I’m so darned excited.

I’m going to a retreat. You know, like rich people do. It’s in Virginia. I’ll be immersed in books and horses and hounds and…

Hunt's CornerI’m just so darned excited.

This is the picture on the Hunt Country Writers website (link below). That picture alone was enough to sell me. It oozes friendliness, a certain uniqueness, and warmth.



There are many writing conferences available for new writers wanting to improve on their craft, but very few are in Northern Ontario. Since making the big decision to take my writing seriously, I’ve tried to treat myself to a different conference every year. Which makes the Hunt Country Retreat a treat re-treat. :)

Man, I’m good at this writing stuff.

First one I attended, in 2011, was The Scene of the Crime on Wolfe Island, near Kingston, Ontario, where my sister lives. GrantAllenThat’s not her over there <–. My sister is much prettier. And a little less hairy. That’s Allen Grant. He was a resident of Wolfe Island and a mystery writer.

2012 was the last year for this wonderful meeting of like-minded writers. I was fortunate to attend this conference before it folded, after eight successful years, and I remember it fondly. What I learned at Scene of the Crime was the benefit of smaller venues. More conversations. More laughter and less nerves. It was fun. And, best of all, my sister gave me free room and board (because she loves me), so it was cheap.

My second conference was Bloody Words in Toronto, 2012. BW-logo

Seemed huge to me. So many people, so many panels, all of them interesting and every one of them informative. But less one-on-one. More nerves (due to a pitch session, so the nerves were of my making. And then, after the pitch went well and the agent asked for my first three chapters, I worried even more. Were those first three chapters good enough? I never win in the war of worry), so the weekend was a blur of stress. My favourite time was being alone in my room (the Hilton, very impressive), writing about the experience. And I consider myself a social person, but Good Gravy, there were a lot of people there.lots of people

Okay, not that many people, but it felt like it sometimes.


Due to the unpleasant surprise of finding myself unemployed in 2013, I had to forego a conference that year. Lots of time, no money. Which worked out in the end because it gave me the opportunity to visit Mother in England. And, because she also loves me, she funded the holiday, bless her. A writer with a supportive family is a lucky writer, indeed.

So here I am now, 2014, with a part-time job I love, and the time and the money to further my writing goals. Where to go? Well, let’s see where Brad Parks will be making an appearance. Following an author you enjoy is as good a reason as any to determine which conference to attend.

And that’s how I ended up booking a flight to Virginia. I’ll be staying at the Red Fox Inn and Tavern.red fox inn

Love the tavern part.

Hope it’s haunted.


Many thanks to Genie and Jan, the coordinators of Hunt Country Writers Retreat, for extending a long and friendly hand across the many miles and borders to help me overcome any barriers to this trip. I’m so looking forward to meeting them both.

But I’m busy. There’s a lot to do before I go. I’ve started a new on-line writing course with Mary Rosenblum. I’m thirty chapters into editing A Bother of Bodies with Jayde from Divertir Publishing (only four more to go!), and I’ve started pestering Ken the Publisher to get my book cover done.

It’s good being busy. It’s good to find something you love so much you want to work harder to improve. It takes time, it takes effort, and it takes — don’t kid yourself — money. Sid Crosby (what kind of Canadian would I be if I didn’t work hockey into my blog. Especially during the Olympics) is a talented athlete but you can bet his parents put some money into equipment, training, and travelling.

And speaking of the Olympics (I knew I’d squeeze this in somehow), congratulations to our Sault Ste. Marie Jacob’s curling team, taking home the gold. We are all so proud. team jacobs


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Word nuggets. And an update.

parnell hallParnell Hall (that’s him over there –>) has written some good books. On the back cover of Favor there is this blurb about Hall’s main character, Stanley Hastings;

Stanley Hastings, New York P.I., has no gun, no cases, and no talent for snooping. He had a client once; the guy ended up a corpse.

