Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Launch to Remember

Photos by Marilyn Kay

Already three things had gone just right. The bookmarks that had been printed on the wrong paper were replaced in time for the book launch. The traffic was good going into to Toronto and I didn't get lost, so I was early for a change. My niece Sophie and her partner Eric arrived at the same time. They decided to go for a walk and brought me back coffee. It was a great start to a great day.

Joan O'Callaghan, Deadly Dame and Baker Extrordinaire, was setting up when I arrived. Joan baked the Cat Cookies for The B-Team, and Salted Caramel iced cupcakes for Ghost Writer. For Survival of the Fritters, Von Doughnuts produced a beautiful selection, including the donuts on the cover.

Nothing is ever perfect, of course. Janet Bolton, aka Ginger Bolton, was sick with the flu. Cathy Astolfo, who was going to stand in for Ginger/Janet had a family emergency. Fortunately, our Deadly Dame Designated Reader Nancy O'Neill became Ginger/Janet/Cathy/Nancy for the book launch.

The place was packed when Joan (also our illustrious emcee) started the presentation. In addition to my niece and nephew-in-law, I was blessed with the presense of my Uncle Denis and cousins Lesley, Hilary and Amanda. By happy coincidence they were all together for the Family Day weekend.

Another highlight was having Don Graves, past reviewer of the Hamilton Spectator and now reviewing for The Bay Observer, read his reviews of The B-Team and Ghost Writer (see below). It was a great lead in to our readings.

All in all it was a perfect day. I saw some old friends and met some new ones. We sold lots of books and had a great time.

Big thanks to Marian Misters of Sleuth of Baker Street (907 Millwood Rd, Toronto) for hosting the events and having such a great bookstore for events like this. Thanks also to Orca Book Publishers for promoting Survival of the Fritters and Ghost Writer as well as their book The B-Team. Hugs and thanks to Joan and Nancy for their help and support. It was truly a launch to remember.

By: Alison Bruce
Imajin Books.
As a reviewer, it’s important to be upfront. So, I confess to not being a big fan of romances and ghost stories. But— and this is a big but—when an author blends romance and mystery with ghosts to produce a story that kept me reading, then I call Ghost Writer a compelling winner on all fronts and I’m waiting for more from protagonist, Jen Kirby.

The characters are strong and author, Alison Bruce creates a driving story with humour, action and, not to forget the ghosts who won me over with honest  reflection and a poignancy that led me further into the plot.

The climax ties it together, a challenging task when you’re in the Canadian Arctic with a crew trying to solve a forty year old mystery involving a foreign submarine station and someone determined to keep the mastery unsolved and keep Jen Kirby, the onboard writer, alive to tell the tale. Ghost Writer is a 5 star read.

Don Graves. Canadian Mystery Reviews. 5 stars.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Blog Tour Quiz

Ghost Writer is hitting the virtual road. 

January 22: Christine Young
January 23: Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
January 23: Locks, Hooks and Books
January 24: Fabulous and Brunette
January 24: La libreria di Beppe
January 25: Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews
January 25: Hearts and Scribbles
January 26: Danita Minnis

I love these tours because I get to interact with new people, but I hope some old friends will also visit my stops. There are a few interviews along the way. Some are more about me. Some are more about my writing process. Although some of the questions are similar, I've tried to present something a little different in each interview.

This got me thinking of giving my readers a challenge. How well do you know me? What can you learn about me by reading the posts on the tour?

Put your answers in the comments.

A. When writing, I am:
  1. a plotter
  2. a pantster
  3. both

L. The first novel I completed was my first novel published?
  1. True
  2. False

I. Who first inspired me to become a storyteller?
  1. My mother
  2. My grade five teacher
  3. Louis L'Amour

S. The first novel I started was stolen by a rival at university.
  1. True
  2. False

O. Two of the authors who most inspired me are:
  1. Janet Evanovich and Charlotte MacLeod
  2. Agatha Christie and Rex Stout
  3. Georgette Heyer and Terry Pratchett

N. One of the above questions is a trick.
  1. True
  2. False

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Alphabet now Ends at Y

"If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them."
Kinsey Millhone

I was introduced to Sue Grafton and Kinsey Millhone when my mother started reading the series. At the time I was reading more science fiction than anything else, but I appreciated the series from the start. It was easy to tell what my mother did and did not have when it came to present giving. I might have a poor memory for titles, but I knew my alphabet.

