Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Launch!

Put February 28th in your calendar. I'll be launching the next Meg Harris mystery, A Green Place for Dying, from 7:00 pm to 9:00 at the Heart and Crown in the ByWard Market in Ottawa. I plan to make it a rip roaring launch!

Monday, December 12, 2011

My blog awakens

As the release date for A Green Place for Dying closes in, you will be hearing more from me.  Only two months to go! I'm getting very excited. Even though this will be my fifth book I still find it thrilling to hold the newly minted book in my hand.

The reviews are already starting, with last week's review in Publishers Weekly. I was ecstatic. If you like the review I would appreciate if you could 'like' it.

Now the nail biting begins in earnest as I await other reviews. You never know.... It is always an anxious time when the baby you have been nurturing for so long is finally released into the wide world. You never know how it will be received.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Drawing From Real LIfe

I thought you would find my blog that was posted on Mystery Maven Canada this week intriguing, so I am reposting it on my own blog. It will give you a bit of insight on where I get some of my ideas for the Meg Harris mysteries. And if you aren't familiar with the Mystery Maven Canada blog you are definitely missing something. It is the go-to place to discover the latest happenings in Canadian crime writing.

Reposted from Mystery Maven Canada

         Most fiction writers draw on their own experiences and people in their life to help create their stories and give them life. And I’m no different.  While I have never intentionally based any of my characters on family or friends, except that is for Sergei, Meg Harris’s black standard poodle who is as loving and as mischievous as on my own standard poodles, I do drawn on aspects from my own life. I thought I would share some of these with you, starting with Meg herself.

Since the Meg Harris series is written in the first person point of view, readers often ask if Meg is me. Invariably I reply “No, not really”, which is indeed the case. After all she is a red head, an escapee from an abusive marriage and she struggles with a drinking problem, none of which could be used to describe me.  But like me, she did grow up in Toronto and she has a cottage.

However, while both our cottages are made from logs and are set in the wilds of West Quebec, I gave Meg Three Deer Point, the cottage of my dreams; a large turn-of-the-century timber and stone building with a turret and wraparound verandah that is perched on a granite point overlooking the sometimes still and other times angry waters of Echo Lake. That is another fun aspect of writing fiction; you can give your characters belongings and experiences that you have only dreamed about.

In the first book, Death’s Golden Whisper, Meg discovers letters and postcards written by her Great-aunt Agatha to a friend during her grand tour of Europe undertaken shortly before the First World War. I borrowed this idea from my grandfather, who during a similar European trip sent his mother postcards of his travels. As I child I spent many an intriguing hour reading these postcards and imaging what it would have been like traveling to these exotic locations.  In the same book Meg also finds a diary written by her Great-aunt. Instead of arbitrarily using any date for the entries, I used the month and day of the birthdates of various members of my family.

I also have fun with names. Meg herself is named after my grandmother. I wanted a name that could be shortened to a number of different nicknames and Margaret fit the requirement; besides I wanted to immortalize my favourite grandmother. In Arctic Blue Death, her mother’s cook calls her Maggie, the name my grandmother often went by.  In Red Ice for a Shroud she’s called by the French version, Marguerite, which incidentally means ‘daisy’.  Her last name ‘Harris’ is derived from the street I grew up on in Toronto, ‘Harrison Rd.’

In each of my books, I also make a point of naming one or two secondary characters after my various nieces and nephews. In Arctic Blue Death, I named Meg’s father and her uncle after my grandfather and great-uncle, her sister after my mother, while I gave a fictitious Arctic town the name James Lake, after my husband. And I must not forget that one of my villains uses one of my father’s names. If he were still alive I know he would be laughing uproariously.

I enjoy spending much of my time in Canada’s great outdoors and have used some of my adventures in my books.  Red Ice for a Shroud starts off with Meg and Eric clearing cross-country skiing trails, something my husband and I, along with friends, do every fall in preparation for a winter of skiing. And I do love skiing, an activity Meg thoroughly enjoys too.

Canoeing is another matter. In The River Runs Orange Meg finds herself paddling madly down a whitewater river and she dumps, which pretty much mirrors my own experience with whitewater paddling. In fact Meg doesn’t like whitewater anymore than I do, although we both love slicing through the still, flat waters of a lake. And to give you a taste of what Meg endured when she dumped on the DeMontigny River, I've added some photos from my own dump that happened on the Madawaska River a few years ago. I'm the one in blue and my husband was in the stern. I bumped over every ledge of this Class III rapid known as The Staircase until I reached calm water. I was not a happy camper.

