Monday, August 28, 2006


My love of crime, suspense, and thriller novels comes comes from my past career - nearly a whole lifetime ago - of being a police officer. My favourite themes are redemption, and justice, and my favourite characters are anti-heroes, crusaders, and the flawed/broken/demented.

The cops portrayed on Law & Order, and the old show "Homicide: Life on the Streets" are excellent character profiles of "real" cops. Fontana is my favourite cop on L&O right now, as I knew several "older" cops like him - although not as elegantly dressed in my smaller city - who operated in much the same ways, with the same attitudes and ethics. Unfortunately, I've never met an Assistant Crown Attorney (our version of an Assistant DA) quite like McCoy. But if you're looking for good cops to emulate for character realism, Fontana on L&O, Vincent D'Onofrio on L&O: Criminal Intent, and Mariska Hargitay on L&O: Special Victims Unit, are quite true to life. Fontana is a great "street" cop, D'Onofrio portrays the cerebral cop who uses intuition and education to pick apart a case, and Mariska plays an intuitive, sensitive, but spit-in-your-eye, female cop with baggage who does her job as an equal.

My favourite themes as I said are redemption and justice, because who doesn't need that in their life at some point? Every person I arrested needed it: that second chance to do it over, or not do it, to get back that moment before they got in that car, broke into that building, slashed their wife, left their apartment for two days with the baby in the crib....

Some cops didn't care about the victims, and most didn't care about the criminals. Most criminals are not as smart as they are in the movies, even if they're "career" criminals. They're creatures of habit and that's why they're easy to profile. They're usually grouped into a) opportunists, b) habitual, and they are usually the products of "institutions" such as the foster care/juvenile system, or are sociopathic and living in a family situation, thus the "good boy from such a good family" line. Any cop who "cared" was shamed by their peers into being thought of as a "social worker with a gun". (male or female)

Most cops after they've been on the job 3-4 years see themselves as dealing with the lower echelons of society, if not "hauling garbage". Novels which deal with cops as heros do alot to embrace the ideal of the cop as guardian of society - of being more than just the person who deals with all of the horrible things that normal people do not see and do not want to see - novels with cops as heros are redemptive in themselves.

Writing crime/suspense/thriller novels is giving the public a little glimpse into a world they know is out there, but don't want to get too close to in real life. It's challenging work and invigorating at the same time. The truth is that cops are the guardians of our society - witness this one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the lawlessness that took place when one third of their police force quit en masse - and as I now have the time to write I enjoy putting to paper the real world that I know is out show the public something they don't know about, and tell stories that are fictional while being real life at the same time.

I used to come home off nights and tell my fiance after a short-handed nightshift that if the public really knew what went on all night, they'd never be able to fall asleep!

Monday, August 21, 2006


In spite of having family here from Ontario, I have been working on my article, trying to layer my characters in BLACK ANGEL and in between loads of laundry and cooking meals, have been thinking about redoing the entire first third of the book.

And I was searching my hard drive for a story that I wanted to post here, but it's on another computer and I don't have it saved to disc. I may have to retype the hard copy, but I'd like to post it just so you, faithful readers of my musings, can see that I really do write in between politics, recipes, and child care! It's my published story from my Anthology and I'd like to share it as I have the rights back now.

Two weeks and school is back in. My kids are literally counting down the days. They're bored stiff and at least the excitement of a family visit has brought them back to life. Once they're back in school I'm going to try and work on both BA and COLD JUSTICE at the same time. See if I can do one on one day, and the other story on the next day.

I thought you might enjoy a typical Saskatchewan sunset.

Friday, August 11, 2006


If you'll check out the link on the right for THE WRITE MINDED BLOG, you'll see what I meant in my post yesterday. These girls really know how to pour on the promotional sauce. They're romance writers but I think we can all take a "page from their book" (cliche alert) and at least see how this thing works for them.

First, they're throwing a two week "Blog Party". They're giving away 5 of their books every day, and at the end of two weeks they're having a draw for the GRAND PRIZE WINNER - who - drum roll please, will receive ***every single*** copy of their combined books published in 2007. Sort of like joining the Book of the Month Club. They're also giving the GPW a gift basket right away for instant gratification.

