My New Normal Begins

She Loves Her Balloon!

This week, I’ve started my new role as part-time caregiver for my granddaughter, Ellie, who’s just turned one. Because the commute’s too long to do daily, I’m staying out at my daughter and son-in-law’s place for half the week. I have to say, I’m getting a good workout by keeping up with Ellie as she crawls and pulls herself up on things constantly.

It also means reduced writing time and fewer blogs, but this is my choice. While it’s been a privilege to spend my first year of retirement writing full time, I’ve also reached a point in my life where doing so isn’t necessary. Honestly, there’s been many periods where it’s not been a priority. I’ve been lucky to enjoy part-time work, for the most part, and always found it easier to focus on writing when time was compressed.

I’ve spent the last four decades carving out bits of writing time on buses, during work lunch breaks, on holidays and long weekends, sitting in cars waiting for the kids to get out of school, at pool sides, skating rinks, Tae Kwon Do studios, and so forth. I’ve been lucky enough to work with agents, editors, publishers, and to self-publish.

I never planned to depend on fiction-writing to earn a living. I’ve never had a goal of reaching anyone’s bestseller list or acquiring a large advance with a major publisher. As a creative person who grew up poor, I’m quite fond of multiple income streams, even if they aren’t large. Besides, many of my story ideas always came from getting out in the world and working, whether paid or unpaid.

Sure, goals and circumstances will likely change again. These days, I’m content to write part-time. I’ll still be producing pages for my critique group every week and taking part in various events, and that’s just fine right now.

Speaking of events, I took part in a fun discussion about amateur sleuth fiction with two other British Columbia mystery writers, Winona Kent and Judee Fong, on Tuesday, which was moderated by cozy mystery author, Erik D’Souza. The recording’s still available, which you can find HERE.

If you’re interested in learning more about Crime Writers of Canada and Canadian writers, please check out the following links.

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New Giveaways and Crime-Writing Award Winners

This month, I’m taking part in another giveaway of mystery and suspense ebooks. For anyone looking to load up on summer reads, this is an opportunity to sample the work of authors you might be unfamiliar with. Please check it out HERE:

Speaking of crime fiction, on May 27th Crime Writers of Canada announced winners of the Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing awards (formerly known as the Arthur Ellis Awards). I’ve been part of this organization for over twenty years and it’s a great one for crime writers. Their link is HERE:

Now for the winners!

Best Crime Novel: The Finder, by Will Ferguson (Simon & Schuster Canada)

Best Crime First Novel: The Transaction, by Guglielmo D’Izza (Guernica Editions)

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada: Stay Where I Can See You, by Katrina Onstad (HarperCollins)

Best Crime Novella: Never Going Back, by Sam Wiebe (Orca)

Best Crime Short Story: “Cold Wave,” by Marcelle Dubé (from Crime Wave: A Canada West Anthology, edited by Karen L. Abrahamson; Sisters in Crime- Canada West Chapter)

Best French Crime Book (fiction and non-fiction): La mariée de corail, by Roxanne Bouchard (Libre Expression)

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (fiction and non-fiction): Red Fox Road, by Frances Greenslade (Puffin Canada)

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Non-fiction Crime Book:Missing from the Village: The Story of Serial Killer Bruce McArthur, the Search for Justice, and the System That Failed Toronto’s Queer Community, by Justin Ling (McClelland & Stewart)

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript: The Future, by Raymond Bazowski

Congratulations to all the winners!!

Write On, Vancouver 2018

On Saturday May 12, from 10:00 to 5:00, the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library (on Georgia Street) will host a day of day-long celebration of local writers and publishers.

I haven’t attended one before, but I’m happy to be volunteering at Crime Writers of Canada’s table this year from 2 to 4 pm.

The Write On website lists a number of different workshops and panel discussions that sound terrific. Check out the website HERE, and if you have a chance, take part at this free event, and come by and say hi!

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Arthur Ellis Shortlist Nominees Announced

arthur-200Last night, the Vancouver branch of Crime Writers of Canada enjoyed a terrific evening of discussion, nominee unveiling, book buying, and cake to celebrate Crime Writes of Canada’s 35th birthday this year.

Turnout was great at the VPL’s central library, and it was lovely to catch up with writing colleagues and my favorite mystery booksellers, Dead Write Books. Owners Jill and Walter have been one of the few constants in my writing career, and Vancouver is lucky to such knowledgeable independent booksellers. By the way, they also own White Dwarf Books, for all you fantasy and science fiction fans. Check out their website HERE.

I think this was the fourth or fifth AE Shortlist panel I’d been on over the last decade or so. If there was an award for the panelist who’s been at this writing/publishing game the longest, I’m pretty sure I would have taken one! It was great fun to sit beside two panelists who’ve just had their very first titles published. I remember those days, and wish them great success!

Please take a look at Crime Writers of Canada’s website for a complete list of this year’s nominees. The photo, by the way, is a picture of the Arthur Ellis hangman statue that winners will receive. Some categories also have cash prizes, so if you’re a Canadian crime writer with a book coming out in 2018, you might want to think about entering this fall. You don’t need to be a CWC member to enter. Winners will be announced on May 24th at gala in Toronto. For more info check out this link.

#amblogging: The Competition for Time, Attention, and Dollars

I’ve attended Canada’s annual Word on the Street event (now known as WORD Vancouver) for nearly twenty years. I remember many crowded, sunny days volunteering at the Crime Writers of Canada table. For a number of years, it took three or four of us to attend to the many people stopping by our table. Even on rainy days, there was still a great turnout as many events were held indoors.

Over the past five years, I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of attendees for this free event. This year, it was particularly noticeable. Although we enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day, the crowds I remember simply weren’t there. The construction at the front of the library might have put casual street traffic off, but it could have been something else.

big-event-fundraising[1]You see, what I’ve also noticed over the past decade is a marked increase in the number of events being held in Vancouver, and not just on the last Sunday of September, but on many weekends. Metro Vancouver has become a fundraising mecca for great causes and has also drawn an increasing number of high-profile sports events.

On the local newscast, I realized just how many other big events had taken place on Sunday. One of those was an Alzheimer’s Society of BC fundraiser, which was especially significant for me because my hubby (interviewed on TV) was there representing the Society.

Bark on Global-3

The thing is, all these worthy events have inevitably created a greater competition for much-needed dollars. Individuals only have so many hours in their schedule and dollars to give, while the need for food banks, for example, grows. In the end, some of the longstanding events might not see the crowds they once had. At the end of the day, everyone tries to do what they can, and hopefully lots of people gain a little something from these efforts.