Making a list and checking it twice…

I sound like the jolly old man in the red suit but I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about preparations for my trip to Kansas for the debut of my novel, A Shadow in the Past, on September 15 – things to take, things to do before I leave. Most importantly passport and plane tickets, clothing (for the event and the rest of the weekend and sleepware), medications, glasses and cleaner for same, promotional stuff (business cards, postcards and bookmarks), pens to sign books, extra bag to bring books home in, followed by camera, iPad, iPad card reader, extra batteries and charger, mobile phone and charger for it. With the phone… must turn off a lot of e-mail notifications and remember to turn the beast off before I get on the plane or will get zapped with exorbitant roaming charges (maybe even go so far as to delete the Facebook and Twitter apps temporarily) to really ensure there’s not a lot of stuff happening. Phone on in the morning, then off until later in the evening. And the hotel has free wi-fi for guests so I could get along without the phone entirely since I can login to my webmail using my iPad when I’m there.

Then there’s my launch in Brockville the following Saturday which means charge my DVD recorder, format a DVD, get my book cover poster mounted, make sure my camera battery is in a fit state, decide what to wear because I don’t want to wear the same thing as I did in Kansas (I mean I can’t have people thinking I only have one outfit).

Oh, and then there is my fifteen day, twenty-one stop blog tour that starts on September 28. Have I sent my posts, author info, cover and author images, and where to buy links back to mine hosts and hostesses? I think so but must touch base with everyone to make sure. So I hope they understand my scattered-brainedness when I e-mail them AGAIN to ensure they have everything they need for my date with them.

I’m thrilled to be in this position and have dreamt about it for such a long time. My brain might be on overload right now but I’m loving every minute of it.








Today I welcome author Joanna Lambert to Celtic Connexions

Joanna Lambert joins me today here in my hometown along the shore of the St. Lawrence River. The sun is shining, it’s not oppressively hot and there is a beautiful breeze whispering through the trees surrounding my back yard. Since it’s such a nice day, I thought we would sit out on my deck, chat over some ice-cold lemonade and watch the birds and other wildlife come drink at either the birdbath or the waterfall fountain I have in one corner of the deck. I hope you’re not allergic to bees because they come to drink, too.

Your novels in the original Behind Blue Eyes Trilogy are all less than 300 pages. Did you ever contemplate putting them together into one novel? If so, what changed your mind?

Actually the manuscript was originally planned as one large book .  When I submitted to my current publisher, however, they would only take it in a two or three way split as it was too large and would have made the resale price prohibitive.

I know you self-published these books, was that a consideration in making three books?

Yes, as I said above, the publishers  liked the book but as they work out sale prices on page count, the resale price would have been astronomical.  I really wanted to keep the manuscript as one book and knew there was no way I could cut anything out or change the storyline to make it smaller.  So there was no alternative, I had to split it. I decided on a three way rather than a two and have to say, although it was hard work doing the rewrites, the whole thing turned out really well!

Had you tried the traditional route before deciding on “going it alone”?

Yes, I had sent the original manuscript to several agents.   I did get some really positive feedback but it was always a case of ‘thanks but no thanks’ and there were comments about it being a very large manuscript.  It was when I came to self-publish and was faced with having to split my work that I wondered whether the whole thing might have been a more attractive package had I marketed it as three separate books.

Will there be more involving the characters you’ve introduced us to after Between Today and Yesterday?

Yes, there will be one last book before I move onto something completely new.   This time Matt and Ella are very much in the background and it is the young adults who feature in Between Today and Yesterday who are the central characters who drive the plot.  I’m not quite there yet but what happens is going to be every bit as surprising as what goes on in Between Today and Yesterday.

Your original covers on your first three books were attractive, why did you decide to go with something more, shall I say bold? Have you noticed any increase in sales since your new covers went live?

I did like my original covers very much.  I chose them and felt they were right for each of the books.  However, it was when I had lunch with a fellow writer that she emphasised the importance of being ‘branded’.  She put me in touch with her own cover designer Jane Dixon Smith who worked with me to produce the new look.  I wanted to have a character on each of the covers.  So we have Ella, Andy and Matt on the trilogy and Marcie on the cover of Between Today and Yesterday.  The first three were done when the trilogy had been out for some time but there was definitely a slight surge in sales – although people who had already bought got in touch to say they were keen to get a set with the new covers!

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

I think self-belief and determination are both very important.  The writing journey can sometimes be difficult – there are good days you have when things go right and bad days when either the inspiration dries up or no matter what you write you’re not happy with.  When that happens you need to stay calm, hang on in there and convince yourself it’s just a passing phase.   Better still, close down the computer and come back to it later.  You’ll be surprised what a difference that can make!

The other piece of advice is get yourself an editor.  Having written four books now I know being the writer makes you far too close to your work and you just don’t see things that a fresh pair of eyes will pick up.  Believe me, a good editor can make all the difference!

When you’re not writing, what other hobbies do you enjoy?

