Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm sorry to be the one to mention this, but fall is on its way. I know, a bit soon to think of that, and our summer has been fabulous. But look at the positive things about fall -- not having to wear sun screen and all the new mysteries on the fall publishing lists!

If you live in the Ottawa area, it will be an exciting fall as new books will be out from Brenda Chapman (her first adult mystery after many years of writing children & YA), and C.B. Forrest's second book, plus Vicki Delany has another Klondike title out, Mary Jane Maffini's 4th Charlotte Adams came out in July, and Rick Mofina has a new release, too -- which they'll all continue to promote at various events and signings. That's just a sampling of what to look for this fall and they'll be joined by many more Canadian mystery authors.

Check your local bookstore for news about signings -- in particular, Leishmans Books in Ottawa for launch news. And, visit these blog and websites for even more tidbits -- Type M For Murder, One Woman Crime Wave, Crime Writers of Canada, Bloody Words 2011. If you have any favourite blog sites, please let me know!

I'm on holidays for the next two weeks, but promise to update this blog as soon as I'm back. I'd like to leave you with my first Mystery Maven review.

by Mary Jane Maffini
Berkley Prime Crime

You can bet professional organizer Charlotte Adams will find it's murder trying to sort through her new client's closets. When this client happens to be a friend of her mother's, and she's someone who believes her daughter's recent death was really murder and not accidental, Charlotte has to cope with much more than she bargained for. But she's persistent, even when hampered by the odd behaviour of her long-time friend/nemesis, Pepper; the equally odd doings of her landlord/confidant, Jack; and those two determined Daschunds, Sweet Marie and Truffles.

Trust Charlotte to right wrongs and tidy the clutter...and leave you smiling. Trust Mary Jane Maffini to serve up a tasty blend of humour, tension, wonderful characters, and of course, organizing tips. And, did I mention the mystery? Maffini gets it all right!

Check out her website for listings of her three series. And soon, you can visit her at Mystery Maven for Mondays are Murder.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


For me writing a book takes me on a long and winding investigative internet road that is a pleasure to travel. I wonder if it’s the same for other writers.

As I began the fourth Hollis Grant book I went to the Toronto Children’s Aid society and Ontario government to read the rules for fostering. I needed to find out if a parent voluntarily relinquished a child to care but not for adoption if he could direct the child’s life. I’m not entirely clear what the answer is so more research will be necessary.

The next question involved names. There are several aboriginal characters in this book. As I had taught in a one room school on the Caradoc agency outside London Ontario I knew Oneida surnames but since I wasn’t sure if the character would come from this reserve or from Brantford I investigated the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy and the Mohawk tribal council looking for office holders’ surnames. I decided on Hill. However a friend told me that calling a child Crystal Hill made her sound like a diamond mine so I changed it to Montour.

I moved on to Western Canada to Poundmaker’s, Sweetgrass, Red Pheasant, Mosquito and Moosomin reserves to fine appropriate Cree surnames. Often I was diverted into reading much more than I’d originally intended.

Then came questions about drug use and methadone. The Canadian Association of Mental Health, CAMH, publishes a user-friendly attractive purple handbook on methadone maintenance treatment which is available online and makes for interesting reading.

At the same time that I was doing this I read in the Globe and Mail that the Sisters in Spirit, an offshoot of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, had just published an update of their 2009 report on missing or murdered aboriginal women. Online I read the report with it’s horrifying statistics and sad conclusion that, particularly in BC, aboriginal sex trade workers are societal throw-aways.

From BC to Ontario, to Toronto to download the Metropolitan Toronto Police files to see what had been happening with murdered or missing aboriginal women and concluded that Ontario had been doing a better job than BC. Again the questions arose - why are so many aboriginal women employed in the sex trade and why are such disproportionate numbers incarcerated? And, what role did the inter-generational impact of residential schools play in determining these numbers?

An apartment building plays a major role in the book and I used another government site to pinpoint tenants’ rights. A number of renters in the building are call girls working for an escort agency or for themselves. Learning on line about the organization and operation of escort agencies was fascinating, particularly scholarly articles extolling the positive effects of such a career!

And on it goes. When I think what this winding trail would have involved before Google and the Internet I wonder how books ever got written.

As I’m only half way through the first draft I’m sure other interesting discoveries await me. If you’re a writer this circuitous winding route must be part of your life. What are the most astonishing sites that you have found? I’d love to know.

Joan Boswell A member of the Ladies Killing Circle Joan co-edited four of their short story anthologies: Fit toDie, Bone Dance, Boomers Go Bad and Going Out With a Bang. Her three mysteries, Cut Off His Tale, Cut to the Quick and Cut and Run were published in 2005, 2007 and 2007. In 2000 she won the $10,000 Toronto Star’s short story contest. Joan lives in Toronto with three flat-coated retrievers.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A week in the life of a blog.

