Friday, 12 October 2012


Sunny, cold - frost warning - temps 5

Wow - how the season's change.  Autumn is here - and the leaves are falling...snow in high elevations.

And the film of Still Life has started - last week!  Stanbridge East, in the Eastern Townships, is standing in for Three Pines.

of course, the big question has been - who'll play Gamache- and we can now tell you - it's Nathaniel Parker.  I'm thrilled....I know he played Inspector Lynley, but that was quite a few years ago, and Gamache is a different character.... I think Mr. Parker's a fabulous actor, and that's what we were looking for.  someone who could bring the characteristics, the essence, of Gamache alive.

Very exciting to be on the set - and also a little nauseating.  thrilling to see the characters walking around...upsetting to see them take on lives independent of me.  Gosh, it's difficult.  But rewarding.

The film is being produced for CBC television, but will also be seen around the world, including the UK and US....but no channels decided on yet.  I'll tell you air dates and channels as soon as I know them.

Michael and I are off to the set again tomorrow....they've now moved to the indoor scenes.  tomorrow they're shooting in Terrebonne - and Ralph cosham is coming up from Washington, to be in a scene.  Ralph is the amazing narrator of the audio books!!!  Can hardly wait to see the two Gamache's together.

Working on the third draft of Book 9 - halfway through.  Hoping to be finished this draft before we leave for Vancouver International Writers Festival on Oct 18th.  I quite like third drafts....much, much easier than 1st or 2nd.  Less fear....and my mistakes are fewer, and more obvious.  Easier to fix.  As you can imagine, this book is quite complex...lots of plot lines to bring together, and the key is to appear to do it effortlessly.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


sunny, warm, temps 26

Wonderful news! THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY's on the NYTimes list for a second week! We're now at #10. Yippee!

Now that many of you have read it - I wonder... If you liked the book, would you mind letting others know? It makes such a difference to the life of a book. I know you're spreading the word, but I just thought I'd ask. Thank you!

Writing/editing went well yesterday on Book 9. Long day. Started at 8am and finally was satisfied with the chapter at 5:30. Got up all creaky from the chair. But I'm happy. Phew.

Hope you're enjoying the day!

Most of you have been just so supportive of this book - but I have another favour to ask...when you post comments, or reviews....I wonder if you could try not to give too much away? I know sometimes it seems you're not, and I know you don't mean to, but if you can be careful I'd really appreciate it.

We're in Montreal now, for the funeral tomorrow of our friend Ted Wilson. Lovely man, married to a wonderful and dynamic woman, also our good friend - Sandra.

Sad time - but he was so loved and it's a chance to celebrate a terrific life.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Full Circle

Toronto - overcast, rain - 16

Here're the quite fuzzy 'villagers' at the final event of the tour! (not sure if the photo will show up - seem to be having difficulty with the upload - hope it works. If not, you can see it on the facebook page, if you do facebook) The event was in South Hadley, MA - organized by Odyssey bookstore...and held on the campus of Mount Holyoke University....gorgeous campus. I arrived early and went for a walk around the lake. 1 mile. Lots of lithe young students lapped me! But so beautiful and peaceful and VERY fun event. Great way to end an extraordinary, unforgettable tour and two weeks - thanks to you!!!

Flew from Boston to Toronto this morning to sign some books, and am now at the airport to catch the flight to Montreal. full circle. I long to get home. Montreal tonight - then meeting with the film director for Still Life tomorrow morning - then home to sutton tomorrow afternoon.

Michael, Trudy, friends, bed. Ahhh.

But I will never, ever forget this past 2 weeks. And ending on a wonderful note. We're #6 on the Globe and Mail list! And terrific review in the Globe this morning -

....It’s a stirring, thought- provoking read, less a matter of whodunit than a relentless questioning of why any of us do anything....and stands as a powerful literary novel in its own right...

I hope you agree, my friend. Our travels are almost over - thank you for your glorious, comforting, invigorating company. You're welcome along anytime!!!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Number 2 on the Times List!!!

Overcast - warm - temps 85

Now in Atlanta....wonderful event last night at FoxTale books. This is just part of the fun to see you all there!

Got the most amazing news last night!!!

Andy martin, the publisher of Minotaur books called. He had Hope Dellon my editor, and Sarah Melnyk, the publicity manager at Minotaur in the office with him.

My flight from Houston had just arrived....and I was in the car with Gail, who was driving me in Atlanta...and Andy told me...

'You made it to number 2!'.

I thought I'd mis-heard. I knew the New York times bestseller list was being sent - way before hand - to the publishers I was on pins and needles. Gnawing my nails. Literally.
Last year we were all stunned that A TRICK OF THE LIGHT made it to number 4 on the list. Blew us away. I was beyond thrilled.

But I have to say - the competition this year was and is even more fierce. We were all prepared to perhaps not make the top 10. So when Andy called and said...

It's number 2 - well....I screamed.. Poor Gail must have thought she was trapped in her car with a mad woman. And I was - insane with joy. Wow.  Now, I have to say, this is the list that will appear the week of Sept - not this weekend, but next.

And I know this is because of you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! you've filled my heart with such happiness. Thank you for buying the books, and for telling so many others about it!!!

this is definitely a team effort....Minotaur books and the amazing people there, and the really remarkable work, from the editing of Hope Dellon, to Andy's leadership and marketing, to the social media campaign of Jeanne-marie, Paul, Lauren - to David's amazing cover design....and Sarah, the wonderful Sarah Melnyk - who headed up the publicity and organized the tour, with Melissa's help.

And, of course - My Assistant Lise. Thank you so much, Lise!!!

And Michael - dear one.

But finally, it comes down to you. We could do all sorts of great work, but if you didn't support the Gamache books, and keep him alive by spreading the word....well, not only would the series not exist - but this glorious day would not have happened.

Thank you!!!!

Now - off to New York City - and then driving to Madison, Connecticut for an event tonight at RJ Julia. and more celebrating!

What a time!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Sunny, warm, temps 85

Arrived in Houston yesterday afternoon - beautiful city. And staying at another of my all-time favourite hotels - the Hotel ZaZa. Wonderful!

And had an event last night at one of my all-time favourite bookstores, Murder by the Book. Here's a photo. a free event, but ticketed so that there'd be order to the signing. There were more than 180 people. Here's the view from where I stood. So wonderful. And I'm so deeply grateful for all your support of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Thank you!

Back home in Quebec, there was a big election yesterday and the sovereignist Parti Quebecois won and will form a minority government. This was expected - indeed, it looked like a majority government for a while (with three main parties, it sometimes comes down to a minority government, where the ruling party can be outvoted if the other two combine forces).
It seems unlikely the separatist PQ will call a referendum to leave Canada anytime soon.

Have to say, Quebec is rarely dull!

Monday, 3 September 2012


sunny - hot, hot, hot 107

Am now in Phoenix - flew in yesterday from San Francisco. LOVE Phoenix - staying at the Valley Ho - one of my favorite hotels in the world....and the name only makes it better! Here's the view from my hotel room. Pool packed with beautiful young people. I stayed as far away as possible. Lots of loud music and laughter and dancing...I think it might have been a party. But fun to watch....and it ended by 6pm - and after that, peace a best of both worlds.

Desperately hot here....but I think this is normal for Phoenix at this time of year. 107. Felt great!

This morning I'm relaxing on the balcony - marveling at the beauty of the red mountains and the palm trees. What a splendid life. Yesterday I stared out at the Pacific, and felt that thrill of seeing something magnificent. And now again. What's also fun is knowing that before the week is out I'll be looking at the Atlantic.

But mostly, what I long to see, and want to see, is you. To thank you for all your support of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. For reading it, telling me how you feel - knowing how very difficult it was to write. For telling all sorts of other people about the books. So wonderful to be able to thank you!!

I'll be at the great bookstore, Poisoned Pen, in Scottsdale, at 5 tonight, with the remarkable Barbara Peters. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Book Passage

heavy fog, temps 65

San Francisco....unseasonably cool.  Yesterday it hit about 65.  Warmer today, I understanding.

Event last night at Book Passage in Corte Madera was wonderful! About 200 people (seating for 180, but it was SRO).

The bookstore people were wonderful - and of course, thank you to those of you who came out! I so enjoyed the event.

It was also very fun driving over the Golden Gate Bridge - though as someone not fond of heights, my heart thudded, especially when the car stopped in heavy traffic and we inched along. Ugh. But I did manage a few peeks!

