Monday, 30 May 2011

New winners are....

sunny, beautiful day. temps 26

Sitting on the balcony, writing this. It is a perfect day. No clouds. Not too hot. Not at all humid (which is quite unusual for montreal). Magnificent.

Spent the morning and into the afternoon writing. At a pivotal scene. I know, it seems I say so many are...but some are just intense and complex and difficult. And some are actually pivotal. This one is pivotal - thought strangely, not all the difficult to write. But I needed to go over it, and over it...making sure it all seemed, and sounded, perfectly natural. to the characters and to the story.

So far so good. Phew.

So - I didn't hear back from the two 'winners' - gave plenty of warning. So - I have chosen two more winners from those who entered the contest here on the blog and facebook - asking what you'd do, if you won the ARC - to promote A TRICK OF THE LIGHT.

The two new winners are:

Sarah McKenney
Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists

Now if I don't hear back from you by the end of the week, I'll choose yet another winner. This could become a new hobby!

Actually, I've already contacted Sarah - but Meredith, if you can write me at my website with your mailing address, that would be great.

Thank you!

Off to enjoy the sun!

Sunday, 29 May 2011


clearing skies, temps 20

Getting warmer - poured with rain briefly today - and now looking better.

Am in Montreal to get some quiet time to write. And need to do the newsletter too. Writing going well, I think. At that stage where things start to be revealed, and that's always thorny. When to expose things, in what order. How.

not totally sure I'm doing it right, but the best way to know is to keep writing and see if I get into trouble later. We'll see.

Not much to report. That's the purpose of coming into our small apartment. so that nothing else happens. No phones ring. No lunches or dinner with kind people. No conversations.

Just my own schedule. I eat when I want. Sleep when I want. Write almost all the time - but it somehow feels less stressful. I guess I'm not always worried about being interrupted. or have something else to do in the afternoon.

I feel the hot breath of time on my neck. As I mentioned, I need this book written before I leave on tour with A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. And I know I'll need at least three drafts. The first is the longest...the second can be difficult - often a lot of re-writing as I struggle to get the structure right. Then with the third I begin to work on the details, the fine points that are so fun. Ideally I like to have four or five drafts.

We'll see. I'd rather leave on tour with it not yet finished than send off a half-assed manuscript. But people look at how long I have before I have to hand it in, and it looks like a lot of time. Except that I know how much distance needs to be covered. It's like a chess game, in some ways, where you might be many moves from the end, but you already know if you're in trouble, or not.

So far, if I keep my head down and working I should be OK.

Happily, I, for the most part, like what I've done. But, honestly, I'll only really know when I start the second draft.

Nice weather ahead, apparently. that's wonderful!! Hope you're well.

Friday, 27 May 2011


very foggy this morning, as you can see by the picture of Trudy. Now it's raining heavily. Huge thunder storms yesterday. What a May! Temps 12

Pretty gruesome day. Rain and fog. Oh, dear. It would be wonderful to have two days of sun in a row. Just teeming with rain right now. yesterday there was a rain warning out for the townships of Quebec. Expected between 60 and 100 millimeters of rain. Normally a big rainfall is 15. It was insane. For those of you on the imperial scale, 100 millimeters is approx 300 inches. Well, perhaps not quite that. But it's tons of rain.

As you can see by the photos, Trudy got her summer buzz cut. She's ready for the marines. It's what's called a puppy cut. And she sure does look like a puppy. the photo in front of the tree in bloom was taken yesterday, when she first got home from the groomers. The other one was taken by Michael this morning, on their post-breakfast walk.

Lots of writing - into a good patch. I still worry there is a whole lot of story still to tell, and I'm piling up the word count. But then I remember that that's what first drafts are about for me. just getting everything on the page....the cherry picking what's good in later drafts.

the big thing for me, is to be finished writing this book before I start touring with A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. Because if I'm not, I'll have no time to write, or even to think about it. And then, if I have to write when I get back, I'll be worlds away. Pretty much a creative disaster. So that's the deadline I'm heading for.

We're firming up the fall tour. Very exciting. A TRICK OF THE LIGHT will be coming out at the same time in the US and Canada (perhaps a day apart) - so the publicists are organizing a North American tour that will last just over a month. It's very complex, and while I've been consulted on the broadstrokes, I haven't yet seen all the specifics.

It is amazing to me, though, just how many details there are. Many to do, of course, with travel. And since I'm far from the only author on tour this September, it also means coordinating and negotiating with bookstores.

the other thing that has struck me over the years is how meaningful a direct flight it. Not to have to connect. And a nice hotel room. Doesn't have to be the Four Seasons, but a good room is wonderful. As is having someone meet the plane, and drive me to events. Not necessary of course - I'm a big girl and can take a cab easily enough - but it's just one less thing to think about, if someone else is in charge.

For me touring is amazing...getting to finally meet all of you, who read the books, many of you since the very beginning. And many of you have read all of them, several times. I can't tell you how wondeful it is to stand at the front of a room and feel it's filled with sisters and brothers.

but it's also tiring - or can be. It's a marathon, not a sprint. So when we discuss the tour I also scan it for time off - often it's just a couple of quiet hours in the hotel. to regroup. Sometimes 'time off' is a long flight, with extra legroom. That's pretty great.

so we're now at that stage with A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. A sort of 'coming out party'. Hope you can attend! I'll put the schedule up here, and on the website, as soon as it's all confirmed...

though I can tell you that the US launch, on Tuesday, August 30th, is in concord, New Hampshire. At Gibson's Books. yay!!!

