...

Hope you're well. Speak tomorrow.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


mainly sunny, warm, temps 25

Lovely day, some cloudy periods, breezy but refreshing. So far it's been a spectacular summer. Such a relief, especially for people getting married on the weekends.

The weekend's been taken up with the Knowlton WordFest...the first annual literary festival, organized by the Knowlton Literary Association. (KLA - which they admit sounds like either an airline or a terrorist cell).

It was a blast! Exhausting - but very, very successful. I heard some amazing talks by some fabulous writers. Susan Briscoe, a great poet. Isabelle Lafleche, whose book, J'adore New York is wonderful, and doing brilliantly in terms of buzz and sales. And loads of others...don't want to turn this into a phone book. But it was thrilling - as a reader and a writer.

The conversation at the Theatre Lac Brome yesterday was very fun - but then Jim Napier is a master interviewer. The two of us sat on stage, in comfortable chairs, a table between us, and microphones. And Jim asked me questions. Now, Jim is a long-time friend, so we know each other well. In fact, as you know, he stayed with us, which made it even easier. Gave us a chance to chat a little and get caught up. But he didn't tell me what he was going to ask, and I didn't want to know. So much better if these things are spontaneous. What Jim does that's so brilliant is he makes an interview feel like a conversation.

So we chatted for 50 minutes - opened it up for questions - chatted with the audience for twenty minutes....then did a book signing. In the middle of which my cell phone rang it was Anne Dowson, a host on CJAD the big private radio station in Montreal - we'd arranged to do an interview promoting WordFEst - but it was supposed to be later. Anyway, it was a live interview and I really had no choice, so the poor people in the book line had to wait while I did the interview.

But people seemed relaxed...I hope. Oh, want to say that Jim has a great crime fiction website called Deadly Diversions. It was just named on the 50 top sites for crime fiction. It's well worth visiting...excellent.

Then off to the Cafe Inn for a lemonade and to meet the film-maker. He's interested in the option for the books, to be made into made-for-tv films. I don't want to sound jaded, but lots of producers show interest, but few can come up to the standards we need. So it's always cordial, but there are no expectations.

Then scooted home, picked up Michael and off we wrnt to our regular Saturday night meeting - then got together with friends for ice tea after.

Jim arrived back after a dinner in Knowlton about the same time we did, to find us in the kitchen making peanut butter and jam sandwiches to eat in bed. Jim was exhausted too so he headed up too.

Up early, over breakfast Jim, Michael and I discussed the upcoming workshop on creating a sense of place in crime fiction. Jim and I (mostly Jim) had done quite a bit of emailing and planning...but it was very useful to go over the agenda.

We had no idea how many people would come...three, ten? Twenty? When we showed up at about quarter to ten there were fifty or more people. It was wonderful. Very fun. Talking about choices in terms of setting...of some of the great and memorable locations...Chandler and LA, Christie and St. Mary Mead and a few others - I'm a little tired and even these famous names escape me...Donna Leon and Venice. Wonderful. The fact that setting is a character in books.

then came the fun. After we'd taken questions for a while, the workshop participants were sent out to a crime scene, staged by the amateur theatre company. A man lay on the bench in the mill pond park, under the roof of the bandstand. A pool of blood under the bench, a huge red book with a photograph sticking out of it and blood on it on the ground, along with a flask and a tophat. The man wore tails - but no socks or shoes.

there was crime scene yellow tape, and a cop guarding it (who happened to be Philip Lantier, the head of the festival) Everyone went over, made notes, returned and wrote short descriptions. And a few even had the courage to read them out. What amazed us, genuinely, was the quality of the writing. One wrote brilliantly about the little ant tracks throught the blood. Another described the clouds - one created an inspector and a fictional town. And they were all differnt - in tone, in what the picked up and focussed on.

Well, I've written enough - but it was a great privilege to be part of the first Knowlton WordFest! And to meet a few of you too!! thank you for coming. How wonderful to celebrate the word...written, spoken, sung.

And now I'm home with Michael and Trudy, in pjs, eating chips and watching the British Open. Ahhhh.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


mainly sunny, humid, temps 26

Lovely day. thunderstorms in forecast for this afternoon, but seems impossible right now. Except for the gathering humidity.

Edited yesterday for most of the day - wrote a scene that occurred to me in New York. Oddly, and perhaps frighteningly, it appears to be a somewhat pivotal scene. I actually removed one scene that was just complicated, and replaced it with this far simpler one - that really allowed the two characrters to get into stuff.