Flying to Phoenix today(if fog lifts)  - event tomorrow 5pm at Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale.

How're you holding up???  This tour has been hard work, but so much fun....the reward and treat for all those months and months working alone.  Then working with my great editors and publishers....with the publicists Sarah....and now this!

Thank you for telling others about the books too!  You're very fun to travel with.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Keplers Books

foggy - temps 65 -

San Francisco now! Loving it. Had a strange experience with the looking forward to it but when I arrived it was like that scene from Pretty Woman, where Julia roberts goes into the high end boutique and is treated know. Shown a terrible, dark room to start. Only on complaining did a much nicer room show up. Not a great feeling - I've stayed in lots of budget hotels, who make me feel precious and welcome, so I know the difference.

But - the rest of the stay here in San Francisco has been great. Wonderful event last night in Menlo Park - at Keplers. Great independent bookstore in need of renovations - and they reached out to the community, who are helping raise money and really pulling together. LOVING all the support and loyalty for these fabulous bookstores.

Hope you're enjoying your long weekend. Have an event this afternoon at Book Passage, in Corte Madera.

thanks for your company!!!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Denver - Tattered Cover

sunny - some smoke from the forest fires lingering - temps mid-80s

Thank you for all your wonderful comments about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! I cannot tell you how much your support means.

Having a blast on the book tour. Wonderful, easy flights, and so enjoying the cities. Denver is so beautiful - with such interesting history of the gold rush. Beautiful juxtaposition of old and shiny new buildings downtown.

Met my American agent, Patty Moosbrugger, for drinks before the event at Tattered Cover. (great name for a bookstore, no?) Wow - what a great independent bookstore, and an amazing crowd, as you can see. Standing room only again, they had to bring in more seats - and everyone was so welcoming. Felt like a gathering of friends. Thank you!

It's such fun to be meeting you - and also to be visiting many of the great independent bookstores - the ones that were here first, and where our parents and grandparents bought their books. Very moving. Very inspirational to see the way these stores are loved by their patrons, and the loyalty. Beautiful.

Off to San Francisco this morning. Event at Keplers Books in Menlo Park, 7pm tonight. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Cincinnati....sunny - hot - highs today in 90's....

But I won't be here....flying to Denver in a couple of hours.  

The event last night at Joseph-Beth bookstore in Cincinnati was amazing...standing room only (lots of people you can't see off the sides of the photo). Loved meeting those of you who came out. Thank you.

Really liked Cincinnati - and, of course, the fabulous Joseph-Beth bookstore.

As I mentioned, am flying to Denver this morning - event at Tattered Cover at 7:30 tonight. Hope to see you there.

Hope you're enjoying THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY!  And please, keep spreading the word. I so appreciate it. See you soon.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Naperville event!

sunny, mild, temps 75

Thank you for all your kind thoughts yesterday when THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY was launched!!!

Here's a photo of the event in Naperville (just outside Chicago). It was put on by Anderson's Books, but they moved it to a larger location - the university theatre. SO much fun!!

Hopping a flight this morning to Cincinnati. Will be at Joseph-Beth books at 7 tonight. Hope to see you there. Onward....

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Lift Off!!!

Chicago - sunny - beautiful day - temps 80

Great flight from Burlington, VT to Chicago.

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is finally published....this is launch day!!!! Yippeee. Feels like I've been waiting forever.

I so hope you like this book.

Off to Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville - just outside Chicago - for 7pm offical world launch. Hope you can join us.

If not, I carry you in my heart....where you've been all along. What great company you are.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Friends and Neighbours meet The Beautiful Mystery

Sunny, warm, temps 26 today

heading off on the official tour tomorrow....flying to Chicago.

But we had a wonderful pre-launch event in Knowlton yesterday! Here's what it looked like from my perspective.

Given the theme of the book, I just love that shaft of light. As well as, of course, the glorious people. Had SO much fun. Danny and Lucy wrote and performed a plain chant, using Three Pines as the theme. it was hilarious. Then I spoke, and did a couple of readings, and answered question (my favorite part of any event).

Exhausting and exhilarating. Thank you all for coming. Thank you Danny and Lucy and Brome Lake Books. Thank you Lucy's mom Sarah and Dad John for all their musical help. Thank you My Assistant Lise for being there on a day off, and working so hard.

I feel filled-up for the tour ahead. Now so looking forward to meeting more of you, and having you meet THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Princess and the Me

sunny, mild, temps 19 - but heading for a high of 26.

Three days to go before THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is out!

Such an important day - we have the pre-launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. This is a party Danny and Lucy from Brome Lake Books host locally, so that friends and neighbours get first crack at the new release. This year it's at the Knowlton community centre, which holds 200 - and is now 'standing room only' for the event - at 2pm today.

Had some amazing news yesterday!!!

People Magazine has made THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY its lead review, the Editor's Pick and given it four out of four stars!

Among other things, their reveiw says: "With enormous empathy for the troubled human soul—and an ending that makes your blood race and your heart break—Penny continues to raise the bar of her splendid series.”

This is in the edition of People just on the stands (with Princess Kate on the cover). Yipppeee! So much celebrating around here. And just four more days before THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is launched.

One week from today I'll be in San Francisco for an event at Book Passage, in Corte Madera - at 4pm.
If you'd like more information on my tour schedule just go to the events page on my website:

See you there!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

One Week!!

Sunny, cool, temps 14

A chilly morning here in southern Quebec - can begin to feel autumn in the air.

One week from today THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY will be published! I'll be in Naperville, Illinois, (not far from Chicago), at Anderson's Bookshop, for the official launch. Love to see you there, on August 28th - 7pm. And, in celebration and anticipation, we have the last excerpt from the previous books in the Gamache, A TRICK OF THE LIGHT....and once again, I've chosen two short quotes from the book -

"Not for the first time Three Pines struck Myrna as the equivalent of the Humane Society. Taking in the wounded, the unwanted. The mad, the sore. This was a shelter. Though, clearly, not a no-kill shelter.”

And, later in A TRICK OF THE LIGHT -

“She sat forward, curious to see how Clara would handle this attack. Because that was what it was. Civil and subtle and said with a smile. A sort of social neutron bomb. Meant to keep the structures of polite conversation standing, while slaying the person.”

One more week to THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY - Wow, suddenly it seems so soon.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Bury Your Dead - redux

overcast, humid, temp 25

Off to Montreal today. Am taping an interview tomorrow with Sunday Edition - a big CBC Radio national programme - talking about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Set my alarm to get up early, to get a few hours editing in before driving in to the city.

Olympics are over (and were fabulous - congratulations London and all of the UK!!!)- my second draft is underway - feels like another stage of life is unfolding.

I realize this might be a little confusing to some who've arrived to these posts late. What I talk about editing the next book, I don't mean THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. That's all done - edited,printed, bound and ready for the August 28th launch. The book I'm writing/editing is the next one. Hoping to have the second draft done before going on tour. But in anticipation, and celebration, of the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, I've been looking back at the previous Gamache novels, and pulling some favorite quotes. Today - BURY YOUR DEAD, and two excerpts -

“Gamache walked toward the Château, past the large statue in the middle of the small park. The Monument de la Foi. A monument to Faith. For Québec had been built on Faith. And fur. But the city fathers preferred to raise a statue to martyrs than to a beaver.”

“He yanked open the heavy wooden door and entered the Literary and Historical Society, where the Anglos kept and filed and numbered all their ghosts.”

Two weeks from now I'll be on a flight to Chicago, for the official launch, August 28th, of the next book - THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Yay!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Writing on the web - woe

sunny, storms, but humidity has broken.

Family reunion is over....always so sad to see them go. Sad, too, to contemplate the mountain of laundry!

Getting closer and closer to launch date (Aug 28th) and tour for THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! One month from today I'll be traveling from RJ Julia bookstore in Madison, CT to Odyssey bookstore in South Hadley, MA. Today, in anticipation of Book 8 coming out, I'm continuing the look back at previous books. We're up to book 5 - THE BRUTAL TELLING. Here's a scene from the cabin in the woods -

“A glittering caught his attention. Up high. In the farthest corner of the cabin. Was it eyes? Picking up his piece of wood Agent Morin crept closer, crouching down. As he approached the corner the glitter began to form a pattern. It was a spider’s web, just catching the soft glow of the lamp. But there was something different about it. As his eyes adjusted the hair on the back of his neck rose.
A word had been woven into the web.