Oh, a note to those who still have not contacted me with their coordinates....please do before Monday, otherwise I'll just have to give the arcs to someone else. I notice that a Toni has posted on Facebook, but isn't sure if it is her, since I never contacted her. And I won't. mostly because the toni who won gave me no contact info.

Toni, and Sandy (of Gamache buy marriage) please check the blog post that announced the winners, to see if it is you, then contact me. Before Monday, please.

thank you.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One Book One Island!

sunny, warm, beautiful day - temps 24

Actually, a very slight nip to the air, but very, very nice. Very peaceful. And most of the black flies, that had been plaguing us, seem to have left.

The writing's going much better now - over the difficult patch. What a joy it is to get to sections that just flow quickly...hard to type as fast as the words want to come out. As you can see, it's not always like that...but when it is? Bliss.

Speaking of bliss, I wanted to show you two photos I took when I'd finished writing. Michael and I walked through the woods to the guest cottage and came across that wild apple tree, in full bloom. Magnificent.

And, at home, the lilac are in bloom...I cut lots of blossoms today and spread them in vases through the home. In this one I also put some allium and some white bleeding hearts, on the kitchen table. I wish this was a scratch 'n sniff blog (though often I'm very grateful it isn't)....I think the scent of lilac and peonies are just amazing. if heaven tastes like posset, it smells like lilac and peony. The peony are in bud, but not bloom. I'll torment you with photos of those once they pop.

Well, I've managed to keep mum for months, but finally it was announced that Prince Edward Island has chosen STILL LIFE as its One Book One Island selection this year!

the entire province will be reading (or at least encouraged to read) the book, in English or French.

I am beyond thrilled!! This is, essentially, a province-wide book club. Events will be organized throughout the summer, inspired by STILL LIFE and then it will all culminate when I visit on September 13th and 14th!

Have you ever been to Prince Edward Island? It is a gem. A real hidden jewel. I say 'hidden' though of course it isn't hidden at all, it just isn't as well known as it should be. Mostly I think it's known internationally as the home of the Anne of Green Gables books - which I adored as a child.

But PEI is so much more than that. Miles and miles of red sand beaches. peaceful, beautiful, unspoiled - but throbbing with culture. Great art, great theatre, great music - and cuisine. I am almost sick with excitement at the idea of visiting!!

but mostly, I'm so thrilled at the very great honour of having my book selected for their One Book One Island initiative.

Here's a link to information about the programme.

The English URL of the One Book site is, and the French URL is

I'll be doing interviews tomorrow morning on both the English and French CBCs. And just finished one with the Charlottetown Guardian.

Hope you're all well - speak soon!

Monday, 23 May 2011

A little bit more

mainly sunny, beautiful day - a cool breeze has just appeared. temps 26

But temperature going down. I think, while pleasant now, this cool breeze is bringing something with it. Still, it's been a gorgeous few days here. But, like so many, we awoke to the news, and terrible images, out of Joplin. So much destruction - so many dead and missing. The destruction, the force of it, is almost beyond belief.

Honestly, Michael and I both send out thoughts, and prayers. It sounds so empty, but it has meaning for us.

Back at home we had a lovely day yesterday. Sat outside with our morning cups of coffee - then into the living room. Lit a fire. Not that we needed it, but it's cheerful. then spent much of the day writing and speaking to friends and family. Sunday is like that.

Then off to the cottage for a bbq with Susan. She did these wonderful sausages from a farmer up the road - Breese. And made our favorite salad ever. Watermelon, flat leaf parsley, mint, spanish onions and feta. She also had corn bread muffins and did mushrooms and onions on the bbq. For dessert she'd prepared posset. A lemon cream confection. If we could eat heaven, it would taste like posset.

When susan comes to our place for dinner we just hope Trudy doesn't throw up on her. We consider it even.

Today was a wonderful day - with absolutely no agenda except to write. Awoke to lovely sun. had breakfast by the pool, then washed the bedding and hung it outside to dry. Lovely to see the white sheets flapping in the wind.

then went inside, lit the fire and spent nine hours writing, and editing, and re-writing.

Normally I try not to edit too much on a first draft. But this was another pivotal and delicate scene, and I just knew it wasn't right. And I was worried that if this was even slightly off, almost unnoticeable, the balance of the book would get further and further away from what I want to say.

The setting was right. The characters were right. the elements were right. But there was a better way of telling it all. That would be delicate and subtle and multi-dimensional while appearing to be straight forward.

It was very tempting to just leave it, and fix on the re-write. And that might have worked. Frankly, at this stage, I'm just desperate to finish. I'm running a step ahead of exhaustion. Not physical, but a sort of mental and creative tired. In the marrow. But I keep saying to myself to just keep going. Another step. And make it beautiful. Make it right. make it meaningful. And then another. And then another.

Don't flag, I tell myself. And never, ever give into the syndrome that dogged me much of my youth. Good enough. Or, as my brother Doug calls it, Cloud 8.

