Monday, June 20, 2016


When you've done (or read) a few of author interviews you see many of the same questions over and over again. Inquiring minds want to know:
  1. "Where do you get your ideas?" 
  2. "Where do you write?" 
  3. "What advice do you have for new authors?"
  4. "What are you working on now?
  5. Coffee or Tea?
 Except that the last question should be first and be followed by someone bringing me a cup, I don't mind answering these questions. But I can also understand how frequently interviewed authors might want to get a dig in regarding frequently asked questions.
... 'What sort of questions, then?'
'Oh, you know-What is your favourite colour? What do you like to eat? Are you an item with anybody? What advice do you have for young people today? Do you wax? Where do you get your hair done? What is your favourite spoon?'

From Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett.
To date, I've never been asked if I wax, but I have been regularly asked "What is your favourite colour?" and "What do you like to eat?" (I can't definitively answer either of those questions, by the way. There are too many variables.)

Then there's the Not So Frequently Asked Questions.

FAQ: "When did you start writing?"
NSFAQ: "Do you work full-time as a writer?"

The first question is easy. I can go back to when I was writing stories for the amusement of my friends and family... about age 12.

The second question is tricky and awkward. I could say yes, but it would be misleading. My full-time work has been writing related since 1992, because that's when I started writing and editing for business. I didn't become a published author until 2009. Three anthologies, two novellas and three novels later, I still need my day job.

FAQ: "Are you a plotter or a pantster?"
NSFAQ: "What is your writing process?"

The first question I could just answer "yes" and be done. I am both. The second question I have to explain at what stage I plot and at what point I go by the seat of my pants. And yes, I answer the first question as if the second question was asked. I suspect I'm incapable of giving one word answers unless it's a joke.

Here's a real NSFAQ: "Did you study writing or were you, like so many authors, the kind of person who has been “writing as long as (you) can remember”?"

This is a loaded question... which makes sense since a Texan asked it. 

Did I study writing? Yes, but not by taking college courses. I racked  up a mighty large student debt learning to research and write academic papers. I didn't have money for practical writing courses. I barely had money for the rent and groceries. Fortunately, you don't have to pay big bucks for a Master Class. You can do it by reading, reading and more reading. I learned from authors I admired through their novels, their author's notes and sometimes their how-to books. If nothing else, I've learned their answers to FAQ...
 "I start with a character and a situation, but I don't know what's going to happen until I write it. Sometimes things happen that surprise me." Louis L'Amour
 ...and I realize, I'm not alone.
 "I struggled to learn basic skills, get a grip on markets, find my own unique voice, create story lines and come up to speed with the industry. I struggled for ten years before having any success." Janet Evanovich
Check out the stop on my current blog tour for the answers to these and other questions.

May 9: Long and Short Reviews
May 16: BooksChatter
May 23: Christine Young
May 30: jbiggarblog
June 6: The Reading Addict
June 13: Stormy Nights Reviewing and Bloggin' - review only
June 13: Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
June 20: The Recipe Fairy - review only
June 20: Welcome to My World of Dreams
June 27: Queen of All She Reads - review only
June 27: It's Raining Books

And for the first set of questions:
  1. "Where do you get your ideas?" - Everywhere. It's all grist for the mill.
  2. "Where do you write?" - Anywhere I can plug in my laptop.
  3. "What advice do you have for new authors?" - Keep writing... and reading... and reading aloud what you write.
  4. "What are you working on now? - If I told you, I'd have to kill you.
  5. Coffee or Tea?- Yes thank you. No cream or sugar. If you don't have cream, no milk.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Arthur Results are in and...

I am still a Finalist.

There's no shame in being a Finalist. I am in good company... such good company that I'm going to include them as well as the Winners.

