Letting Go of Manuscripts, or Not

On Monday, I spent three and a half hours poring over the last three chapters of my 7th Casey Holland mystery. It’s one of the many times I’ve gone through this book. I’ve stepped up the final tweaking over the past two weeks because I know I’ll be uploading the book this week to Amazon and other sites. But I’m finding it difficult to let go of this one, and it worries me a little. I might be turning into more of a perfectionist than I want to be. I’ve reached the stage where I’m changing a few words back to what they were before, a sure signal that it’s time to move on.

To be honest, my unwillingness to let this novella go might be because this could well be my last Casey mystery. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that I’m eager to explore new characters and concepts in different series and genres. It’s tough because I’ve been with Casey for many years and have file folders containing notes for future books. Whether I write another installment will depend on how this one is received.

As some of you know, I’ve been writing an urban fantasy for some time, and the feedback from my critique group will be completed in a few weeks. I’ve also been working on the query letter and synopsis. At 120,000+ words, which still needs paring down, I just don’t see myself self-publishing something that large. Since I’m in no rush to publish, I’d like to venture back into traditional publishing, however we’ll see how it goes. I might think differently a year from now.

Speaking of letter go, about three years ago, I wrote the first draft of another novella mystery. The first two books were published with a small press that has now folded and again, I’m deciding whether to let this series go, or re-read the first draft to see if I should continue on.

Also, several months ago, I began outlining a new paranormal series that incorporates both mystery and fantasy, and I’ve been wondering what to do about that as well. As you can see, this writer’s life could either turn into a productive hot mess or even fizzle away, depending on my decisions.

Happily, with a new grandbaby arriving in a few days and a home reno project about to start, there’s plenty of things to keep me from constantly fretting over writing decisions. I do believe that everything will sort itself out. The goal is to be happy with my choices. It’s just a matter of deciding what fits best with short and long-term goals.

Seeking Host Bloggers

Life’s been a whirlwind of activity since my last post, but happily the sunny summer weather gives my energy gets a boost. Here in Vancouver, we’re enjoying normal seasonal temperatures which is much better than last year’s heat dome, although things could heat up. I feel for the people in Europe and the U.K. and parts of the U.S. Unpredictability seems to be the new norm, so onward we go. Speaking of which,

In a few days I’ll be uploading A Gold Satin Murder on KDP and Draft2Digital, and sending the book off to the printer. I find myself still going over the manuscript, tweaking words here and there. By the end of this month, I’m cutting myself off because launch day is September 8th.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for anyone who might be interesting in hosting me on their blog. Different topics are being prepared now, and I’m certainly open to a Q an A. If you’re interested in hosting a guest blog in Sept., Oct. or beyond, please email me at debra_kong@telus.net. A big thank you to Darlene Foster and Jacqui Murray who’ve already enthusiastically agreed to host me. I love this community of writers!

In case you were wondering, here’s the book blurb:

Transit cop Casey Holland has never met a bus passenger like the charming artist and exotic dancer, Eduardo. The bus driver Lily has certainly befriended him. But when Eduardo’s charged with murder, Lily’s caught in the middle of his legal trouble. Afraid of losing her job and custody of her son, she begs Casey for help in proving Eduardo’s innocence.

Casey’s search for answers takes her and her best friend Kendal to a troupe of strippers known as Man Cave. While the men are busy peeling off their clothes, Casey’s peeling back layers of secrets and betrayal. Nuttier than her usual adventures, the risk is just as deadly in this seventh installment of the Casey Holland transit mysteries.

I can almost hear the questions now, and if you have any topics you’d like me to address, go for it! 😊

This and That, and a Cover Reveal!

Rather than fill your inbox with multiple blogs, this one’s a catchup on events over the past two weeks. First, the Art on the Vine was great fun and a highly successful fundraiser for the Osteoporosis Society. Although it had rained most of June, the 26th was unusually hot and dry, so I wore a summer dress for the first time this year. Townhip7 Winery will be hosting another event on Aug. 28th and I can’t wait. On July 14th, I’m also sharing a table with Western Sky Books at a local farmer’s market, so that should be enjoyable, too. Farmers markets have generally been good places to sell books for me in the past, although the last time took part was in the summer of 2019.