Close. Close enough.

But I know what lies down that road. Disappointment. In the outcome, but mostly in myself.

I really love this book. the setting, the themes. They mean something to me. It's not just words, and not just a story. And I worry that I'm not going to do it justice. But then I whisper to myself - just one step. And make it beautiful, Make it joyous. Make it meaningful.

Because this is an important element in my life. And at the end of it I don't want to look back on a whole lot of, Good Enough. And when I look at what happens to many, many people - like those in Joplin - I think, how dare I buckle under so light a weight. Whatever burden I'm carrying is of my own making. And easily borne.

I don't expect this book, or any, to be perfect. But I do expect that they will be filled with the best I can give. And then, perhaps, a little bit more.

Hope you're well, and able to bear whatever weight you've been given. I know that you so often lighten my load, make me smile and feel not at all alone. thank you. I hope it isn't a one-way street.

Be well, my friends.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The winners are....

mixed sun and cloud - humid and often quite hot! temps 25

Beautiful day. Kirk and Walter, along with our friend Cotton, had a luncheon party at their home to celebrate the fourth Agatha win. Friends and neighbours all there. Felt wonderful.

Spent the morning writing...then the luncheon....and then home. To do the final draw for the advance copies of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT.

I have to thank Michael and Marjorie for their huge help in reading the submissions, and helping to get it down to finalists. This was, without a doubt, the most difficult contest I've even judged. Not because there were so many entries - more than 180 on the blog, and many, many more who sent emails - but because of the quality.

The contest was to win an advance copy of the book - and to do so I explained that ARCs are special editions printed in very limited numbers by the publisher, to send to pivotal people in the industry. To get a buzz going about a book. They're handed out like diamonds and are collectors items. The point is - we really, really would love to get the word out about A TRICK OF THE LIGHT.

And so, I'm asking for your help. To come up with ways you would promote the book.

And you sent in many hilarious (who knew so many of you are so willing to get naked?), many brilliant, many creative, many deeply moving messages. I can't begin to tell you how I've agonized over this - to the point where last night I finally turned to Michael and said, 'I can't give out just two. It has to be four.' And so we schemed and tried to figure out how we could do that.

To be honest, I'd give you ALL arcs if I could!

But we finally figured how to double the ARCs - so I'll be announcing 4 winners today. Before I do, though, of the many, many that caught my eye, only one was a poem. And while the author of the poem didn't win, it was so wonderful, it gets an honourary mention! Here is Jock's poem:

A Trick of the Light, A Trick of the Light
Buy it today, don’t wait until night
Don’t be left out, nor be left behind
Be one of the clever, intelligent kind.
Go to your bookstore, find it online
There’s no way on earth I am giving up mine!
It’s Louise Penny’s latest, an obvious smash
Adventurous times with Inspector Gamache
Like all of her others, I know it’s a hit
(“And how do I know?” you ask in a snit)
Cuz I wrote a poem in a contest she had
Won an advanced reader copy and “Wow” was I glad.

thank you, Jock!!! What delight you have given me. As have so many, many of you!

finally, Michael and I (with marjorie's great help) winnowed it down to 15. And then, we let the Universe decide, in a random draw. This is what the Universe decided....

the winners of the Advance Readers Copy of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT are:

Dani (who incidently was the very first one to post a comment)
Sandy - who is a Gamache by marriage
Toni - who lives in Michigan and is a librarian
Edith - who drives a Prius and lives in boston, and apparently has quite a big mouth, which is very good thing!

Congratulations to all the winners - and a huge thank you to all of you for entering, and giving us so much pleasure, reading your ideas. But mostly, experiencing your enthusiasm. I makes me feel wonderful. And very confident as we go forward into a rocky publishing environment.

If Dani, Sandy, toni and Edith could please write to me at: with your addresses - and who to sign the arc to, that would be wonderful.

And to those of you who didn't win - thank you. and please, if you wouldn't mind spreading the word anyway, I'd really appreciate it. And I HOPE to have another contest - perhaps just a random draw - in the next month or so. I think you ALL deserve ARCs!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Fete de Lobster

rain, rain - then - dear Lord, beautiful sunny day! temps 26

It was supposed to be wall to wall lovely today. Wayne showed up to do the lawns - aborted many times over the past ten days. Got on the mower, started 'er up. Took it out of the shed. And wham. A downpour.

Wayne backed the mower up. Shut 'er down. Got off the mower. And went home.

I spent the morning writing...then at 11 I realized I'd done more than 1,000 words. While I could have/would have happily continued, we had other things packing our agendas. Initially the idea was to write until 1pm then head into Montreal, but since I'd done 1,000 by 11 I asked Michael if he'd like to hop in the beetle and we could head in to the city in time for lunch.

He didn't need to be asked twice. So, through the rain, we drove the 1 1/2 hrs into Montreal. Arrived in time for lunch at Taverne on the Square...then dropped off a 16th birthday gift for Bethany - I hesitate to say she's the daughter of our friends Bal and Linda - makes it sound like Bethany isn't our friend too, and she is. We adore her. So we popped around and dropped off a gift. Then Michael had a 3pm doctor's appointment (longstanding, not about his cold, which is MUCH better - cough persists but that's all). At 4pm we left. By then it was brilliant sunshine.