So fun looking back - and fun looking forward. And wonderful being right here, right now. Preparing to start the second draft of the next book after a month 'off'. Hope you're enjoying your summer! Thank you for your company.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Librarians? Surely not...

sunny, hot, humid - temps 30 C

A beautiful day! Sunny and not. Spoke to my UK editor on the phone, took Trudy for all sorts of walks, got the place ready (or partly ready) for the family reunion later this week. pennys tumbling in from all over. VERY fun. Some arriving from Edmonton and Regina on Thursday afternoon - the rest driving from Toronto. Brian gets back from Spain just in time. We expect (and hope) that he'll be insufferable. Salads, barbeques, swims, concerts, trips to Burlington, VT, golf all planned and discussed. But mostly we end up by the pool, eating and getting caught up.

After our mother died we realized there was a danger we'd drift apart. She tended to be the gravitational centre of the family....we'd all meet at Mom's, for special occasions. But without her?

So we made a solemn pact that we'd make sure we got together once a year, at least. The three central siblings (Rob in Regina, Doug in Toronto, and me in Quebec) - and whatever spouses and children could make it. The numbers go up and down - especially when the kids were younger and going to camp...but the siblings all moved heaven and earth to make it. I once had to interrupt a booktour to get to Regina. But we all know what's most important.

This year we'll be 11! Almost all the kids can come. Just Sarah and Roslyn left behind with other commitments - but next year!

I'm also really looking forward to the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! Almost there - less than a month now. Hard to believe - I've waited so long, and I know many of you are anxious too (so happy to hear that!).

In anticipation, and celebration, I'm picking quotes from previous Gamache it's A RULE AGAINST MURDER/THE MURDER STONE. In fact, today I'm cheating and choosing two very short quotes from book 5 in the series:

“She was about to be devoured by Ruth Zardo, who ground up good people and turned them into poetry.”

And -

“But you want murderous feelings? Hang around librarians,” confided Gamache. “All that silence. Gives them ideas.”

I'm having so much fun going back over the previous Gamache books - with the help of Jeanne-Marie at St Martins Press. Hope you're enjoying it too! 25 days and counting to the launch of book 8 - THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Great Kirkus Review!

Mainly sunny, warm, temps 27

Woke up to cool morning - very refreshing. Kirkus Review in the US - a notoriously picky and critical publication - has a fabulous review of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! Here's an excerpt:

...remarkably penetrating and humane. The most illuminating analogies are not to other contemporary detective fiction but to The Name of the Rose and Murder in the Cathedral.

Just over a month before the book is launched. Feels like Christmas (though a little scarier than Christmas....always nervous when a new book comes out - perhaps a marriage of christmas and halloween. Christeen.)

Am interviewing Shelagh Rogers, of CBC's The Last Chapter, at the Knowlton literary festival this afternoon. Turning the tables on her. Having lunch together first.

Had my hair done a couple days ago in Montreal - always a relief. I tried a new hairdresser - quite odd guy....kept whipping me in the face with my own wet hair. Had to close my eyes, so am presuming (hoping) it was my own hair. But the cut was fabulous - so will happily go back. Hope you're having a good weekend.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Literary playlist

partly cloudy, humid, temps 28

Lots of thunderstorms and heavy rain in last couple of days - we needed the rain!

I can't overstate how important music is to me when I'm writing, or planning, a book. Now, when I'm actually sitting at the laptop writing, I don't listen to music. I don't listen to anything, including, as Michael will tell you, him. Bu...t one of my favorite things to do when away from the computer, but still immersed in the story, is go for a drive and put my playlist into the CD player. Or, when I'm on a flight, I plug into my iPod, stare out the window, and clear my mind. I'm convinced the best ideas come in those moments. Music seems to open a channel, help make connections I wouldn't normally see. Music makes me a better writer than I actually am, and creates a better book than I could possibly write without it.

Each of the Gamache books has its own playlist, though some songs repeat from book to book.

When I was writing and thinking about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY music became even more important, since the power of music is one of the themes, and indeed, one of the central mysteries. How music can inspire creativity, courage, can trigger memories, emotions. And music works on the brain - its remarkable resemblance to narcotics.

Well, music is definitely my drug of choice.

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is set in a remote and forgotten monastery in Quebec. A place of quite contemplation and plain chant, singing the words of God in the voice of God. And what happens when that harmony is shattered by murder.

Of course, while writing and considering the book, I listened to Gregorian Chants. The classic chants, but also some remarkable re-imagining of them. But I also listened to a lot of modern music.

If you have Spotify, click through the link ( If not, have a look at the playlist here:

*Requiem for a Tower - performed by the London Symphony - written by Clint Mansell
*The Pretender - Foo Fighters
*Fallin' - Alicia Keys
*An American Trilogy - Elvis Presley
*Ali in the Jungle - The Hours
*À distance Andrée Watters
*Crime of the Century - Supertramp
*Iam Christus - Dom Minier & La Schola - Splendour (monks of St-Benoit-du-Lac, Quebec - an updating of traditional Gregorian Chants)
*An American Theme - Irish Film Orchestra - Long Journey Home
*Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
*Not Afraid - Eminem
*PAX - Gregorian Chants on the Theme of Peace - Monks of St-Benoit-du-Lac
*Chant - The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos
*Someone Like You – Adele

since Spotify is not available all over the world, the wonderful Lauren at Minotaur Books in the US (with St Martin's Press) has made a playlist on YouTube - you can try that. Here's that link...

What music transports you? I'd love to hear about your favorite pieces of music.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Answered Prayers

sunny, warm, temps 26 C

Beautiful day yesterday.  Exercised.  Cut flowers for the home - phlox, roses, lilies, lavender.  Played with Trudy.

Read the Agatha Christie I can't remember reading.  'Crooked House'.  Christie is still my 'comfort' read.  I thought I'd read them all, then I realized I'd read all the poirots and Marples....but not the others.  So now am going back.  Very easy, very fun.  Very relaxing.

Am trying to disengage from the characters, but have to say, the home is still crowded as Armand, Jean-Guy, Clara, Myrna at al follow me around.  Still, good company.

In fact, as I finish each book, I look back on where the characters, and I, came from. Nine years ago! So I thought, to celebrate writing, THE END, for book 9 - and the paperback publication of A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, and the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY on August 28th - it would be fun to look back at the previous books....I've been thinking about STILL LIFE - where it all began. And I wanted to share with you an excerpt from early in the book:

“Every day for Lucy’s entire dog life Jane had sliced a banana for breakfast and had miraculously dropped one of the perfect disks on to the floor where it sat for an instant before being gobbled up. Every morning Lucy’s prayers were answered, confirming her belief that God was old and clumsy and smelt like roses and lived in the kitchen.”

Actually, as we approach the publication of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, I'll pull a quote, each week from the previous books. Next week - A FATAL GRACE/DEAD COLD. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The End

mainly sunny, warm (but not hot) - 25

Perfect summer day - almost no humidity, and lovely temp...25 is about 75, I think.  Warm, but, as I said, not hot.  And sure not the heat many have suffered the last few days!

And now - my big news -

I finished the first draft of book 9!!!!  God, it feels like I just barely staggered across the finish line - and I think the last couple of chapters are a little ragged....but there and done.  And there will be many more drafts.....but the main work is done.  The characters, the plot, the main structure.

I feel when I've finished the first draft the work on the book is about 75 percent done.  Now I'll take a few weeks off - and start in on the second draft.  That should take a few weeks.  Scary, because of the changes and decisions...and the fear that the first draft really is a pile of piping merde.  But, as always, once I get over the fear everything is easier.  When the second draft is done, then I'm 90 percent there.  Then, with luck, it's a matter of tuning, fine tuning, polishing.

I started this book at the beginning of March - when the snow was flying and the temperature was down to minus 15 C at times.  And I finish in a heatwave - temps above 30 C.

I'm so glad it's finished, and I can ask Monsieur Gamache et al to go about their lives without me for a while.  I need, now, to reconnect with my family and friends - and myself.  I think I'll spend the next day or so staring into space - and sleeping.  Feel like a damp cloth...and I think I look like one too.  A dishrag, with bit of food attached.  Exactly like Jane Austen, when she finished a book.