Writing does take up a good deal of my time, but I also like to read – I have a Kindle but do occasionally get given the odd paperback to read as well.  I’m working part time now and allocate one of my free days for seeing friends and work colleagues I’ve kept in touch with over the years.   It’s great to meet for lunch and catch up on news.   I also love theatre (we’re really lucky in Bath having the Theatre Royal where we get a lot of pre-London productions).  Oh and I love the cinema too – we’ve a really good multiplex in the city.

Thanks for joining me here today on Celtic Connexions. It was good to see you. Maybe next time, we can take a little walking tour along the waterfront.

Another Scene of the Crime Mystery Festival has come to an end…

After thunderstorms and chances of rain predicted for today, the weather cooperated and the sun stayed out all day. Best of all, it wasn’t as humid as its been in previous years so it wasn’t as uncomfortable inside the venues. It was great to renew acquaintances with fellow attendees from previous years and catch up with authors I’ve met on other occasions. And I met some new authors, too.

We left the mainland from the ferry dock in Kingston filled with anticipation of what the day would bring. What we didn’t know was Scene of the Crime was competing with a music festival.

My wee black car squeezed in between a Merc and a Mazda on the ferry dock on the mainland.
The windmills on Wolfe Island
Approaching the ferry dock in the village of Marysville on Wolfe Island

After a meet and greet with the authors and the Grant Allen award winning members of The Ladies Killing Circle, we made our way to the first venue (United Church) where four authors read from their works. Since we were there in plenty of time, I took the opportunity to buy some books.

Author Thomas Rendell-Curran
YA Author Y.S. Lee
Author D.J. McIntosh
Author John Moss
All of the authors and festival president Violette Malan

After a delicious church lunch, everyone had a chance to get their books signed by the authors and visit with old and new friends before making the trek to the Anglican Church where the authors we enjoyed reading from their works in the morning session, held a panel discussion led by author Vicki Delany.

D.J. McIntosh, Y.S. Lee, Thomas Rendell Curran, John Moss and Vicki Delany
Y.S. Lee answering one of the questions posed by Vicki

A Q&A session followed the author panel before we adjourned for a short break to allow the “ladies” to get into their glad rags and ready for their turn. The Grant Allen award is a handcrafted kaleidoscope. And normally there is only one presented. But since six lovely ladies make up the killing circle – six of these beautiful handcrafted items were crafted in the shape of a stick pen, all in presentation boxes in the shape of books.

The Ladies Killing Circle – Mary Jane Maffini, Linda Wiken, Barbara Fradkin, Joan Boswell, Sue Pike and Vicki Cameron
Mary Jane Maffini wrapping up the Ladies Killing Circle discussion before the presentation of the awards

Another delicious meal served up by the church ladies rounded up the day accompanied by the presentation of the short story contest winners (no, I didn’t enter this year… too tied up with edits for that) but I did tell people we sat with at various times throughout the day that my novel was coming out next month.

One of the books I bought today was the one that Y.S. (Ying) Lee read the prologue from. Well my husband was so drawn in to the story, that by the time we left the island, he’d read the first six chapters! That’s quite the achievement. Usually, he only reads tech manuals, computer books, magazines and newspapers. So him getting drawn into a novel is huge! Who knows, maybe eventually, he’ll pick mine up and read it.

With the music festival and the ferry schedule being interrupted to bring an ambulance across and back to the mainland again, things weren’t as orderly and on time as usual.

Normally, there isn’t a police presence on the island (so we heard) but when we got to the ferry dock, a police cruiser was parked next to the building. When the ferry approached, the officer driving pulled the car to the parking spot at the head of the queue.

Waiting for our ferry to the mainland
Fort Henry
Royal Military College or RMC as its better known by

All in all, it was a great day and I can’t wait until next year’s festival.

Scene of the Crime – 2012 Edition

In just a few short hours, I’ll be heading off to Wolfe Island for the 2012 Scene of the Crime Mystery Writing Festival. I’m hoping for no rain although the weather forecast is calling for a chance of thunderstorms. But then they could make an interesting background atmosphere for a mystery writing festival.

The Ladies Killing Circle (Joan Boswell, Vicki Cameron, Barbara Fradkin, Mary Jane Maffini, Sue Pike, and Linda Wiken) are this year’s recipient of the Grant Allen Award.

Other authors taking part this year are YS Lee, DJ McIntosh, John Moss and Thomas Rendell Curren.

I’ll be back later this weekend with photos and a round up from today’s event.

Thousand Islands Writers Festival Second Annual Storefront Writing Contest

The second annual Storefront Writing Contest sponsored by the Thousand Islands Writers Festival takes place on

Saturday, August 25, 2012

from 10:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.


Downtown Brockville

So how does it work you ask? Well, it goes like this…

Rules of the Game:

  • Each designated storefront will host two or three contestants, each writing at a separate table.
  • Contestants will use a number in place of their name on their work to avoid judging bias.
  • Each contestant is given the same writing prompt supplied by TIWF at registration.
  • Contestants must produce a short story of no more than 2000 words, in a genre of their choice.
  • Contestants may use a laptop computer, typewriter or even write by hand in ink or pencil. If using a laptop computer, contestants must use a flash drive to avoid hardware conflicts during printing.