Had to stop to jump into the shower then Michael and I headed into Knowlton for the 5-7 opening cocktail for WordFest. Met Jim there, then the three of us had dinner on the terrasse of the Cafe Inn - and listened to our young neighbour, Amos, sing. Such a beautiful backdrop, of the mill pond, the church spire, and the mountains.


Woke early to do a 7:15 live radio interview on CBC Radio with my friend Dave Bronstetter - promoting WordFest - and discussing the question of setting. And the wisdom, or folly, of setting a mystery in Canada. There's a huge, and in my mind misguided, school of thought among agents and editors (and therefore some writers) that setting a book in Canada is akin to putting it in a garbage can and setting it on fire.

I don't agree. In fact, I suspect many of you are drawn to my books because they're set in Quebec, not despite it.

Though, of course, it's impossible to say if they'd have been even more successful if they were set just across the border in Vermont. Or in the Cotswolds. I suspect they wouldn't be - mostly because while I like both areas, I love quebec.

Indeed, this will be part of the discussion at the workshop on settings for crime fiction that Jim Napier and I are giving tomorrow here in Knowlton. I suspect we'll be discussing it this afternoon, too, during our conversation on stage at the Theatre Lac Brome.

Oh, went to the first WordFest public event this morning - the marvelous Louise Abbot, a local writer/film maker and historian. She gave a terrific talk on how to bring local history alive. Very exciting for those of us who are interested in history.

By the way - the French word for 'workshop' is atelier. Isn't that great? Sounds so much better than workshop.

So, Jim and I have decided we're actually giving an atelier on crime fiction writing.

After our conversation today I have a 3:45 radio interview on CJAD with Anne Lagace Dowson - then meeting a Canadian filmmaker interested in the series, for an ice tea and talk - then have to scoot home, pick up Michael for a meeting in Sutton tonight. Poor Jim, our houseguest, is on his own. I wrote him an email earlier in the week nominating us as the worst hosts in history - or at least the worst hosts he's met in a while.

Be well - talk to you tomorrow, I hope!

I'll try to blog tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

editing etc

mainly sunny, hot, temps 30

Great day...sat again on the porch and edited. Michael beside me. Wayne cutting the grass. We really do need to consolidate the work done at the home, so that everyone doesn't come on separate days. I just really long for peace and quiet to write and edit and just be...quiet. But now it seems everyone comes on a different day. Have asked Lise if she can help with this...

Have to say, the place just shines after Lise and Wayne have been.

It was so hot today...we were just dying...but when Wayne's out there cutting grass we just don't feel we can splash around in the pool. Torturous for him, and not very private for us.

Writing a mixed bag...editing, really. Hit some patches that were pretty messy...surprisingly so. But also hit two sections that took my breath away - unexpectedly. I find if a section isn't working I need to read the scene all the way through, figure out why it's there, what I wanted to say...then re-shape it. Am winnowing it down too. down to just over 103,000 words. At this rate it might be a novella by the time I'm finished. Just kidding...I love that I now have loads of space to add if necessary. And I can think of a few scenes that need to be added.

Am loving this book though, and the themes.

Tomorrow more editing...then the 5-7 cocktail (in Quebec they're called cinq a septs) to open the Knowlton WordFest literary festival. Meeting, among others, Jim Napier there. He's a friend, and literary critic, and he and I are doing a couple of events together this weekend. He'd coming to stay overnight Friday and Saturday.

Not sure if we'll put him in the main house or the cottage. The cottage has air conditioning in the upstairs bedroom, so if it's stinking hot we'll put him there. Our guest bedroom in the main house gets sweltering.

Busy, busy weekend. But fun. Will tell you more about it in tomorrow's blog. Love to see you here for the lit fest.

Hope you're enjoying the day.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Raspberries, peas and hollyhocks. Oh my.

misty, foggy, humid this morning - now sunny and hot temps 28

Well, while we were away in NYC the garden went nuts! Happily corralled by Lise and Donna. But all the flowers have exploded into bloom. It's fantastic. The clematis all over the birdhouse, the climbing roses in full bloom. And as I walked Trudy around the pond I noticed raspberries! I wasn't prepared, no bowl, but we got a handful (between mouthfuls - I blame Trudy, dreadful influence).

I adore hollyhocks, and their spires are in full and magnificent bloom.

So lovely to walk first thing in the morning, especially when it's misty. Everything smells so sweet, and a different aroma with each step. Some sweet, some musky.

the phlox are out! I think they're my favorite summer flower - perhaps even eclipsing peony. Lovely little blossoms, but mostly it's the fragrance. Reminds me of childhood summers by the lake.