And on that lovely image, I leave you, to take a bath.  And do some laundry.  And become human again.

thank you for your company through it all.  You really are the best!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Sacred place (frozen)

Sunny, calm - lovely summer day - 25

Well, I don't think I'l finish the manuscript today...but sooo close.

the problem is - I know the last pages of the book. I know the scene that comes just before that. But I don't quite know, yet, how to get there. I feel like I'm standing on the other side of a stream, looking at where I need to be. Not a raging rapids - just a stream. to do it? I can see a few long walks in my day!


Which brings me to the Sacred Places photo contest. In celebration of the August 28th release of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, we're holding a contest, and asking you to post a picture of a place that inspires you, calms you, brings you peace.

One of my sacred places is our home in winter. I thought, with all the terrible heat, this might also be refreshing. Here's a photo.

And, here's the link, for you to post a picture of your sacred place. I just love the ones already there! And - don't forget to vote. You can do that by clicking on your favorite picture. The winner gets a signed, framed, cover for THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Progress, not perfection...

sunny, warm, temps 28

Another picture perfect day - though huge rains and thunder storm rolled through yesterday afternoon. Walking Trudy and we got caught in one. But it was just rain, quite refreshing.

Getting closer to finishing the first draft...I find I need to just write something (preferably something good) and then I go back and work on it. Shift, edit, polish. But I need a starting point. Also takes some of the fear away - that ever-present whisper that I need to get it right the first time. I just repeat, It's a process, a process. Progress.

And then I sit in this chair, with a coffee or ginger ale, and breathe. Everything smells so sweet.

I'm so enjoying looking at the photos of your sarcred places. Thank you for those!!! And please, keep them coming - and don't forget to vote!

Have been watching the terrible heat and power outages and fires in the States. What misery. While I sit in the chair, and consider my great good fortune, I also spend time thinking of you - and sending thoughts. Be well.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Sacred places

sunny, hot, temps 30

Hi there - such a fun day....we're starting a photo contest.

As you might know, THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY is set in a remote monastery, so this got us thinking about sacred places. Churches, perhaps. But really places were you feel at peace. Calm and secure. Blissful even. People talk about the 'Third Place'. There's home. There's work. Then there's the Third Place, where your spirit lives, and thrives.

In anticipation of the launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY on August 28th, I'd love to see a picture of your sacred place. We can create a sort of 'sacred and safe community.' I want to start it off by showing you one of mine...this is the view from my office. When I get tired, or discouraged, I step outside onto the verandah, take a deep breath in, a deep breath out, and let the peace wash over me. And I know that all will be well.

If you post a photo of your special place you might win a signed, framable, print of the cover of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY. Here's the link (

If you follow it, there'll be step-by-step instructions on what to do. We want to make this easy. But - if you have any trouble, just let me know. Enjoy! And thank you for giving so much of yourself.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Excerpt of The Beautiful Mystery

rain, cool, temps 19

Wet and cool. Am back home, and loving it. Spent the day at the office - next door. Writing. Ahhh.

Now, we have a treat for many of you who're curious about THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! As you know, the book won't be coming out until August 28th - but as a huge thank you for all your support, and for spreading the word, we've set up a link for you to read excerpts of the book, as well as from A TRICK OF THE LIGHT, in case you haven't read it yet.

here're the links:

Or, you can go to Facebook. Here are the links for that -

Hope they work! Mostly, I hope you enjoy the excerpts.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Beautiful Cover - and how it got there

clear, sunny, sizzling hot - temps over 30 C today (humidex 45)

Happy first day of summer! Happy solstice!

It's going to be a scorcher...can't believe I'm still in Montreal writing and not home, by the pool and garden. My "quiet place in the bright sunshine". But, soon. Almost there. And great incentive to keep at it.

Minotaur Books has posted the coolest blog! It's by the brilliant David Rotstein, the Art Director of Minotaur Books. On the blog now he talks about how he came up with the design for the cover of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY - all the previous attempts, what they were aiming for. The struggles and the inspiration.

I know so many of you are interested in art and creation of any type - you'll love this! Here's the link - enjoy - and happy Summer...stay cool.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Starry, starry Day

Overcast, hot and humid - temps 30 C

It has been an embarrassment of great news lately.  Good thing I'm not easily embarrassed, or dissuaded from spreading the good news!

THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY has just received precious pre-publication starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist!  Beyond thrilled.  PW called it 'excellent'.  And Booklist says:

An entire mystery novel centering on Gregorian chants (whose curiously hypnotic allure is called the
“beautiful mystery”)? Yes, indeed, and in the hands of the masterful Penny, the topic proves every bit as able to transfix readers as the chants do their listeners. It begins when the choir director of a monastery in a remote corner of Quebec is murdered, his skull bashed in with a rock. Outsiders are not allowed inside the monastery’s walls, where 24 cloistered monks pray, make chocolate, and sing—though a few years earlier, a homemade recording of their chants was released and created a sensation, helped along by the inaccessibility of the artists. Now, with the murder, the doors of the monastery are opened to Chief Inspector Armand Gamache and Inspector Jean-Guy Beauvoir, charged with finding a killer among a group of largely silent monks, who, it quickly becomes apparent, are engaged in a civil war over their music, but one “fought with glances and small gestures”—until now, when rocks have been added to the arsenal. P. D. James, of course, has made a career out of taking her sleuth, Adam Dalgliesh, into closed worlds to investigate murders, and while Penny follows that formula, she layers her plots more intricately than does James, this time adding an entire contrapuntal plot concerning Gamache, Beauvoir, their relationship, the secrets each conceals, and the demons each continues to fight. “The deepest passions could appear dispassionate, the face a smooth plain while something mammoth roiled away underneath,” Gamache thinks, expressing not only his frustration with the case but, inadvertently, the coming crisis in his relationship with Beauvoir. Of course, there is always something mammoth roiling away beneath the surface of Penny’s novels—but this time the roiling is set against the serenity of the chanting, producing a melody of uncommon complexity and beauty.

Before I started my publishing career I didn't realize that, in the US, there are four publications of note, that will review a book before it comes out.  They're VERY influential, since they help booksellers and librarians decide on a book - because they can't read them all.  Getting a starred review is never a given, and never, ever taken lightly.  Much celebrating!!  The Beautiful Mystery comes out August 28th.  Yay!

I started today quite nervous - my Quebec publisher, Flammarion Quebec, had organized a big breakfast at this marvlous restaurant called Soupesoup - and invited all the big booksellers and representatives.  A room packed with all the people you really want to meet.  And impress.  she asked me to do a presentation - in French.  It was too late to back out (but don't think I didn't consider it!).  So I spent much of last night, and early this morning, pacing the floor, practicing.  Very stressful.

But it all turned out all right.  I think.  Well, no one died.  or threw food.  As you see, the bar is set pretty low for  my public events.

Hope you're enjoying the day!

Friday, 15 June 2012

Macavity nomination!

sunny, warm, temps 28

A perfect June day!

Now, I suspect you think I'm making all this up, at this stage (and part of me suspects the same thing!) but I heard late yesterday that A TRICK OF THE LIGHT has been nominated for the Macavity Award for Best Crime Novel in the US!

This is an award voted on by members of a fabulous couple of sites - Mystery Readers International and Mystery Readers Journal - and is one of the most coveted prizes. Thank you to everyone who voted for A TRICK OF THE LIGHT.

Here's the complete list of Best Novel nominees -

1222 by Anne Holt, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Scribner)
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Mulholland Books)
The Ridge by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown)
A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey (Dutton)
Hell & Gone by Duane Swierczynski (Mulholland Books)

Makes a great reading list! Like the Anthony Award, the winner will be announced at Bouchercon, in Cleveland, in early October.

For more nominees - and great reading suggestions - here's a link to the fabulous Janet Rudolph's site, where it was announced:

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Still Life - the movie!

Sunny, mild, temps 26

Great news! The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has 'greenlit' the film of STILL LIFE!

As some of you know, the film was optioned a year or so ago....but that's far from a guarantee it will be made....but thanks to a great production company, and script, the CBC has made it one of only three films they're producing this year. The news was announced yesterday at the Banff International TV conference.

Here's the release:

STILL LIFE (Three Pines Productions): Based on the award-winning novels by international best-selling author Louise Penny, comes an event TV movie about murder in a small town. The village of Three Pines, Quebec may seem tranquil, but all is not as it appears. In this psychological thriller that combines Hitchcock with Christie, death comes to this peaceful Eden, and brings with it Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, the head of Homicide for the Surete du Quebec. Here he discovers that nature, both human and otherwise, is capable of great beauty, and great cruelty. Beneath the exterior of the pretty little village, dark secrets lie hidden. Behind cheerful smiles, hurtful thoughts swirl. As he digs deeper, Chief Inspector Gamache finds old sins, buried alive. Rancid and stinking. And now, one of those secrets has surfaced, and created a corpse. C.I. Gamache must follow the trail of smiles and lies, of courtesy and cruelty. To the killer.

