Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer's here!!

The month of June has been almost a perfect spring month in my books. Sunshine, warmer temperatures and of course some rain. Still cool for sleeping at night, but most days perfect for grabbing lunch at an outdoor patio or backyard deck. But it seems along with summer's official arrival has come the humidity! Couldn't be postponed forever. So to that end I made sure I bought a floor-stand oscillating fan yesterday on the way home from work. No air conditoning in my digs, but I do have ceiling fans and now should be able to keep the air moving around.

We are carefully re-working the opening pages of Madelaine, thanks to the critique we received at Bloody Words, and it does seem to now flow so much better. But at this time of year, so many business and personal events seem to cut into our writing time its difficult to get the task completed!

For me, some recently discovered, and diagnosed, aches and pains are a mild interference to the writing at times as well. Will just have to work around them!

And now another morning's commute beckons; while it is lovely to be able to drive in daylight each morning now that I leave later the drive has lengthened from 50 minutes one way to well over an hour. Obligatory summer road construction and blinding sunshine contribute to the delay - I thought most people would be on vacation by now!

Enjoy the day & Cheers!


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bloody Words & More In Pics

Pam and I have now been able to combine our pictures and have a sampling to share.
Ottawa is truly a beautiful city, and to be able to enjoy this trip with perfect weather made the city virtually sparkle under the brilliant sunshine and blue skies.
Our room at the Marriott was on the 16th floor and afforded a great view. (Even if we did miss the view of the Tim Horton's on the street below!)

Where Pam wants to stay next time - The Chateau Laurier

After wandering the ByWard Market for a while, we decided to stop for a cuppa. A better Earl Grey I have not enjoyed!

Parliament Hill

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Time for Bloody Words to Begin

Pam, Louise Penny, Liz

Denise Mina - International Guest from Scotland

Pam With Anthony Bidulka

Liz, in the dark, with Vicky Delaney (well it was a 'mystery' conference after all!)

Lots of great memories and a wonderful time had by all.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Never a dull moment!

Yes we certainly are home and one of us had to get back to work today.... Back to reality and cooking and cleaning instead of a 4 **** hotel where the breakfasts were do die for. It was at least 40 years or more since I was in Ottawa and I remember we stayed in a small rooming house with friends. Changed days.
We did the tourist thing and walked to the Rideau River. Took pictures of the beautiful buildings and the famous ByWard market. I never saw so much jewelery in my life. It must be an Ottawa pastime in the cold winter months. We did enter a Spark Street Mall jewellery store. Not a market type store, but one with loads of beautiful semi-precious pendants and rings and also the real thing. We were most attracted to the Amber and Jade and Black onyx. It gave us, or I should say Liz an idea for the books but I am not at liberty to say what it is as it is still in the planning stage. The manager at the store was delightful and we had a lovely conversation about jewelery and then about books. www.alyeasjewellers.com .

But of course we were there for the convention and the books and it lived up to it's reputation. As Liz mentioned the mystery and crime writers were out in force and we were like kids in a candy store soaking up as much information as we could.
Friday night was a meet and greet over a glass of wine and buying books in the bookstore so that we could get them signed if we just happened to bump into our favourites. No stalking allowed. I am quite shameless when it comes to talking to complete strangers so I scored in that direction.
I found that my new microphone was invaluable to me and just before the panel discussions started I would go to the head table and as if I could leave my personal mic there. It was a wonderful icebreaker and usually it started lots of conversations. I told you I was shameless.

Linwood Barkley whom I have mentioned in a previous blog is a neighbor of mine as he lives in the next town. Thursday night he won the "Arthur Ellis" award and I managed to waylay him to sign his latest hardcover. Lovely man and thoroughly enjoyed his panel discussions.
Liz and I are in agreement about who we enjoyed the most and she gave you links so that you can peruse them at your leisure.

Saturday from 9am-6pm, with an hour for lunch, saw us in classes one after the other. Never a dull moment. The subjects were varied and very interesting. Some were interviews with the guest speakers. The lovely Louise Penny gave a wonderful interview and she made a speech on the Saturday night at the banquet. Denise Mina from Glasgow,the International guest of honour, another excellent interview. Looking forward to her books as they are supposed to be quite dark and very different from Louise. I met and talked to quite a few authors that I have not read so you can imagine how many books I brought home. I think it was ten!!

Vicki Delany, Anthony Bidulka, Rhys Bowen, Rick Moffini, RJ Harlick, Dr Brad Kelln to name but a few and of course the irrepressible Mary Jane Maffini.

Saturday evening we had enough time to Gussi ourselves up and joined the crowd for drinks and then we went in for the speeches and a lovely dinner. Seats were not assigned so we just joined a table that had empty seats and were very lucky to be sitting with a new mystery writer called John Moss. Add Master scuba diver trainer to his accomplishments. He was with his lovely wife Bev who is also a writer. Very interesting couple and good company. The other person at our table was Mario Bolduc. Mario is a screenwriter and author and writes in French. He has about 20 years experience in the business and teaches writing workshops.
Very good dinner partners.

Sunday morning we had the buffet breakfast. Wonderful.Then we were off to a class with a thriller writer named Dr Brad Kelln. The subject was... How to write about emotionally disturbed persons. EDP's. His qualifications go on for ever and is a Canadian expert in negotiations and dealing with violence and phycopaths. Just what everyone needs on a Sunday morning.
I am glad Liz takes good notes as I can't read my own hand writing .

Then we met with Kay Stewart for our critique. Some very good points she made and we have started revising the suggestions she made for our manuscript.

I look forward to my next conference and maybe next year we will be published authors. Wouldn't that be nice. I still haven't figured out how to get the pictures on but soon.



Monday, June 8, 2009

Home Again

What a weekend! The Bloody Words Mystery Conference in Ottawa ended yesterday and it was terrific. Canada has a blossoming network of superb and masterful crime and mystery writers, worthy of international acclaim they have received! Name dropping will follow shortly. And Pam will be providing some photos.

The flight to Ottawa was less than an hour, or equal to my daily commute to work on the highway each day. We flew with West Jet and it was a good experience - nice to see a company live up to their advertising!

Ottawa weather was sensational and Pam and I took to the streets on Friday. Wandered the Sparks Street mall - with an unplanned visit to a local jewellry store which Pam can tell you about, and then over to the ByWard Market, http://www.byward-market.com/ which was established in 1826.

Stopped into a tea shoppe and enjoyed a delightful pot of Earl Grey and sinfully delicious scones sitting outside in the sunshine, watching shoppers and tourists (hard to tell the difference) pass by.

As we wound our way back to the Marriott we strolled the grounds of the Parliament Buildings, enjoying the scenery and appreciating the fact that we could even get that close to our icon of government and political history. No barricades or guards to impede your walk.

Back to the hotel to get ready for the registration and the start of workshops and panels, but lamenting the fact that we seemed doomed to the Starbucks facility within the hotel, not finding a Tim Horton's coffee shop within easy walking distance! (We are SUCH java connoisseurs!) As well, the hotel was situated in the government area of Ottawa so there is not much business activity after 5 pm...in fact the Starbucks in the hotel closed up at noon on Sunday!

The weekend found us mingling with established authors, newly published authors, and those like us who have finished their work and seek the means and venue to get it published! We received a valuable critique of Madelaine and agreed that the points and concerns raised need attention. So we will need to do some rework and polishing.

Our favourite Canadian author, Louise Penny, had an amazing interview which we sat in on. At the end of the interview Pam went up to Louise, who reached across the table to give her a hug, and then Pam mentioned that I was with her. Louise immediately rose from her seat and came off the podium to give me a hug and say it was wonderful for us to meet! She is a very classy lady...throughout the conference we often ran into her and her lovely husband Michael - in the lobby and the elevators, and she was always quick with a greeting and warm smile.

Other authors we met and listened to on panels include Anthony Bidulka , http://www.anthonybidulka.com/home.php from Saskatchewan. I definitely will be looking for his Russel Quant series! Rick Mofina, http://www.rickmofina.com/ from Ottawa, was also a treat to listen to and I have purchased one of his books, "Six" to read.

And so many of these wonderful writers are also incredibly funny....we attended a "Liar's Panel" first thing Saturday morning and I have not laughed so much in a long time. Great story tellers (of course), their task was to answer questions posed by the moderator and then the audience had to determine if they were telling the truth or not...all in aid of fundraising for literacy awareness. If their story was true, the attendee had to cough up a loonie ($1 dollar coin), but if the author had been rightfully deduced to be fibbing, their penalty was $5 or more. Great fun moderated by another wonderful and very funny Canadian author, Mary Jane Maffini http://www.maryjanemaffini.ca/

The international guest speaker was Denise Mina http://www.denisemina.com/index.htm- again I purchased one of her books. She is from Scotland and was an absolute riot to listen to...can't wait to start reading her work as well. Pam will likely tell you more about Linwood Barclay http://www.linwoodbarclay.com/ and Vicky Delaney to mention a couple.

Saturday evening was the Gala Dinner, good meal, and even better conversations.

The time went far too quickly and as we were checking out of our hotel room, I took one last look out of our 16th floor window. As my gaze wandered over the streets below, I called to Pam and asked her to look at the scene below. "Tell me what you see" I said. Puzzled Pam did so, but wondered what she was looking for. So the first clue - "Look for something red" resulted in her seeing a red car parked on the street. I asked her to look just past that red car; she still wasn't sure what she was looking for....until I pointed out the familiar red and yellow of a Tim Horton's coffee shop! All the time just up the street from the hotel! Obviously our attention to detail needs some fine tuning.

What a wonderful time we had, far too much information to even scratch the surface here, but it was well worth every penny (and lack of Tim's coffee) to be there.

I'll leave room for Pam to add more and look for more links to favourite authors to be added soon.



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