The last birthday gift I gave her was N is for Noose. She was recovering from chemotherapy at the time.

I started reading the series after my mother died. Since my father wasn't a mystery reader, it was easy to convince him to let me nab the whole series. There were a few holes in the alphabet, mostly in the early books. It took me years to find A is for Alibi.

T is for Trespass put me off for a few years. At the time it was released, I was taking care of my father, the mail-order addict. He was sure that the more he ordered from Readers Digest and Publishers Clearinghouse, the more likely he'd win the big prize. He bought Australian lottery tickets from sellers in Hong Kong and once tried to send cash to a Nigerian Prince. T for Trespass was just too close to home for me.

"Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats."
Sue Grafton

I started back at the beginning of the alphabet. I still haven't found H is for Homicide, but I caught up to J is for Judgement, which was the beginning of my mother's solid run. By this time, after many rejections and long periods of just writing for myself, I was a published mystery author. Now I started to appreciate Sue Grafton's work for fellow authors and would-be writers.

I always said I'd finish the alphabet when the alphabet was finished. That suits by binge style of reading. Since the planned "Z is for Zero" was never started, the time to finish is now.

"Her daughter said Grafton would never allow a ghostwriter to write in her name and "as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.""

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Guest Post - Debra Purdy Kong

Debra Purdy is a fellow Imajin Author and member of Crime Writers of Canada.We also share similar views on covers and crafty killers.
Knitting Needles Instead of Guns? Only in Canada
As you probably know, book covers are really important to authors, publishers, and readers. This fall, I learned that writing a mystery about seniors who’ve developed a nasty rivalry over their knitted products presented a challenge for my publisher’s cover designer. After going back and forth with ideas, I’m very happy with the image, especially since a ball of wool and bloodied knitting needles is not your typical mystery novel cover!

In A Toxic Craft, no one uses a gun. After all, this is a cozy mystery set in Canada, where most citizens don’t own firearms. Security guards like my protagonist Evan Dunstan aren’t permitted to carry them. When I worked in campus security, I remember my supervisor saying that the day guards are allowed to carry guns is the day she’ll quit.

Most murders in Canada—that aren’t gang related—seem to involve knives. Although, before I became a security guard, a young woman was killed with a crossbow at the post-secondary site where I wound up working. The only violence I experienced, however, was a chair thrown at an employee by a frustrated student.

In this book, the hostility ramps up for Evan. Several attempts are made to get rid of nasty knitter Cora Riddell in a variety of ways. The inspiration for my cover comes from a threat near the beginning of the book, when a knitter named Flo threatens to stab Cora with a knitting needle. Does it actually happen? Well, that’s part of the mystery, isn’t it?

To order A Toxic Craft, go to:
Amazon: myBook.to/AToxicCraft
Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/ycsvuaj5

Debra Purdy Kong’s volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and various jobs, inspired her to write mysteries set in BC’s Lower Mainland. Her employment as a campus security patrol and communications officer provide the background for her Evan Dunstan mysteries, as well as her Casey Holland transit security novels.

Debra has published short stories in a variety of genres as well as personal essays, and articles for publications such as Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul, B.C. Parent Magazine, and The Vancouver Sun. She assists as a facilitator for the Creative Writing Program through Port Moody Recreation, and has presented workshops and talks for organizations that include Mensa and Beta Sigma Phi. She is a long-time member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Look for her blog at http://writetype.blogspot.ca More information about Debra and her books is at www.debrapurdykong.com You can also find her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DebraPurdyKong & Facebook: www.facebook.com/debra.purdykong

Be the first to know when Debra Purdy Kong’s next book is available! Follow Debra at https://www.bookbub.com/authors/debra-purdy-kong to receive new release and discount alerts.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Colour Comentary

Jacques: This is Jacques Seaudeau and Gillian Hill from CKOI Radio reporting on this year's Santa Claus Parade. Gillian, what's the weather forecast for the day.