Best Novel
  • Peggy Blair, Hungry Ghosts, Simon & Schuster
  • Andrew Hunt, A Killing in Zion, Minotaur Books
  • Peter Kirby, Open Season, Linda Leith Publishing
  • Inger Ash Wolfe, The Night Bell, McClelland & Stewart
Best First Novel
  • J. Mark Collins, Hard Drive, iUniverse
  • David Hood, What Kills Good Men, Vagrant Press
  • Ausma Zehanat Khan, The Unquiet Dead, Minotaur Books
  • Alexis Koetting, Encore, Five Star
  • Brian R. Lindsay, Old Bones, Volumes Publishing
Best Novella
  • Jeremy Bates, Black Canyon, Dark Hearts, Ghillinnein Books
  • Alison Bruce, Deadly Season, Imajin Books
  • M.H. Callway, Glow Glass, Carrick Publishing
  • Barbara Fradkin, The Night Thief, Orca Book Publishers
  • Brian Harvey, Beethoven’s Tenth, Orca Book Publishers
Best Short Story
  • Karen Abrahamson, With One Shoe, Playground of Lost Toys, Exile Editions
  • Hilary Davidson, The Seige, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
  • Sharon Hunt, The Water Was Rising, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
  • Scott Mackay, The Avocado Kid, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine
  • S. G. Wong, Movable Type, AB Negative Anthology, Coffin Hop Press
Meilleur roman policier en langue française
  • Luc Chartrand, L'Affaire Myosotis, Québec Amérique
  • Jean-Louis Fleury, L'affaire Céline, Éditions Alire
  • André Jacques, La bataille de Pavie, Druide
  • Jean Lemieux, Le mauvais côté des choses, Québec Amérique
  • Guillaume Morrissette, L'affaire Mélodie Cormier, Guy Saint-Jean éditeur
Best Juvenile/YA Book
  • Robert Hough, Diego’s Crossing, Annick Press
  • Jeff Ross, Set You Free, Orca
  • Kevin Sands, The Blackthorn Key, Aladdin
  • Allan Stratton, The Dogs, Scholastic
  • Stephanie Tromly, Trouble is a Friend of Mine, Kathy Dawson Books
Best Nonfiction Book
  • Gary Garrison, Human on the Inside: Unlocking the Truth about Canada’s Prisons,
    University of Regina Press
  • Dean Jobb, Empire of Deception, HarperCollins Publishers
  • Debra Komar, The Bastard of Fort Stikine: The Hudson’s Bay Company and the Murder of John McLoughlin Jr., Goose Lane Editions
  • Jerry Langton, Cold War, Harper Collins Publishers
  • Colleen Lewis and Jennifer Hicks, Mr. Big: The Investigation into the Deaths of Karen and Krista Hart, Flanker Press
The Dundurn Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel
  • Jayne Barnard, When the Flood Falls
  • Alice Bienia, Knight Blind
  • Pam Isfeld, Brave Girls
  • J.T. Siemens, Better the Devil You Know
  • J.G. Toews, Give Out Creek
Congratulations to the Winners
and a quiet toast to my fellow finalists.

Bloody Caesar of course.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Schrödinger's Cat and Deadly Season

Mugs from Think Geek

I tried to explain Erwin Schrödinger's thought experiment involving a cat and poison sealed in a box to my kids. It didn't go over very well.

"Simple. If there's yowling and the box is shaking, the cat is alive," said my son Sam.

"If it's a cardboard box, but this is a hypothetical box," said I.

"Then the cat's alive. You can't kill a real cat with a hypothetical box."

"It just means that until you know what something is, it could be anything."

"Then why not just say that?"

"Because "Schrödinger's Cat" sounds cooler." Which was a lame argument on my part, but an honest one.

Right now I have a "Schrödinger's Cat" type situation. Up until Thursday, May 26, at approximately 8:30pm, Deadly Season might be a winner of an Arthur. And it might not. Every finalist is in the same position. However, unlike the poor cat, death is not the other option. Whatever happens, we are finalists and that's pretty damned good on its own.

PS: This is my 300th post. Woo-hoo!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Arthur Ellis Award Finalist

And the finalists for Best Crime Novella are...

Jeremy Bates, Black Canyon, Dark Hearts
M.H. Callway, Glow Glass, Carrick Publishing
Barbara Fradkin, The Night Thief, Orca Book Publishers
Brian Harvey, Beethoven’s Tenth, Orca Book Publishers

and me...
Alison Bruce, Deadly Season, Imajin Books

Tough competition, but great company to find myself in.

For more of the 2016 Shortlists, check out the Shortlist Page.  (It's been an exciting evening and now I need to sleep.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

What have I forgotten?