Doesn’t sound like much of a detective, does he? It goes on to say:

The best gumshoe in a world-class detective novel couldn’t get out of this mess. But maybe the world’s worst detective has a chance…”

So, you get the idea. Mr. Hall is not writing deep, dark, literary masterpieces with his Stanley Hastings series. He’s writing the kind of book I hope to emulate with A Bother of Bodies. The kind of book aimed more towards entertaining its reader than winning a Pulitzer. The Pink Panther as opposed to The Maltese Falcon. A read geared more towards beaches and bathtubs, than podiums and accolades.

But now and then Mr. Hall surprises me. In his book Client, out in 1990, he wrote about growing up in the sixties and one sentence in Parnell Clientparticular stopped me in my tracks;

“…it’s embarrassing to be part of a generation that screamed, “Make Love, Not War,” only to find out twenty years later with the advent of AIDS, that making love may kill more people than making war ever did.”

And I had to stop and think about that statement because, though it may have occurred to many others, the idea of linking the hippie generation with the AIDs epidemic never crossed my mind. And I LOVE moments like this in a book. I enjoyed the 39th chapter of Client because it made me think. There I was, just ambling along, enjoying the bumbling of Stanley, when Hall throws in a chapter that verges on deep. Yikes.

And not only is it a thinker chapter, it actually does relate to the rest of the book. Mr. Hall hasn’t thrown this chapter in to bulk up his book, or to expound on his theories about life, but because it gives the reader more insight into Stanley, and the case in hand.

Word nuggets. Words strung together in such a way they interrupt your amble, pleasurable though it may be, to make you think. Make you go back and re-read them. They take you out of the story in order to make you consider the story. That’s a good thing.

van and tank

One of the rules of writing, according to the books I’ve read and the advice I’ve been given, is you should never take your reader out of the story. Don’t throw in your own opinions because you like the sound of your own words. If your character is about to shoot the bad guy, don’t suddenly spout off your thoughts on gun control. No one cares.

Mr. Hall does not do this. He simply inserts nuggets. He writes entertaining and often humourous stories about every-day people, having every-day revelations.

Stanley Hastings is not Jack Reacher (Lee Child). I love Jack. He makes me swoon, but I also love Stanley. He’s a funny guy, and there’s a chance I may meet a Stanley Hastings one day. There’s not a hope in hell I’d ever meet a Jack Reacher. Not sure I’d want to. T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Then there are characters like Myron Bolitar (Harlan Coben), and Archie Goodwin (Rex Stout). I’d love to meet them. They make me laugh and swoon, but that’s a discussion for another post. I’m off topic. AGAIN.

I will attempt to make my writing not only entertaining, but I’ll also try to throw in the odd word nuggets. It may require some thinking, so I’m not making any promises. I’ll do my best.


Jayde and I are up to chapter nine in our rewrites and editing process. All is good so far, though Jayde has caught at least one slip-up for which I will be forever grateful. As for the book cover, haven’t heard back from K the P yet. I will start harassing him soon so I can get some feed-back on which one to pick.

 Oh, and when you do meet Mabel, stay on her good side. She has a hell of a temper.

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Meet Mabel


No, that’s not her. Can’t imagine I’d sell a lot of books trying to pass him off as a her.

No, this is a picture of a guru, and according to the marketing gurus I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m supposed to introduce A Bother of Bodies main character, Mabel, in order to entice readers to spend their money and learn more about her when the book does become available.

I have no idea if this works, it’s all new to me, I’m just doing as I’m told. A first, if you’ve ever had a conversation with my mother, or my sister.

I don’t even know where to start. Can’t tell you her full name because we’re not sure of her father. Well, I am because I wrote the damn thing, but according to The Gurus, I can’t give it all away, right away.

So here’s what I can tell you. Mabel’s mother has problems. Quite a few. The beyond-help kind of problems, so Mabel is raised on an estate for bastard children. And not just any bastard children, but the unwanted rug rats of Irish “business men”. The kind of men you’d find in these books;

american irish montreal irish

Except Mabel’s family originates from Montreal. But all this is simply background. Really has nothing to do with the story. I’ll tell you about the story next Tuesday. Right now I’m talking about Mabel.