Gillian: Sunny and cold, Jacques. Perfect parade weather. The hot chocolate vendors will be doing well today. Fortunately the street is ice free now. Unfortunately, that was not the case earlier when the Pipe and Drum band were forming up. Due to a slip on the ice, they are down one drummer.

Jacques: That's not the only weather-related incident today. New Harlem Globe Trotters were booked to do an exhibition performance at the Sports Centre. They also agreed to march in the parade.

Gillian: I take it Globe Trotter performance is cancelled.

Jacque: Yes, but the boys and girls basketball teams from Our Lady of Lourdes will be taking their place in the parade. We've been assured they will do their best to mimic the jumps and passes that make the Globe Trotters famous.

Gillian: Hold on, Jacques. I have correction to make. It turns out the hot chocolate is free. They've got eight locations all along the parade route and one at the end. They're charging for cups but if you have a travel mug, they'll fill it up from their cauldron for free using oversized spoons crafted by Santa's elves.

Jacques: Are they in place now? I could use something warm about now.

Gillian: They're ready and waiting.

Jacques: Apropos of hot chocolate, the Dairy Breeders Associaton is marching with examples of the top eight breeds of milk cows dressed up as reindeer.

Gillian: I hope they have diapers. Next up is the the Let's Dance Studio. They usually gives us a jazzy version of Nutcracker Suite. This year they've opted for Swan Lake.

Jacques: Now a word from our sponsors. Why store and maintain equipment you'll only use for part of the year? Rent from Snow King. With their loyalty program, your sixth rental gives you store credit.

Gillian: That's a great deal and here's another one. City Jewellers is offering five gold bangles to the person who calls into CKOI with the gift given on the third day of Christmas.

Jacques: Listen! Can you hear the sirens. That will be the Fire Department leading the parade. You can see the areal floats. The kids are going to get a kick out of seeing their favourite cartoon characters drifting above them.

Gillian: Um, Jacques. What's that floating toward the river?

Jacques: I think they've lost two of the Teenage Ninja Turtle balloons.

Gillian: So, to summarize,we've got:
12 drummers drumming
11  pipers piping
10 Lourdes a leaping
9 Ladles waiting
8 Breeds for milking
7 Swans a swinging

Jacque: And don't forget the 6th lease is paying. Also, the 5 golden rings go to the 4th caller in for 3 French Hens

Gillian: 2 turtles above

Jacques: And that's it from Partridge City

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ghost Writer Review by Gloria Ferris

During the Cold War, a US Navy Arctic Station sank in Canadian waters under mysterious circumstances, killing all aboard. Now, a group of surviving family members want the truth. Along with a documentary crew, they hire an expedition ship and vow to raise the Station.

Jen Kirby signs on as the onsite writer and interviewer, battling seasickness and missing her son who is away at summer cadet camp. While Jen has seen a few ghosts in her life, she is faced with the entire spectral crew of the Arctic Station, some protective, a few menacing, all determined to help her discover the truth. When “accidents” begin to happen to Jen, it’s clear someone very much alive doesn’t want her to find the answers. With the crews of the expedition ship, Canadian and US navy ships, and the documentary staff, there are plenty of suspects.

The scenes of life aboard three sea-going vessels, the conditions inside the sunken Arctic Station, and Jen attempts to gather diving expertise, are vividly crafted. The depiction of international politics is bang on. The story is rich with well-developed characters.

Okay, now, let’s get to the men. Readers may find themselves wanting all three (or is it five?) men who tempt Jen. All hot, available, and honourable. Her choice will not disappoint, nor will the ending.

When Jen pieces together and serves up the facts of the last days of the Arctic Station, the ghostly crew is satisfied, and departs to wherever specters go when their earthly business is complete. Jen faces one last attempt on her life from a corporeal being, and that’s all I’m going to say to avoid a spoiler. Except that I did not see that culprit coming.