  • Entry Fee: $5
  • Entries must be submitted, along with the entry fee, by Monday, August 20. Download and print a copy of the entry form (use the button at the left).
  • Registration is held at the Brockville Public Library at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, where contestants will draw a location and be given the writing prompt.
  • Contestants will go to their designated writing location, where a chair and table will be set up. Electrical power will be available, if necessary.
  • Contestants will begin writing at 10:30 a.m. at the latest
  • Contestants must write a short story of no more than 2000 words, finishing no later than 4 p.m.
  • TIWF volunteers will be available from time to time to provide any help necessary to contestants.
  • Contestants must provide their own lunch and beverages during the contest.
  • When finished writing, contestants will turn in their writing at the Mill’s Grindstone Tapa Lounge on Water Street and join us for a post-contest social hour with refreshments.
  • Five judges will be given the entries on Monday, August 27 and be given three weeks to make their decision.


Registration on the day of the event takes place at the Brockville Public Library, 23 Buell St., Brockville at 9:30 a.m.

Entry Fee: $5
Entries must be submitted by Monday, August 20. Register early as space is limited.

Entry form can be downloaded from the Thousand Islands Writers Festival website at this link.

Automotion – August 5, 2012

Car shows might not have anything to do with writing, but it this car show is in my hometown and since I’m writing about it, it makes it about writing and photos and other little snippets of life I’ve included.

This morning’s thunderstorm around 5:00 followed by another rain shower around 7:30 severely reduced the number of participants at this year’s Automotion car show.

Normally, there isn’t an empty space to be had anywhere on Blockhouse Island, the Water St parking lot, Market St West and Armagh Sifton-Price Park. It’s always wall to wall cars. I’ve marvelled at how they get so many cars packed so tightly together and have thought I’d love to see them getting these beautiful machines maneuvered without damage.

After lunch, Mr MR-K and I walked down to the event in relative sunshine. At least there was a breeze down at the river and despite some ominous looking clouds blowing over, the only water was in the river and the bottled variety they were selling. The occasional spray from waves crashing against the breakwater was actually quite refreshing.

Because the weather forecast was for showers all day, I didn’t bother taking my digital SLR camera with me and just used the camera on my Blackberry.

Tow Mater’s cousin – Odessa Mater
Pontiac GTO Judge

My mum had one of these cars. Hers was a 1970 green in colour with a darker green vinyl roof. Pretty snazzy wheels and all of the neighbourhood kids lined up to be the first to go for a ride in it.

1955 Chev Belair 2 dr hardtop
1955 Chev Belair 2 dr hardtop

This white ’55 Chev is my step-dad’s. It didn’t look anywhere near this good when he first bought it but over the years, he worked away lovingly restoring it, has taken it to a number os shows and has the trophies, plaques and other prizes it’s won.

1957 Hudson Metropolitan
1957 Hudson Metropolitan

Of all the cars there, I would hazard to guess this little Hudson Metropolitan travelled the greatest distance – Elliott Lake to Brockville.

1958 Buick Century
1958 Pontiac Parisienne

The first car I remember my mum and dad having was a 1958 Pontiac Pathfinder that was yellow and white. I remember sitting on my father’s lap driving this boat on one of the back roads when I was three or four years old. Years later when he had a body job done on it, he had it painted red and white.

Modified Volkwagen Beetle

Nothing like the VW Beetle I had when I got married. Mine was a 1970, pale yellow with a semi-automatic transmission. Had to shift like a standard but there was no clutch. It was a fun little car to drive.

Well there you have it in a nutshell … a bit about me, a bit about some great looking cars … and a bit about Brockville.

Launch day for my novel, A Shadow in the Past, is getting closer

My novel’s cover created by Aidana WillowRaven

The closer launch day gets, the more excited I get. I still can’t believe it’s really happening. Me – having my novel published. Wow!

So what have I been doing the closer launch day gets? Well, I’ve put a countdown timer here on my blog and on the novels page of my website and I won’t bore you with how many days, hours, minutes and seconds it is until September 15 and the Kansas Book Festival arrives, which I’ll be attending.

Last week, I discovered that if I searched my name at my book is listed. No cover image but it is there. The first day I saw myself there, the note said sign up for e-mail notification when this product becomes available or something to that effect. I checked again a the next day and I was in stock along with a retail price but still no cover image and now, there were 3 other sellers with new copies. Yesterday, I was temporarily out of stock and up to 4 other sellers. Follow the bouncing book?

I decided it was as good a time as any to set up my author page at amazon so worked on it yesterday. You can view it at

And back to the bouncing book … this morning when I looked, I ship in 1 to 3 weeks.

Even though I said I wouldn’t do it, I have to … 40 days, 14 hours, 15 minutes and counting. And by the time this post goes live, the time to launch will be shorter.