After breakfast Michael and I sat on the screen porch, sharing the table, each with our laptops...working on our books. He's still at it. Amazing. I stopped about 3pm. Again, more editing than I expected - but more fine tuning. there will be at least one more draft, I know, before anyone gets to see it. I hope to finish this one - the third draft - by the end of next week. Might take the weekend off...then head right back to the fourth draft. Hoping to have it all finished by the time we head to Stratford and British Columbia.

Oh, we've made reservations to go to London in November. Meet with the new publishers and editor again, have lunch with agent Teresa - but mostly...have fun after a very long tour!! Have rented a flat on Basil Street in Knightsbridge, right behind Harrods and around the corner from Harvey Nichols (aka Harvey Nics)

Can hardly wait!!!

but for now, how wonderful to sit on the porch, look out at the magnificent garden, thanks to Lise and Donna, and write with Michael. Bliss.

Monday, 12 July 2010

3rd draft

sunny, beautiful day, temps 32

Hot but not humid. Really, a very beautiful summer day here in Montreal. Have finished the first day of the 3rd draft and am sitting on our balcony looking out over the private park at the back of our building. Very tranquil, except for the endless work being done on the building across from us. The poor people who live in that building!!

Didn't get so far on the third draft...only about ten pages....but while in New York I had a couple of ideas for this book, and especially the beginning - which I have now re-written three times. I've had to do that with a few books. The beginning of Still Life - the opening chapter I mean - didn't come to me until after about a year. And I remember taking a bound print out of THE BRUTAL TELLING with us to Cambridge, in the UK. We were there a couple of years ago, in Sept, for Michael's 50th reunion. I thought I had just the fine-tuning of THE BRUTAL TELLING to do, and so was looking forward to sitting in one of the famous walled gardens at his college, or by the banks of the Cam river, reading the manuscript for my latest book. One of those 'pinch me' moments.

Well, the 'pinch me' moment became a 'kick me' session.

I read the manuscript with growing horror - and nausea. I'm not kidding. When something's wrong in my life, and certainly in my work, it sits in my stomach.

I was so upset, and disconcerted. Here it was, September already. I thought I'd all but finished the book, and now I'm reading it, and hating it! So I sat down with a red pen and started crossing things out, and moving things, and re-working the opening...inded, reworked a lot of it. Just hoping to save it. Pull it from the fire.

Interestingly, when I'd finished I adored the was worth every moment of anxiety (i say that now that the book is out and is fine - at the time it was excruciating). Sometimes it seems the more I have to struggle, the better the book is. Means I really am writing close to the bone - and more and more in touch with the characters and the story I want to tell. So that if something is off I know about it, and can't let it go. The issue then becomes, how to fix it.

So today I worked on the beginning of this book, and I think I got it right...but that's the power of finishing a draft then waiting a week or me time to disconnect, and be able to come at it with fresh eyes. The eyes of the reader. And to know if the book is as good as it can be.

But it sure is a relief right now to say I'm pleased with where it's at.

Also wanted to tell you that the novella I wrote for literacy is now available for pre-order. Not actually sure when it'll be released, but you can go to and order it. It's called THE HANGMAN. Now, I do need to warn you that it's really just a quite long short story, and while it has Gamache, and is set in Three Pines, it is written at a grade 3 level, so the wording is perforce very simple. As is the story.

It's meant for emerging readers...but is certainly aimed at adults. So you might like it too. And the money goes to literacy organizations.

We're meeting Susan for breakfast tomorrow, then Michael has a dentist appointment and a meeting with our accountant and friend, Frank. Then we're off home.

It's a bit of a trade-off in sweltering weather. The Montreal apartment has airconditioning. But the country home has a pool.

Woe is me, who has to make such choices. Yes, I know, I don't get to complain. Well, just try to stop me!

Hope you're well - speak to you tomorrow!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Suitcase? What suitcase?

Mainly sunny, hot, temps 31

As you can see by the celcius, we're back in Canada. Montreal actually. Came here instead of the country house because Michael has a dentists appointment Tuesday, so we thought we'd just come straight here.

Had breakfast again at Friend of a Farmer. Got an outside table again, on the terrasse. I realize there might be one or two other places in NYC for breakfast - and I'm sure we'll find them in future visits...but I know I'm a creature of habit. I adore finding places I enjoy in a city, and making it my 'local'. Makes me feel part of the community - like I belong.