I like that wine is the focus of this photo

If you’re looking for more summer reads, I’ve lined up two more BookFunnel events. The first is a newsletter signup that offers free crime fiction ebooks, including my first Casey Holland mystery. This provocative event is is called Mysteries, Suspense, Thrillers. The Unexplained, which is available HERE.

The second event is offering discounted ebooks with no signup required. My second Casey Holland mystery, Deadly Accusations, is part of an event called Murders, Mysteries and the Paranormal, and will be on sale for $.99 all July. You can find the link HERE:

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve been working on my 7th Casey Holland mystery, and I’m thrilled to say it’ll be released on Thursday, September 8th. This novella is a quick read that’s much lighter in tone than the previous books, and it’s a real change from the typical characters Casey encounters. Stay tuned for more info in a couple of weeks, but for now, here’s the cover!

My daughter starts maternity leave at the end of this month, so my babysitting schedule will be less frequent and more spontaneous. Hubby and I have also decided to downsize our house over the next 12 months, but first up are renos to a couple of rooms in our home. My retirement seems to be picking up the pace, at least for now. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m only publishing shorter works these days 🙂

My 5-Star Reads So Far This Year

I’ve been catching up on reading these past few weeks. So far, I’ve read 20 books this year, which is five books behind my normal schedule. But whenever I’m staying over at my daughter’s for babysitting duties, the evenings are spent catching up on blogs, newsletters, and books.

The eclectic mix of genres have been truly enjoyable reads. Two of the crime fiction authors, J.T. Siemens and Winona Kent, were guest bloggers earlier this spring, but I want to mention them again as they’re excellent writers who deserve more attention.

To Those Who Killed Me by J.T. Siemens, is a gritty, noir mystery that reveals the darker side of Vancouver. J.T.’s Instagram account shows interesting black-and-white photos of some of the actual venues mentioned in his book. The photos beautifully capture the book’s noir feel.

Ticket to Ride by Winona Kent is a delightful amateur sleuth-based mystery set in England, featuring musician and new private detective Jason Davey. I love Winona’s descriptions and the way she incorporates family dynamics into her stories. There’s a lot of heart in her books as well as terrific storytelling.

Silver Bells by C.J. Hunt, is a heartwarming Christmas romance. It’s also a novella that you can read quickly. The romantic scenes are nicely written and the book’s contemporary concepts about a single dad trying to run his business and a woman who’s sold her startup company and is rethinking career options are relatable topics.

Given all the cold, rainy weather in my area last month, it seemed only natural to read another Christmas novella. Crimson Frost by J.P. McLean is a suspenseful supernatural story. Given that the protagonist is only 19, it likely falls into the YA category, but this is a riveting story for all ages at any time of year. Grief, turbulence, and the supernatural elements added to the enjoyment for me.

The Library of Legends by Janie Chang is an amazing historical fiction novel set in China in 1937. The Japanese have invaded the country and the university students are forced to flee by undertaking a 1,000 mile trek to safety in the country’s interior. What struck me was the exceptional writing and the way Janie incorporates mythical fantasy with reality. The story is based on her father’s real-life experience. Absolutely riveting.

Last but not least, is the romantic suspense story Lure by W.L. Hawkin. To me, this book raises the bar by incorporating exquisite writing with real-life tragedy centered around missing  Indigenous women, a topic that has a troubling, longstanding history here in British Columbia. Wendy adds layers to the story by adding a mystery whodunit and a haunting, spiritual component. It’s one of those stories that’s stayed with me.

That’s it so far. I’ve read a number of nonfiction titles related to writing but I hope to explore many other topics this year.

CWC Winners Announced and Planning for Summer

Last week, the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence winners were announced. It’s always exciting to see the short list of nominees in April and the announcement of winners in late May. I know a number of the nominees from the Vancouver area, including this year’s best crime novel winner, and am delighted to see their work recognized. You can find the full list of nominees and winners HERE.

As you all know, a lot’s gone on in the world since I last blogged a couple of weeks ago, and little of it’s good. It’s a tough time for creators on many levels, but I forge ahead because writing and editing have always given me a safe space to ease my mind from horrific news stories. So, I’ve been editing steadily, and working on a pre-release plan for my Casey Holland novella. I’ll launch the book on September 8th, which seems both far away and all too soon, depending on my state of mind.

I have a to-do list of pre-publication work to help me stay organized. I also want to take one more look at the novella before it’s ready for uploading on Amazon and other sites. It won’t be a quiet, slow-paced summer, but it will be an eventful one.