I’m doing very well on this whole ‘focusing’ thing, if I do say so myself.

Mabel has a few problems of her own. Trust issues, as I imagine anyone raised by members of the criminal underworld would. Anger management problems so big she scares herself. But what gets her in the most trouble, is boredom.

take daughter to work   Mabel understands her brother Dean’s desire to lead a normal, law-abiding life, but…she doesn’t know what to do with herself. She has a talent for picking locks. Been at it since a child. And the “family” took advantage of her talents, until she and Dean had to run. So now she’s on a farm in the back woods of some place called Sylvandale, a small town with a population of a hundred farmers and fifteen million cows, and she’s mind-numbingly bored.

Until the bodies start showing up. And they aren’t even her biggest problem.

I give a few more details about what she looks like in the book, but not many. If you’re a reader like myself, you prefer to paint your own pictures.

And if you feel the need to chastise me because I have included a cartoon depicting a child with a gun in her hand, go right ahead. Water off a loon’s tail feathers. But save yourself some money if you are offended, and don’t bother buying my book. Mabel loves her gun.

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Due date.

I know. I’m late. And for those just stumbling upon this site…no, I am definitely not pregnant. If you’re looking for advice on birthing, keep on stumbling because you do not want to waste your time here. I know less about giving birth than most men.

But I am late. Not only late, also late with nothing to show for being late. Two months away from my blog and it’s still the same old blog! What happened to the revisions? The update? The new and improved?

Still a work in progress. I really need a book cover (it will be the first thing you see when you visit the new site) but Ken the Publisher says it might be a month or two before we narrow it down to a few choices, and since I’m missing my blogging I decided to keep the old site going awhile longer. Friends, family, and people I hardy know, continually ask what’s happening with my book. Blogging is the easiest way to answer. And I love easy.

Jayde Gilmore, an editor with Divertir Publishing, emailed to let me know I can expect her first onslaught of this-part-is-lousy-what-were-you-thinking-change-this-immediately suggestions around the 17th of this month. I will immediately rewrite and rework using her suggestions, send them back and await the next batch of this-part-is-etc. Meanwhile, between the editing, I will harass Ken the Publisher about my book cover.

K the P and I have discussed book covers to some extent and we agree it might be fun to get second opinions on the final decision. In the next couple of months I’ll be posting our final picks and then asking you, faithful followers, friends and those whom are just plain nosey, to decide which you like better. And that will be the cover of A Bother of Bodies.

K the P also mentioned I’ll have free books to give away. I have a couple of ideas of how I’m going to do that, after reading copious book on marketing, but more on that later. Right now, I’m supposed to give a due date.


There. That’s done.

I’ve missed blogging, especially when I’ve had something brilliant to share, such as Brad Parks (remember him? From this post http://wp.me/p2DycD-bz?) agreeing to give me a blurb for the back of my book cover. And Mary Rosenblum http://www.newwritersinterface.com/, as well as Barb Taub http://barbtaub.com/. Endorsements from other authors make a big difference in promoting a book (according to aforementioned marketing gurus), so I’m grateful these accomplished writers took the time from their hectic schedules to help me out.

Brad’s fifth book, The Player, The Player

http://www.bradparksbooks.com/books.php is due out in March (I’ve already pre-ordered);

Barb’s second book in her trilogy, Don’t Touch,

http://barbtaub.com/2013/12/06/release-day-is-here-dont-touch-is-now-available/ is available at this link (already downloaded);

and Mary is always busy helping new authors by publishing how-to books easy enough so even I could understand what to do next towards being published (I have all of Mary’s books).                                                      


My acknowledgements are going to take up a lot of my book.

Needless to say, it’s an exciting time for me. I hope I don’t bore any of you as I ramble along. I have no idea where this road is going, but I’m going to do my best to enjoy each step and I sincerely hope you will ramble along with me. Your support and excitement brings it all home to me, eases my stress, and simply makes me smile.