And it was a great breakfast. But I have to tell you - the BEST meal Michael and I have had in years was Friday nights Lebanese meal at Ilili - on Fifth Avenue. We walked there...lovely evening, and so thrilling to walk by the Flatiron (where my publisher is) then up fifth ave, the Empire State Building in view. Gives me chills. I think of all the films I watched over the years...the old black and whites, from the 30's and 40's...The Thin Man, the Tracy/Hepburn films- the Hitchcock films...Gentleman's Agreement - etc, etc. it's so thrilling to be in the same city.

And it gives me chills to be there, and be to be a writer, in new york city. I just floated. Amazed at my good fortune.

Anyway - I was telling you about the Lebanese restaurant. It was fabulous. They serve the food like that we order a number of small dishes and share. I can't begin to tell you what we had, except that it was delicious and the waitress helped us a lot. it also was a very cool atmosphere...modern, great design. A terrific experience all around.

When we left one of us noticed across Fifth Avenue was the Museum of Sex.

We went in. Didn't make it to the MoMA or the Met or the Frick...but we made it to the Museum of Sex. Sadly there were more things there neither Michael nor I recognized or could even guess what they're for. A rubber duck??? Don't tell me. I don't want to know.

Then walked back through the magical city - pondering the sights, the lights, the rubber duck, the food.

Woke this morning, went to breakfast, then headed to the airport. And there had the strangest experience.

As you know, we travel a lot. Fly alot. This time it was one of my favorite airlines...jetBlue.

In fact, here's part of an email I sent from the airport lounge...

"So far the trip has turned out to be too easy. We're at the gate at the airport - checked through security etc - and still have our suitcases!! Not carry-ons, mind you, but full size mama and papa suitcases.

At security, when it came time to put the cases on the belt with shoes, purse etc, Michael and I turned to each other and said, 'this is odd.'. But the bags got through - no one stopped us - and we just figured they'd changed the configuration. That the bag check was now on the other side of security. But... Nope.

So now we're at the gate and all the other passengers (like the reindeer) are looking at us oddly. I don't blame 'em. I would too. I'm actually looking at Michael oddly, hoping they figure we aren't together. But he keeps talking to me and offering me sips of his diet pepsi, so the strategy is failing badly.

Thankfully the jetBlue woman at the gate says we can gate check them, at boarding time. But she seems a little shaky on that.

We'll see.

Oh well. We learn. And now we're watching espn, who have decided to broadcast bowling instead of the World Cup.'

That's the end of the letter, more or it turns out the jetBlue woman was able to check the luggage, so all was well. But between us??? What was security thinking??? And those bags had tons of stuff that should never have made it through screening...nothing illegal, but when we were sitting at the gate thinking about it we realized there were bottles of cologne and eau de toilette, and toothpaste and scissors and all sorts of things that security and the scanning machines should have picked up.

Oh well...they didn't. And here we are, happily lying on the bed in Montreal...eating pizza and watching 60 Minutes.

What a fun few days in NYC. And thrilling to finally feel for that city what I always thought I could, and should. But never did. Until this visit. Michael started falling for NYC a few months ago when he visited with his sons and they had such a fabulous time. So he's helped lead me, and inspire me. And now we're both discovering, late in life, the wonders of New York.

But we're happy to be home.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

You will not blog today, nor will you buy a pretzel...

overcast, humid, storms threatening, temps 85

It's quite sticky, but not too bad at all! Having a great time here...slept like a log. Didn't set the alarm. Can't remember the last time we didn't set the alarm and didn't wake up with a stinky, moist, disgusting fluffy chew toy in our faces. Can't say we miss it, at least, not for a few days.

Rolled out of bed around 8am - showered - then headed around the corner to a place called Friend of the Farmer, on irving place. Sat outside with coffees and had omelets and sausages and toast. Before leaving we watched the Today show and saw this band of storms moving toward NYC etc. forecasting torrential downpours and thunder and lightening. But aside from a few sprinkles, nothing has happened.

On our way back we walked up and down the street fair on Park Avenue. Blocks and blocks around Union Square were closed and there were kiosks selling doughnuts and roasted corn and jewelry and hats. Got Michael a new hat. We each had a psychic reading. Apparently we'll both live into our 90's. According to her, I was married before, have two children and while I have a smile on my face my heart is aching. At least she knew I was a tall woman. But even that might not have been clear to her.

Michael had a job he worked hard at and is good at helping people. He is often hungry before eating, and tired before going to bed. (I added that last part, to help the psychic out).

I bought a sundress and a shawl, and a hand stitched (apparently) coat.

Then got a NY Times and headed back for an ice tea at the hotel.