Ellie likes to sit on her bike & ring the bell

Ellie will have a little brother or sister in August. My son-in-law and hubby will be taking vacations to help out on the home front, but we won’t be traveling this summer, which is probably for the best this year, especially since gas is $2.22 a liter as I write this.

It’s a bit strange to plan my publishing schedule around a little person who isn’t here yet, but my writing life has always been planned around kids’ and employers’ schedules. Somehow it always works out.

How about you? What are your plans this summer? Will it be creative? Relaxing? Busy? Or slow and relaxed?

Mother’s Day Fun and Writing Updates

After three months of babysitting most weekdays, I’m on holiday this week. My S-I-L is taking the week off and guess what he’s doing? Toilet training Ellie. Yes, they’ve read up on the topic, seen a video, I think, and feel they’re ready. Let’s hope Ellie feels the same. 😊

At 21 months, she’s already using “no” a lot and having the occasional tantrum when things don’t go her way. I’m sure it’s been quite a week, but this is one of the great things about grandparenting. The responsibility isn’t mine, at least until next Monday.

As you can see from the photo, we enjoyed a happy Mother’s Day with my son doing most of the cooking. My daughter’s next baby is due in mid-August, just after Ellie turns two, so more fun is coming up, and more big changes.

On the writing front, work continues on the urban fantasy. After going through a long and invaluable critiquing process I’ll be reaching the end of that part of the process in a few more weeks. Perhaps then, I’ll look for beta readers in earnest, but it would be a huge commitment for them, so I’m thinking of what I should offer in return. A gift card perhaps? A quid pro quo arrangement?

I’ve also finalized decisions about the jacket design for the Casey mystery novella and am working on nailing down a September release date. There are also some archived online workshops I’m catching up on this week.

As you can see, I’m not slowing down on my holiday. But the weather’s been rainy and uncharacteristically cold in my neck of the woods, so why not catch up while things are good and I’m motivated?

Free and Discounted Mysteries For You

Before I launch into today’s topics, I want to say that Canadian Independent Bookstore Day last Saturday was a great success for our local store, Western Sky Books. This was their best event ever, and it was heartwarming to see supporters come out in droves. It was great fun to see a number of writers I hadn’t seen in person in more than two years, and one author I hadn’t seen in a decade!

So, here we are in May, one of my favorite months of the year. The weather’s warming slowly although there’s still a fair bit of rain and cloud hovering over BC’s lower mainland these days. Flowers are blooming, albeit slower than last year. Since I was married in mid-May nearly 34 years ago and our family always celebrates Mother’s Day, it’s a special month.

This weekend, I’m offering great deals on most of the titles in my 6-book Casey Holland series this weekend, which ends on May 9th. You can find the link to the entire series with just one click HERE. By clicking on that page, you’ll see that the combined price for all the books is under $10.

I’m also taking part in two BookFunnel events offering free mystery ebooks all month. One is the Leading Ladies of Mystery giveaway featuring female lead characters. The link is HERE.

The other offer focuses on mystery and suspense titles, with either male or female protagonists, which you can find HERE.

So, please take advantage of these opportunities. Summer’s coming and it’s time to load up your devices with new books as you prepare for holidays or at least a little more downtime. Couldn’t we all use some R & R and escapes into great fiction?

Celebrating Canadian Independent Bookstore Day

Every year, Canada celebrates independent bookstores and this year the celebration takes place on Saturday, April 30th.

As stated on the Canadian Independent Booksellers Association (CIBA) website, this is a day when authors, illustrators, readers, publishers, booksellers, and other supporters come together to celebrate indie stores. Managers and staff go out of their way to support authors, and as you can imagine, they’ve had a tough go of it during the pandemic. This year, stores are welcoming people back with open arms. The CIBA is also offering a contest for book lovers which you can check out on their website HERE.

For my local blogging friends, Western Sky Books in Port Coquitlam has invited me to take part in selling my books from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. I’m thrilled to be sharing space with fellow authors Janie Chang and Priscilla Omulo. So, come by and say hi. Other authors will be at Western Sky throughout the day. To learn more, check out their website HERE.

Western Sky is the venue where I launched my 6th Casey Holland mystery in February 2020.

To those of you outside Canada, do you have similar events in the U.S., UK, or Australia?