The bridge out of Montreal to the townships was just about gridlocked. But once actually on the bridge, things got a little better. rush hour. Plus, we're heading into a long weekend here.

In the rest of Canada it's called Victoria Day - for Queen Victoria. here in Quebec it's called La Fete de Dollard. After Dollard des Ormeaux - a french leader who died in a battle with the Iroquois.

Two solitudes indeed.

Had a wonderful drive once we got off the highway. Stopped to put the top down on the beetle. Beautiful drive! Exquisite evening. All the more lovely after all the rain. Wow. In fact we're sitting on the screen porch. that's a photo from a few minutes ago. The lobster festival is just starting at the IGA in sutton. Michael loves lobster. I'm OK with them, but not a big treat. So we got him one. And I'm writing while he eats. This is something only people married 15 years might do. blog while the other eats dinner. (and you thought speaking on a cell phone was rude at the dinner tabIe!) But, in my very shaky defense, I only do this because it takes him about 6 hours to eat a lobster. If I didn't do something I'd end up simply watching him. Hour after hour. he's one of those who has to check every hair, in case... Such fun, though, to see him consumed with pleasure.

Yesterday, in the middle of a writing jag, I did something I have never done over the course of 7 and a half books.

I dropped pasta all over my notebook. At least I didn;t dump it into the laptop - but the notebook IS the book. Has all my notes. All my thoughts, all the details. The plot. From tiny little words to huge ideas. All there. And yesterday, while eating lunch and writing, my hand caught the bowl and... you know when everything starts going in slow motion? I could see what was about to happen but I couldn't stop it.

and - plop. Cheese-y pasta vegetable crap (not the brand name) all over my notebook. Gumming up the rings of the binding. soaking through. I tried to clean it up, and most of it is gone...most. But this morning it was as though I'd poured glue all over the book. it does give me pause, and make me wonder what that stuff is doing to my insides. But I continue to be way more concerned about what it's doing to my notebook.

Fortunately, I'm in the homestretch, more or less. Another two, maybe three weeks, and Book 8 will be finished.

Which brings me to your AMAZING responses to the ARC giveaway!!! As you can see, there are over 100 in the comments from yesterday, and we received hundreds through the 'contact' email. We're reading through them and will post the winners on Saturday - though how we'll even get it down to a shortlist is anybodies guess.

I'll thank you again on Saturday....but I do want you to know how much I love reading what you've written. How it fills my heart with gladness, that this is what I get to do - and I get to do it for and with you. You make this fun. And your messages on how you'd promote A TRICK OF THE LIGHT if you win the ARC have left me in tears of laughter, and tears of joy. And gratitude.

And, if you haven't yet entered the contest, you have until Friday night. It's for an advance copy of the next Gamache book. you can read the details in Monday's blog post.

thank you for reading the books, and promoting them, and joining Michael and me on the blog....and having the lobster dinner together. Oh, I must tell you, when we arrived back home it was to find Wayne had been again - and this time got the whole place mown. the smell of fresh cut grass...first of the season here...mixed with lobster. Life cannot possibly get better.

Monday, 16 May 2011

ARC - A Trick of the Light

rain, rain - and even more rain. temps 8

Oh, yech. It's a good thing I'm not affected by the weather or I'd be in a *&$%# foul mood.

OK - the moment has finally arrived. I have Advance Readers Copies of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT to give away! And I've set some aside just for you! Four copies, to be given out two at a time.

But, being a fiend, I'm going to make you earn it. The truth is, these ARCs are not only precious (as are you) - but rare. And printed by the publisher specifically and uniquely to boost interest and (that filthy word) sales. To get a buzz going before a book is published. So - they're sent to influential booksellers, reviewers, librarians, bloggers, journalists.

And, people with big mouths.

Which is where you come in.

Your job, should you win one of the ARCs (and honestly, even if you don't...please), is to tell as many people about A TRICK OF THE LIGHT as possible. Blog about it. Comment on other people's blogs. On book clubs. Write PSB, NPR, Today, OWN, Richard and Judy, magazines, your local book reviewer. Your mom. Everyone you can think of. And then some.

Tell complete strangers.

And you know why. Because the publishing business is becoming more and more difficult. And the economy is difficult. And people need to know if they spend their hard-earned and precious money on a book - then spend their hard-earned free time on it - that that book will be worth it.

A publisher can no longer publish a book and hope for the best. And an author, even a successful one, can't just sit around hoping the readers will find the new book.

With your help, we'll lead more people to Three Pines and the Gamache books - and A TRICK OF THE LIGHT specifically.

Obviously I'm making the assumption you'd be comfortable telling people that. They can use the library copy - I'm a huge fan of libraries, and certainly understand that that's how many people read books, especially series that are new to them. But we also hope many, many people will choose to buy the book too.

With your help.

Which brings us to the ARC. You can see it above, resting on the old laptop which I use to write. Behind it is the first draft of the next book...just as a cruel tease. I'm like that.

Here's the contest -

write a comment here telling me what you'll do, if you get an advance copy, to spread the word about A TRICK OF THE LIGHT. From all your wonderful comments Michael and I will choose two - not necessarily the best...but we'll narrow it down to the best, and then I'll have Michael choose at random from that pile.