On the evening of April 21, the Arthur Ellis Shortlists will be announced. As I write this, it's two sleeps and many checklists away.

There's the media checklist, the presenter checklist, and the I am an author doing a reading checklist. Then there's the everyday work checklists because not everything is about the Arthurs.

Add getting a hair cut to one of the lists. And I mustn't forget I have an appointment with the kiniseologist... kineiseo... the guy who makes sure I exercise properly.

Oh, and there was something else. I wrote it down somewhere. What was it?

Of course...

Imajin Books is having a big sale. 
  • All single titles will be on for $0.99
  • Trilogy bundles will be $1.99 (and a couple of longer books)
  • Other bundles & anthologies will be $2.99

Monday, April 4, 2016

Time for Coffee

One day my mother was grumbling about the cobbler's children. I was a child myself at the time and wondered who the Cobbler's were and what their children had been doing at my house without my knowledge.

My mother further mystified me by pointing to the cracked window pane in the dining room.

"The cobbler made shoes for everyone but his own children went barefoot."

Cobbler equaled shoemaker. One mystery solved. Then the other proverbial shoe dropped. My father was in the glass business, but our window was broken and had been as long as I could remember. (I think it finally got taken care of when my parents sold the house... or maybe not.)

When it comes to writing my blog, I'm the cobbler and it's my barefoot child.

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. It's been one month since I last posted on my blog.

As you can see, I'm relying on coffee to help write this post. It's midnight and I need something to keep me going. Decaff gives me a headache, but coffee art can keep me going for a while. Okay, coffee art on the screen and a very dark roast beside me... but how else can I espresso myself?

I've been on a run of coffee art. You might have noticed if you follow me on Facebook. I've been combining my characters with their favorite brew and a quote about how great they are in hopes that you'll go read about them (books available online at Amazon and Indigo, and via your public library if you request them.)

Now I the coffee is done and so am I.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


... That's what I need: FOCUS

Ever seen the movie UP? I'm the talking dog who is very clever but easily distracted... at least by squirrels. It doesn't help that I have multiple jobs:
publications manager
awards administrator
freelance writer/editor/designer
web consultant
crossing guard 
and last but by no means least

I'm constantly having to change focus and that doesn't include research.

I'm not complaining, no matter what it sounds like. I know from experience that I'm not a one career gal. I need to be able to move from one job to another to keep myself from getting stale, frustrated and ultimately BORED TO DISTRACTION. However, I do recognize the need to focus on the job at hand. It's just so difficult some days.

Deadlines help.

Keeping track of when things have to be done and allocating time for different tasks is the only thing that makes being a freelancer and contract employee possible. As for writing, there's the best lain nothing like a looming deadline to motivate one.

Unfortunately, best laid plans of schedules and deadlines are upset by family crises. That's when you have to prioritize. Tasks that keep a roof over your head and feed your children tend to come first.

Stress does not help.

There have been many times in my life when writing fiction has kept me from going off my rocker in the real world. It has been a stress reliever. What I write, I have control over. The rest of life? Not so much.

However, when the stress comes from the pressure to produce my next book. Writing doesn't help. At least, the writing what I'm supposed to doesn't help. That's when I turn to graphic illustration. Art therapy. Oh, and I catch up on my blog writing. 

Activities that reduce stress make it easier to deal with what stresses you. I also find that any creative activity fuels my writing. It's like warming up for singing by doing stretches. The activities may not look related, but they compliment each other.

Traveling Music
When I'm driving, I find music a good way to stay focused on the road without falling asleep. Audio books are even better, but not when you have to pay attention to where you are going. When it comes time to find my exit off the highway, the audio book goes off or who knows where I will end up.
 There are some tasks that work well with audio books too. Writing isn't one of them, of course. I don't even like listening to vocal music when I write. The wrong style of music can be distracting too. That's why I have a play list for every book I've written or am working on. (The Deadly Season playlist, for instance, has a combination of jazz and Christmas music. A Bodyguard to Remember, on the other hand, includes military band selections as well as folk, rock and light jazz.)

But, in the end, I just have to do it. In fact, I should get back to it right now.