For what it’s worth, my thoughts on blogging.

Recently Janet Reid, a respected literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management and future Queen Of The Known Universe, took a hiatus from her blog in order to await the Resurrection. During her time off she suggested to her minions that they should get to know each other by visiting each other’s blogs.

Ever obedient, that’s exactly what we did, and what a good idea it turned out to be. I now have a long list of blogs I’ll try to visit on a regular basis. Some are informative, others are simply entertaining, and quite a few are both. More on-line activity to keep me from getting book two finished. Yay.

Colin D. Smith often leaves comments on Ms. Reid’s blog, and has earned himself the dubious title of Mayor of Carkoon (please, don’t ask). When I checked out Colin’s blog he was on his third day of a very good idea called A to Z Challenge. The rules are simple. Write a story every day using 100 words or less, and have the title of the first piece start with an A. Colin’s first story is Air, his second is Balance (my favourite so far), third is Crab, and so on. Check Colin’s stories out here, They are great examples of writing concisely while keeping the reader interested and satisfied.

Over this past weekend I ran into two women interested in starting their own blogs. One is a young woman just learning about life, and the second is an older woman with a lot of life experience. Both are unsure of how to start and maintain a blog. Valid concerns, but easily fixed. I can help them get the blogs started, and content will come easily after the first post or two, as long as each of the women try  (and this might be tricky), to both forget and remember their readers (I’ll explain later). What they SHOULD worry about, is their writing.

It isn’t easy. Putting essential thoughts into the proper order using the necessary words to make the post logical, informative, and interesting, is time-consuming and often frustrating. You know what you want to say. You’re educated and understand basic grammar. But pouring these feelings  onto a blank screen is not easy. Be prepared to put some sweat into it. And don’t tell yourself you couldn’t care less if people like your blog or not, because that’s just a cop-out. If you don’t care about your readers then write in a notebook and stick it in a drawer.

Now ask yourself why you want to get your story out there. To inform? To entertain? To help others? All good reasons, but none of this will happen if the visitor to your blog gets; a) bored because you’re too long-winded (which is what’s happening to this post); b) cannot follow your train of thought because you’re haphazardly skipping along with no organization of thought; or c) (which is the worst) it’s all about you. No one else is really interested in your life story UNLESS they can relate to it. And if they can, then they’ll want to input their story, compare with your story, there will be sympathy and empathy, and by then you’ll have the start of a good blog. Which brings me to…

Forget and remember your readers. While you’re drafting your blog, forget about who might read it. Get everything you want to say on the screen, ignore all the suggestions I just pointed out and get the important stuff down. Don’t worry about what other people will think of it at this time.

Then revise. If you’re going to write, even if all you ever want to write is a blog, revision is a very important part, if not THE biggest part. Make sure your post is cohesive, correct in spelling and grammar, and then remember who’ll be reading it. Will they care about the topic? Is it entertaining, or informative, or better yet, both? And keep in mind, some comments might not be favourable, or even related to your post (scammers…ptooey). Your blog should be set up so you can approve or delete comments before they are seen by anyone else. And when you reply to comments, be sure you are polite, even if they disagree with what you’ve posted.

Lastly, do not post, or comment for that matter, when you’re not in your right mind. Too angry, too sad, too drunk. Do not post until you’ve read, re-read, re-re-read and revised until it hurts. In other words, anything you write after 11 pm at night should wait until after you’ve had a good night’s sleep before you hit the publish button. Hit ‘publish’ only when you’re satisfied that what you have written will not embarrass someone you care about, and you’re stone cold sober.

Back to Colin. Remember Colin? Mentioned him at the start of this post? He writes great little stories in 100 words or less. And he can do this because he practices. A lot. He is not offensive, he uses humour to get his point across, and you would do well to use his blog as a template.

We’ve missed this April’s alphabet challenge (you can find out more about it on Colin’s site), but you can challenge yourself no matter what the month. Start May 1. Write stories, or comment on movies, or review books, or whatever it is you’re interested in, all in 100 words or less. Doesn’t need to be on-line if you’re not ready for that yet, just keep a notebook and practice writing before you put it out into cyberspace. Make every word count. Make it interesting. Make it informative. Make it something, and then the next day, make it something a little bit better. And eventually, as it is with anything you practice on a regular basis, it will get easier, more satisfying, and sometimes actually fun.

And now, here’s a picture of my dog’s butt.

maple's butt




You’re welcome.