More good news -- this blog will be expanding over the next days and months. Writing is a lonely pursuit, they say...but not when there's an entire crime writing community to drag into posting blogs.

On Mondays, join popular Ottawa mystery author Mary Jane Maffini, as she takes time out from writing her three -- yes, three series. She'll stop by with her musings for Mondays are Murder.

Tuesday brings Trouble so stop by for some words of wisdom by guest bloggers from the Canadian writing community, talking about their writing, their characters, their books, their carpel tunnel syndrome...whatever is on their minds.

On Wednesdays, ... well, it's still in the making, so you'll have to stand by for the 'reveal'. When I know, you will.

On Ladies' Killing Thursdays, it's those dangerous dames, my writing buddies, The Ladies' Killing Circle taking turns and chiming in. We'll kick it off this Thursday with Joan Boswell, author of the wonderful Hollis Grant series and co-editor for many of the LKC anthologies.

On Fridays, it's my turn again and I'll be posting the long-awaited reviews, news and whatever else I feel like throwing in. I'm calling it, Crime on My Mind.

As always, I'd love to hear your comments on any and all of the blogs, on what's happening with Canadian crime and mystery writing, and what you happen to be reading at the moment. In fact, what are you reading?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Entertaining a split personality.

Erika Chase stopped by today, not for as long as I would have liked, but enough time to plot things along and get another couple of chapters written. Yesterday, she hung around for most of the afternoon and we whipped through 20 pages. Seems I can't get things written without her presence.

I go on Facebook and check the Linda page, maybe post what's on my mind if I think it will be of interest to others. I'll comment on some other posts or hit the 'like' tab a few times. Then, I sign out and got to Erika's page. Since we're friends, I read my postings there and sometimes comment. Of course, Erika has other things on her mind so often finds she needs to post. Sign her off. All is well.

Then, it's time to check email. That would be three addresses when you add Mystery Maven to Linda & Erika.

By that time, I need to check who I really am.

And, let's not get into the deal about websites. Do we really each need one? Yes, I'm told. That's the wonderful world of promo and you have to hit the writing business at a full gallop these days.

They great thing about it is there are so many wonderful examples out there already. Look at all the blogs. Type M for Murder features well-known Canadian authors, Crime Writers of Canada has its own, as does Anthony Bidulka (and it's a particularly funny one). In my new field of cosies, there are numerous sites to feed the inquiring brain. Let me know your blogsite and I'll try to give it a mention and bookmark it for sure.

The same goes for many writers are doing such great things on the web these days. I'm a real neophyte but enjoying every minute of the research. And, I'm finding out such great things about fellow writers. I hope the readers are taking full advantage of blogs and websites, too.

So, tonight, I think I'm looking forward to some reading and then another episode of Flashpoint. Erika's on her own. I'm sure she'll be back tomorrow and maybe she'll bring with her some insights -- one can hope!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This is first blog as Mystery Maven Canada. A long time in coming (since I did start mentioning it in March) but life does intrude at times. What you'll find at this blogspot is news, reviews, and words from fellow Canadian crime writers! It's a celebration of crime writing in Canada and I'm inviting some friends you may know to contribute their words of wisdom as the weeks go by.

I'm hoping that the bookstore where you do your mystery shopping is well-stocked with Canadian writers and titles. And sure, that applies to on-line shopping also. But you'll see where my biases lie when you check out the 'About Me' section. As I become more proficient with blogging, I hope to add features where you can interact and post your own comments and reviews. Because, let's face it, there's never too much information on the web about Canadian crime writing.

Some new titles on my shelf right now: Closet Confidential by Mary Jane Maffini; Date with a Sheesha by Anthony Bidulka; Free Form Jazz by Lee Lamothe; and advance reading copies of In Winter's Grip by Brenda Chapman; and, Slow Recoil by C.B. Forrest.

I'll start reading right away but I have to take time out now and then to write my own series for Berkley Prime Crime which won't be on the shelves for awhile but believe me, this won't be my only BSP -- ok, it will be until I get some firm details like title and pub date. What I can tell you though is my pseudonym -- Erika Chase.

My hope is that you'll find this a useful blog when it comes to choosing your reading and also, that you'll come to know our fabulous Canadian mystery writers a bit better. This is by no means a thumbs down on mysteries written by our wonderful writing friends in the U.S. So, please continue to read your favourites, too. I just think we need a bit more promotion for those of us above the 49th parallel.

And for a start, please check the website for Crime Writers of Canada and "hang around with a great gang of authors".