Monday, May 29, 2006

My Untitled WIP

I've shelved Dragonfly, which I mentioned in my first post, and am now in the first stages of doing Karen Weisner's 30 Day's to Plot Your Novel. It's the first time a title hasn't popped into my head, but I did find great pics of my hero and heroine, and tomorrow will go hunting for my villian. It's a "cold case" story. With a heroine with a lot of baggage (what other kind is there? heheheheheh) Here are my pics, with two of the heroine to show her in her two "lives". I think I'll also try out Jenny Crusie's idea of making a collage for this one; it'll be easy because it's a police story so there'll be lots of things to twig my mind.

I usually use a three ring binder with section pages and my first draft is in there. Once it's all filled up with character sketches, setting notes, maps, scene notes, astrology charts, research, etc., the outline (yes, I outline!), I get started.

Isn't my hero yummy? And not well known, so I can think of him generically without trying to get Charlie Sheen (the other candidate) out of my head while I'm writing. Kate Beckinsale is my mental alter-ego, lol, so she fits the bill for my heroine. In the book, she'll be a Me'tis cop turned PI and it's set in Canada in the West. There are alot of Me'tis out here so I want it to be authentic. Picture my hero on a Harley, and that's the start of my book. Now, to get a good start on it before the end of school! Off to Regina for some reality research.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Writing Challenge

Here's an annual writing challenge that's even tougher than those who write an entire novel through the month of November. How about writing a novel in 3 Days???

You can do it at home over the Labour Day Weekend, or you can send in a writing sample to the folks in Vancouver, Canada who run this contest - it's open to writers all over North America, the UK, etc. - and see if you'll be chosen to be one of the lucky 12 to be picked to write your novel on their 3DAY Reality TV version on Labour Day Weekend! :) National TV will watch you sweat, drink gallons of coffee, cry, sleep and drool on your computer, start talking to your characters, and generally have a great time, in Edmonton, Alberta.

I'd watch it, but I think I'll try and be on of the ones doing it at home. You can send in your finished product and it'll be judged against those of the 12 on the Reality TV Show. The prize is publication....

Find out all the delicious details at . Are you ready to try something really crazy? Finish off your summer in style? I dare you! :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

"Whither right and glory lead"

This picture is of Captain Nichola Goddard, taken by Murray Brewster for the newspaper Nouvelles Mondailles, and it ran the 20th of May 06.

She is the first Canadian woman to be killed in combat. She was killed in an armoured vehicle when it took a direct hit during a fire fight with the Taliban. She was a Forward Observation Officer with the 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, and she died on the 105th day of her tour in Afghanistan. She had just turned 27 and had been married to her husband for only three years, although they had met eight years ago in their Basic Officer Training in St.Jean-sur-Richelieu near Montreal, Quebec.

It is still rare for women to chose to be Artillery Officers. Captain Goddard was known to be energetic, positive, enthusiastic for being on the mission, and a leader. *She wrote a letter to her home church, St. Barnabas Anglican Church, on March 4th: "The longer that we are in theatre and the more that we interact with the Afghan people, the more I feel that we are really serving a purpose here. I think these people, through the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, are trying to achieve something that we in Canada have long since taken for granted...They lay down their lives daily to try to seize something that is so idealistic it is almost impossible to define..."

Nichola, along with the other Canadian soldiers who have given their lives so that the Afghan people may reach this idealistic dream, we salute you. May your joyful spirit, and memories of your courage and kindness to family, friends, and soldiers in arms live on. Rest in peace.

*This quotation taken from Christie Blatchford's column, The Globe and Mail, Saturday May 27, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006


By John McFetridge
ECW Press
ISBN 1-55022-717-3
May 2006
$28.95 Cdn
$24.95 US
336 Pgs.

DIRTY SWEET is a complex, gritty, smorgasbord of goodies for lovers of the contemporary crime noir genre. While the story is told at a dizzying pace, McFetridge manages to imbue all his anti-heroes and his one femme fatale with three dimensional grace, courage, and tragic irony.