There are countless other instances in the Meg Harris books where I have drawn upon my own experiences, but I will save those for you to discover.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gwaii Hanas

I had so much fun sending Meg to Canada's Far North for Arctic Blue Death the fourth book in the series, that way I got to go too, that I decided to send Meg on a trip to another Canadian wilderness for the as yet untitled book 6 (I've decided silver will be in this title). Since I was going to be on the west coast for Bloody Words in Victoria, I decided Meg and I would travel to Haida Gwaii, the land of the Haida or the Queen Charlotte Islands as it is also known. As I child I would often listen to my father speak of these magical islands, his voice filled with no little amount of awe, where he had gone one summer while at university to work in one of the logging camps. So I always had a yen to visit this distant mountainous archipelago on the edge of Canada's Pacific coast.

I spent seven days with my husband, getting to know the islands and the people. Part of it was spent on a four day boat trip to the uninhabited southern part, to Gwaii Hanas National Park. I tell you, I fell in love with these wild, mystical islands and its people. And I came back full of ideas, information and photos. I can't wait to get started on this next Meg Harris mystery.

Please check  Gwaii Hanas photos to view a sampling of what we experienced.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fun time in British Columbia

I shall be heading off shortly to the land of mountains and sea for some thrilling events and awe inspiring adventure with a wee celebration thrown into the mix.

In Vancouver on June 1, I'll be talking about my Meg Harris series and offering a sneak preview into the next Meg Harris mystery, A Green Place for Dying due out in Feb. 2012.  The event is being held at the Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, at 350 West Georgia St. from 7:00 pm to 8:30.  I'll be joined by award winning author Barbara Fradkin, who writes the Inspector Green mystery series. If you happen to be in Vancouver that day, please drop by. We would love to see you.

And then I am off to Vancouver Island, to attend Bloody Words being held in Victoria this year from June 3 to 5. But on the way Barbara and I plan to enjoy some of the fabulous B.C. scenery by taking the ferry over to the island. On June 2, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed at the Arthur Ellis awards dinner, hoping that my favourite shortlisted authors win awards this year.

I am thrilled to be participating in 2 events at the conference. On Friday evening, June 3 at 8:30 pm, I'll be participating in an intriguing panel on Points of View: speaking from the margins. I'll be joining David Cole, Kay Stewart and George Szanto with Sylvia Warsh as our moderator. Then next day at 10:00 am, I will be doing the Mystery Cafe session, Silent Witness: landscape as character, with Stephen Legault. And of course I will be signing my books after the events.

And then the adventure begins. I fly to Haida Gwaii or Queen Charlotte Islands to do research on the next and 6th as yet unnamed Meg Harris mystery. To get a feel for these isolated mountainous islands, I will be exploring much of it from the water on a boat tour that will take me to Gwaii Hanas, the large protected southern third of the islands where totem poles of the once vibrant Haida stand as silent sentinels to the past. I will also be meeting with people from the Haida Nation.

And sometime during all this I will be celebrating a big birthday in the city of my birth and hoping at the same time to be celebrating the winning of the Stanley Cup by the Vancouver Canucks.

All in all it promises to be a very exciting trip.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On to Phoenix

Well not exactly Phoenix, but Scottsdale, Arizona. As Left Coast Crime winds down in Santa Fe, my attention turns to my two events in Scottsdale and Glendale. On Tuesday, March 29 at 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, I will be talking about my Meg Harris series and signing books at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore with Vicki Delany and Wayne Arthurson. I must say I am very excited to be doing an event at this famed Arizona bookstore at 4014 N. Goldwater Blvd.

And then on Wednesday, March 30 at 2:00 pm to 3:30, I and Vicki Delany will be continuing our discussions about our books and signing them at the Velma Teague Library at 7017 N. 58th Street in Glendale. It should be a great afternoon.

So if you are in the area please drop by and say hello.

And before I sign out, I must say that Left Coast Crime has been a terrific conference. I've met lots of fans, hopefully introduced new fans to my books and generally had a wonderful time. Although the high altitude hasn't completely agreed with me, I am enjoying New Mexico and hope one day to return.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Santa Fe, here I come!

I’m almost packed. Have bookmarks, flyers along with my secret Canadian hat for our Canadian panel on Thursday, along with mystery prizes. Have the dogs, their food, crates and toys ready to take to the kennel. And then I’m off to Santa Fe to attend Left Coast Crime. I’m getting very excited. It will be my first time visiting that part of New Mexico.

I am participating in four events, starting with Thursday’s Cuentos session on Crime Hot Spots of Canada from 2:00 pm to 2:45. Vicki Delany, Barbara Fradkin and I will take you on a tour to some of these hot spots.  We’ll be having a draw for some uniquely Canadian door prizes.

On Friday from 2:45 pm to 3:30, I will be moderating the Living Diversity: mysteries with a difference panel. I’m looking forward to grilling Gar Anthony Harwood, Deborah Ledford, Neil Plakcy, Daryl Wimberley and Robert Bennett on what Living Diversity means in their mysteries.