Now, I know the 'comment' button can sometimes be baffling and if it doesn't work, just send me an email at:

Whichever is easiest for you.

have fun!

I'll announce the two winners by Saturday. Good luck!

Saturday, 14 May 2011


rain, rain, more rain. Rain. Temps 14

there's actually a rain warning out for our area. fortunately we're on high ground, though as some of you have noted, we manage to have floods in the house anyway. Mostly from burst pipes. But, so far, so good.

Watching the terrible flooding along the Mississippi. Terrifying. To see something coming, for so long, and being almost unable to stop it. Then having to make the dreadful decision to open the levies.

closer to home, the flood waters doing so much damage in Sherbooke and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu are receding.

Heavy rains expected all week, though.

I took a photo of our cutting garden, outside the kitchen door. You can see our crop of tulips. Shortly after I took this I cut most of them and took a vase to our neighbours, Guy and Nicole. He was just named the Volunteer of the Year for this area. He is really extraordinary, as is Nicole. He was telling us he's planning to take the First Responders course next month. I'm sure most of you have this programme in your communities, but it's fairly new out here. Neighbours take emergency first aid courses and then are called to scenes of accidents or fires or sudden illness like heart attacks, and try to stabilize the person until professional help arrives. I always find it so moving when people do those things for others.

I also thought I'd show you our asperagus crop. That's the other can see one tall, slender asperagus (asperagi?) So far, that's it. Will have to get the combine out and harvest it soon. Thank God we're not pioneers.

The other funny thing about the cutting garden is that all the spring flowers come out on basically the same day. So we're madly running around sticking daffs and tulips in every container in the house. for a week we're tripping over fresh-cut flowers, littering the place.

Then nothing for another month or more.

Lise will then turn the cutting garden into the vegetable garden, with beans and peas and potatoes.

Yesterday was spectacularly beautiful here. Sunny and not just warm, but hot. Our new barbeque arrived, as did the new patio furniture. A line of outdoor furniture by La-z-boy. Who knew. Fortunately, no recliners. But the furniture looked so good in the showroom. Then it shows up and guess what? It needs assembling. Sofas and arm chairs and coffee table.

Honestly - if your product is called La-z-boy, shouldn't that give you a clue who your customers might be??

The delivery people did the sofa, then left me to put the coffee table together, with the assurance that it wouldn't be difficult.

Compared to what? After an hour and half, in the baking sun and black flies I was ready to plunge the little toy wrench it comes with into a vein. I was longing for the halcyon days of Ikea assembly. The fun-fest of putting together the Ikea wardrobe. That was nothing compared to the La-z-boy coffee table.

It was the most difficult thing I've done since attending my mother's funeral. Though, to be fair, that needed almost no assembly. But, finally, it was done.

I stood, admiring my work. Then the heavens opened and I haven't been near it since.

Am plunging ahead with the book....the fear all but gone. Still whispers of, 'You can't do this, you can't possibly write a book.' Or, if the fear admits, grudgingly, that maybe I can write a book, it finds another tact - "OK, but it won't be any good.'

Silly old voice in the head. always there - but sometimes it will actually tell me I'm beautiful, and kind, talented and loved.

So, we take the good with the bad.

Michael is feeling better - spent yesterday in bed...quite upsetting, deep cough...but fever gone. And he always had his apetite, so I knew it couldn't be that bad. Still, best to watch over him carefully. He's in his big chair now, by the fire, reading me snippets from some medical journal about procedures I can't pronounce by doctors I don't know. But it makes him happy. He also had three of our friend Susan's homemade Eccles cakes beside him and a vat of hot chocolate.

Now - about the title of today's post. If you are as baffled by it as I am, then you probably won't be able to help.

Rachefest is the German title for the fourth book in the Gamache series. In the UK and Canada it's called The Murder Stone and in the US it's A Rule Against Murder.

Rachefeste just came out in Germany - and I'm embarrassed to admit, I don't know what the title means! I honestly don't even know if it should be one word or two. Rachefest or Rache Fest?

But I do know I am thrilled book 4 is available in Germany!! The germans are HUGE readers - very literate and very supportive of the arts. If you happen to live in Germany, or have German friends or family, please let them know about the book. Oh, and can you also tell me what the title means???

And a happy rachefest to all of you!

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Spring in Montreal

sunny, warm, temps 18

We're in Montreal for the day - came in to meet a reporter from Le Devoir, one of the big Quebec papers. Wrote this morning. I wanted to move on to a new chapter, but found myself editing the former one. It's a tricky chapter, lots of stuff, but I don;t it to read like there's a lot there. Want it to zoom along, so you get the info, the character development, the clues, the themes - without even realizing it.

But, we'll see tomorrow. And then move on.

Had fun with the reporter Catherine and the photographer, Anik. We sat on the terrasse on Greene Avenue, chatting and watching the world walk by. I have to say, this is a spectacular city, and so beautiful in spring. Walking over to the bistro, past all the open tulips, with the trees in new bloom, and a sweet scent in the air. so lucky neither Michael nor I have allergies!

It really was a beautiful day.