Roxanne Keyes, a condo real estate agent witnesses a man being shot in the head behind the wheel of his SUV on Toronto’s downtown King Street. She recognizes the man with the killer – Russian gangster Boris Suleimanov and strip club owner – and being a femme fatale, she sees the possibilities open to her by lying to the police. She has a difficult past and problems of her own so buttering up porn king, Vince Fournier who rents office space from her seems like a good idea too. Which guy is going to bring her more money?

And let’s not forget Toronto’s seedy, underworld bikers who’re out to control the drug trade. They don’t like Russian gangsters muscling into their turf. Even with the bikers, the author manages to make them human, not stereotypes, by having one of them wonder when he’d last seen a woman without tattoos or piercings, as he looks longingly at a woman with a perfect tan.

McFetridge taps into every area of Toronto to bring out the city as a first class international setting. This novel elevates the Canadian crime novel to new heights and is a “must read” for those of you who enjoy reading novels set in Canada.

John McFetridge studied at Concordia University and the Canadian Film Centre. He worked on film sets before writing screen plays and co-writing the novel Below the Line.


WILD THING – An Eddie Dancer Mystery
By Mike Harrison
ECW Press
ISBN 1-55022-719-X
May 2006
$28.95 Cdn
$24.95 US
287 Pgs.

For those of you who missed the first Eddie Dancer book, All Shook Up, don’t make the same mistake with this second book by Mike Harrison. Eddie Dancer is a private investigator out of Calgary who does things in his own way, and is more intelligent than most protagonists who hide bottles of scotch in their desks

When his good friend, Dr Peter Maurice, a renowned psychologist on a book tour of Great Britain, calls him for help, Eddie takes the first plane over. Dr. Maurice has been arrested for a series of horrible murders and needs Eddie’s investigative powers to prove the British police wrong.

Dr Maurice has purchased a two hundred year old manuscript from the great-great-granddaughter of Dr. Franz-Anton Mesmer, the father of hypnotism. The granddaughter is suddenly the first woman to die a horrible death at the hands of a serial killer whose methods are so torturous that even jaded police detectives are shocked. They call him “The Crusher”. And the killings don’t stop once Dr. Maurice is locked up.

Eddie unearths some horrifying information about Britain’s Newgate Prison, frequented by Mesmer but long ago burnt to the ground. Unlike some working the case, Eddie doesn’t believe this killer is a reincarnation of one of Mesmer’s patients. The combination of the paranormal, the British setting, the historical facts, and Eddie’s tactics, make for a richly textured story.

Eddie pursues the murderer with relentless passion and the ending is shocking. WILD THING is a hard-boiled private eye novel that will satisfy the most critical fans of the genre.

MIKE HARRISON’S first Eddie Dancer novel All Shook Up, was praised by Kirkus Reviews (“A hard-boiled shamus…a lively first read”) and Library Journal (“Dancer is tough and gutsy…essential reading”) He lives in Okotoks, Alberta.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Ah, the power of publisher promoting! And that is what has caused all this religious fervour and brow-beating. When you think back to Jesus Christ Superstar (I thought it was a great movie when I was in my teens, and played the soundtrack over and over - shows you how old I am!), and The Passion of The Christ, which both had tremendous amounts of controversy surrounding them as well in the media, this combination of Christian antagonism vs. the media is nothing new.

Out of the three movies, The Passion of The Christ, by Mel Gibson, can actually be said to be a work of art, a labour of love that a man actually spent years of his life making; authenticating every last detail, right down to it's original language. Jesus Christ Superstar was a rock opera that made oodles of money on stage and through it's soundtrack, both in North America and Europe, but nothing like what the Da Vinci Code will make. It was made to be light-hearted and entertaining.

The Da Vinci Code has never claimed, from what I have read, to be anything but a work of fiction. What most Christians seem to be worked up about are: a) that the movie's producers won't put a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie saying that it's a work of fiction, b) that the book is trying to posit a conspiracy theory to the Church, and c) that it's publisher and the movie maker/director (Ron Howard) are using this as it's marketing approach to pull in the big crowds.

The Christian groups protesting the movie believe that non-Christians who don't know anything about Christianity will believe this conspiracy swill. First of all, is it possible in North America to find anyone who hasn't been touched in their lives by some form of Christianity? Possibly immigrants from African or Caribbean countries, but even there, they may have had contact with missionary groups doing local hospital/church related works. Muslim immigrants, revere Jesus has a holy prophet, so even they have had contact with some form of Christianity. Thus, this argument falls short of the mark.

