Monday, January 26, 2015

The Hat Lady Strikes Again

Today we are delighted to welcome a new author called Eva Gates. New but old….No we don’t mean old. We’d better be careful here. Many of you know her as Vicki Delany, and her remarkable career as an author has us in awe.  Police procedural, Gothic suspense, Rapid Reads. Pam’s personal favourite is The Klondike Series. Liz’s preference runs to the stand-alone successes – especially Burden of Memory.  Different hats every time. We have seen Vicki in fascinators and gorgeous hats from the late 1800’s that the women wore in her Klondike books. We’re wondering if Vicki, or rather Eva, has picked out a hat for her Lighthouse Library series.

Welcome back, Vicki, to Jamie Tremain’s blog. When we last spoke you were about to launch another Constable Molly Smith book and since then you’ve published a couple of Rapid Read books and it goes on. Tell us about Eva Gates and why you made the name change and for your readers, a different kind of book than what we are used to.

The Lighthouse Library series, of which By Book or By Crook is the first, is a work-for-hire. Which means that the concept, the rough character outline and beginnings of the first plot were given to me by the publishers, via my agent.  From that point on, writing the series is like any other, and my contract is exactly the same in terms of royalties and advances as any other, except that I don’t own the characters.  So, because I don’t own the characters the publisher can, theoretically, hire someone else to continue the series after my contract ends. Thus the pen name, so that other theoretical person can take over.
It is, as you mention, a very different type of book than the others I write. The Klondike books have a touch of the cozy to them and I wrote those books to be light and funny and not too serious, but they do have a gritty, not-entirely-ethical protagonist. So this true cozy series isn’t that much of a stretch for me.  As to why? Because a major publisher asked me to. I have to say I am having a lot of fun with it.

You picked a beautiful setting for this new series. The Outer Banks in North Carolina.
Did you enjoy your time there researching or do you have another special connection to the area?

The Outer Banks is the setting I was given.  I’d never even been there.  But, because I believe in “Write what you want to know” not “write what you know” I said, “sure!” and set about learning about it.  I have been down twice now and really enjoyed getting to know it. The Bodie Island Lighthouse is a real place, except that it is not a library and it’s not big enough to house one, but it is an important part of the book, an example of setting-as-character.  I’ve lived in lots of place in my life, but never on the ocean, but I’ve now fallen in love with lighthouses. They are very special things.

Your publisher for this series is Penguin Obsidian. Are you very disciplined or do you have an assistant to keep you organized to keep track of the different series and publishers?

An assistant! Ha! I am organized. I have to be organized and disciplined because (here comes my dirty secret) I don’t actually like writing all that much, at least not on first draft when things are not going well. So if I wasn’t disciplined, nothing would get done.

Speaking of being organized, how do you manage to fit in your duties as President of the CWC? Has this role provided you with any insights to changes in the publishing industry?

I am lucky that I inherited the Presidency from the very capable hands of Robin Harlick so there haven’t been all that many problems arising. I am also lucky to have highly efficient staffers in Melodie Campbell and Alison Bruce, to make the day-to-day run smoothly.  About the only insight I’ve gotten to the publishing world is the absolute disgrace in the way that Canadian crime novels are ignored by not only the literary establishment but also the Canadian media. Hard to imagine that a major newspaper can feature articles or reviews of crime novels and scarcely mention a Canadian book or author, but there you are. Happens all the time. So it’s not a surprise that publishers aren’t interested in Canadian settings, if even Canadian media aren’t.  In my time as president I’m going to try to bring attention to the way we’re received, as much as I can.

Creating characters for a new book is my favourite part of starting the writing process. The following review talks of a colourful cast of characters in By Book or by Crook. Is there a fictional character you wish you’d created?

A starred review in Library Journal for By Book or by Crook by Eva Gates! "This charming, entertaining, and smart series launch by Gates, who also writes under the Vicki Delany pen name, features an unusual (and real) setting and colorful cast of characters that set it apart from other bookish cozies"

Good question. Georgie in the Royal Spyness series from Rhys Bowen is a fabulous and highly original character.  I would like to have come up with that idea!

This book has a library setting. And a lighthouse. How important are libraries to an author?

We love libraries.  And not only because libraries buy books and we get PLR payments if our books are in those libraries. Libraries are important to everyone (or they should be) because they are the centre of the community. I’ve tried to show that in the Lighthouse Library books. In my real life I spoke to the town council against an attempt to close several of our rural county libraries. I am now jokingly called the Margaret Atwood of Prince Edward County, in reference to the time Margaret Atwood spoke up against the infamous Ford brothers declaration that Toronto didn’t need libraries.

Your books are set all over Canada. The Yukon, Northern Ontario and British Columbia. You are now venturing into the States. What did you need to watch out for? Apart from the spelling of different words, is your audience very different?

The audience is different, but not because these books are set in the US verses Canada, but because they are true cozies. There will be no tragedy or human angst in these books. They are meant to be light and fun. No deep messages or ruminations on the meaning of life. Just entertainment.

Having one series set in the late 1890’s caused us to wonder -  if you could have been born in another place and time when and where would that have been and why?

As I am fond of central heating, antibiotics, pain killers, human rights, and 911 if needed, I wouldn’t want to live at any other time. And, really, although sometimes it might be nice to live in Tahiti, I don’t think you can beat Canada in the 21st century.
                                     By Book or by Crook can be pre-ordered on Amazon.
This series is to be released for sale and launches Feb 3rd/2015. Your many fans are eagerly awaiting this series. What are your plans for promotion and where can we get our hands on it? Jamie Tremain likes a party! Are you going on tour?

You can get your hands on the book just about anywhere books are sold, online or in bookstores.  As much as I enjoy partying with Jamie Tremain I’m not doing much in the GTA this time around.  I’ll be launching the book at the Picton Public Library on Feb 10th, and all are invited although that might be too far away for people in the GTA.  I have a big US book tour to Arizona, North Carolina and Florida in February. Then to Oregon, Pennsylvania and Michigan in March. As I am sure Jamie Tremain has readers far and wide, all the details of times and places and who I’ll be appearing with are at

 What’s next for Eva and Vicki?

The second Lighthouse Library book is titled Booked for Trouble and will be out in September.  Under my own name, Vicki Delany, I am writing the Christmas Town series for Berkley Prime Crime. The first in that series, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen, will be out in November, just in time for Christmas. AND, I have Rapid Reads book scheduled for the fall: Haitian Graves.

Thanks Eva for sharing your time with us. Much success on the launch of your new series.

Thank you for inviting me.

Eva Gates is the author of the Lighthouse Library cozy series from Penguin Obsidian, set in a historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, featuring Boston-transplant librarian, and highly reluctant sleuth, Lucy Richardson. The first in the series, By Book or By Crook, will be released in February 2015. Eva is the pen name of best-selling author Vicki Delany, one of Canada’s most prolific and varied crime writers.

Facebook: evagatesautor and Vicki.delany
Twitter: @evagatesauthor @vickidelany

Check back in February for hi-jinks  with  Guelph author Alison Bruce. Romance and cowboys are usually on her mind but now she has turned her sights to 'men in uniform'. Yes, I thought that might get your attention.

Talk soon,


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Killer Authors

Introducing the Killer Authors Writing Group

Jamie Tremain (Pam and I) spent a most enjoyable day yesterday with author Gloria Ferris (Cheat the Hangman, Corpse Flower), Donna Warner, and Donna Houghton as we had our first meeting. An informal writing group, we’ll get together about every three months to share writing tips, commiserate on the snail’s pace writing and publishing often takes, and regale each other with humorous – often gut-splitting – tales.  Not always writing related!

Liz, Pam, Donna Warner, Gloria Ferris and in front Donna Houghton

Donna Warner and Gloria have collaborated and written “Targeted” – the start of  a new mystery series set to debut later this year, and the sequel Gloria’s Corpse Flower is Shroud of Roses – also available July 2015.

So these busy and successful writers have lots to share about their experiences as published authors and Jamie Tremain is eager to learn.  Donna Houghton writes YA Fantasy and is on the same path as Jamie Tremain – writing, but not yet published.  Stay tuned for updates and book launches!

Yesterday was a welcome bright spot in an otherwise dreary January.  Gloria graciously hosted and Donna W provided a scrumptious lunch, with Pam’s sinful offering of a decadent trifle as desert.

In between eating and laughter, we discussed ‘weasel words’ – those overused words writers often become blind to within their manuscripts.  Donna W also shared some tips on word repetition and provided a helpful link for Descriptive Adjectives .

Another useful tip we’ve learned is how to have Adobe read back a manuscript – invaluable to have another ‘voice’ do the reading and help catch repeated words or structure that doesn’t make sense.

But above all, for me, the day provided a writing boost.  Pam and I are in the beginning phases of our fourth story, a sequel to Body Perfect – now renamed The Silk Shroud – and are excited to put on the writing hat again. Creating characters, outlining the plot and seeing the story take shape are what we love.

Here’s to much success for all writers in 2015.

And don't forget the upcoming interview with Eva Gates - aka Vicki Delany later this month.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Books, books,books

The bookcase is overflowing and my bedside table is ready to topple over. As my friend Melodie Campbell says, "Books are great for decorating". Hmm, I think I am beyond that. I need to purge but I can't let go of books.

Today as I gave my office it's yearly cleaning and tidy up ( I'm not quite finished yet) because I sat down and started making a list of books I had bought and read last year.

These are in no particular order and some I bought a while ago but didn't get around to reading. They are books I thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend . They all get five stars. *****

  • None so Blind--------------------Barbara Fradkin-----------------An Inspector Green Mystery.
  • Miss Montreal-------------------Howard Shrier------------------ -PI Jonah Geller
  • Beach Strip-----------------------John Lawrence Reynolds / Winner of CBC Bookie Award
  • Deadly Slipper-------------------Michelle Wan------------- - Novel of Death in the Dordogne
  • White Fire-------------------------Preston & Child------------      A.X.L Pendergast thriller
  • The Corpse with the Emerald Thumb--Cathy Ace--------------------A Cait Morgan Mystery
  • Under Cold Stone---------------Vicki Delaney-------------------  -Constable Molly Smith novel
  • The Artful Goddaughter--------------Melodie Campbell-----------A Gino Gallo Mystery
  • The Painted Girls----------------Cathy Marie Buchanan ----------Historical/Degas
  • The Long Way Home------------Louise Penny-------------A Chief Inspector Gamache novel
  • A Brush with Death--------------Elizabeth Duncan--------A Penny Brannigan Mystery
  • Corpse Flower---------------------Gloria Ferris-------------A Cornwall and Redfern Mystery

Most of these books are written by members of Crime Writers of Canada. They rock. I read many more but have not finished purging. Probably won't get rid of any. I think I lent a few to Liz but have forgotten what they are. Next month I'll catch up.

I've been absent on the blog for a while but the manuscript Liz and I have just finished took presedence. This months interview with an author will be posted on Jan 26th so check back for a tete-tete with Eva Gates. It's someone you all know. Curious??? Well we'll see you on the 26th.

Now back to the writing of Jamie Tremain's fourth book.

Keep warm and safe wherever you are.



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