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Not everyone loves me.

amazedHard to believe, isn’t it?

Most of the feedback I’m getting from A Bother of Bodies is positive, some even very enthusiastic, but I’ve had a couple of people complain about the same thing; name confusion.

Mabel, due to her unorthodox upbringing, knows some pretty shady characters, and tends to address them by nicknames. Shady characters also like to use aliases, so one person could have a variety of names. Bernard Goosenhammer could be known as Goosie to his friends, Basil Gottenburg to his marks, Bubblehead to his enemies, and Sweetie to his mother.

All that can be confusing.

So I’m determined not to do the same with A Devotion of Dads. Use one name only. Either the nickname consistently throughout the book, or their real name. But by the time I received this feedback, the first draft of ADOD was done, and nicknames were running amok in it.

No problem. Word has a Find and Replace feature, I’ll simply input “DD” as the find (short for Dusk-to-Dawna due to her insatiable sexual appetite), and replace all of them with Dawna. Also, Christine, Mabel’s boss at Security International, is called Kick Ass behind her back, and I even shortened it to KA so I’ve taken one name and attributed two nicknames to it. No wonder I confuse readers. But, again, no problem. I know how to fix it. Find all the DD’s, replace them with Dawna. Find all the KA’s, replace them with Christine. Simple, right?


Now, whenever a character ‘nodded’ it was turned into ‘noDawnaed’. ‘Added’ was ‘ADawnaed” and ‘okay’ was now ‘OChristiney’. You get the drift. Word took all the dd’s and ka’s, not just the capitalized DD’s and KA’s, and turned my whole manuscript into a soDawnaing mess.

I haven’t even tried to correct it. I’ll put it away for a couple of weeks, and then during my first rewrite, when I have more patience, I’ll correct them manually. And curse Word each time. To this day, I still don’t understand what keys I hit when suddenly my keyboard wants to type hieroglyphics.

There’s a meme going around Pinterest and it goes something like this; when women go for a drink they call each other Marlene, Val, and Linda. When guys go for a drink they call each other Meathead, Flipper (R.I.P. Phil), and Dickhead. The meme also states that when the bill comes the guys will throw in twenty bucks each and call it even. Women will get their calculators out.

gated community

This picture has nothing to do with anything. I just think it’s funny. And a good warning.

For those signed up for my newsletter, I sent one out today. April is a busy month for me, I have a flash coming out April 17 at Every Day Fiction. The book club at the Public Library is reading ABOB and have asked me to stop in and talk about the writing process. I’ve posted the query letter I’m sending out to agents and have asked for some feedback on it. Going to a Thessalon workshop on the 25th. Busy, busy. Sign up for my newsletter, it’s on your right in the sidebar, if you’re interested in more details and links to the events.

And if anyone knows the correct way to use Find and Replace in Word, I’d love to hear from you.





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James Patterson wants to buy you dinner while blowing up his book. I’m talking explosives.

Mr. James Patterson writes thrillers. He’s very good at it.


And because he is very good at it, he must have an extremely creative marketing team at his elbow because they’ve come up with a plan that blows every other author out of any previously known marketing dimension.


Author Joe Hartlaub, an excellent wordsmith himself and a contributing blogger at The Kill Zone, gives us the details;

Patterson accordingly gave away one thousand eBooks of Private Vegas timed to sell-destruct after twenty-four hours. The idea was to read it, but read quickly. The big news, however, was that Patterson was also selling one physical copy of the book that would explode — literally — twenty-four hours after purchase. The cost? $294,038. For that nominal sum, one receives a first class flight to a secret location, two nights in a luxury hotel, dinner with the author (that would be Patterson), gold plated binoculars (the better to watch the explosion from a discreet distance), and, one assumes, a team of professionals to handle the explosion.

Makes my book signing at the public library sound a little…well…dreary.

$294,038.00, in case you misread the number. It’s a startling price for a book. And I wonder how he came up with that amount. There must be a reason for the extra $38.00, wouldn’t you think? I’d like to have dinner with Mr. Patterson just to ask him that question, but to also watch his book blow up would be somehow strangely inspiring.

J Pattersonexplosion-fire-wallpaper








If you want to check out Joe’s whole blog, you can read it here;

Joe asks a very interesting question. If I had a blank cheque to advertise my book, how would I do it? Not sure, I’d have to give it some thought, but I love Joe’s idea. It includes New Orleans, taverns, and haunted hotels. In fact, I may like Joe’s idea better than Patterson’s. But explosives do make for great marketing.

