Thursday, November 3, 2011


What to do when you’re not doing anything?

By ‘anything’ I mean writing. Having made a rash and irrational decision to split my time between two cities I’ve been amassing the goods and chattels for the second home. Incidentally, it’s amazing, or at least it was amazing to me as a want to be minimalist, that when I went through my house I found all kinds of things I could do without. Now I have much tidier cupboards and a pile of ‘stuff’ to go to the new place.

But, while I was doing all this searching, making mental lists, scurrying around and even buying some new things I wasn’t doing anything on a new novel that’s been limping along. What to do?

Writing is writing and it was time to produce my contribution to the Mystery Maven blog. That got me sitting in front of my computer and reading the blogs I’d missed while I focussed on domestic regrouping.

Rick Blechta’s generosity in sharing the details of his venture into the world of rapid readers was inspiring. These books provide an interesting challenge and are certainly valuable if they introduce reluctant or newly minted readers to the pleasures of reading.

Besides Rick Blechta other well known mystery writers like Gail Bowen and Barbara Fradkin have written for the series. If I hadn’t previously known about the restrictions I would not have noticed them in the two that I’ve read. Both books moved along at a good clip and had unexpected surprise endings. It would be interesting to know from Orca how this series has been received. In today’s rapidly paced world novellas may have a wider market than Orca first thought.

These books along with many others deserve a wider audience. Mary Jane Maffini, writing about the decline in mystery book reviewers and the shortness of time a book has to make an impact made the case for becoming involved. We must use the media at our disposal to praise the books we enjoy. The internet is going to replace the book store owner or employee who hand sells a book or an author. We are going to have to find the appropriate venues and do the job ourselves.

Venturing further back I enjoyed Sue Pike’s passionate plea for libraries and librarians. Recently the Toronto CBC has focussed on how much young people who do not have computers in their homes need the libraries and how this will continue to be a problem as the gap widens between those who have access to the latest technology and those who don’t. Think too of the children who come to groups to enjoy having librarians read to them. For some children who have no books at home or parents whose first language is not English they are only read to at day care or at the library and as a society we need them to love books.

Now that I’ve enjoyed a trip back through the blog I’m inspired. It’s time to drag the embryonic novel out and see what can be done to it.

Joan Boswell is a member of the Ladies Killing Circle and 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, 2006 and 2007. In 2000 she won the $10,000 Toronto Star’s short story contest. Joan lives in Toronto with three flat-coated retrievers.

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