I think any reader who enjoys paranormal suspense, with a twist of mystery, and a dusting of romance to ice the cake, will enjoy this story. Five stars for Ghost Writer.

Canadian award-winning author, Gloria Ferris, began her writing career by writing and editing operating procedures for a nuclear power development. It was an exciting job, but opportunities for plot and character development were limited. So she turned to crime fiction and found it to be a lot more fun. Gloria returned to her native Guelph, Ontario after spending twenty-five years in Kincardine and Port Elgin, small lakeshore towns which inspire her mysteries. 

Gloria is the author of the Cornwall & Redfern mysteries
(Corpse Flower; Shroud of Roses; Skull Garden)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interview with a Comedy Queen

Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs…

Jennie has been a widow for two years.  Her twelve year old son thinks it’s about time she started dating, and so does her friend Angela. So Jennie signs up for an online dating site. Within hours, she has several first dates lined up for the week. Surely they’ll be one Prince Charming in the bunch.  And if not, it’s only one date, right?  How bad could it be? WORST DATE EVER!

Today I'm interviewing one of my favourite authors, Melodie Campbell.

Melodie, you are an award-winning comedy and crime writer. I think it's safe to say that romance is not your usual genre. What inspired you to write one now?

My publisher!  Here's a big hint about the way the publishing business works:

Publisher:  "We'd like to experiment with a non-crime book for the Rapid Reads line.  Something like a romantic comedy."
Me (aghast):  "But I'm a crime writer."
Publisher (in case I didn't hear):  "We need a romantic comedy."
Me:  "Gotcha. A romantic comedy, it is."

And that's what inspired me.  Okay, that's not the whole story.  I was sitting with a bunch of readers at a literary AGM, and I asked them what they liked about my Goddaughter mob caper series.  They said they loved the humour, and the fact that the books had a female protagonist.  Also, that they weren't violent.  So I went back to the publisher and said, "readers are telling me they want funny stories about female protagonists, that aren't violent."  This is when I learned that you never suggest something you aren't prepared to write.

The Worst Date is a lovely romance, but not a typical one. Who are your favourite romance authors and who comes closest to your style?

Closest to my style?  Probably Janet Evanovich, for both my series.  Worst Date Ever has similar humour to Evanovich's early romances.  The Goddaughter series has been compared to Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series.  My own favourites are a little more down the suspense line.  I adored Mary Stewart.  But truly, my favourite escapes would be the loopy madcap romantic comedies of the 1940s and 50s.  That's the sort of thing I've always wanted to write.  And I wish more people would write them so I could read them.

What was your worst date? And what character would be your dream date?

My worst date was the last one in the book. (Read it and pity me!)  Luckily I met Dave, my husband, about three weeks after that. 

My dream date?  Hmmm...there seems to be a theme here.  I absolutely adored David Niven in The Pink Panther.  He played the title role of the Pink Panther burglar.  Something about the twinkle in his eye, the dry wit, and the daring.  The next who comes to mind is George Peppard from The A-Team.  Again, the cleverness, that devilish wit, the daring..."I love it when a plan comes together."  My next book - The B-Team - is a tribute to him.  It comes out in February.  Looking at these two, it seems to me that writing capers was a predictable outcome for me.  I have no idea what that says about my character.  Probably, we shouldn't go there.

Melodie Campbell

The Toronto Sun called her Canada's "Queen of Comedy."  Library Journal compared her to Janet Evanovich.  Melodie Campbell has shared a literary shortlist with Margaret Atwood, and was seen lurking on the Amazon Top 50 Bestseller list between Tom Clancy and Nora Roberts. She has won the Derringer, the Arthur Ellis, and eight more awards for crime fiction.  WORST DATE EVER is her 12th book.

Read Melodie's humour articles on her Funny Girl Melodie blog.
Friend her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/MelodieCampbellAuthor 
Follow her on Twitter: @MelodieCampbell
Find her on Amazon: