Tag Archives: Crime Writers of Canada

One Writer’s Journey: Malice Domestic 2017

Crime Writers of Canada members at Malice: Mary Jane Maffini, Vicki Delany, Linda Wiken and Cathy Ace.

Last year, I attended Malice Domestic as a debut author. It was my first Malice and my first visit to Washington/Bethesda, and as you can imagine, it was beyond exciting. I was almost not going to attend this year, but something made me decide to go for it. I’m very glad that I did, because it reinforced, once again, how supportive the mystery writer/reader community is. And it is very much a community (although we do tend to use our books to murder people who annoy us!)

One thing that really resonated with me was the number of authors and readers who stopped me to say they loved one or both of my books AND that they recognized me from my author photo. A very good reason not to photoshop your author photo to the point where you’ve aged backwards by two decades! For those of you who may not have read it, here’s a link to my author photo post.

Another thing I LOVED was meeting new authors. I remember how exciting and nerve-wracking that process was. A special shout-out to: Karen Neary…I know you’re going to get a contract… and to Micki Browning, whose debut novel, Adrift, is an Amazon bestseller.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s conference. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos (yet) of my panel (Thrilling Suspense) on Saturday, but it was an amazing panel with great audience participation. After the panel, I popped into the dealer/book room and was beyond thrilled to see a line of people with one of my books in their hand!

At the Agatha Banquet. Author Jane K. Cleland, the host of our table, won for best non-fiction.

Jane K. Cleland with her Agatha teapot!

The line-up for author signing at 5 p.m. Saturday!

With Diane Vallere and Susan Van Kirk at the author signing.

Author signing! Copies of The Hanged Man’s Noose sold out in the book room within 10 minutes of my panel and Skeletons was selling up a storm!

NEXT CONFERENCE: Bouchercon Toronto!

One Writer’s Journey: Stepping Outside of my Comfort Zone

Portrait of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1689.

Portrait of Isaac Newton (1642-1727) by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1689.

I’m one of those people who can talk to anybody—at least for a few minutes—and given my background as a freelance writer/journalist, I can also sound reasonably intelligent on a wide variety of unrelated subjects. So you’d think someone who’s comfortable chatting with perfect strangers would think nothing of getting up and speaking in front of a group of them.

Wrong. Maybe it goes back to my first public speaking experience. Grade 6. My assigned topic was Sir Isaac Newton, the scientist who discovered gravity, among other things. If I’d been more flamboyant and had a better memory, I might have come prepared with an apple for a prop, and memorized my speech. Instead, I stood at the front of the class with my carefully printed index cards, and mumbled my way through the words, never once making eye contact with the “audience.”  My only consolation was Herbie (last name withheld to protect the innocent—or is that the guilty?), who, poor lad, was even more dismal than me. I don’t remember what Herbie’s topic was, but I do remember him standing there wearing lederhosen (seriously, what kind of parents send their 12-year-old son to public school in lederhosen?), his snot-filled nose dripping like a tap, and his left foot lifting up and stomping back down to the ground after every sentence.

Thankfully, I’ve always picked professions that didn’t require presentations. Credit and collections manager. Sales and marketing coordinator. Freelance writer. Editor. Writer.

You’re probably thinking that I should have realized that authors often make presentations and participate in author readings and events, and I probably did. But that didn’t make me want to do it.

My first experience was at Bouchercon 2015, Raleigh, NC, where I had 6o seconds to pitch my book at the Debut Author’s Breakfast. I wasn’t flawless, but at least I made eye contact!

My second experience was at the Wasaga Beach Public Library, where I shared an event with author Timothy Weatherall. Tim does presentations as part of his day job, and was brilliant. I was much less so and in fact, chickened out and had the librarian read for me. It was while she was reading that I knew that in future I would have to suck it up and do it myself. To have someone else read for me just didn’t cut it.

Fast forward to Thursday, January 28th, where, as a member of Crime Writers of Canada, I was invited to the Ontario Library Association Superconference in Toronto. There, 20 members of CWC would have the opportunity to pitch our book to the 50+ librarians in attendance—in two minutes or less. Vicki Delany, president of CWC, was the moderator with a timing trumpet. Anyone who ran over was summarily given the horn.

Gibbs listens to my speech.

Gibbs listens to my speech.