At the same time during the two weeks, they're having two author guest bloggers, and (and this is what I think is where they're going to get people flocking to read daily) each of them are having interviews with their publishers on the Blog. Every time a person shows up to read, they comment and get their name thrown in the hat for a daily giveaway and the GPW.

Whichever of the ladies, or whoever in their Publicity department came up with this idea, is a genius. They obviously have their publishers behind them, to have them guest blogging too. As I also belong to Romance Writers of America, I'll be over there commenting away, hoping to win a free book, at least once! :)

See what I meant about not being afraid to give away those books? It works, and they already had 22 comments within the a.m. of posting it just on the Kiss of Death writing loop. I encourage you to pop over there to take a look at the Blog. The contest starts on Monday the 14th. Perhaps your wife would like to read something by these ladies. :)

And for those of you on the Killer Year Blog, getting your publishers on there for a week or so would be very interesting for the rest of us....hint, hint.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Well, I've posted about this on a link or two, and it's for an article I'm doing ("The Arms That Hold You Up") on how our spouses/significant others support us in our writing. I'm excited about it. I've done up a quick 3 page questionnaire (double-spaced and lots of room for your comments) that I can email to you if you'd like to participate in my research. You don't have to be quoted in the article by name if you don't want your spouse to know what you really think of them since your last editor's lunch. I want to find out the real nitty-gritty that goes on behind closed doors. Something behind the romance writers websites that gush about "my loving supportive husband, two children, and our golden retriever Ned." And I even have a golden retriever.

So, email me at and I'll send you a copy that you can email me back anonymously, or print out a hard copy and sign it so I can quote you and fax it back to me. The questionnaire explains all. :)

Speaking of websites, I don't have one yet and all the writing gurus I've been reading lately say that even unpubs like me (who keep sending partials out to agents) need one. NEED ONE!
So, I've been whipping around websites the last few days and trying to write things down that I'd like to have on mine, and things I DON'T want to have on mine. Most of my friends waited till they sold before they put one up, so they at least had a book cover and an excerpt for people to read.

I did see one unpub's site that was pages long, quite the take off on Suz Brockmann's Troubleshooters series (helloooo, she did it first!), with pages and pages of the MS up there as excerpts. Everything I've ever read in book or magazine tells you this is a big NO NO. It's already published if you do that - now if she gets a contract for that series she'll have lots of fun rewriting all those chapters.

My website will never have: pictures of my family, my dog, my cats, my quilts, my countries flag, my dh's classic car collection, or my son's patriotic history project. Enough said.

Another irritating point on websites....IF you're going to have a contest, make it for something worth having! Especially if you're expecting people to take time to read through an entire excerpt for it. And THEN, don't say "only shipping in the US" on the page where you enter. How cheap is that? Am I going to buy that writers' books???

And I know this is a promotional thing, and I haven't completely decided on it myself, but those writer's who combine a contest entry with "this entry automatically adds you to my email list/newsletter etc. etc." I think are also cheap, cheap, cheap. Isn't there a better way to put out an email/newsletter list? The only way I'd automatically add myself to someone's email list is if the contest was for a) a new book, b) piece of jewellery, c) some symbol from the book, d) perfume/gift basket etc.

That's going back to my first point re contests - why are writers so bloody cheap? I have a dear writer friend, and I love her to bits, but her accountant told her to *never* give away a book because it was coming out of her bottom line. To this day she's never given away a book. It's ridiculous. How can you build a fan base, without passing out the occasional freebie in a contest?

By b) above, I mean a replica of jewellery that plays a part in the plot of the book, by c) I mean something similar, say Nordic runes, or a rosary, or tarot cards. I had b) bought for my first book, which never sold, but I had a lot of fun wearing that necklace around. And if the book HAD sold, it would've looked stunning on fake velvet in a frame at a booksigning. With contest entries going into a box.....and yeah, I guess I'd be putting them on an email list.... :)

The other thing I noticed is that just about everything's been done already in the crime/suspense/mystery website field. I'll need to hire someone really crafty to make something original enough to satisfy my vision when the time comes. I have my colour scheme in mind, and thankfully, no one else seems to have it yet although I realize I can't have seen every website out there! But it's going to be hard with all the spooky, glittery, bombshell heroine-gun-toting, templates out there already.