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NOTICE: To my legion of followers;

I need to take a month’s leave of absence from my website. I know. You’re all devastated…


…but I have a few of what I think are very good reasons for coming to this decision.

First, my website needs an overhaul. An update. A more hip (does anyone still use the word ‘hip’? Besides myself? Probably not), and at the same time, more polished appearance. Not sure how I’m going to achieve that look. I’ll probably need professional help. HA! Not the first time I’ve heard that.

I’m kidding. Thought I better explain, just in case Ken the Publisher reads this post. Wouldn’t want him to worry about my sanity. Not yet.

Second, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month, an event which takes place every November. For thirty days I, and 341,375 others (2012 stats), will commit to writing 50,000 words, averaging out to 1667 words per day. It’s a time-consuming, exhausting, and exhilarating test of endurance. I managed to finish NaNoWriMo in 2009 and haven’t tried since. Took me four years to recuperate. This time, though, I’ve outlined my second book, complete with daily prompts. I’m ready. But I will be totally incapable of blogging. Or talking. Or cooking. HA, again!  I can’t cook in any month.

And finally, Ken the Publisher has assured me my contract is in the mail, so I’ll need time to drool seriously consider what this foreign piece of paper has to say. And play more with my potential book covers. K the P sent me this picture;







and here’s the link if the book looks interesting to you;  http://www.divertirpublishing.com/hurricane.html

I really like this cover. The picture wraps around the whole book. The face of the girl cannot be seen. Mysterious. Monochrome whispers spooky. I’d like a cover like this one. I’d read this book just for the cover. And the fact that the novel has paranormal tendencies. Hard to resist. So I won’t. Now I’m going to be even busier because I keep buying books to read.

As usual, I’m way off the original train of thought. This is my last post until December so I suggest you use the free time you will now have, to do something useful. Create something. Learn something. Teach someone something. Or just breathe deep and relax.

But don’t watch Maury Povich. Or Honey Boo Boo. Please.

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I sold my book.

Mary Rosenblum, my editor/mentor/life-line, congratulated me in her newsletter, which you can sign up for free of charge right here; http://www.newwritersinterface.com/

News and Applause!

I have great news this week and we need a round of applause here.  Amanda Capper just sold her mystery A Bother of Bodies to Divertir Press!  Way to go, Amanda!  And I am so not surprised!  There’s a dead body in Mabel’s barn. It’s not her first dead body, but it is her first barn and she was hoping to keep it a dead-free zone. Their teenage neighbour, Berkley Gullevin, swears he didn’t kill Penfold but confesses to putting him in the barn because his family has problems with the law. What Berk doesn’t know, is that Mabel’s family does, too.  Mabel is a tough gal with very well hidden soft heart, a serious past, and a lot of loyalty to her younger brother.  And some mother issues…for a good reason…  I had a ball working with Amanda on this book and I had no doubt that she’d find a publisher for it.  Readers will love Mabel and I hope a series has just been born!

I should be more excited but it doesn’t seem real. My buddy Val asked me what picture I was going to put on the back cover. Huh? Will they let me do that? I’m pretty small potatoes. And until the contract is signed, when that book is actually in my hands, when I’ve sold the first copy and received my first royalty cheque…then, maybe, it will sink in and I’ll believe that I am a published author. Holy Hannah.

Until then, I must stay calm.

Because it won’t be out any time soon. When I spoke to Ken Tupper, the very patient publisher at Divertir Publishing, http://www.divertirpublishing.com/, he was clear about what I should expect. A contract needs to be negotiated. If all goes well, then an editor will dissect the novel, line by line, checking for grammar and spelling errors. Content will be discussed to ensure the plot and story lines make sense. Book covers.

And then, to top it all off, after over an hour of phone conversation, Ken, the publisher, said this; “Let me give you my home phone number. Have you got a pen handy?”

Have I got a pen handy. I would have pierced a vein with my fountain pen and drawn a pint of blood in order to get that phone number down. Having the home phone number of a real live publisher excites me more than the prospect of my name on the cover of my very own novel. Because that home phone number is real.

