Sunday, November 28, 2010

What the snow reveals

I’ve just come in from an invigorating walk through the season’s first snow. Even though it is a rather meager amount, just enough to obliterate November’s depressing greyness, I still get a thrill out of tramping through its pristine whiteness. If it were deeper I would be tempted to make snow angels. Sterling, our young standard poodle, found it equally thrilling, as he leapt, bounded and kicked up waves of frothy white.  His muzzle was soon encased in the frosty stuff, as he discovered the benefits of eating it.

And with the first snow comes the reminder that we aren’t the only ones inhabiting this vast Quebec wilderness.  The fox, who unbeknownst to us likes to include our bird feeder in his rounds, is now fully revealed by his tracks.  Similarly the horseshoe hares we never see lurking under the spruce trees, except that is for the one Sterling flushed last week, suddenly become numerous as their tracks crisscross the whiteness in front of us.  We only know a moose paid us an overnight visit by the tracks he left behind.  Tracks in the snow can also foretell disaster, like the time I saw a wolf track along side that of a deer.  Although I didn’t come across the deer carcass, I have come across them at other times, while out skiing the trails in the surrounding forest. Invariably a chill runs down my spine as I  glance around to see if there are any watching eyes.

The one track that always makes me smile is that of the otter. His long sliding path through deep snow suggests he is having the time of his life as he slides down an embankment. One time I came across an intermittent sliding pattern through a fresh dusting of snow covering an iced-over lake.  In between the slides were a couple of rows of paw tracks. Clearly the animal had been scampering over the ice to gather speed, then off he went sliding over its smooth surface. When he came to a stop he repeated the fun and did this for quite a few times. I would have loved to been there watching, except my presence probably would’ve ended his fun.

These photos are from past winters, but if I come across an interesting set of tracks this winter, I will post the photo.

Deer and wolf track

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Book Tour

Launching a book can be a little scary and it can also be lots of fun.  For months, only your eyes read your creation as you nurse it through the ups and downs to fruition. Then you pass it around to a chosen few for their first take and wait with baited breath for their verdict. After more massaging, your treasured words pass under the critical eye of your editor and publisher, who invariably come up with more improvements.  Finally it is deemed fit for printing and out into the big wide world it is launched.

As an author you just can’t sit back nervously biting your nails, waiting for the reviews to come in, for readers to comment and for the sales to climb. You have to help it along. So you have a formal launch to which you invite the world and you go on a book tour.

I thought you might enjoy some pictures from the 2006 launch of the 2nd Meg Harris mystery, Red Ice For a Shroud.  That fall I joined forces with Barbara Frakin who was launching her 5th Inspector Green mystery, Honour Among Men and Rick Blechta, who was launching When Hell Freezes Over.

Over five weekends in October and November, the three of us travelled all over Eastern and Southern Ontario, spending Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in bookstores, Chapters and independents, usually two stores per day.  At times it got confusing trying to remember which town we were in, particularly when doing Chapter signings. Like any big box store, one Chapter looks like another. Although I prefer the individuality of the independent bookstore, they don’t always bring in the traffic. Sadly, two of the mystery stores we visited have since closed, one in Kingston and the other in Waterloo.  

I also learned about the vagaries of book distribution to big box stores.  Even though my book had been out for several weeks it still hadn’t made its way from the Chapters distribution centre to the individual stores, so for the first weekend of signings, I was forced to lug boxes of books into the stores.

One of the highlights for me was having a reader rush up with the just published Globe & Mail review of Red Ice for a Shroud in hand all excited that I was in the store to sign the book. Another highlight was Rick cooking us a scrumptious chicken cacciatore the night we spent at Barbara’s cottage.

Despite the hectic nature of the tour, mind you most tours are probably hectic, it proved very worthwhile and I believe helped expand the readership of the Meg Harris mystery series to a wider audience. I also discovered that doing a tour with other authors was a lot of fun. So for my fourth book, Arctic Blue Death I did a similar book tour, this time to the Maritimes, with Vicki Delany.  

For the upcoming A Green Place for Dying, I haven’t quite decided yet what I’ll do, but since I will be out in B.C. in June for Bloody Words, I will be organizing some store signings in Vancouver and Victoria. I’ll keep you posted, when and where.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Green Place for Dying

I'm very excited to show you the cover for the next Meg Harris mystery, A Green Place for Dying.  As you can see the theme of this book is green. I even include a brief visit from a popular Ottawa detective with a similar name, star of another Canadian mystery series.

A Green Place for Dying is about a growing issue in Canada, that of missing aboriginal women. Currently there are over 580 missing and murdered women and little is being done about it.  Sisters in Spirit, an organization associated with Native Women’s Association of Canada has been spear heading a movement to raise awareness of this alarmingly high number in an attempt to ignite police and other authorities into action.  In my own small way, I hope by making missing native women the central theme of this book, that I too might contribute to the raising of its profile.

In A Green Place for Dying, Meg returns to Three Deer Point, her wilderness home in West Quebec, to discover that the daughter of a friend has been missing from the Migiskin Reserve for over two 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. But the search takes a turn, which forces Meg to finally face her own demons and admit to the guilt she’s been hiding since a teenager.

A Green Place for Dying is due out next Spring and I’m looking forward to meeting you on another round of book events and store signings.