Except - poor Michael has a cold! Got all the way through fall and winter without one, but come spring and he gets it. It started coming on three days ago, but not bad. We both kept saying how lucky he was - especailly to escape the raw throat (always the worst part of a cold)...then last night, middle of the night, he woke up with a terrible sore throat.

A stretsil and neocitran later and he fell asleep. Today he sounds like an animated character. I thought he'd spend the day in bed, but after breakfast in bed he got up and got to work on his book.

Hope you're all OK. We're watching all the flooding - so stressful. Can't begin to imagine how horrible it would be, to see the water rising. Hope you're not caught up in it.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Anthony Nomination!

sunny, glorious day - warm - temps 17

Took a couple of photos - it is so hard to leave here. I even hate leaving to go do groceries.

A beautiful day, made all the more beautiful by the news that BURY YOUR DEAD has been nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Crime Novel in the US! The anthony is one of the BIG awards in the crime writing community, and is given out at Bouchercon each year. The complete list of nominees in the Best Novel category are: (the order was taken from the official announcement) -

Bury Your Dead - Louise Penny - Minotaur Books
I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lippman - William Morrow
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin – William Morrow
The Lock Artist - Steve Hamilton - Minotaur
Faithful Place - Tana French - Viking

And here's the link if you want to see the nominees in other categories. The magnificent Mary Jane Maffini, a fellow Canadian mystery writer who won the Agatha a week ago in Washington for best short story, is again nominated in that category. Wonderful.

Thank you, Marjorie, for the link.

As you can see, it's a dastardly strong field! Honestly, if I was going to Bouchercon, I'd be happy to vote for any one of them. Though I think I know what my personal favorite is...

Such a happy day - We also heard that Booklist has named Bury Your Dead one of the top 10 crime novels books of the year.

But - Michael and I are also deeply aware of the flooding situation...both here in Quebec with the Richelieu River and in Memphis. And in Manitoba. Very scary. We're ending emotional sandbags your way.

But I did want to pass on our good news.

Wrote more today. I find my rhythm now is to toss lots of words onto the page, then spend the next day or two fleshing and shaping...then moving on. Like a literary sheriff, whipping the town into shape, then moving onto the next trouble. And sometimes it's happy trials, as they writing goes smoothly.

OK, pilgrim - I've exhausted the simile.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Betty Crocker and Gary to the rescue

mainly sunny, mild, temps 17 - rain has finally stopped!!!

wonderful spring day. Brought in the first bunch of daffodils from the cutting garden. Tony put the dock in, and Michael saw fish this morning. All the trees in bloom. some of the lilac have tiny, mini stalks. Tulips about to open. A glorious time.

Last night, just as i turned off the television and was heading to bed, I heard a boom! From the basement. Now, we have a very old furnace and a couple of very old, and apparently leaking, oil tanks down there (which we're hoping in replace in a few weeks with a geo-thermal unit). My first thought was, 'Oh, merde - there goes the house.' Then I heard a loud hissing sound and I knew what it was.

A pipe had burst.

I called Michael and we raced downstairs. And sure enough, water was spraying everywhere. So much that we weren't sure where the actual leak was. the good news was that it wasn't inside one of the walls. So then we raced back upstairs and while Michael called Gary (poor guy - late on Friday night...that'll teach him to answer his phone!) I grabbed the flashlight. Trudy was pretty excited. I'm not sure she's ever seen Mom and Dad move so fast. We ran back down into the basement, Gary on the phone. And we found the burst pipe. It was right by the stone wall. And - how lucky was this - there was a shut-off valve right there. So with Gary talking us through it we squeezed between the oil tank and the wall - getting absolutely drenched - it was like having a powerful hose turned on us (fortunately cold water, not hot). Reached the valve. And turned.

The water miraculously stopped.

Spent the next few minutes thanking Gary and taking sodden pillows etc upstairs to dry.

But really - when you think that this could have happened a week ago, when we were in Washington. Now, Pat and Tony would have caught it, but they might have been out for the day. or it could have happened while Michael and I were asleep.

But it didn't. So now Gary's coming tomorrow to try to figure out what went wrong. Burst pipes aren't terribly unusual here - but they almost always happen in the middle of winter, after water freezes in the pipe. So - another mystery.

Speaking of which, I'm back to writing. yesterday I spent the day re-reading and editing, in an effort to get back into the groove. It's not so much the characters - I know and feel them. Nor is it the setting. It's picking up all the threads of the story, and the themes.

It is remarkably scary. And hard work. But then, whose job isn't? And who doesn't sometimes dread going to work?

I was determined not to spend anotehr day editing. it's so easy for me to hide in there - pretending it's writing, when it isn't. Instead, I knew I had to actually write. Even if what I wrote was was crucial to get some original work down. And, I did. More than 1,000 words. So now I feel like I'm almost back into the swim. So glad I can stay home and finish the book. I hope to be finished by the beginning of june.

Baked a cake today. A friend is celebrating a birthday and I said I'd do the cake. And then, just as the words came out I remembered something it might have been useful to remember a few moments earlier. My friend owns a wonderful restaurant - and is a fabulous cook.

oh oh.

I've never met a cake mix I didn't use.

My only hope, faint as it is, is that she's such a fabulous and accomplished chef she's never actually tasted a cake made from a mix, and so might mistake Betty Crocker for Louise penny. Either that, or she'll be too polite to say anything.