Enough about that. All of you who've already taken the website plunge are lucky to have all that behind you! My adventure is just beginning and hopefully this year into 2007 will be my year to see something happen over my keyboard.

And if you disagree with me over writer contests, please say so. I don't think it's as big a crime/suspense thing as it is a romance writer thing. Is this a way crime writers should promote their books? Should we have contests for handcuff earrings, sterling silver charms of revolvers? (sorry, I know we can't get Glocks, but a gun is a gun) With more women writing crime/suspense/romantic suspense, and more women reading it, maybe it's not a bad idea.

Ladies? Any thoughts?

And don't forget to email me for that questionnaire if you're interested in participating in my article. :)

Friday, August 04, 2006


Mel, Mel, Mel, what happened to you? Why did you have to ruin your fantastic image, your reputation as a superb actor/writer/director, by shooting your anti-semitic mouth off to your Jewish arresting officer?

You weren't even that drunk. Blowing .120 mgs by most police officer's standards, is a "low blow", we used to call it, back when I was a cop. We all vied for arresting "real drunks" who blew over .200 and up. I once arrested a guy who blew over .300, who should've been dead, not driving a car. What by all you hold Holy, were you thinking???

My friend Jason Pinter doesn't think you're going to recover from this public disgrace. He cites the example of Tom Cruise, who didn't survive his very public and stupid TV conversation by saying that there's no such thing as mental illness. But your anti-Semitic remarks at a time when Isreal is fighting for it's very life as a nation - taking on Hezbollah in a David and Goliath war while the whole world watches, wrings their hands, and prays for peace - reveals a man whose private side is lacking in sensitivity at best, and is racist at worst.

Mel, I'm one of your biggest fans. I'm a big supporter of the fact that celebrities are allowed to have their private lives, that they're human and are apt to make mistakes, and am proud that you immediately publically apologized and acknowleged that you've struggled with alcohol for years. I hope you apologized in person to your arresting officer too. Maybe the DA will send you for some "sensitivity" training, or make you do some community service at a Jewish school with kids who need help reading. Who knows?

When I lived in Ontario, we always knew when your families plane landed in Muskoka for your "cottage" vacation. Your marriage is one of the longest standing in Hollywood. You took your whole family to Scotland for the two years it took to film Braveheart. I'll bet you wish you could take those words back with everything you've got.

Now I'm going to play Devil's Advocate.

Will this kill Mel's new movie? Only if the media lets it. Only if people self-righteously say, "I'VE never said a bad word about black people, gay people, Jewish people, disabled people, homeless people, Asian people, Polish people, Hispanic people, French people, the far-Christian right people, the pro-life people, the anti-abortion people, the Catholics, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, and people dying of AIDS." So, I'M not going to see Gibson's new movie because it'll leave a bad, anti-Semitic taste in my mouth.

Well, if you've NEVER said anything against any of THOSE people, then you can quite reasonably look down your nose at Mel Gibson, trash his new movie and the rest of his career, and get on with your life feeling pretty pleased with yourself. That's why Mel made "The Passion of The Christ", after all. Because he wanted to send out the message that he who sins has to cast the first stone.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


1. Do you attend a writer's conference to:
a) learn writing craft?
b) network
c) just pitch to an editor/agent?
d) use it as a tax write-off
e) meet all your cyber friends in person?

2) Do you attend a writer's conference within:
a) 50 miles of your home
b) 100-150 miles of your home
c) 200-300 miles of your home
d) only in your own State or Province
e) you'd fly anywhere to get to your favourite Conference

3) Do you believe that writers conferences are essential to keep your writers "tool kit" sharp - one can always learn something, even from other professionals?

4) Do you believe that writers conferences are just for smoozing, drinking, and a cherry at
end of a great publishing year?

5) Is it one of your ambitions to get on an author panel or do a workshop at a conference?

6) Is it part of your marketing plan to do a booksigning at a major conference this year?

7) Is it part of your "writing plan" to pitch to the editor/agent of your choice this year? Have you done so?

8) Do you go to at least ONE conference a year - or do you wait until a conference like RWA Nationals or Bouchercon comes close to where you live and go when it's least expensive?

9) If you could pick only ONE conference to go to - which would it be, and why?

10) Which was the most profitable conference you've been to and why?

Thanks for your input!