Then we changed...Michael to have a rest and I slipped into my new sundress for lunch at the Union Square Cafe - to celebrate my friend Dan's birthday. We shared a started of calamari, then we each had grilled steak salad with arugula and mushrooms. And the waiter brought Dan out a lemon tart with a candle. I started to sing happy birthday but the look of torment on Dan's face made me stop.

We parted after lunch and I walked back to the hotel, past the street fair. God, I'm loving this city. A bit of a mess - but so alive. Jazz to London's symphony. Each magical, but totally different. Bought Michael a pretzel - one of the giant ones from a street vendor. all warm and soft and salted. Arrived back to a very hungry guy whose eyes fixed on the pretzel...I could have hypnotized him with it.

I believe the psychic would have divined that he wanted it. Actually, I think she'd have said he didn't.

He took it and while I poured us some diet coke he sat up in bed and munched away...the new york skyline beside him out the window.

Off for a Lebanese dinner tonight. Yum. Then flying back to Burlington and driving up to Montreal tomorrow. Hoping to start the third draft of book 7 on Monday.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Falling in love, with NYC

sunny, hot, humid - but wonderful!!! temps 85

We're in New York City. Heat wave broken, for the most part. Now it's just hot, but not sizzling. Everyone here is sighing with relief and saying, "you should've seen it earlier in the week.'

I'll tell you, 85 and humid in NYC is hot enough for us fragile Canadians. Very delicate.

We're having such a great time. Arrived via Jet Blue from Burlington at about 1pm, at hotel by 1:45. W Union Square. Did the usual and asked for an upgrade, and they were happy to give it to us. Very gracious. But (oh dear) the room they gave us while very big was more than a little dreary and had a sliver of a window with a kind of turret wall blocking out half the view.

Sooo - I was in the embarrassing (though not unfamiliar position) of asking for an upgrade on the upgrade. They were lovely and sent a manager right up who showed us to a slightly smaller room on the 15th floor - with a huge window and a view over Union Square.

Now, Union Square (as we're learning) is a fabulous location in New York...just at the border with Greenwich Village and the East Village. The park used to be very scary - drug deals, prostitutes, violent crime. But now it's great...trees, benches, a market Friday's to Sundays. Lively without being frightening. After we'd unpacked we asked the concierge where to have lunch and she pointed us across Union Square to the Blue Water Grill. Off we went and had a great meal. Michael had the watermelon gaspacho and I had a fruit and cheese salad. Then he had the grilled cod and I had grilled shrimp.

Oh. Jesus, take me now.

Then we walked back across the park, to the hotel, and had a nap. First good sleep in days - thanks to the air conditioning. Ahhh.

Up by 5pm, dressed and into a cab to the Hyatt Regency in Times Square for the St Martin's Press/Minotaur cocktail at Thrillerfest. Met loads of people...very fun, and loud. Then Hope, Michael and I hopped back into a cab for dinner at the Gotham Bar and Grill. Michael had seafood ceviche salad as a starter, I had the corn chowder. Hope resisted. She had the grilled steak as a main course, Michael and I both had halibut. Delicious. Michael topped it off with the Gotham chocolate cake. The boy was lost beneath a sea of moans.

Home to the hotel by midnight - an easy walk. And a lovely night for a short stroll.

Then up by 7am - breakfast at a nearby bistro - l'express - with Sarah Melnyk, my publicist at Minotaur, and a really terrific writer for Publisher's Weekly named Lenny. Michael was there too. So it was cafe au laits, and talking, for two hours.

Then off to the Flatiron building, and a taped interview with Laura, the head of Macmillian Audio. Ralph Cosham, who narrates the audio books, was supposed to be there, but wasn't able to. Disappointing, but I know we'll meet one fine day.

Then off to a nearby greek restaurant for lunch with 14 people from Barnes and Noble, as well as my publisher, Andy Martin and a number of others from Minotaur. A fun, relaxed lunch. though I realize it's a Friday and normally these people would scoot out of the city at noon - so I'm very grateful they delayed that to sit down for lunch.

And now Michael and I are relaxing in the lobby bar of the W, with lemonades (well, I have a Shirley Temple). Michael's finished the latest draft of his brilliant book, so I'm taking him out tonight to celebrate. I asked where he'd like to go...and do you know what he said???

The Blue Water Grill! He loved it so much he wants to go back!

Tomorrow morning we plan to wander the Union Square market...then I'm off for a birthday celebration with my friend Dan (taking him to the Union Square Cafe) while Michael enjoys himself in quieter pursuits.