Then again, as James Scott Bell so sensibly points out during the TKZ discussion, Mr. Patterson can do this type of marketing because Mr. Patterson writes good books. Books people like to read and gladly spend their money to buy. It always comes down to this. In order to build a fan base, the books must satisfy.

And speaking of satisfying books, I still plan to blog on John Grisham’s Grey Mountain, and Stephen King’s Revival. One satisfies, one doesn’t. I’m comparing peaches to pomegranates here, but it doesn’t change the fact; one satisfies, one doesn’t.

Since fireworks scare the hell out of me, never mind explosives, I’m going to pass on Patterson’s plan, but if anyone else has an idea for a first time author to get the word out about her novel, feel free to let me know. Just stick to my motto; Cheap and simple.


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Want to help a homeless pet? Buy a book for less than two loonies and do just that.

If you enjoy urban fantasy, you’re going to love these two stories.


Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.


Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is a house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

My buddy and fellow author, Barb Taub, has a sweet deal going on. I copied this right from Barb’s blog:

In honor of this holiday season, my publisher, Hartwood Publishing, is offering a special gift package of my urban fantasy Null City stories. Not only are they releasing the two newest stories as a $0.99 set called Tales From Null City, but my holiday-themed Don’t Touch will also be available at the sale price of $0.99. (both £0.72 in UK)

In most of my stories, an animal companion plays a prominent role—from George, the grumpy cat in Don’t Touch, to Bygul, the bitchy feline goddess of Payback is a Witch. My own life has been immeasurably enriched by my dog Peri who came from a shelter in eastern Washington State, and by the friends (feline, canine, and the occasional rodent) who have joined our family over the years after being rescued by the dedicated members of many shelters.

Barb is a fall-down-funny American author living in Scotland and she is doing her best to support no-kill shelters. If you want a great read, and at the same time help find homes for all kinds of animals in need, click on the blue links above, spend a couple of dollars, and show some love for a lucky pet.

dogs at dinnertime

Please read Barb’s holiday appeal, and while you’re there, check out her older blogs to get a taste of just how entertaining Barb is, here

As for me, I’ll also take this time to wish all my family, friends, and fans a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. And your pets as well!





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Book 2: A Devotion of Dads

Mother called tonight and said she enjoyed my book. Whew. Sounded sincere even, not with a you’re-my-daughter-I-have-to-say-that tone of voice. This  makes me very happy.

dog in yard edited


Book signings are over and done with, and I am most pleased with how they went. Plus, three fans wrote 5 star reviews, two on and one on This makes me very happy as well. Amazon rankings are important to new authors because the more favourable reviews I have, the more Amazon will promote the book. Plan is; readers read the reviews, like the reviews, buy the book. That makes Amazon (and me!) more money, and that makes Amazon (and me!) very happy.

smiling cat

So, if you liked A Bother of Bodies, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble, and give it a star rating. If you didn’t like A Bother of Bodies, or found it kind of meh, send me an email and let me know what you didn’t like so I can work on the weak parts.

I don’t understand everything about Amazon. Like, why it says my book may take one to three months to ship. What? Why? Ken the Publisher is looking into it.

Meanwhile, onward and upward. I’ve added the pictures from the book signings to my Photo Album and I’ve shifted the first chapter of A Bother of Bodies from Work In Progress over to the Published tab. Under Work in Progress I’ve added the first chapter of A Devotion of Dads (freshly checked over by my faithful beta reader, Marlene) and it is now open to comments and suggestions. Feel free to leave them on this site, or email them to me at

I’ve also moved stuff from my Pinterest site and stuck it under Makes Me Smile. Some of them make me actually laugh out loud. If you’re another Pinterest fan, let me know, we can follow each other :)


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My latest newsletter about a couple boxes of books.