Still, it was fun to intersperse writing with baking a chocolate cake. And the whole house now smells of wood smoke, cafe au lait and chocolate cake. Michael looks like he's become a crack head. Goofy smile on his face.

Off to do the icing (and by 'do' I mean open the can).

Thank you, Lee Ann, for a beautiful, beautiful post. I realize that sentence comes out of the blue, but I didn't want to just end without acknowledging what Lee Ann gave us - and her struggle to find the words. A struggle that inspired me today. if Lee Ann can write about Thomas and Bin laden, then surely I can find the courage to write fiction.

Thank you, Lee Ann.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The bells that still can ring...

rain, a damp cold, temp 6

Back home in Sutton. Feels as though we've been a long time gone.

When Osama Bin Laden was killed I spoke about it on Facebook, and here on the blog. Trying to describe my emotions. But I recognized I couldn't begin to feel anything close to what someone who lost a loved one on 9/11 felt. Or the friends and family of those who have died in the wars, sparked by that attack by Al Qaeda.

Lee Ann Doerflinger wrote a comment after my post. Her son Thomas was killed in Iraq. I've asked her to put on paper how she feels about the death of Osama Bin Laden. Below is both her comment to my post, and then her own thoughts. The young man in the photo is, of course, Thomas - the only picture Lee Ann has of him in Iraq. You can see the storm gathering behind him. Lee Ann took a few days trying to write how to felt. Trying to figure it out herself. To tease out the conflicting emotions, to put words to howls. And to listen to the whispers.

Last night she sent me this:

It is a very difficult moment. I do not rejoice that another human being has lost his life--it seems to me that enough people have died in this conflict--but there was also no way for justice to be served by leaving him alive. And yes, maybe Thomas would be alive if 9/11 had never happened. But, it *did* happen and we did lose Thomas and many other young people. I'll admit, I sat there last night, weeping confused tears. Something is over: now we need to figure out what that something is.
Lee Ann, Thomas's mom (My comment on Louise’s blog entry on Osama bin Laden’s death)

Readers of Louise’s blog know that my son Thomas, Army SPC Thomas K. Doerflinger, was killed in action on November 11th, 2004. Louise has invited me several times to write about him and about my family’s work to memorialize Thomas and others who have fallen during this conflict. Thomas died in Iraq, in an action that presumably had not much to do with Al Qaida (though who knows? So much is hidden in this war). However, my family is all too aware that Thomas might not have volunteered or died if bin Laden had never existed or if he’d been killed or captured at one of the many earlier opportunities that had arisen. So when word came Sunday night that bin Laden was dead, we were relieved that this man would never plan another attack or recruit another terrorist. I cried. I called my sister on the West Coast to share the good news. We watched the President’s speech and the college students outside the gates of the White House. I briefly contemplated joining them but midnight was way past my bedtime.

And then came the realization that a man, no matter how evil, had died. It is always a serious matter to take a life, no matter how justified taking that life might be. I do believe that it was justified. Our enemy is dead. But, as I said in my comment on Louise’s post: enough people have died. Another death is not cause for celebration, though the death of this particular man is cause for relief.

Finally, I was caught in that paradoxical moment when I realized that Osama bin Laden did terrible things that gave rise to terribly beautiful things: national unity, friends of the heart. My grief for Thomas has changed me, whether for better or worse is yet to be determined. I have met people and made friends who would never have come my way if Thomas had not died the way he did. My country is a different place than it would have been if no one had died an unnatural death on September 11, 2001: we rediscovered our own strength as we stood amidst the collapsed girders and concrete dust and a crater in a field, mourning our dead.

Osama bin Laden’s death will not give us back our beloved dead. But we who survive can go on in their honor, grateful for their memory and rebuilding the future our fallen bought with their lives.

Thank you, Lee Ann.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

One Book Bradford

overcast, cool, temps 10

Wow - cool and VERY wet. Teemed rain all day yesterday as Pat and I drove from Pittsburgh to Bradford, PA. Lovely drive, even in the rain.

Had an absolutely gas at the Festival of Mystery. Thank you Mary Alice and Richard, who run the fabulous Mystery Lovers Bookshop in Oakmont, PA. Every year they organize this fund raiser festival. I had the immense pleasure of sitting next to Les Roberts for 4 hours. And the great pleasure of meeting some of you too - who came out. Place was packed 500 or so people, all buying books. Very fun.

Then yesterday morning up early for the 4 hour drive through the Allegheny mountains to Bradford. Lovely little town - home of the Zippo lighter! They'd chosen STILL LIFE as their One Book Bradford selection. When we arrived I went off to speak for an hour to a class at the high school who are studying murder mysteries. Then to the town library. Linda, the librarian, gave me a terrific tour of the impressive place. Not much 'hushing' going on there....they want it to be a real community destination.

And they have a library cat named Whisper! Every library should have one!

Then off to tour the Zippo museum. Fascinating. Especailly seeing all the different designs. The owner of Zippo sent a lighter to all of the American servicemen in WW2. It's become iconic.