Very early Saturday morning at 7:30, I will be speed dating, i.e. flogging my Meg Harris mystery series, at the Established Authors Breakfast. If it’s anything like the Malice-Go-Round, it should be a hoot.

Than later on Saturday from 10:15 am to 11:00, I will be participating in the panel on When Location Makes All the Difference – Settings in Mysteries. I will be joining fellow panelists, Pete Goodman, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe, Annamaria Alfieri, with Jeanne Mathews as moderator. As you well know settings is one of my favourite topics, so I am very much looking forward to this panel.

I hope to see some of you there. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Publication Delay

For all of you anxiously awaiting the next Meg Harris mystery, the publication of A Green Place for Dying has been delayed almost a year to February 2012. While I am looking forward to working with my new publisher Dundurn, unfortunately their 2011 publication schedule was already set and it wasn't possible to fit my book in. If there is any change in this, I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

March Madness

The book event season is starting to hot up. And even though the latest Meg Harris mystery, A GREEN PLACE FOR DYING, won’t yet be available for these upcoming March events, I am certainly very happy to sign the 4 earlier books.

The first event is in Kemptville, Ontario on Sunday March 6. I am very honoured to be participating in the Kemptville Literary Follies held at Leslie Hall on Clothier St. West. At 3:00 pm I will be discussing and reading from the latest Meg Harris mystery. 

Then on Thursday, March 10, I will be the speaker at a Food For Thought luncheon, a program for seniors which is held bi-monthly at a local Ottawa restaurant.

Towards the end of March I fly to Santa Fe NM to attend the Left Coast Crime conference. I will be participating in 3 events. On Thursday Mar. 24, 2:00 pm – 2:45, Vicki Delany and Barbara Fradkin will be joining me to talk about the Crime Hot Spots of Canada using our respective series as the travel guide. On Friday, Mar. 25, I will be moderating the Living Diversity panel from 2:45 to 3:30 pm and on Saturday, Mar. 26, I will be participating in the panel, When Location Makes All the Difference, from 10:15 to 11:00 am. I am very much looking forward to my visit to this historic part of New Mexico and hope to see some of you there.

On Tuesday, Mar. 29 from 7:00 pm – 9:00, I will be signing my books at Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ll be joined by fellow Canadian authors Vicki Delany and Wayne Arthurson.

My last event is next day, on Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2:00 pm at the Velma Teague Library in Glendale, AZ. Vicki will be sharing the podium with me. I'll be talking about my newest book, A GREEN PLACE FOR DYING. 

And I must not forget to mention that I am very excited about being a guest author at this year's Scene of the Crime Mystery Writing Festival being held Sat. August 13 on Wolf Island.  I will be joining Maureen Jennings, Elizabeth Duncan, C.B. Forrest and Howard Shrier. It promises to be a terrific day. Registration is limited, so register early and get a chance to not only hear us but to enjoy the festival's renowned church supper.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Publisher Change

An era in Canadian publishing ends with the buy-out of my publisher Napoleon & Co. by Dundurn Press.
Napoleon under the stewardship of Sylvia McConnell made a significant contribution in promoting Canadian stories by publishing distinctly Canadian mysteries and juvenile fiction. She and her editor Allister Thompson were wonderful to work with. Fortunately, we won't be saying good-bye. They are moving over to Dundurn to work as our editors. And rest assured that Meg Harris mysteries will continue with the spring publication of A Green Place for Dying by Dundurn.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The next Meg Harris mystery

Whew… I’ve done it. I’ve finally sent A Green Place for Dying off to my publisher.  I feel as if a tremendous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. But I tell you after living with Meg, her cast of supporting characters and her adventures for the past year and a half, I feel a bit lonely… and bored. Now what do I do? On to the next Meg Harris mystery…  or should I do something else….?

I am very excited about A Green Place for Dying. In this 5th book in the Meg Harris mystery series, Meg returns to Three Deer Point after her trip to the Arctic, only to discover that the daughter of a friend has been missing from the Migiskan Reserve for over 2 months. Treating her as a runaway, the police refuse to do little more than a nominal search and continue to stall even when the girl’s friend turns up murdered.

As the mother struggles with her daughter’s disappearance, Meg vows to do what she can to find her and in the process uncovers an underside of life she would rather not know existed. And when the search takes an unexpected turn, Meg is forced to finally face her own demons and admit to the guilt she’s been hiding since a teenager.

In this latest Meg Harris mystery not only do I explore a major issue in Canada, that of missing aboriginal women (currently over 560) with little or no attention paid to their cases by police but I also delve into guilt and the detrimental impact it can have on shaping people’s lives.

Although A Green Place for Dying won’t be in bookstores until May, it is available for pre-order on online bookstores.