In a rare starred review, Kirkus Review in the US said, 'If you don't give your heart to Gamache, you may have no heart to give.' Charming, urbane, intelligent and kind, Armand Gamache has been hailed internationally as a cop like no other.

Next comes the fun part...casting! Excited and nervous about that. Vital to get it right....and we'll do our best, believe me! Especially Gamache. Will let you know all the news as the planning moves forward. I know you're as anxious as I am!

What a thrilling time!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Anthony Nomination

mainly sunny, hot, temps 30

Heading into another gorgeous day - made all the sunnier by waking up to the news (first emailed to me by my friend Kaye Barley of Meanderings and Muses - then a deluge of wonderful messages) that A TRICK OF THE LIGHT has been nominated for the Anthony Award in the US.  (not, sadly, to be confused with the Tony Awards....though I have hopes...)

This is one of the most prestigious crime writing awards in the world. VERY excited. Here's the complete list of nominees for Best Novel, and Best first (always love to celebrate the new writers - very exciting for them)


The End of Everything - Megan Abbott [Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown]
Hurt Machine - Reed Farrel Coleman [Tyrus]
The Drop - Michael Connelly [Little, Brown]
A Trick of the Light - Louise Penny [Minotaur]
One Was a Soldier - Julia Spencer-Fleming [Thomas Dunne/Minotaur]

Learning to Swim - Sara J. Henry [Crown]
Nazareth Child - Darrell James [Midnight Ink]
All Cry Chaos - Leonard Rosen [The Permanent Press]
Who Do, Voodoo? - Rochelle Staab [Berkley Prime Crime]
The Informationist - Taylor Stevens [Crown]
Purgatory Chasm - Steve Ulfelder [Thomas Dunne/Minotaur]
Before I Go to Sleep - S.J. Watson [HarperCollins]

Congratulations, everyone. And a special 'shout out' to my good friend Julia Spencer-Fleming for her fabulous book ONE WAS A SOLDIER. And to Reed Farrel Coleman - a wonderful writer, and great guy.  Wish Deborah Crombie's amazing book, NO MARK UPON HER was on the list. Deserves to be, in my opinion. As does GM Maillet's book. But huge congratulations to those who made the Anthony list!

I know A TRICK OF THE LIGHT is there only because many of you voted for it.  Thank you - deeply and sincerely.  I cannot begin to tell you what your support means to me.

The award will be decided, and given out, at Bouchercon, the crime fiction fest, in October.  It's in Cleveland this year.  If you love crime fiction, and can get to it, many of the top writers in the world will be there, and you'll get to meet them, mingle with them, see them on panels.  It's thrilling.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Suprised by Joy

sunny, mild, temps 20

Perfect day, after more torrential rains last night - with hail!

Wanted to show you our lupins. The bench was a gift to Michael from me a few years ago - for his birthday. There's a plaque on it with his name, and birthday, and the inscription, 'Surprised by Joy'.

And how could we not be?

Life continues busy - took publicity shots with Gary the other day. always fun with him. He relaxes me - such an old and good friend. Cheryl, his wife, is one of my best friends. Had breakfast with her on Friday morning.

I'm back in to Montreal, leaving Michael out here with Trudy....I really find myself so distracted here...perhaps too much beauty. But I want to totally focus on the end of this book....another push. (It really is beginning to sound a bit like childbirth - )

So exciting to know we're getting closer and closer to the Aug 28th launch of THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY! They're still working on the tour schedule....but as soon as I know it, I'll tell you.

Hope you're enjoying your Sunday.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

meandering and mumbling

mainly sunny, mild, temps 20

Lovely walk again yesterday....back to Victoria Ave.  I try to stroll, not march - but I think I'm a marching/mumbling type of person.  I will make a great neighbourhood crank one day...soon.  Meandering around humming Eminem songs and talking to myself about what needs to happen next.  Occasionally having arguments with invisible people.  It's nice to have an aspiration.  Happily, I have the wardrobe for it already.

Getting closer to "the end" of the book.

I feel as though, with this manuscript, I've turned the final corner. The end is still a distance away, but now in sight. But, as those of you who've been through this with me with previous books know, the end is fluid. Always seems to be moving away. I'll think one more day should do it - but after a day, it remains just out of reach. I'm not one day away, I know that - but perhaps two weeks.

My goal is to be finished this first draft by the end of June. I'm very goal-oriented. Doesn't mean i hit the goal, but I find it helps give me direction - something to aim for. Discipline and purpose - two things I've found helpful in writing books. Perhaps because I'm so innately lazy. I work ferociously hard, so that I can do nothing.  have more time more meandering and mumbling.

Hope you're enjoying your day!

Monday, 4 June 2012

The rule

cloudy, showers, cold temps 15

VERY cold...thinking of taking a hot shower just to warm up. Am in Montreal, trying to get some quiet time to move the first draft ahead. It's going very well, but I find I'm much happier, more relaxed and the writing goes better if every now and then I remove myself and concentrate simply on the book.

had a lovely walk yesterday - over to Victoria Ave in Westmount. Picked up some things for dinner and a couple of DVDs.

Today, staying in to write.

In the June newsletter I sent out, I used a quote at the top. Indeed, each newsletter has a quote I've found. This one was slightly different in that I didn't know who said it, but I have it taped to the top of my laptop.

It's from a newspaper article I read while in England. I liked the headline, so I cut it out, but didn't make note of the attribution. The quote is:

The rule now is, be humble and play to your strengths.

Thanks to some keen detectives among the readership of the newsletter, I now know who said it. It comes from an article in The Independent, about the Icelandic Banking system. And its collapse. The quote came from Birna Einarsdottir, a female bank exec put in to replace the man who'd made the mess. I mention their sexes because it's a point made in the article. Thank you everyone who sent the link. I thought you might also be interested. Here's a fuller quote:

Birna Einarsdottir, one of the bank CEOs appointed to displace the male immediately after the crash of 2008, said that the big lesson Icelanders had learnt in emerging out of recession into growth had been "to stick to what we know; not to get too clever". "Who said Icelanders were the best bankers in the world? Where did that come from? So the rule now is, be humble, know your limitations and play to your strengths. And instead of thinking you know everything, ask questions; seek help." Which is what women do, not men.

And here's a link to the full article:

Hope it works. In the meantime, the quote continues to inspire me.

Thursday, 31 May 2012


mostly cloudy, cool, temps 19

cold front moved in....had the fireplace on today.  Tried to write, but was really too distracted.

Well, we made the very difficult decision that it wasn't really working with Teddy.

Oh, dear.

The woman who found him said, when she dropped him off last week, that if it didn't work out she'd love him back. that she was giving him to us because she promised....but in the meantime both she and her husband had fallen for him. Apparently she cried most of the way home. When I contacted her this morning with our decision, she said she'd come right over this afternoon.

Have to admit, while I believed it was the right decision, it was so painful and difficult. There were all sorts of factors, of course, which I won't go into. But I spent much of this morning and early afternoon lying beside him, cuddling. And quite a few tears. But when she arrived, Teddy was almost hysterical with happiness. I felt a weight lift from my heart and I could see this was where he belonged. With her - and with other dogs he could play with.

Still sad, but we have concluded Trudy is a one dog family puppy. And so are we. And God Bless Teddy, for coming and staying with us, giving us such joy - then going back to his real home. Leaving us wiser.

Thank you for all your kindness and support. It's been a difficult day. But a good one.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Teddy Bear

clouding over, more storms on the way, muggy, 25

Huge thunder storms passed by here this morning. I actually quite like storms....used to love sitting in the screen porch and watching them arrive.

Trudy doesn't seem worried, but the rescue dog we have, Teddy (for Teddy Bear) seemed pretty upset. Teddy, as you can see, is a large golden mixed with, yes, bear we think. But such a lovely temperment. A friend, Rhianna's grandmother found him abandoned and took him in, but didn't think they could keep him. We have him as an experiment, to see how Trudy does. I'll tell you, I've lost my heart to the big guy....but Trudy remains unconvinced. Michael is pretty happy either way. But in the meantime, he's wonderful.