Playing Devil's Advocate on the other hand, when those cartoons of Mohammed were leaked in Denmark by one of their own clerics, the Muslim world went mad over the abomination of pictures defaming their prophet. So, it is reasonable that Christians should be outraged at the blasphemy of the idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, bore a son, etc.., even though that idea of Him being married to Mary Magdalene was being bandied about by agnostics and various early branches of the Church when St. Ignatius was alive 300 years later.

Getting away from the religious ideas for a moment, what does this mean to us as writers? It means that you can come up with a controversial/political/religious idea, find yourself an agent and editor to buy into it and the rest is a million dollar bank account. It means that the general public love to bring down their religious institutions and that nothing is held sacred anymore, so it's a great subject to tap into. It could even be said that the Indiana Jones movies were to teenagers what the Da Vinci Code is to adults.

The amount of money - millions - spent on promoting both this book and movie - $240 million just to break even on this past weekend, is unbelievable even for a Ron Howard movie. They planned to open it simultaneously in 150 theatres around the world. It brought in something like $74 million, I believe, from the newscast I saw. Troubling times for Ron, Tom, and Dan.

Perhaps the book didn't translate well into the movie. Critics said it was slow in places, pedantic, not suspenseful enough. Tom Hanks didn't fit the main character as well as he could have - this from one critic, but I haven't seen the movie yet, so I don't know.

It proves that "high concept" ideas are still what publishers are looking for - the more controversial, unusual, and outrageous the better. And as one minister put it in my small town, "a cracking good read."

Which brings us full circle back to writing - "a cracking good read" is what we all want to produce - and if it's controversial, "high concept", and something our publisher can really sink their hard-won publicity dollars behind, so much the better. Myself, I'll consider myself successful when a few critics give me reviews that say I've produced a suspsense/mystery/thriller that's a "cracking good read", whether or not I've ended up with the million dollar bank account. Simply because I don't believe that I'll have to compromise my own personal values to get where I want to go, but then, I'm not Dan Brown and I don't think he had to compromise anything, do you?

Friday, May 19, 2006

My New Town

In spite of my best efforts, you can see it's been a month since I last blogged. And my writing has taken a different turn as well. I've been busy reviewing two books; one a contemporary crime noir, and one a series PI detective novel. I'll post both of them once they're finished. I loved both books.

I'm also entering a mystery writing contest, which is not only turning out to be fascinating in it's research, but is giving me a deadline of May 31st to have it written and mailed off. Getting back into serious writing has been tough with the rest of our life settling down into a routine.

I love our new town. I love it's smallness - you can drive from north to south in about ten minutes. It's stores are all Canadian owned and proud of it. While things tend to be more expensive here, for eg. they don't do blue box recycling so you pay an extra "enviro deposit" on pop cans and milk containers, I've learned to just grin and bear the extra cost. If only I could ship my favourite cat clumping litter here from back east! :)

The weather can't be beat. It's been 30 degrees here and you don't even notice it because it's a "dry" heat. It reminds me of Costa Rica. Back east we'd be sweating like pigs and taking the children inside by 11 a.m. from the humidity. You wouldn't be able to get into the local swimming pools because people would be seeking solace from the heat. Here, people are walking around downtown, shopping, chatting on street corners and not even wearing hats. The long weekend promises to be sunny for the next three days.

The downtown is home to businesses that have been in families for several generations; jewellery stores, restaurants like the Jade Garden, Al's Cafe, and the usual banks and craft stores. You can find anything on the Main St. if you follow it north far enough. Lovely tourist shops mixed in with Rogers Video and Tim Horton's, that most Canadian of institutions.

My goal for the long weekend is to get my mystery contest outlined and bang off these two book reviews. They're due for May 25th for the FMAM ezine. I'll post a link next week to FMAM. If you love mystery, crime, horror stories, you'll love FMAM. It's full name is FUTURES Mysterious Mystery Anthology. You can read the ezine which is a pale comparison to the print version which carries over 40 stories from big name mystery writers.

Have a great long weekend everyone. I think my US friends have this weekend as Memorial weekend, right? Have a safe and happy one.