What you see below is me, and a box of books. Two boxes, but you can’t see the other one. You’ll have to take my word that it’s there. And not just any boxes of books, oh no. Two boxes of “A Bother of Bodies”. They’re finally here and I’m stunned. More stunned than usual.
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Sixty books. Thirty for the White Feather book signing on Saturday, October 18 from 3 pm until 5 pm. White Feather Book Store is located in the other half of Tammy Dean’s Psychic Readings and Gifts at 121 Elgin Steet here in the Sault. You can wander around and look at all the books, jewellery, homemade crafts and myriad other interesting stuff while you’re waiting for me to figure out what to write in your book. 
And thirty for the signing at the Sault Library, Main branch, on Wednesday, October 22 from 2 pm until 4 pm. No baking there, nothing but books, but hey…that’s what makes a library a great place to have a book signing. You’ll see me as soon as you walk in the door. And then walk up the stairs. And then open another set of doors, AND THEN you’ll see me.
So, if you have absolutely nothing else to do, come and visit me at either or both signings. No obligation to buy, just come to chat and keep me company. If you do decide to buy, price is $18.00 (includes taxes). Buying the book on-line (print or ebook) isn’t available at the time of this newsletter, but should be very shortly, from Divertir Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide).Cheers,


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NEWS! I have news!

I have a book cover. For my book. That’s coming out at the end of this month. Starting to feel a tremor of excitement.

Ken the Publisher and Jen the Editor spent many hours pouring over different sites looking for a barn picture we all agreed suited our purpose. I spent a couple of hours with them on Skype, but really, I was useless. I was too busy being impressed with myself for figuring out how to Skype, and then ended up stymied when they could search, at amazing speed I might add, other sites while we Skyped. So I signed off, much to their relief I’m pretty sure, and the next day Ken asked me what I thought of these:

barn and pink sky smoking gun


I said I liked them. Sky was ominous without being spooky, there was the mandatory barn where the bodies are found, and the gun looked exactly like a murder weapon should. Deadly.


Then we talked about fonts and colours, I liked yellow, so this is what Ken and Jen came up with;



CoverFront-A Bother of BodiesI’m very happy with it. I’ll be even happier when I have a box load of them to hand out at my book signings.

Yes, I’m scheduled for two book signings. Just like a real author. First one is Saturday, October 18, 2014, from 3 to 6pm at White Feather Bookstore on Elgin Street here in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. White Feather is an independent book store recently taken over by my good friend and neighbour, Karen. She plans on having her grand opening coincide with my book launch. Heck of a good idea. I’ll have more info on this event later, once we’ve decided on advertising and incentives.

Then, four days later, on Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, I’ll be at the main branch of our local library. From 2 to 4 pm I’ll be sitting there behind a little desk with a silly smile on my face and a pen poised for signing. I sure hope somebody shows up.

I’m also hoping the books show up.

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My First Newsletter

My first newsletter went out yesterday, June 1. I plan on e-mailing one on the first of each month. If you didn’t receive it, and you would like to, drop me a line at and I’ll make sure I add you to my list.

It tells you about the writing retreat I went to in Virginia (and what I learned about Brad Park’s thighs); progress on my book cover (down to two choices); my next writing project (a local non-fiction murder); and what to look forward to in my next newsletter (involves crazy Americans).

A hint about my next project…

Helen's headstone



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I’ve been tagged.

Danielle Lenee Davis, author of The Protector, has tagged me in her blog, and we all know what that means.

No? Allow me to explain. Better yet, I’ll let Mary tell you all about it, she explains things so much better than I.

Done reading? Good. Bottom line is I must;

A)  Answer four questions (because, supposedly, people want to know about the authors of the books they read);

B)  Refer back to the person who tagged me (because this introduces readers to new upcoming authors and their websites);

C) Tag someone else (chain letter kind of idea, used for promotion. Anything that might promote me, I’m in).

What am I working on?

Book two of my Maybe mysteries, A Devotion of Dads, and trying to keep my mind off what’s happening with book one. Since I sold A Bother of Bodies I haven’t had much to do with it. Jayde from Divertir Publishing did a bang-up job of editing and now I’m waiting to see what Ken the Publisher comes up with in the way of a cover. In order not to drown in stomach acid I simply keep writing.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I hate this question. Hate might be too strong. I dislike this question. It’s a thinker. Not my strong point, but I’ll give it a shot.

The basics of a mystery are usually the same. The author comes up with a crime, throws in a bunch of clues, a few red herrings, the when and where so a reader can picture the course of events, and then ties it all up with a conclusion that satisfies all. Downright simple. Ha.

Entwined with the basics are the different styles of each author and this is what makes a book different no matter what the genre. The voice of the storyteller. How the writer motivates their characters, describes them, makes them come alive in the reader’s imagination.

No two authors will write the same words to the same prompt. They will not create the same characters. Mabel is my character, fabricated from my imagination and uniquely mine. She is the bastard daughter of either an Irish kingpin presently ruling Montreal’s underworld, or the child of a hit man. Whichever, she was definitely raised on the wrong side of the law.

Sydney Valentine, Danielle’s main character in The Protector, is a tough female police detective. Right side of the law. Same genre, different characters, different books. I could segue into sub-genres but I won’t. They confuse me.

Why do I write what I do?

This question makes it sound like I have a choice. I don’t. I write, this is what comes out. Not always murder/mysteries. Sometimes paranormal westerns, sometimes critters in realms all of their own. Once in a rare moment the words come out in poetry formation.

It’s only the mystery genre, though, that seems to come out half-decently written. Due, I think, because this is the genre with which I grew up. It was my parents choice of reading, and my older sister’s, so books of this nature were always scattered around the house. Nero Wolfe, The Saint, Miss Marple, Poirot, Holmes, these are all characters I knew as if they were real.

How does the writing process work?

Oh hell, I have no idea.

What I do is simply sit down and write. I’m trying very hard to outline, but I usually end up revising my outlines to suit what gets written. I do not recommend this writing process. I end up writing 120,000 words and then have to go back and start slashing until I have something worth reading at around 80 to 90 thousand. Wastes a lot of time.

I am strict with myself. A thousand words a day, minimum. If I miss a day, two thousand the next day. And I have to stop editing myself as I write. Get the damn book done, beginning – middle – end. Then go back and rewrite as many times as it takes. It can be frustrating, hard work, and you should only do it if you can’t help yourself. But if you decide you can’t help yourself, and you must write, let me give you one piece of advice, even though it has nothing to do with this question;

Hire a content editor. If Mary hadn’t edited my manuscript, it would still be taking up space in the bottom drawer of my desk.

Done. All four questions answered, and I’m ready to tag someone else. Maybe another new author at Divertir? How about Darren Simon? Check this out;

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Brad Parks talks about me; links, lots of links; and an update

brad parksIf you are a faithful reader of my blog, you will know I’ve mentioned Mr. Parks a number of times. Like the time I confessed my love,, and the time he agreed to give me a blurb for the cover of my book,

So you won’t be surprised I’m featuring him again, only this time it’s because he mentions me in one of his interviews! Not by name, but hey, we all know who he means. Mystery Playground talks to Brad about his second Lefty award and asks him if he has any stalkers. Well, yes he does. Me.

Check out the links below. The first one is when he mentions his Canadian stalker (I’m so proud), and the second is when he sings to Sue Grafton (you know, the author of A is for Alibi, etc.). He can actually sing. Multi-talented.

Also, thanks to the authors at The Kill Zone, I’ve discovered this;

Not everyone would be excited about this but I am. A train ride full of people who share the same interest. Writing. I’ve heard of trains full of musicians and other artists, why not writers? Unfortunately, it’s only available in the States. What is wrong with our Canadian rail conglomerates? They seem incapable of using their imagination. They can’t come up with any way to make money selling train rides through our beautiful country? At reasonable prices, so more people can take advantage? Maybe I should Google this before I sound off. Perhaps they do offer the same packages as Amtrak. Doubtful.

My name is finally up on the Divertir site, look half way down the page on the right hand side under the title, Coming Soon,

Work on my cover is underway and I will be posting the potential covers (hopefully soon), in my blog so readers can vote on their favourite. Covers are very important, they must catch a reader’s attention from the other millions of books out there, and give enough information about what to expect from the book in a very limited space. Extremely limited in the case of e-books. Only a thumbnail to display.

When the book cover is decided, everything will start to change and speed up. My new website will be introduced and it will turn from blog-oriented to sales-oriented. A monthly newsletter will let everyone know (if they are interested enough to sign up for it, that is) when my book will be launched, when I’ll be doing book signings at the library, any interviews (my first one is scheduled for May 15 with Barb Taub), and any reviews on A Bother of Bodies, as well as updates on book two, A Devotion of Dads. Also, anything personal, that I don’t necessarily want published for the whole world to see on my blog or FaceBook or Pinterest, will be on the newsletter.

If you are interested in receiving this monthly newsletter, please send your email address to , or if you have any other comments and suggestions to help me promote my book, please feel free to contact me. At this stage, I need all the help I can get. And if you haven’t checked out my boards on Pinterest, please do; , I have lots to say about reading, and writing. And men. And dogs.

If you do decide to visit my Pinterest site, be sure to check out the comments on the pin about Adam Levine. So embarrassing. Damn my mental block about names.


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