Off to the vet for the once over and shots. Then a summer groom tomorrow. Will let you know how it goes. Jeez, another thunder storm has just rolled in. Listening to Supertramp, Crime of the Century....ages since I last heard it. Still love it!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Burgers, with a side of delusion

clouding over, mild, temps 20

Drove home from the village last night with the top of the beetle down.  always such a pleasure.  But was getting chilly.  This morning was nice, but by early afternoon some clouds moved in - and now I'm thinking a sweater would be good.  Will get the blue one, also flapping away on the clothesline in that photo.  So comfortable.

Well, I ended up tossing out much of what I did yesterday - but for me, that's progress.  I always need to have words on the page, a starting point.  Then I know if it's the right direction or not.  Getting rid of them is never a step back, but a step toward getting it right.  Replaced them with other words...fingers crossed I got it right-er.  eh.

The first iris is out, others will probably pop before the end of the day.  Writing on the screen porch.  Lovely.

Cucumber sandwich for lunch.  Now it's summer!

It's Memorial long weekend in the States - hope you're enjoying it.  If the weather holds we'll put a couple of burgers on the barbeque for dinner tonight.  We eat them with those thin President's Choice buns that look like a shaved puck, open faced, and figure it's the healthy choice.  Ahhh, delusions.  And burgers.  A great combo.

Speak soon.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Forging ahead

sunny, warming up, temps 25

There were severe storm warnings out for Montreal and surrounding area last night - including tornado watches!  About 11pm a huge storm blew through here.  had to close the windows.  But I hear not much, if any, damage was done.

Awoke early today - breakfast with Michael on the screen porch - blackflies out in force! Pond walk was particularly bloody.

Have finished with that difficult chapter - but keep re-reading it...mostly because I'm so relieved and pleased. One of my favorite chapters now. I think I also re-read it because I'm nervous about moving on. Easier to edit and smooth and re-read than to forge ahead. Ahhh - the mind. But forge ahead I will.

In fact, have just started the next chapter...I find action a pretty reliable antidote to fear.

 Here's a photo of the laundry on the line yesterday, including my flannel writing top. as comfy as it looks! And, if you can see it, the single sock found in the bottom of the hamper. We found its mate later in the day. Our composter is that black box off to the right. Compost and laundry. not perhaps an ideal combination, but works for us.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend for those of you who are American.  Hope it's sunny and clear for all your picnics and barbeques and parties.

Back to work-forging ahead. Ho!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Home from Hovey

mainly sunny, warm, temps 25

A perfect spring day.

We're back from Hovey.  Marc-Andre, who is the head front desk clerk and such a lovely man was saying that when readers of the Gamache book are guests at Hovey they are just wonderful.  In fact, Michael and I were out walking and he caught us up specifically to say, 'Your readers are very special people, I hope you know that.  When they come to Hovey they're always so wonderful.'

I can't tell you how much that meant to me.  Not that your behavior is any of my business - but I have to say, I wasn't at all surprised, but I was gratified.  I could see he meant it.  I suspect the Manoir guests are generally nice people, but I could see that those of you who have discovered it through the books are even more amazing than most.

Thank you for that.  For making a place so meaningful to Michael and me, even more special by bringing your own kind spirits to it.

As well, Franck, the maitre 'd at Hovey was delighted to tell me when he knows guests found the Manoir through my books, he introduces himself as Pierre - the maitre d' at the Manoir Bellechasse, from A RULE AGAINST MURDER/THE MURDER STONE.

I can't tell you how much it means to me that where I live, and places I love, are so supportive of the books and characters.  It would have been easy for people to find fault, or criticize, or be negative - but almost to a person they're kind and supportive and happy for me, and for the area.

And how lucky I am to have you as readers - people so special that Marc-Andre was moved to make sure I know how wonderful you are.

Back home now - peas and radishes coming up in the vegetable garden, where My Assistant Lise and Her Assistant Donna planted them.  Peony buds round and promising.  Roses almost out.  Purple azelea (new to our garden) in full bloom.  Alliums just out.  It's such a fantastic time in the garden.

Sitting at the laptop, about the begin for the day.

Suddenly realized I need another file called 'second draft notes' - issues that have arisen, too late for the first draft.  things I need to put into the manuscript, earlier.  And will have to add in the next draft.  I always think I'll remember them when the time comes, but honestly, by noon they've disappeared.  Lay in bed last night and a piece of dialogue came to me - I wondered if I should write it down... vacillated - but finally roused and wrote it in the notebook by the bed.  Thank heaven because this morning, while making the bed I saw the dialogue and barely remembered writing it, never mind thinking it.  Course, the dialogue in the light of day was just ridiculous - but I live in hope.

Fresh laundry on the clothes line - I can see it from where I'm sitting.  Very relaxing.  Hope you're well.  Speak soon.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Lobster lust

overcast, warm, temps 20, slight drizzle

Thunder storm warnings out for yesterday, but nothing materialized.  Still, we thought it best to stay close to our cottage at Hovey.  For safety sake, of course.  Nothing to do with indulgence and laziness.

Dinner last night was very fun with the three journalists - one from Toronto, one from Oregon and one from BC - though the last two run a travel blog for women called WAVE Journey.  They're off today on the Gamache/Three Pines tour of the townships - from the general store in Georgeville, to Danny and Lucy's bookstore in Knowlton...and, of course, the night at Hovey.

Oh, dinner last night.  Michael, and almost everyone else, had lobster bisque then fresh magdellan islands lobster - I had the celeriac salad and halibut....but am eyeing the lobster for tonight.  Halibut was fabulous - but have to admit, their lobster looked wonderful.  I was worried I'd have to struggle with the shells - again, laziness - but it was already shelled.  Will try to take a photo and post it tomorrow.

Did more writing yesterday.  Getting closer and closer to where I want/need this chapter to be.   I hope, when you read this book, that you have no idea which chapter gave me such anxiety.  I'll be successful if it is seamless, and reads as though I simply pounded it out and moved on.

Well, back to work.

Enjoy the day!

Monday, 21 May 2012

happy victoria day!

sunny, warm temps 34

Lilacs in full bloom and honeysuckle and alliums just popping.  Up to 35 degrees (over 90f I believe) yesterday.  Scorching hot.  A perfect long weekend day.

In southern Canada the May long weekend is considered by many the unofficial start of summer.  It's when summer cottages are opened, and annual flowers planted and some anxiety over more snow is lessened (but never gone completely).

Doug, Michael and I got up at 5am hopped in the car and headed north, to the Laurentians, and lac Manitou - where we spend such blissful childhood summers.  We packed a picnic and thermos of coffee - arrived about 8:30 am, sat on the dock, and drank coffee.  I took this photo as we sat there.  A more splendid day would be hard to find.

then back in the car mid-afternoon for dinner at an Indian restaurant in Montreal.  Doug stayed there, to head back to Toronto, and we came home.  Didn't write yesterday, but sitting placidly on the dock, thinking of the Gordian knot I've created with this chapter, a few thoughts came.  Not solid, but more a gleam on the horizon.

Looking forward to returning in a few minutes to the manuscript and seeing what the day brings.

Tomorrow morning we're off again - this time to drop the little volkswagon beetle in to have it's tires changed (we feel it might now be safe to remove the winter tires) - then heading to Hovey Manor on Lake  Massawippi, North Hatley.  I have an interview there with a journalist from Las Vegas, then a dinner with a Tourism Quebec official at Hovey and three other journalists who are on a tour very loosely based on local inspirations for the books.  Looking forward to hearing about their day!

Happy Victoria Day/Journee des Patriotes etc to you!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Into the light of the dark black night

sunny, warm, temps 25

What a beautiful day - again! So fortunate to have this warm, sunny weather fall on the long weekend!

My brother, Doug, arrived from Toronto at 8pm last night. It was still light outside, and warm, so we sat in the garden and talked. Then he reported being awoken at just past 6am by a red-winged blackbird, gripped onto the screen at his bedroom window. Calling to him. I think you can imagine his response.

Then, this morning as I started to write, a blackbird grabbed onto the screens of the living room window and for about an hour moved from window to window, as though it wanted in. Most disconcerting. I worried maybe it had lost a baby down our chimney and wanted in - but more likely it was claiming its territory. Hate to say it, but no matter how hard the blackbird might try, we're not moving out.

Cut some lilac for the kitchen table, and now the whole room is filled with the sweet scent. Well, back to trying to figure out where I went wrong with this chapter, and fix it. 'It's a process. It's a process.' Perhaps the blackbird was trying to help...