We are growing to LOVE this amazing city. If you've been following the blog since the beginning you know it's been very slow boil. NYC intimidated us at first...and we'd creep back with some trepidation. We realized after a while that we weren't helping things by staying in large mid-town hotels. We need a sense of community, of NYC as smaller neighborhoods. So we've re-located this area. the area of villages. And now, finally, we feel at home. And we still feel how dynamic and exciting this city is. Indeed, we're even considering finding a very small pied a terre in this area, and maybe renovating it. Not to live it, but to be here when we visit.

Probably won't...but fun to dream. And such a blessing to be falling in love with this wonderful city.

Off now to walk around, stop for ice cream, find a quiet place to read the Times. Then off for Michael's celebration dinner. So glad you could come with us!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Only a brother!

sweltering, stiffling, sizzling - temps, a gazillion, celcius

OK, more like 33...but wretched enough. Although, it is also wonderful. Hard to complain too much when we also had minus gazillion in the winter. And as someone mentioned, humorously, in the comments - people with a pool lose the right to complain in a heat wave. Can't say I disagree with that! loved hearing that the NY times ran photos of the blizzard.

Did a load of laundry anticipation of NYC and having to change every hour. Drove to Richford to mail a couple of books. Stopped at Alban Houle's fruit and vegetable store on the way back, for watermelon. I love watermelon, and this seemed the day. But seems I wasn't the only one with that idea. They were out. But Alban let me sample the honey dew melon. Oh. My. Gooood.

Better than guess what we have dripping down our chins now.

The flagstones scorch our feet - we 'yip' our way across them on our way to the grass.

Heading to New York tomorrow...staying at the W. Love that hotel. We're going to the St Martin's/Minotaur cocktail at Thrillerfest. I'm not actually going to Thrillerfest...a convention for readers and writers of thrillers. But fun to be asked to go to the cocktail. Then we're going out for dinner with my editor, Hope Dellon. She's wonderful. Someone I'd choose as a friend...can't say that about everyone.

Will try to blog from NY.

Received a hilarious birthday card today from my older brother, Rob. It showed a bowl of fruit and a man mooning. It said, Still Life with Butt Crack.

Only a brother...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


mainly sunny, sizzling hot, temps 33




slip, slide.




Monday, 5 July 2010

The Plan

sunny, hot, temps 31

Stunning day!!! Full on summer. Noticing that the temperature in NYC is 36. it feels way hotter than that too. We're planning to pack underwear, and that's all. If we weren't bashful Canadians, we wouldn't even pack that. Off to NYC Thursday, back Sunday.

It's our friend Gary's birthday. Happy birthday, Gary!!!

His wife, and my great friend, Cheryl and I had breakfast outside at le Cafetier in Sutton. Sitting on the terrasse with bowls of cafe au lait, and each of us had the fresh fruit plate with yoghurt and honey. Yum.

Cheryl and I talked about 'The Plan'. I think many women have it...perhaps men do too. But while my prayer is to go before Michael, the fact is most women outlive their husbands. And most women I know I have 'the plan'.

Here's mine...and Cheryl's. We start a community. Each of us, by the age of 70 let's say (it's a vague plan), has a small home of our own design. But we'd be together in a community...with a central gathering place, a communal kitchen if we want, a place where all of us (there'd be as many people there as we'd like...all good friends...all relaxed, kind, thoughtful, tolerant people...stress on tolerant!!) We'd visit each other for dinners, or eat on our own, or go to the communal gathering spot and eat with whoever else was there. We'd see people when we want. And be alone when we want.

My home would be small, cosy. A living/dining/kitchen area. With a fireplace. Not grand. A place to curl up and be comfortable. One bedroom and a lovely, large bathroom. I would write, and listen to music and watch movies. Visit friends. Be visited. Travel.

My friends in the community would have homes of their own design. And live lives of their own design. We would support each other, but not impose. There'd be, perhaps, a small chapel - non-denominational...for prayer or meditation, or just quiet reflection.

Cheryl and I had a wonderful breakfast talking about that, and trying to decide where it would be. Anywhere in the world, presumably, since this is as much a dream as a plan. South of FRance? Italy? New mexico? Maine? the Cotswolds?

But we agreed we're daughters of Canada, and love to live here and would love to die here. So we got to thinking...we'd like to be within walking distance of a village. A place that was beautiful and peaceful. Where we could have a cafe au lait on a terrasse. We both stared into the distance...where, oh, where in Canada would be find such a place?

And then Cheryl started to laugh. She stared at me, clearly inviting me to join in, but it took me a full thirty seconds or more to get it. We already have it! And then we both laughed.