Welcoming Guest Mystery Author, Winona Kent

I’m delighted to host colleague and fellow BC mystery author, Winona Kent, this week. She’s just released her 4th Jason Davey mystery, Ticket to Ride, which I’ve finished reading and really enjoyed. If you like entertaining whodunits set in England and are a music fan, then this book is a must read. Winona’s post discusses an interesting and relatable aspect about herself and one of the characters in her book so, take it away Winona!

After a gap of about eight years, I’ve made a concerted effort to embrace social networking. I’ve just released a new novel, and this time I’m determined to work flat out at promoting it online. If nothing else, it’s causing my creative brain to go into overtime. I haven’t been this busy in decades.

I’ve written all kinds of posts (I know I’ve driven my friends crazy on Facebook). I have a mix of out-and-out promo’s for Ticket to Ride, along with personal things like photos from my recent trip to England, and random, off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts. What’s been an eye-opener to me is the popularity of one of posts on my personal Facebook page…a celebration that I’d lost 45 pounds over the past couple of years, got my Type 2 diabetes stabilized, and managed to get myself off insulin in the process.

At last count, that post had 111 reactions and 124 comments. I think that must be some kind of record for me.

I guess the weight loss thing resonates with a lot of my friends. We’re all getting older (I’m 67), and we’re all going to come to terms with health issues, sooner or later. Obesity has recently been officially recognized by medical communities as a chronic disease, rather than a behavioural issue, and that’s opened up all kinds of avenues for therapies that are more successful than the usual “eat less and exercise more” advice that our GP’s have issued in the past.

One of the other things that has resonated with my friends is the upsurge in Type 2 diabetes. I was diagnosed in 2009, but I wasn’t at all frightened. My husband had been diagnosed ten years earlier, so I knew it could be treated and managed with meds, lifestyle and diet changes.

What I didn’t know – until it was pointed out to me by the physicians at the medically-supervised weight loss clinic I attended – was that insulin actually promotes weight gain. It’s a sad irony. I was told that if I could lose weight, I could take the strain off my pancreas, and it might start to work more efficiently again. Yet, the one therapy that helps regulate our blood sugar the most, and which is prescribed routinely as standard treatment, is insulin. Go figure.

Anyway, long story short, I lost 45 pounds and because my pancreas was able to start working more efficiently again, I was able to stop taking insulin. I’m still on three other meds which control my glucose levels (one of them is that once-a-week shot which, as a side effect, also promotes weight loss). But I’ve been able to say goodbye to those nightly injections into my upper thigh. (I could never inject into my stomach – it’s far too sensitive.)

One interesting side-effect of being familiar with insulin, however, is that I was able to use my first-hand, intimate knowledge of the stuff in my latest novel, Ticket to Ride.

I did quite a lot of research on top of what I knew. I tasted it. Interesting. I smelled it. (Yes, insulin has a very distinctive smell – it’s the preservative.) I looked into all the different types (there are several, long-acting and short-acting, depending on your particular needs). And I looked into real cases of deliberate massive insulin overdose. And how they were treated. And what the recovery rate was. I had to read a lot of articles in peer-reviewed medical journals. Fortunately, before I retired, I worked in the Faculty of Medicine at UBC.

It was all for a good cause. My main character has a particularly harrowing run-in with insulin in Ticket to Ride. And you can be absolutely certain, when you read it, that I know exactly what I’m talking about.

Ticket to Ride was released on March 26.

More info at my website:

http://www.winonakent.com/tickettoride.html

Winona Kent is an award-winning author who was born in London, England and grew up in Canada, where she completed her BA in English at the University of Regina. After moving to Vancouver, she graduated from UBC with an MFA in Creative Writing. More recently, she received her diploma in Writing for Screen and TV from Vancouver Film School. Winona has been a temporary secretary, a travel agent, a screenwriter and the Managing Editor of a literary magazine. She’s currently serving on the Board of the Crime Writers of Canada and is an active member of Sisters in Crime – Canada West. She lives in New Westminster, BC, where she is happily embracing life as a full-time author.

Here’s some ordering links for a Ticket to Ride:

Amazon Canada: Paperback, ebook

Amazon US: Paperback, ebook

Amazon UK: Paperback, ebook

Barnes & Noble: Paperback, ebook

Apple books, Kobo