I’m trying not to check my e-mail every twenty minutes to see if the contract has arrived. Trying to keep in mind that a signed contract isn’t a sure thing, either. If there are artistic differences, if the editor decides I should end the book with a plant that eats the customers of the flower shop where it lives…and I disagree…then we’ll part ways amicably.

I really doubt that will happen. But it could. I’m such a pessimistic optimist.

Meanwhile, while I dither, please go to Mary’s site and sign up for her newsletter. Danielle Lenee Davis (you guys know Danielle, she comments on this site regularly), has an interesting and very educational interview with Mary about designing book covers. Danielle designed her own and there are some links that anyone thinking about a cover for their own book, or getting into cover designing, will find very helpful. Here’s a blurb from the interview:

Did you have any graphics skills already?  Or did you start cold and learn as you went?

I had a little. Very little, really. I used Adobe Photoshop. I hadn’t used Photoshop in over 10 years! Years ago, for about 18 months, I used Photoshop to create logos for people. I was just playing around and they paid me to do it.

I did some of the tutorials in the Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Bookover this past summer, but I became impatient and started playing around (again) with it on my own. I’ll continue to do the tutorials so that I can use it for the next books. I have something in mind for my next Sydney Valentine cover, but I don’t know how to do what I want to do yet. Therefore, I’ll be getting back to the tutorials or I’ll Google it. There may be a YouTube video.  YouTube is a good resource, but sometimes they move too quickly in their demos. I’ve looked at two or three.

When you have time, check out Danielle’s webpage, http://danielleleneedavis.com/2013/06/12/my-other-shadow/ and read the excerpt from her novel, The Protector. I love it (and her cover), it’s very good, and I’m so looking forward to reading it.

Now I’m going to go and write my dedication. That’s easy. Oh, and acknowledgements. So many people to thank…


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Pigs can be interesting.

I’m rooting for the pig. Why shouldn’t pigs fly? Sure they don’t have wings, but neither do we. Put’em in a crate, stick’em in cargo, and start the engines.

Now, I realize a pig couldn’t pilot a plane…unless…

What if this particular pig is a descendant of Snowball, or Napoleon, the pigs from Animal Farm? And these descendants have evolved even further than their ancestors? And maybe they’ve joined forces with Cornelius and Zira and created a new world where pigs are the brains and apes are the muscle and human skin is used to make footballs.

See what I’m doing here? I’m promoting how much fun books can be. And how there are many things beyond man’s comprehension.

So maybe pigs can fly. They simply don’t do it when we’re around. Why else would Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (you know him better as Lewis Caroll, the guy who wrote Alice in Wonderland), put flying pigs in a poem?

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
      And whether pigs have wings.’                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Now I’m going to quote the words of the late great Shel Silverstein because he also mentions pigs…kind of…in his song, Roland the Roadie;                                                                  

And some folks love ham hocks                                                                                                          And some folks love pork chops                                                                                                        And some folks love vegetable soup                                                                                                 But Roland the roadie loved Gertrude the groupie                                                                          But Gertrude the groupie loves groups.

Which really has nothing to do with anything but I love Shel Silverstein so I’m going to somehow segue into one of his children’s poem, and then end with a nugget of advice. The excitement never stops on this blog.

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,                                                                                                          Listen to the DON’TS                                                                                                                          Listen to the SHOULDN’TS, the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS                                                   Listen to the NEVER HAVES, then listen close to me–                                                                 Anything can happen, child, ANYTHING can be.

If your child does not have the book “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Mr. Silverstein then you are not showing the proper concern for the child’s literary education. And if you don’t have children, buy it anyway. It’s a must for every library.

See what I did here? Roped you in by putting pigs in the title, and then threw books and poets at you.

Subliminally persuading people to read, one blog at a time.

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Sorry Mr. Cockburn

Bruce Cockburn is a very talented musician and I’m sure an inspiration to many, but his songs leave me yearning for Harry Chapin, or even Bob Dylan. Except Bob Dylan is a lousy entertainer. Great songwriter, lousy entertainer.

So there I was, at Bruce’s concert, trying not to fall asleep on Frank’s shoulder because, well, it would be rude to Bruce AND a waste of the $50.00 ticket. To occupy myself I started plotting a story. Before long I had a first page, a concept, and a new word; Tormentation. The torment of temptation. All I needed was a piece of paper and a pen because my memory is lousy and my mind is a vacuüm. I would not remember any of my latest plot by the time I got home.

It was dark in the concert hall so I had to rummage around in my purse and, fortunately for me (and maybe to make up for my vacant mind), I am blessed with an exquisite sense of touch. Pen and paper are found forthwith so I’m all prepared to write except, as I mentioned…it’s dark. My purse is huge, there is room for a flashlight, but I don’t happen to carry one. Which is just as well. If Bruce thought my falling asleep while he sang his heart out was rude, what would he think of a flashlight stuck in my mouth while I wrote my tome?

Then, a brilliant idea. While Bruce is playing wind chimes with a foot pedal, I remember my phone has a notepad. It lights up. But, because I was raised to be fairly polite, I thought it necessary to stick my head into aforementioned large purse so the light from the screen did not bother the people around me genuflecting toward the stage. Hence, this is what I saw when I checked my phone the next day;


If anybody has any idea what this says, please let me know. I think it has something to do with a walrus.


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Opinions needed.

I need a cover for my book. I also think I need a new title, but one thing at a time. When faced with more than one decision I tend to turtle, so let’s stick with the book cover.

A little information is needed, to give you some direction.

My novel is a murder/mystery and opens with finding the first body in Mabel’s barn. Actually all the bodies are found in this barn so I like the idea of the barn being on the cover. How’s this one?


You have to imagine my name on there somewhere. And a title. I think A Bother of Bodies is too long.  My cousin, Stephen, thinks the title is not sinister enough for a murder/mystery. I hate it when he’s right.



This one even has a red tractor, which is how Mabel and Dean move the second body out of their barn. I’d like to add a shadowy figure in the darkness of the barn but have no idea how to do that.



Like the black and white feel, but there are no trees. Trees play an important part in this book.





Here’s some trees, and the sky makes the cover look foreboding even though it’s in colour. Plus, there is lots of room for titles and names.



What do you think? Don’t like any of them?

I know some of you don’t like to comment on this site but feel free to e-mail me, with any suggestions or advice on book covers. I need all the help I can get.

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I shall become pithy.

Only a short time after bragging about how I managed to post every week for a year on my blog, I’ve gone weeks without writing a word. Let this be a lesson to all. Do not brag. It will rebound, like a hard rubber ball, or a hockey puck, and hit you square in the mouth, probably requiring dental surgery.

Besides — it’s simply not attractive.

I have all kinds of excuses for not posting lately. Started my new job (which, so far, I really like); weather has been excellent so golfing as much as possible; doing a good fall clean before we’re cabin-bound for the winter; and so forth.

Procrastination is an art form that I have perfected.

So, a new strategy is needed. My new plan consists of posting every day. What!? I hear you exclaim. If I’m having a problem posting every week, how could I possibly post every day?

I shall become pithy. As Oxford Dictionary explains, I shall be brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression; full of vigor, substance, or meaning; terse; forcible.

Well, I’ll try to be all that but don’t hold it over my head. For now I’m just going to go with brief.

By keeping my posts very short but, hopefully, thought-provoking and humourous, I’ll attempt to keep this social platform of mine on track until I have a publishing contract and can then focus on using this blog to promote my books.

So here is my pithy presentation for today:


I think this is funny. But, it also reminds me of the original message, an important one, in my books. Think very long, and very hard, before you open your mouth and knock someone else’s actions. Even if you believe it is for their best interest, think about it. Write it down. Imagine saying it and how it will sound. I’m not saying don’t do it. Just be nice. Be kind.

Well…doesn’t that sound preachy. I think this idea needs more work.

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