I wrote my blurb. Practiced it in front of Gibbs, my three-month-old Golden Retriever. Thought up reasons why I’d have to bail at the last minute (flu? bad cold? family emergency?). But Thursday morning came, I made my way to the GO Train station, and headed into the city. After all, there was an Expo, other authors to meet and greet with. This was a tremendous opportunity, and I had to seize it.

Thankfully, Vicki Delany slotted me mid-pack, so I had an opportunity to observe others. Many authors, among them Gail Bowen, Janet Bolin and Rosemary McCracken offered encouragement. And Vaughn Thurman, the branch manager at my local library in Alliston, was in the audience cheering me on.

I wasn’t perfect, and I did have to read some of it (still don’t have that memorizing thing down), but I can honestly say I didn’t feel nervous once I got going. Rosemary tells me that one day I’ll get to the point where I’ll have fun with it. Not sure if that will ever be the case, but one thing is certain: Gibbs is in for a lot more readings. And I’m never going to write or speak about about Sir Isaac Newton again.

Coming Friday, February 19th: An interview with Lourdes Venard, editor, and author of Publishing for Beginners. Lourdes will discuss common pitfalls that most beginning writers make, and how to avoid them.

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My Publishing Journey: QR Codes & Cool Things

business card

Just four more sleeps until the release of The Hanged Man’s Noose. It’s an exciting time—and a busy one. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to as we near launch date:

 

QR Codes

  • Sent out my first quarterly (or so) newsletter on July 14th. Thank you to all who subscribed; if you didn’t, and think you’ve missed out on something, email me at newsletter at judypenzsheluk dot com and I’ll be sure to email it off to you. To sign up for the next newsletter, which I’ll send out sometime in November,  click on the sign up link OR you can scan the black and white QR code.
  • Scan-Website-ColorBuoyed by the easy-peasyness of setting up the QR code for my newsletter, I set up a QR code for my new business cards and premotional material. This one directs folks right to my website. (Go ahead, try it . . . )

Cool Things

  • Created a Review page for The Hanged Man’s Noose.  So far, I have four advance “blurbs,” with more, I’m told, coming!
  • Set up a list of blogs where I’m being interviewed and/or visiting over the next three months. Be sure to stop by my Blog Hopping page, where I’ll be adding links to those posts after they’re published, as well as a brief description of the websites. If you’re looking for the list, it’s on my home page.

Now all I have to do is get in those four more sleeps. Something tells me it isn’t going to be easy.

The Hanged Man’s Noose is scheduled for release on July 21st. Click here to receive the first four chapter free and get a 35% off coupon to buy the book!

Interview with an Author: Janet Bolin

Janet Bolin with Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho.

Janet Bolin with Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho.

It’s my honor to introduce Janet Bolin, author of the popular Threadville Mysteries, in my ongoing Interview With An Author series. Not only is Janet a talented writer with a terrific “crafty” cozy series, she has also made a huge impact on my life in three very significant ways. First, under the Crime Writers of Canada’s mentorship program, she volunteered to read the first 30 pages of my then work-in-progress, The Hanged Man’s Noose, during Bloody Words 2012 in Toronto. To say those pages were “rough” is an understatement, but Janet managed to balance kindness and compassion with constructive criticism and some really good advice. Second, she recommended that I join Sisters in Crime Guppies. (I did, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.) Finally, she encouraged me to keep on writing, to finish the book and to follow my dream. I did that, too. So, without further ado, here’s Janet Bolin:

DIRE THREADSJudy: Elderberry Bay, a.k.a. Threadville, is a fictional village in Pennsylvania on the shore of Lake Erie. Many of Elderberry Bay’s beautiful old buildings have been restored and now house boutiques catering to fabriholics, quilters, and the like. How did you come up with the town, and the premise for the series?

Janet: Thank you, Judy, for having me as a guest on your blog, and thank you for your kind words. It was a pleasure to read your pages. Your skill was obvious. I’d critiqued before, but not face-to-face, and I was happy to be able to praise your writing. I love discovering new writers!

Others helped me in my journey toward publication. Threadville came about largely because of a critique group I was in, courtesy of the Sisters in Crime Guppies Chapter. The other two members of the group, Krista Davis and Daryl Wood Gerber, who also writes as Avery Aames, started writing cozy mysteries. Their work was accepted by an agent and a publisher. My fellow critiquers and treasured friends nagged me until I started trying to write cozy mysteries, too. Krista found out that I could use software to turn photos into embroidery designs or to draw original embroidery designs. She told her editor I could write a series about a sleuth who also does machine embroidery. Her editor said, “I’d like to see a proposal for that.”

