A Wedding Celebration!

Cutting the CakeFollowers of this blog know that my family’s experienced a fair bit of grief and sadness this year, but today’s blog is to celebrate something quite wonderful, my daughter’s wedding last Saturday.

Held inside a beautiful room at Vancouver’s Van Dusen Gardens, it was truly a spectacular day. I won’t have copies of the photographer’s photos for a few weeks, but my sister snapped a few on her phone, showcasing a couple of moments, which you’ll see here.

It was simply breathtaking to see Elida and her dad walk down the aisle and enjoy their father-daughter dance. To hear all of the amazing, and often funny speeches, to see family and friends come together and enjoy a fabulous meal, conversation, laughter, cake cutting, and dancing was simply amazing.

Elida & Brandon, DinnerThe sparkling backdrop behind the bride and groom’s table was a last-minute decision we added just before the wedding. The vendor didn’t supply backdrops or decorations, so I phoned the It’s My Party shop near my home and found that they could accommodate us, despite it only being a day or two before the wedding. My son, husband, and brother-in-law assembled and erected the 24- foot long structure, finishing about an hour before the guests arrived. Sometimes, flying by the seat of one’s pants pays off .

The most important thing, though is that everyone left that night happy and smiling. So now, after fifteen months of discussions, shopping, decision making, growing anxiety and stress, this event is in family’s history books. The bride and groom will be moving into their brand new home in two weeks and there will be more celebration over the coming months, and for that I’m very grateful.

Elida & Bark dancing

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Luck and the Writer

Four_Leaf_Clover_03[1]Back in February, I discussed the concept of success, after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Today, I want to focus on the concept of luck.

I read an interesting blog about a month ago by thriller writer Joe Konrath. He writes an excellent blog about the writing biz, and as a hybrid author with a substantial backlist, he has a lot to say about publishing, promoting, and marketing. You can find his blog HERE. He also has an interesting take on why most authors’ marketing plans won’t work. What it comes to, in his view, is luck. But the question then becomes, how does one become luckier?

Some people call luck a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. I don’t disagree. I remember reading an article about a Canadian woman who’d been incredibly lucky at winning contests. She had a room filled with prizes. When asked what made her so lucky, she said it was because she probably entered more contests than most people. In fact, she had turned contest-entering into a full time job.

Yesterday, I came across a similar article about folks who constantly win sweepstake prizes. In fact, there’s a whole group of them who take this so seriously that they’re referred to as sweepers. You can read more about them HERE. I was struck by the comment from one of the frequent contest winners, who stated that luck had nothing to do with her large haul. It was about effort and persistence.

Sometimes luck truly does seem to come out of the blue. Maybe a horrific car crash you managed to avoid by just one minute has nothing to do with persistence and effort. Maybe carrying a four-leaf clover or talisman does help some people, who knows?

Personally, I believe that luck often emerges from a series of decisions, opportunities, and right-time, right-place circumstances. But even that’s not the whole picture. Maybe there’s no rhyme nor reason why someone’s thriller gains fabulous attention and mega sales while an equally well-crafted thriller with a gorgeous cover and an amazing back cover blurb doesn’t. We could speculate that if the “unlucky” author had targeted his market differently or tried a different promotion strategy, then maybe it would have made a difference. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t have. We can drive ourselves crazy wondering over stuff like that.

Joe’s answer to making one’s luck is to keep writing books. He doesn’t discount using ads, blogs, social media, etc, for promotion, but he makes it clear that those efforts won’t guarantee any sales. Writing is the only thing you can really control, he says, and if you keep doing it and getting better at it, you just might get lucky enough to have a bestseller on your hands. For many of us, isn’t that the dream which lets our imaginations run wild, that gets us out of the bed every morning and open to all possibilities?

We Have Flowers!

I’m on a mini-holiday with my family this week, so if I don’t respond to your comments right away, please forgive me. I might be on the net, but I’m not sure.

I want this week’s blog to be about something cheerful, so I’m sharing snapshots of the beautiful plants and flowers that flourished in our front yard this spring.

Front Yard Flowers-3, 2019.jpg

Until last summer, we had so many trees on our property that most of the yard was in shade, which wasn’t helping anything bloom. Our neighbors asked that we remove a couple of them bordering their property, and given that they could well be safety hazards in a storm, we did so (they shared the cost).

Front Yard Flowers-1, 2019

The result will attract bees which are also in dire need of help. In 31 years, our yard has never been this colorful, and I’ve never appreciated flowers more than I do now.

Front Yard Flowers

The rose bush in my mom’s memory will also be planted here in a prominent place with plant of sunlight.

Rodos, front of house

Coping With a Difficult June

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted, and sadly this one isn’t writing-related. Those who’ve been reading my blog know that my mother suffered from dementia and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one year ago. By March the cancer had spread to her liver and our family doctor estimated that she had only two or three months left. My mom’s dementia made her oblivious to her dire situation. Even when told the truth, her emotional response seemed dim, and within minutes the diagnosis was forgotten.

My mother passed away in hospice care on June 23rd . Neither my sister nor I were there. I’d seen her the day before and had been out all day at an event that Sunday. My sister had planned to visit, but her significant other suffered a heart attack on June 12th and she was exhausted from the worry and daily commutes to the hospital. (It was touch-and-go for a while, but it looks like he’ll be okay. A medical procedure is required but rehab is underway).

It sounds strange to write this, but we were stunned by the call from the hospice nurse. We truly believed we’d have a little more time with her. We’d met with the doctor on Wed., the 19th, who thought she was doing well under the circumstances, and might have four to six weeks left. We understood that this was a guess, and our family doctor cautioned me that pancreatic cancer is wildly unpredictable. She was in hospice three weeks and two days before she passed.

I should have picked up on the signs that the end was near. When I took my son and daughter to visit her on the 16th, she’d been unusually alert and conversational She blew us kisses the last time my sister and I saw her—something she’s never done in her life. She apparently had the nurse help her call her sister in Toronto that Sunday afternoon. For weeks she’d not felt well enough to talk on the phone at all, let alone make a phone call.

Also on June 23rd, my daughter’s good friend, and matron of honor at her upcoming wedding, lost her grandmother that same day.

Flowers for MimoFive days earlier on the 18th, I had to have our twenty-year-old cat Mimo euthanized, as he became too ill to go on. The beautiful flowers in the photo were sent by our vet’s staff who’d been overseeing his care since we brought him in for his first shots back in August 1999. Also on the 18th , my future son-in-law’s family lost their beloved dog to cancer.

I took time off from the day job to reflect, to rest—or try to—but I’m now back at work, which is fine. I like the routine, to focus on other things for part of the day.

Memories swim through my head. I have a room full of her furniture and some belongings that I’d moved out her assisted living apartment two days before her death. There are things to sort through, legal things to take care of.

But there are also things to look forward to, such as my daughter’s September wedding, quickly followed by a move into their new home. My son also began an exciting new career the last week of June. I’m getting back to writing. My lovely coworkers are giving me a rose bush to plant in Mom’s memory. It’s perfect. She wouldn’t want any fuss and mourning or feeling sorry for ourselves.

I’ve learned a lot this past year about life and death, and many things. I’ve said goodbye far more than I wanted to last month, but I’ll cope and move one step and one day at a time. And I’ll remember.

 

Preparing for Left Coast Crime Conference

Whale of a Crime, 2019It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since I last attended a Left Coast Crime conference, or any crime-writing conference, for that matter. But as LCC begins tomorrow, I’ve been in preparation mode, accompanied by plenty of emails for the coordinators to remind us of various events. My itinerary looks something like this:

Thurs. morning, a 2-hours of book-pitching to potential readers.

Thurs. afternoon, 3:45 – 4:30 is our panel discussion, “Technology in Crime Fiction”.

Friday afternoon, is volunteering at the Crime Writers of Canada table, followed by escorting a group of guests on a walk, and then a meal.

Saturday: reading to attendees from my latest book, followed by Saturday night’s banquet Sat., where I’ll be co-hosting a table of ten people.

Somewhere in there, I’m hoping for time to schmooze and catch up with other writers. Meanwhile, I’ve come up with a to-do list, which is:

. double-check itinerary and review all emails to ensure nothing’s forgotten.

. check transit schedule to commute from my home to hotel

. gather books, business cards, panel notes, pens, granola bars, and a form for the bookseller

. prepare insightful answers for moderator’s panel questions

. choose wardrobe

. review information about fellow presenters

. find the registration area, check in, then dash to the first event.

I might have forgotten something, but I guess I’ll find out. The event finishes early Sunday afternoon. I might just need a nap after that.

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Debra Purdy Kong

I’m delighted to appear on Don Massenzio’s website today. Don’s currently looking for authors to interview, so drop by his site, and let him know if you’re interested.

Author Don Massenzio

This week’s author interview features Debra Purdy Kong. She brings her practical experience on the periphery of law enforcement and her degree in criminology to her writing. Her interview is enjoyable and revealing. I hope you enjoy this latest interview in the series.

On a side note, though the initial response was gratifying, I find myself running out of interview subjects by mid August. If you haven’t been interviewed, or even if you have and you have a new release coming out, please feel free to contact me to be interviewed at don@donmassenzio.com. I will send you the information and get you scheduled.

You can check out the 210 author interviews I’ve conducted thus far on my Author Directory page.

Now, let’s meet Debra Purdy Kong.


Debra Purdy Kong, 2016 Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It’s a combination of both for me. I try…

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Staying in with Debra Purdy Kong

I’m delighted to be featured at Linda’s Book Bag today! She has a wonderful “Staying in With Linda” segment that I enjoy reading every week.

Linda's Book Bag

Knock Knock, front cover

What with one thing and two others it’s been a bit manic here on the blog of late so it gives me great pleasure to put my feet up and stay in with Debra Purdy Kong today whilst she tells me all about one of her books.

Staying in with Debra Purdy Kong

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Debra. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

It’s a pleasure, and thank you for the invitation.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Knock Knock, front cover

I’ve brought my latest mystery novel,Knock Knock which was published in November 2017 and is #5 in the Casey Holland series. It’s been a long and interesting journey to write about the same protagonist all these years and I’m pleased, not to mention a little relieved, to have finally finished this book!

(I’m…

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