#amblogging: This Year’s Vacation

Bark and I, winery, Okanagan Falls

As much as I love writing and editing, every now and then I’ve got to stop and take it easy, and this week there was no better place than Penticton, B.C. My family and I spent a quick, eventful five days away, enjoying one another’s company and trying new things, in particular, some of the many wineries along the Naramata Bench.

Joie Winery, Naramata Bench

If you’re a fan of wines, this is a terrific stretch to explore, with over 40 small, highly individualistic wineries nudged together in the hills and valleys overlooking Okanagan Lake. We found that stopping to taste wine at four wineries per afternoon was plenty. Many of the wineries allowed us to sample four to six wines, so you can imagine how the consumption added up.

Kanazawa Winery

Unfortunately, many businesses along the Bench are losing business due to fears about the ongoing wildfires. Penticton, while hazy during our first three days there, is out of the danger zone as I write this, and still going strong. The raised water levels this spring are receding and as you’ll see below, the beaches are coming back. It had been five years between visits to this lovely area. I won’t wait so long next time. Lakeshore Drive, Penticton

By the way, if you’re looking for a great place to stay, try Haven Hill Guest House. We had a great time there.

 

#amblogging: You Want To Be A What?

I was raised in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Back then Surrey was both rural and a rapidly growing urban area for young families. In those days, one salary could support a family in a modest, detached house.

Fifty years later, Vancouver is now one of the most expensive cities in the country. The average Canadian is nearly $22,000 in debt, which doesn’t include a mortgage. The living wage in Vancouver is now set at $20.64 an hour. It’s barely enough for one person to survive on, let alone a family. dollar-signs-money-clip-art-thumb2184272[1]

You can therefore imagine how difficult it is for a writer to survive financially. Truth is, (and this shouldn’t surprise you) that the overwhelming majority of Canadian fiction authors earn far below a poverty wage.

So I gasped when my husband ran into an associate who told him that his 22-year-old child is at university studying to become a writer. His impression was that he wanted to write books for a living, although my husband wasn’t entirely sure about it.

While I’m happy that the younger generation is interested in writing, to think that one can earn a living from fiction at that age is wildly improbable. If I had a chance to talk with this young person, I’d say, “Go ahead and pursue your dream, but get a steady job while doing so..at least until you’ve attended useful writing conferences, networked with authors in the biz, and have some publication credits under your belt.”

I hope he’s doing these things. But I worry. You see, when I’m selling my books at craft fairs, a disturbingly large number of customers assume that I’m making piles of money. Unpublished writers seem shocked that my former publisher only granted me ten free copies of each newly released title, as per our contract. If I wanted more, I had to pay for them, albeit at a discount.

I’ve also encountered writers on forums who appear to be counting on writing income to support meager pensions. Yikes! To all fiction writers out there, have a Plan  B and a Plan C!. Life is stressful enough without putting that kind of financial pressure on yourself.

Revisiting My Old Fictional Friend

I’m one of those weird writers who likes to work on several novels at once. The upside is that I’m never ever bored. The downside is that it takes a while to see the books published.

Cartoon of Girl Writing

Since I find it impossible to release three or four new titles a year to stay visible, (trust me, I’ve tried) it’s not a huge issue. The truth is that I like to take my time with plots…allow them to simmer and merge into a story with seamless subplots and layers of character development.

So, after a nearly eighteen month hiatus, I’m finally ready to start the sixth draft of my 6th Casey Holland mystery, still untitled. This WIP has been around a while, ever since I met a bus driver a few years back. He’d been assaulted three times on the job, and has since changed careers.

Bus_interior_Nova_LFS_-_STLévis_1204-3[1].jpg

Although I was working on book five this spring (now in my editor’s hands), it feels like I haven’t visited Casey in a long time. I think this way because Casey’s in a different place emotionally in book six than she was in the fifth installment. It’ll be interesting to catch up on the latest challenges in her life. How has she grown? What new challenges must she face, beyond crime solving?

I’ve been writing about Casey for many years, and I’ve changed more than she has. Certainly, my perspective has changed, but that can be a good thing. Authors, like their protagonists, need to grow and change, don’t you think?

 

An Introduction & Crime Writing Awards Announcement

KEEP-CALM-BLOG-ON[1]After posting nearly 500 blogs on my website and on other sites, it’s time for a change, so I’m happy to post my first WordPress blog today. For those who don’t know me, I’ve been writing, publishing, promoting and selling books for a long time, and have plenty of info to share, professionally and personally.

I plan to release two more mysteries this year, my second Evan Dunstan novella (traditionally published) and my 5th Casey Holland novel (self-published) later this year. Right now, I’m waiting for the editors’ input. I’ll write more on the challenges of preparing two books in one year in the weeks to come.

Meanwhile, as a longtime member of Crime Writers of Canada, I wanted to share CWC’s recent announcement of this year’s Arthur Ellis Award Winners.

FYI, the Arthur Ellis awards were established in 1984, and are named after the nom de travail of Canada’s official hangman. (Yes, our country once had one). The Arthur Ellis awards celebrate excellence in crime writing. Eligible books were published in 2016, with the exception of the Unhanged Author, which awards a prize to the year’s best unpublished novel. You can find a complete list of winners HERE.