Then back to change, off for dinner at the unviersity with the 14 member One Book Bradford committee. Then at 7:30 I spoke. Once again, I took the blackberry with me and asked people to hold their books and wave. Not the best photo (these were seriously attractive people) - but gives you an idea. About 130 people there. And so warm and welcoming. Despite the torrents of rain. A deluge.

The committee did a huge amount of work leading up to this event - including a big community book club event, led by Anita Hebert - lovely woman....and a pathologist, who read Still Life and compared it to how they might investigate Jane's death. He also took the clues and tried to deduct who'd done it. Very fun events in the past few months.

You can also see a photo of Rick and me standing next to a framed poster of STILL LIFE. The man is Rick, one of the organizers, and he designed the poster - making the cover look as though we're seeing it through the bistro windows. Brilliant.

Then Rick and Terry drove me the 4 hours this morning to Toronto. Marilyn was supposed to join us but there was a sudden acute illness in the family.

Am now in the Toronto Union train station, awaiting the 3 o'clock to Montreal. A bit pooped, but Very Very happy with Bradford, and Oakmont and Washington.

Home, here I come. Bathtub, here I come!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Osama Bin Laden

Overcast, rain, storms in forecast - temps 55

Am in Pittsburgh. heading off to Oakmont this afternoon for this wonderful crime writers/readers festival. It's called Festival of Mystery and is put on by Mystery Lovers Bookshop, a really amazing bookstore in Oakmont. All sorts of crime writers will be there, signing their books. It's at the Greek Orthodox Church. Doors open at 4pm, but the signings start at 5pm and they sell tickets at the door. nine dollars, I believe.

It'll be terrific - hope to see you there.

Woke up to the news that US Special forces had killed Osama Bin Laden. I was amazed, shocked. Happy....but also uncomfortable. And I didn't know why. I didn't feel like I should be celebrating. And yet, it seemed great news. And then I looked at my blackberry and saw Michael's email, and he put it so well. He wrote it last night - from Montreal. He knew I'd be asleep, so he didn't call with the news. But here's what he wrote:

"was watching celebrity apprentice when the network switched to breaking news. Obama reported that beginning last August they began to target Osama bin Laden. Finally, yesterday, they had reliable enough intel to send a squad of troops into Pakistan, where they killed him and recovered his body.

It was good news, but didn't feel good. Felt bad to celebrate another's death, however much it was justified. "

I appreciate not all of you will agree - and please, feel free to tell me how you do feel. It is just so complicated. I think of the courage of the Special Forces team. Can't imagine what that raid was like. I think of the men and women fighting Al Queda and the Taliban. Their courage.

I watched the Today show and the conversations with family members of people killed in 9/11. Oh, God, it was so sad. Mostly, I think Michael and I feel deeply sorry 9/11 happened, and that Bin Laden's actions have lead to so many deaths. Including, finally, his own.

I don't pretend to understand the depth of pain of those who lost loved ones in 9/11 and the subsequent wars. But, oh, it breaks my heart that so many people, most of them so young, have died. And yes, I'm sad that this was necessary.

I know some of you lost sons and daughters. I think of young Thomas, and others, who would almost certainly be alive today if it wasn't for Osama Bin Laden.

Am I glad Bin Laden is gone? God help me, yes. But I don't feel like celebrating.

Let this lead to peace. I'm not so foolish as to expect it will, but I do hope it will. But I know for sure peace begins with me. Not weakness, but peace.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Agatha, plus one

overcast, spitting rain, cool, temps 55

As you can see, I have now changed the way time (for me) will now be told. Everything will be measured from the moment BURY YOUR DEAD won the Agatha.

Am now in Pittsburgh. Two wonderful mystery writers gave me a lift from Malice Domestic in Washington - Heather Webber and Wendy Lyn Watson. Easy drive. Michael flew home from Washington this morning. I put him in a cab at the hotel and waved goodbye. Always sad. Like a true anal chick, I insist he emails when he gets to the airport. And certainly, when the plane lands. And then I got to the Air Canada site and check the flight status.

This I admit.

Had a fun panel at Malice this morning- then a signing. Then a few quiet hours, and the 4 hours drive to Pittsburgh. And what should greet me in the hotel room??? A clue would be the photo above.

How beautiful!!! flowers always cheer up a strange hotel room. And these are magnificent. Roses and lilies and the most fragrant night-scented stock...that smell like spice. And - as though that wasn't enough - there's an array of chocolates!!! Exactly what a gal needs after 4 hours on the road, and arriving on a gray, overcast day. Wow. Like sunlight in the room. And an embrace.

they're from - the publisher!!! Minotaur Books. The most wonderful publisher ever, as far as I'm concerned. To celebrate the Agatha.

I hope I know really how lucky I am. But I suspect I'll only really, truly grasp it when it goes away, as most things eventually do. Not in a bad or necessarily tragic way, but it's life. but for now, I really am trying to appreciate all my great good luck.

I called Michael as soon as I walked through the door. Wrote to Andy and Hope and Sarah at Minotaur, to thank them, then ordered ribs for delivering. Will crack a diet coke, eat ribs and watch something nasty on the TV - celebrity apprentice perhaps. Or the restaurant show. I like that.

Hope you're well. And thank you all SO much for your congratulations - for your happiness. It magnifies mine, and that's another reason to be extremely grateful. And aware.