We're off to the Laurentians tomorrow, to Lac Manitou - just for the day. The forecast is for sunny and highs around 30 degrees - which is somewhere in the 80's I believe. Amazing.

Hope you're enjoying your weekend.

Friday, 18 May 2012

It must be Fete

sunny, warm, temps 25

Glorious sunny, warm day here - as you can see, at least one of our lilac bushes is in bloom, the others are very close. Indeed, if you look closely at the photo you might see two geese who arrived this morning. No babies yet. What a difference sunshine makes - everything seems to come alive.

Wrote more than 2,000 words today, but not happy. I think it's close, but slightly off. Perhaps just too much detail....need to streamline it. But I walked a few times around the pond and stopped at the bench to think, and came to the conclusion that it needs tightening, sharpening, and I need to really pin down what I want this section to say and do. The purpose.

Sometimes scenes are long and convoluted in the first draft because my thinking is a little fuzzy. But I'll get back at it tomorrow. No use doing it now. I just keep reminding myself, 'It's all a process, it's all a process.'

Hope you have a great weekend. Here in Canada it's the Victoria Day long weekend, Monday's a holiday. In quebec we don't celebrate (officially) Victoria Day. It's the Journee Nationale des patriotes - probably to get up the nose of the Federalists. Either way, most people simply care that it's a day off! So happy Victoria Day des Patriotes - bien sur!

And it's supposed to be beautiful and warm and sunny all weekend. Wow.

the other photo is of Meaghan Westover, the young woman who won the first annual Whitehead/Penny Award for Public Speaking. We felt strongly, Michael and I, that all the work that went in to learning public speaking should be recognized and rewarded. A good speech doesn't just happen. A good topic needs to be chosen, research done, thoughts organized. It needs to be written, edited, times, and memorized.

Meaghan described going over it and over it and over it - remembering key words and phrases. When I asked how she kept nerves from getting the better of her, her answers was short and as elegant as the girl herself. 'Preparation.'

Remarkable young woman.

Thanks to Patrick Fontaine and everyone at Massey-Vanier High in Cowansville for organizing the award and the assembly and making Michael and me feel so welcome. And congratulations again, Meaghan.

Well, off to walk Trudy around the pond again.

Be well - and I hope to talk with you tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Moody day, moody internet

overcast, cool, brisk wind, temps 14

Well below seasonable. But, as we say, better than snow - which is still a possibility!

Internet went down again today. Just back now. Frustrating when wanting to say hi to you, but very frustrating when I need to do research or look at an attachment someone has sent. But, as I say, this is life in the country.

Finished reading the latest draft of the film script for Still Life. Looking very good. Still a long way from actually happening, but this is a big step forward. Wrote this morning, then Michael and I headed to the high school in Cowansville to give out the first annual Whitehead/Penny Award for Public Speaking - to Meaghan Westover. VERY impressive young woman. Congratulations, Meaghan!

And now home. Had a talk with publishers in NYC about the fall tour. Very preliminary. They're looking at options and logistics. The Beautiful Mystery comes out August 28th, and I'll be on tour for 2 weeks. It would be wonderful to see you on tour. Always a bit of a challenge, these book tours - as those of you who followed last years' might remember. But what makes it possible for me is all the great energy and enthusiasm I feel from you. It really is sustenance. I get back to my hotel room and feel it is all so worthwhile. And deeply thankful to have you reading my books. How lucky I am!

I'm really hoping to have the second draft of the book I'm currently writing done by the time I head out on tour. The first two drafts are the most difficult, of course. Then, post tour, I can do the third draft and whatever else. My hope is to have this book in to the publisher before Christmas. It can feel, at times, like a bit of a slog. Writing almost everyday. And when I'm not writing, I'm thinking about the book. Every day. For a year.

So fortunate that I really, genuinely, love the company of Armand, Clara, Gabri and the others.

And that I have you for a reader.

Chilly day, brisk wind here. But the lilac are coming out finally. Will try to remember to take a camera on our next pond walk with Trudy.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Michael home!

sunny, warm day - finally - but now a big thunderstorm has kicked up - temps 25

Michael is home! He and Vic flew from Glasgow to London, then London to Montreal. I met the plane Sunday night, with a dozen doughnuts. Not sure they remember me being there, but they sure made googoo eyes at the chocolate glazed.

So amazing being home, and having Michael here. We haven't been together here in the country for almost 2 months. Barbequed a steak on Monday night and we sat on the new screen porch. Bliss. so peaceful.

The rest of our days, Tuesday and today taken up with opening mail and responding to phone messages. Feels like we've fallen into a bucket of chores.

I'm writing every morning, as usual....then in the afternoon try to get other things done, but often have a phone conversation scheduled with a publisher, or the film producer. Finished reading the latest version of the script for Still Life. Very much like it. I had a few notes, but not many. Very odd, though, to see what someone does with the story, the characters, the themes. And for me it's a struggle to find that equilibrium between making sure the film is true to the spirit of the books - and especially the characters - without needing the script to be slavish. When to hold tight and when to let go. Not sure I'm always getting it right - but learning.

Off tomorrow afternoon to the local Cowansville high school -Massey Vanier - to speak with some of the students at their assembly and to give out an award Michael and I have established in Public Speaking. There are a lot around for writing, so we though, with the help of one of the teachers, Patrick Fontaine, it would be great to celebrate those students who find the courage to get up in front of their peers and deliver a speech. Very scary.

So, that'll be fun!

What I think I'm going to do from now on, since I can't seem to blog as often as I'd like, is I'll put my facebook posts up on the blog...that way we get to stay in touch daily....and sometimes I'll add things, just for you. I know that many of you, who read the blog, were among the very first supporters of the Gamache books. And I'm forever grateful to you!

So excited about The Beautiful Mystery coming out in a few months. I also know many of you followed the adventures in the monastery, as Michael and I did some of the research for the book. And now it will soon be in your hands.

Speak soon - be well.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Home, and writing

rainy, cold temps 11

Beautiful sunny day yesterday, today am hunkered down by the wood fire. Rainy and cold outside. but having such fun writing.

Odd to describe something often difficult and scary as fun, but it is. I think what I so appreciate is the peace and quiet to do it. to take my time. Trying to make each scene not only purposeful, but beautiful. And multi-facetted. I'm under no illusions that I'm succeeding - but nice to have a goal!
Sometime when I start a scene I think I know what it's about, only to find partway through that that's changed. First drafts are always tricky for me. I find them deeply intimidating. The balance in a first draft, once I get underway, is between seeing where inspiration takes me, and being driven way off course by a fuzzy idea...being, in essence, directionless. So my goal is to have direction, but to not dictate how we get there.

Each scene has a goal, indeed, often many. Like university. There's a major - but also several minors. There's the chord and the harmonics. It's important for me to know the main purpose, but to be loose, allow for inspiration, about how best to communicate it, and the other elements. Hope I'm making sense....

Have finished for the day. Michael called a few times yesterday from Scotland but I missed the calls! then I called back and chatted with Vic but just as he passed the phone to Michael the line went dead. We weren't able to reconnect. A couple emails, though, but not the same as hearing his voice. But it sounds like they're having huge fun! Went to St Andrews Golf Course and Blair Castle. Michael took the photo from the top of the castle, which is between Perth and Inverness.

They had Haggis for dinner last night - for the second time on the trip. I think he's getting a little tired of haggis.

I hadn't the heart to tell him that Bob and Gill, our neighbours, brought over lobster last night - knowing I don't cook much. It was their kind way of having me for dinner, without my needing to actually socialize.

And I'm so enjoying being home. Wonderful to be with Trudy. In fact, I must take her around the pond. When we left there was ice in the pond, now the fish are swimming around. Tulips are out and the house is filled with cut flowers from the cutting garden. My Assistant Lise (patent pending) came by yesterday afternoon and I signed some ARCs and did some other things. We also toured the gardens - My Assistant Lise is also Our Gardener Lise. We discussed the winter kill (some rose bushes) and where to put the sweet peas. And how to hide the hideous white propane tank. How peaceful it was, in the sunshine, to stroll with Lise and Trudy through the garden.

Hope you're enjoying May so far!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Bye bye London

Mainly sunny, finally! temps 17

A wonderful day - finally. It has rained steadily - and anyone in England can tell you exactly the day the deluge started....the day after the government declared an official drought. Now, just to be contrary, apparently, despite an epic and historic amount of rain (it was the coldest, rainiest April since the Romans invaded, and frankly had they met this, they'd have turned around and left) there is still, officially, a drought. Wiser heads than mine work these things out...I suspect it takes a long time to create a drought and a long time to climb out of it.