How funny....the thing we both yearn for, dream of, we already have. How perfect is that? How typical? I have all I want or need...I just need to be aware of it. And I think I am...until wake-up moments like that. Wonderful.

this 'plan' though was brought to the fore of my mind by a phone call we received Saturday. From Michael's cousin Marjorie, in Elora, Ontario. We visit her every year at least once. Amazing woman. Now 83 - never married...born and raised in Montreal but lived most of her adult life in New York City...worked at Fortune Magazine, and helped launch Money Magazine. A smart, funny, kind woman. A woman with a great gift for friendship. Who travelled around the world and took the time and effort to keep up with friends. Though she had two especially great friends in her life. margo and kay. Kay was a friend from childhood, and they did everything together...roomed together in NYC, traveled Europe together shortly after the war. When Marjorie retired she moved from NYC to Elora because that's where Kay and her husband lived. There she met Margo, recently widowed.

Margo's name was Morgan, but she went by the name Margo Oliver, and was famous in Canada as the food columnist for Canadian Living and was syndicated across the country for decades. Wrote many fine cookbooks. Marjorie loves, loves, loves food and Kay was indifferent to when Marjorie met margo it was like a gift from the gods...for both of them.

Soon all three women, elderly by now, were almost inseparable. Except that they were all independent, in mind and spirit. Kay was the intellectual, the clipping service...who read the New Yorker, The Economist, the Manchester Guardian first, and highlighted the articles she felt the others should read. Margo and Marjorie traveled Canada and the US going to great restaurants. All three had seasons tickets together to the opera in Toronto, to Stratford the Elora music festival. All put up choristers for the festival and volunteered at the book sale.

Every time we visited Elora we got together with them - and I grew to be in awe of this friendship. to admire it. And even envy it. Indeed, in DEAD COLD/A FATAL GRACE, the Three Graces were inspired by Marjorie, Kay and Margo.

But, of course, there's a terrible price to pay for a friendship like that.

Marjorie called Saturday to say that both Kay and Margo had died. Suddenly.

They were both in fragile health, but still their deaths stunned Marjorie. And Michael. And me. I can't begin to imagine what it must be like for her, to lose not one, but both. To be the one left - the one to turn off the lights.

And yes, it is right and appropriate to concentrate on the great blessing of having that relationship - one I've seen a few people achieve, but not many. But, dear Lord, the price. Worth it, certainly. But I wonder if it's selfish to pray to be the first, not the last, to go?

Something else to add to The Plan.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Happy Fourth of July!

partly cloudy, mixed day - warm - temps 25

Supposed to get up to about 30 degrees and sunny, but so far a little changeable.

For those of you in the States, hope you're having a wonderful July 4th. Our day so far has been terrific. Got up early for an 8am breakfast with the people in charge of the community radio station, CIDI. David, maurice, Michael, Kate, Doug and I met to discuss a new literary contest they're starting. Very exciting. Won't tell you about it's up to them to announce it...but how kind they are to ask my advice. And fun to sit over breakfast at Chez Guy in Knowlton and debate and discuss literary contests.

Now sitting at home, with a cafe au lait, social teas and Star Wars part 3 on the DVD.

Yesterday was lovely - Michael and I had breakfast with Joan and Cheryl and Gary. Then home for swimming, and laundry on the line. Warm and sunny.

Last night, after the meeting, we sat on the porch while Michael BBQ'd spare ribs. It was a perfect evening. Warm, calm. Fragrant. An evening to just sigh and wonder at our good fortune.

And today? Just relaxation.

Oh, and thanks to Richard, Marjorie and others, I now have the addresses. Thank you!!! Will let the agents take it from here. But I will absolutely let you know when and if there's news. A long process, as we all know. But fun. it really is terrific to know that we're a team...and you are such a helpful and generous part of it.

Thank you.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Not reaping, not sowing...just vegging

sunny, mild, temps 20

ahhh - finally a sunny day! Not exactly summer temps, but lovely sitting here on the screen porch looking out over the swimming pool and gardens and across to the field and pond - the forest and the mountain beyond. How beautiful it is. And the gardens are in full and fragrant bloom. All the better, I think, for the cooler weather and rain. And now with the sun everything is popping.

Had a great birthday...blessedly quiet. Our friend susan was supposed to come but as her gift to us, she realized we were stressed and needed just a few days alone. So we agreed on a raincheck. How wonderful to have a friend so close and so dear that she knows what we need before we even say anything.