Because there weren’t many stores near me that sell sewing or machine embroidery supplies, and I wished there were, I invented a town full of them. I gave my machine embroidery expert, Willow, a best friend, Haylee, who was raised by three close friends after Haylee’s mother, then only seventeen, gave birth to her. Haylee owns a big fabric store, and her mother owns the yarn store. The other two women who raised Haylee own a notions shop and a quilting shop. All three of the fiftyish women sort of adopt Willow, who, like Haylee, is in her early thirties, as another daughter. Meanwhile, Haylee and Willow try to keep the three older women out of mischief, while not necessarily keeping themselves out of trouble.

I love old buildings that have been lovingly restored, so I set most of the village’s shops in them. Willow’s Arts and Crafts style building was once a home, but by the time Willow’s best friend, Haylee, and Willow’s love interest, Clay, became interested in the building, it had been gutted and turned into a store, so they renovated it instead of restoring it. But the exterior retained its Arts and Craft charm. I modeled Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho after our two dogs, a brother-and-sister pair with many talents, including investigating. And the female has carefully brought live baby animals home, apparently in the hope that we’ll help her raise them.

Judy: When we met at Bloody Words, you’d just released book two in the Threadville Mysteries. Incredibly, just three years later you’ve released book five, Seven Threadly Sins, on May 5th. Where do you come up with your ideas and how do you keep the series fresh, while staying true to the characters?

SEVEN THREADLY SINS LARGE FILEJanet: Cozy mysteries tend to have punny titles. I decided that it was easier to fit a story to a title than to come up with a pun that suited a story, so I always start with the title, my current favorite from an ever-growing list. Each title then suggests a story. In Dire Threads, Willow makes a dire threat that comes back to haunt her. In Threaded for Trouble, a killer sewing machine lives up to its name. Buried treasure and an old skeleton figure in Thread and Buried. Night of the Living Thread required a few people dressed as zombies and a trail of glow-in-the-dark thread that appears to move around by itself. Finally, Seven Threadly Sins made me plan a fashion show where sins of fashion might be committed . . . I hope that these slightly off-the-wall ideas help keep the series fresh. Characters are like people. They grow and change, but once you get to know them, you can predict fairly accurately how they’ll react in a situation. As writers, we get to throw them into predicaments (writers aren’t always very nice to their characters) and then sit back and watch them solve their problems.

Judy: I’m always fascinated by the writing processes of other authors. Tell us a bit about yours.

Janet: I tend to treat it like a job. I don’t write all day every day, or set daily goals of word numbers, but I write at least part of most days. Deadlines are great motivators. Also, there are times when my characters won’t let me rest until their stories are told. I’m not always certain that I’m the one dictating those stories, however.

Thank you, Janet.

You are very welcome! Thank you for letting me visit.

Find Janet at http://threadvillemysteries.com/

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Crime Writers Of Canada Announces 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards

cwclogo-square-b-400pCrime Writers Of Canada has announced the shortlist for this year’s best in crime writing, so if you’re looking for a good read, here’s the list for you. I was especially pleased to see stories from World Enough and Crime and The Whole She-Bang 2 make the list! Good luck to all!

Best Novel

Brenda Chapman, Cold Mourning, Dundurn Press

Barbara Fradkin, None so Blind, Dundurn Press

C.C. Humphreys, Plague, Doubleday Canada

Maureen Jennings, No Known Grave, McClelland & Stewart

Alen Mattich, Killing Pilgrim, House of Anansi

Best First Novel

Janet Brons, A Quiet Kill, Touchwood Editions

Steve Burrows, Siege of Bitterns, Dundurn Press

M.H. Callway, Windigo Fire, Seraphim Editions

Eve McBride, No Worst, There Is None, Dundurn Press

Sam Wiebe, Last of the Independents, Dundurn Press

Best Novella 

Rick Blechta, The Boom Room, Orca Book Publishers

Vicki Delany, Juba Good, Orca Book Publishers

Ian Hamilton, The Dragon Head of Hong Kong, House of Anansi

Jas. R. Petrin, A Knock on the Door, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine

Best Short Story

Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress, McClelland & Stewart

Melodie Campbell, Hook, Line and Sinker, Your McMurray Magazine

Peter Clement, Therapy, Belgrave House

Madona Skaff, First Impressions, The Whole She-Bang 2, Sisters in Crime

Kevin P. Thornton, Writers Block, World Enough and Crime, Carrick Publishing

Best Book in French

Hervé Gagnon, Jack: Une enquête de Joseph Laflamme, Expression noir / Groupe librex

Andrée Michaud, Bondrée, Editions Québec Amérique

Maryse Rouy, Meurtre à l’hôtel Despréaux, Édition Druide

Richard Ste Marie, Repentirs, Alire

Best Juvenile/YA Book

Michael Betcherman, Face-Off, Penguin Canada

Sigmund Brouwer, Dead Man’s Switch, Harvest House

S.J. Laidlaw, The Voice Inside My Head, Tundra Books

Norah McClintock, About That Night, Orca Book Publishers

Jeyn Roberts, The Bodies We Wear, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Best Nonfiction Book

Bob Deasy (with Mark Ebner), Being Uncle Charlie, Penguin Random House

Charlotte Gray, The Massey Murder, HarperCollins

Joan McEwen, Innocence on Trial: The Framing of Ivan Henry, Heritage House

Bill Reynolds, Life Real Loud: John Lefebvre, Neteller and the Revolution in Online Gambling, ECW Press

Paula Todd, Extreme Mean, McClelland & Stewart

Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel

Rum Luck by Ryan Aldred

Full Curl by Dave Butler

Crisis Point by Dwayne Clayden

Afghan Redemption by Bill Prentice

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

And the winners are? Find out May 28!

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Guilt by Association: Crime Writers of Canada

CWC-Badge-Member-300There’s something comforting about belonging to a group of like-minded folks. It explains why you’ll see a group of runners braving subzero temperatures on a blustery January day, seemingly oblivious to the elements.

I use the running analogy only because, like the Glass Dolphin Mysteries’ co-protagonist Emily Garland, I’m also a runner. And since I live in Ontario, Canada, I know all about running in the depths of winter (and the hot, humid days of summer). But the same sense of belonging can apply to anything, from book clubs to sewing circles. So, when I started to write The Hanged Man’s Noose, I thought, “There must be a place where Canadian mystery writers hang out; a place to learn about the business, and discover other writers.”

Turns out, there is, and it’s called Crime Writers of Canada (CWC), a national non-profit organization for Canadian mystery and crime writers, associated professionals, and others with a serious interest in Canadian crime writing.

With two main goals—author promotion and professional development—membership in CWC is open to Professional author members (Canadian authors with a crime-related publication to their credit); Associate writer members (writers and aspiring authors of crime books and stories, and professional authors who are not Canadian); and Supporting/Honorary members (publishers, editors, agents, booksellers, fans, librarians, and others interested in Crime Writers of Canada).

In addition to an online Book Catalogue, Cool Canadian Crime (a quarterly release on what books are being released by CWC members) and Crime Time, a mostly monthly newsletter for members, CWC sponsors the annual Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Several of my favorite Canadian writers are past winners, including Louise Penny, Howard Shrier, Linwood Barclay, Alan Bradley and Giles Blunt. Since 2007, CWC has also sponsored The Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished Crime Novel. The Short List for both of these prestigious awards will be announced on April 18, 2013, with winners announced at a special Awards banquet in Toronto on May 30th.

Perhaps the most valuable resource for aspiring writers is CWC’s Mentorship Program. To participate, you must be an Associate Member with at least two years of paid membership in CWC and have completed a book-length crime manuscript. I was fortunate to have been selected for this program in the fall of 2012, when Lou Allin took time out of her busy schedule to critique the first 50 pages of The Hanged Man’s Noose.

It’s a bit terrifying, sending those hard fought words to someone as accomplished as Lou, but it was clear from the beginning that she had a generous spirit and a tremendous amount of industry knowledge as a writer and former teacher. With Lou’s suggestions, I was able to view my book with fresh eyes, and tackle yet another revision with renewed resolve.

After all, there’s something comforting about belonging to a group of like-minded folks. Especially when it comes to revision.

In Memory of Lou Allin (1953-2014) http://www.crimewriterscanada.com/allin-louise