Happily, the UK has so much going for it, that we really don't care about the rain. Although, having said that, when the sun finally comes out, what a difference that makes. Michael and I head out and walk and walk. Yesterday we walked over to one of our favorite little areas of London...Chelsea Green. Had fish and chips at Tom's Kitchen, signed books at Waterstone's, and walked home. Via - Laduree. Picked up two of the most decadent pastries we could find. Yum!

I can't believe that five weeks have gone by, and it's time to head home. I'm catching a flight tomorrow evening back to Montreal. Michael and his son Victor are heading for Scotland, for a tour. While there they'll be meeting the remarkable Linda Lyall, who designed and manages my website, and the newsletter. We've never met! Email almost every day, since before Still Life was published in 2005...7 years. And have never even spoken on the phone. But we exchange gifts and photos....we know her children almost as though they were our own grandchildren...Christopher and Jennifer. I so wish I could meet them too. They whole Lyall family is going out for lunch to a traditional Scottish restaurant with Michael and Vic.

It has been a really enchanting time. Busy without being hectic....and yet, there are still so many things we didn't get to do. My professional goal - besides meetings with my agent and publishers and booksellers - was to keep up the writing of the next book. I thought I'd just take it easy, but I discovered something I didn't know about myself and my writing rhythm. It is harder for me to slow down than it is to just go at the regular pace. I love writing every morning. Our routine here in London has been very simple. Every morning Michael goes across to the coffee shop, across the street. I prepare bowls of fruit. He reads the paper and has breakfast in the living room. I write, and have breakfast in the kitchen. Bliss for me is to have days when there is nothing scheduled....I can write as long as I want - (almost never beyond 1pm) then Michael and I head into the city. have lunch out. Walk. Just enjoy ourselves. And then we do the same thing the next day. My goal when we arrived in the UK at the end of March was to hit 40,000 words in the new manuscript. But this morning I did a word count and it's at 52,000. About half way through the first draft. Of course, there will be a second and third and fourth draft, but I always breath a sigh of relief when the first draft is nailed. Another couple of months....but getting there. And I do enjoy the company of Gamache and clara et al. We also had a great visit down to Kent, to have sunday lunch with a woman we met in Jamaica. One of the funny sorts of things where we didn't expect or want to make any friends...really, we just wanted to be left on our own, in peace. But the people were so warm, such good company....over the course of two weeks we just slowly were drawn together. I imagine that's happened to you too.

As I say, home tomorrow. I'll miss Michael terribly...hate to be apart, actually. But I know he's having a great time with his son. And this allows me time to totally focus on the writing.

Oh, congratulations to Margaret Maron - who has won the Agatha for Best Novel for Three Day Town.

And, in other news, May is Crime Writing month in Canada, and the CBC is celebrating it with a special edition of Canada Writes click here visit the website. All this month is dedicated to crime fiction - and giving tips and 'workshops' for those of you who'd like to write your own book. Join us! 

Must go do the online check in to my flight. I'll talk to from Montreal later in the week. Hope you've enjoyed the visit to London. (I think we might need an exercise class, or stretchy clothing...)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Tate a Tate

overcast, showers, sun, showers, sun temps 12

London, England

Blechy weather - but there's a rain/snow mix in Montreal and Sutton - so we'll take this! Besides, it really hasn't slowed us down. Have been having a blast with our friend Susan, who's over from Montreal and staying in our flat.

Went to the Tate Modern on Monday...a ticketed exhibition, the hot ticket in London - Damien Hirst. Just opened April 4th and everyone's discussing it. His art sells for tens of millions of pounds. And there's a debate raging about whether he's simply a self-promoting poseur, or a great artist. Whether collectors were brilliant to buy his works, or hoodwinked.

to be honest, I'm not the one to judge. I suspect just asking the questions almost certainly makes him an artist. And yet, Michael and I visited the Saachi Gallery on Duke of York Square and walked out, feeling the surely someone was trying to 'have a laugh' at a gullible public's expense. But I guess even that's art. It's all art. The question is - is it great art? Or even good art.

We'd heard so much about the Damien Hirst, his pickled animals, his diamond encrusted skull, his polka dots - it was hard to imagine we'd like it. But we did! Not all. We turned away from the animals - but there was a great deal else to provoke our imaginations and thoughts. Including a butterfly room, where the cocoons are attached to canvasses. The butterflies emerge, and the art literally comes alive. And then we become part of the art by being in the room with the butterflies. It's strangely moving.

We were surprised to have actually liked it. Or at least, to appreciate that a striving mind was at work.

Lots of striving to get there though. The underground had an accident, so the train stopped - and we all got off. Then we got on the wrong bus. Then we had to follow a very nice older couple, who guided us around St Paul's Cathedral. We were hoping to get to the Tate Britain(the original gallery, which houses the classics) and from there take the boat to the Tate Modern (which houses the modern art, and where the Hirst exhibition was). But we ended up across the river from the Tate Modern, and got to walk across the Millenium Bridge. Very beautiful. We saw the Hirst, then grabbed the boat back to the Tate Britain. You can see the photo of Susan and Michael in the front seats....and the Parliament buildings off to the right. And the rain everywhere.

At Tate Britain we saw some of the permanent collection, then had the most wonderful lunch in the formal restaurant. Yum!

Lots of fun running around London. Breakfast today at the Wolseley - again! Then shopping with Susan on Oxford street - then lunch with Teresa my agent at a tiny Thai restaurant in South Kensington. Have you ever had Thai ice coffee? Dear God - I could have drunk ten. And then exploded. Why did no one tell me about these before? Probably for fear of what I'd do with such dangerous knowledge. Forget the apple, I bet it was a Thai Ice Coffee the serpent used for temptation. I'd be a goner.

Tomorrow we're off to Portobello Road....would have liked to go on a Saturday, but Susan leaves Friday, and we wanted to take it in. The most magnificent Deborah Crombie send us her personal guided tour of the area....including insight into where Duncan and Gemma's home can be found (they're her fictional detectives in her fabulous crime series set in Notting Hill etc) Here's what she suggested:

The arcades and the street stalls (including Steve's) are only open on Saturday. But the fruit and veg and flower stalls down towards the bottom of the road are open every day, as are some shops and many restaurants and cafes. And I love looking down the winding street when it's crowd-free--you could almost be in a Mediterranean village, with all the multi-colored stucco.

For pub food and atmosphere, I love The Sun in Splendour right at the top of Portobello Road.

Kitchen and Pantry at the corner of Elgin Crescent and Kensington Park Road is fun for a coffee and a pastry and watching the celebs and yummy mummies of Notting Hill come and go (Duncan and Charlotte spend a lot of time there in the WIP.) Mr. Christian's Deli on Elgin Crescent is wonderful. As is Books for Cooks, on Blenheim Crescent--maybe the best cookbook shop in the world. Sadly, Otto's Cafe is entirely fictional...

As for the shops that stay open during the week, I love the antique sporting goods shop just north of Chepstow Villas (this is where the market part of Portobello Road really begins.) And just past that, Alice's Antiques is one of the most famous and most

Lots of other stuff, if you have a chance to look up Portobello restaurants, etc, and see what appeals.

Also, if you go west on Notting Hill Gate until it turns into Holland Park Road, there's Giraffe, and a lovely Daunt's bookshop, and if you want a really proper meal, The Mitre is lovely.

Duncan and Gemma's fictional house is at the intersection of Lansdowne Road and St. John's Gardens. The fictional house is not exactly like the real one, but if you go there, you'll be able to guess which one it is.

So, for any of you hoping/planning a trip to London and Notting Hill - there's the perfect Deborah Crombie/Duncan/Gemma tour!

Writing is going well - finally. Struggled a lot with a certain chapter...then I realized I'd started it in the wrong place. They need to talk about something else first - then segue into what I already had. That thought came to me in the middle of a sleepless night. I got up in the morning and wrote the whole chapter. When it's right, it just declares itself in every way.

Took a couple of days away from writing to play in London with Michael and Susan - but happily back to the story tomorrow. In fact, it was Susan's friend Martin who coined the 'Tate a Tate' phrase. Wish I'd thought of it!

Hope you're doing well! Hope you brought an umbrella - we need it!