Went to Cowansville for breakfast, did some work here at home, getting caught up still on details that weren't done while concentrating on the second draft. And now have spent the past two hours on the porch with Trudy, enjoying the quiet and the view...and googling apartments in London and Paris. My guilty pleasure. We need to get to the UK this fall and thought we'd go early September, until the Quebec publisher very kindly, but firmly, explained that with the first book coming out at exactly that time she'd have to come to London and eviscerate me (well, that was implied). So we're staying. To promote En plein coeur...which as you know, I'm thrilled about. The French version of Chatelaine, an influential Canadian magazine aimed at women, is giving it a great review - so that's a relief. You never know (at least I don't) how a book like this might be received here. Since I'm an anglo writing about English, but also French characters...and settings. Just never know if the Francophones will not be interested, or amused - or accepting. But, so far so good. Will let you know.

But this means our trip to London to do book stuff and meet publishers etc is pushed to November...early to mid. Looks like we'll arrived back home in time for the Montreal Book Fair one day then off to the Miami Book Fair the next.

As you know, I set the fall aside for touring - so the next book has to be finished before the traveling begins. On paper it looks like the deadline is far away, but in reality it is almost here.

Off to NYC for a few days next week - and when we return I'll plunge back in to the next edit. Each gets easier. At least, that's the theory.

Someone on Facebook suggested sending books to the actors you're suggesting (my books, not someone else's). I think that's a great idea...if you can figure out how to do that. Very difficult, understandably, even discovering who is the agent for anyone.

I'd love to get a few books to Ciaran Hinds - if anyone can figure out how. I imagine my agent could - but she has other things to do. So I'm appealing to you and the detective in you...if you can find him, or his agent - please let me know. I'll give it a whirl too. These things are very fun...the hunt!

Having breakfast tomorrow with Joan and Cheryl, Michael and Gary (makes them sound like couples - but Michael is mine and Gary is Cheryl's - and Joan is Gary's mother...oh, never mind...) Gary's birthday is Monday - born the same year - so we celebrate together.

Forecast for the weekend - get this - is for sunny and hot!!! Right through to Tuesday. Yippeee!!!! Summer. And trying to clear the decks.

What a lovely day today...the dream day. Just indulging...doing nothing. Vegging. I am a turnip. And proud of it.

Happy vegging to you too, my fellows in the garden.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Happy Canada Day!!!

overcast, rain, temps 16

Well, the weather is at least consistent. Spent this afternoon sitting in front of the fireplace...lit! With butter tarts and cafe au laits. Then had a bubble bath and watched an episode of Rome, season two.

Went off to Richford this's in Vermont...I needed to mail some stuff, get gas, and pick up a gift from the Pinnacle Peddler. That's a sort of Poste Restante...where mostly Canadians have things delivered because it's faster and cheaper.

As some of you know, today's my birthday. Fifty three. And you know, I've never been healthier, happier, more content, more aware of my good fortune...and I believe I've never been better at what I do. I'd nver, ever have thought in my twenties or thirties this would be the case. But how lovely that it is! I've LOVED my fifties. Forties were pretty darn good too. Clearly not wall to wall fun and joy...but peace and love and friends and contentment help get over the places where the ground suddenly falls out. And gummy bears, fig newtons, and butter tarts also help. Any port in a storm. And bakery in a crisis.

Stopped at the Abercorn Bakery on my way home to pick up Michael's favorite dessert of all time...their lemon meringue pie. To thank him for being such a wonderful life companion. I offered a kidney, but he preferred the pie. As, it must be said, did I.

His back is 99 percent better...phew.

Oh, did I tell you??? Bury Your Dead got two more starred reviews this week...


Penny’s first five crime novels in her Armand Gamache series have all been outstanding, but her latest is the best yet, a true tour de force of storytelling….Penny hits every note perfectly in what is one of the most elaborately constructed and remarkably moving mysteries in years.

And Library Journal came in today, with a starred review...

Superb…brilliantly provocative and will appeal to fans of literary fiction, as well as to mystery lovers.

So excited about this book.

And LOVING the casting discussions...and broadening it to other characters beside Gamache. Who do you think might play Reine-Marie? I actually think that will be difficult...and will probably be an actress I'm unfamiliar with, in that she should be Quebecoise and I'm not as familiar with Quebecoise actors.

I can see it will be a free-for-all when we do agree to a film/TV series deal...and then I ask you again. For real. Perhaps we can have a contest for walk-on parts...get a bunch of you as extras. I'm thinking if this goes on much longer I could play Ruth. Or, depending on the exfoliation, Gamache.

Hope you're enjoying the day. I sure am.