Thursday, April 26, 2012


Recently I had the pleasure of attending a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic. In this warm tropical setting I spent time at the pool and the beach where I became aware of tattoos. In chilly Canada only the tattoos that creep above the collar or snake out from sleeves draw attention. In the DR it seemed everyone had one or two or many and some were so amazing staring was mandatory. What kind of a man has the crucifixion covering his whole back? And what’s with pretty girls festooned with gigantic tattoos over their shoulders and backs? Tattoos also crept across the backs of brides adding a surprise element to their beautiful traditional dresses. Interestingly one very hip grandmother visiting with her daughter and grandchild not only had an abundance of tattoos she had a lip ring and a multitude of ear piercings. In contrast her daughter had nary a one. Was this reverse rebellion? Why this obsession with tattoos? is the influence of Hollywood stars? Is it a way to make a statement in an increasingly busy world where grabbing the spotlight is not easy? A friend told me he had five and would get more but he drew the line at using his body to celebrate dead people. Then directed me to You tube video, “Go Beyond the Cover” which is totally creepy but the comments about it are interesting. There were dozens more videos about the best, the worst, the sickest tattoos along with two TV shows devoted to tattoos. I’d stumbled into a wonder world. As a Canadian I only see acres of semi-clothed bodies in the summer or perhaps at the pool. Oddly enough in my aqua fit class I have yet to spot a single tattoo but perhaps that is a generational thing. I have to file this newly discovered information away for future use. When the police ask distraught parents or partners about body markings I’ll have to include a detailed description judging which type to use - the shocking, demure or completely bizarre. It may be that someday soon fictional detectives will wonder why a person of a certain age does not have a tattoo. Interesting thought. I have to confess that I was much attracted to a spider centred over a navel which appeared to move as the man walked. If only it didn’t hurt so much to have them applied.
A member of the Ladies Killing Circle, Joan Boswell co-edited four of their short story anthologies: Fit to Die, 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. The latest in the series, Cut to the Bone, will be published by Dundurn in November. In 2000 she won the $10,000 Toronto Star’s short story contest. Joan lives in Toronto with three flat-coated retrievers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Heading out...
Two things struck me late last night. I hadn't yet finished packing for Malice Domestic. And secondly, when I tried to post and schedule a new blog, I found that the 'Blogger' format and system had changed! When did that happen? Sometime since Monday morning, apparently. That was the last time I was physically accessing the blog settings. Why do they do that?! Especially when I don't have time to do a self-teaching session! So, I can eventually get into this space and write a blog but can I schedule a blog to be posted tomorrow, Friday or Monday? No! So, my apologies. While I'm away at Malice, the repeating blog will be by Joan Boswell, which I'm posting right before hitting the road in the morning. But it's a good blog and re-reading it may trigger some writing ideas. So that's a good thing. Nor can I get this Blogger to insert paragraphs! What's up????? But back to my rant, especially since in the cold light of day, nothing has changed. This hasn't morphed back into the easy Blogger I grew into liking. Nor has my suitcase been miraculously filled and better still, proven able to be closed. I draw two conclusions from this -- I truly am a luddite when it comes to all things electronic (like that DVD player still in its box 5 months later) and now, Blogger. Also, that I spend too much time fussing over what clothing to take to the conference. Of course, there are a variety of functions to attend over the weekend...and, a gal's got to have her shoes! But that's not the real focus of this conference. We all know that! Malice Domestic, which takes place in Bethesda, MD from April 27-29th is the ultimate 'cosy' conference in the U.S. It's been running for decades -- in fact, it was the first mystery conference I ever attended back in 1989, its very first year. I haven't been there for ten years so I'm really looking forward to seeing old and new faces, and enjoying the changes in format. And there have been many, starting with the New Author's Breakfast this Saturday (7 a.m.!!) at which we'll each have a short 2-min. interview and then spend the rest of the time munching along with our tablemates, a mixture of readers and writers. That's what Malice is all about. It's a terrific chance to meet the readers -- and boy, do they attend! -- and to get to know new colleagues, and meet with old friends. As part of the Killer Characters blogspot, we have a crossword puzzle planned with the prize, a year's supply of our books -- one a month from each of us to the lucky winner! That will be fun! And, then there are the panels. Mine is the Southern mysteries panel at 9:30 a.m. on Sat. and I'm on with some of my favourite authors. Then there's the Agatha Awards banquet that evening with two Canadians up for prizes -- Louise Penny for Best Novel, and Janet Bolin for Best First Novel. Fingers crossed! The day after the conference, we'll be in Oakmont, PA for the Festival of Mystery. That's in it's 17th year and attracts between 300 & 400 readers to a spot where the 50+ authors are in signing mode. Once again, the newbies will have short interviews and then it's a reader-writer fest! Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to all this and a chance to spend the weekend as Erika Chase! It will also be much fun getting there as we're driving the ten-hour route. That's R.J. Harlick, Vicki Delany, Janet Bolin and Erika. Can you imagine the laughter! So, back to packing mode. And maybe I shouldn't worry about unpacking when we get home. After all, it's just a month until Canada's amazingly great mystery conference Bloody Words in Toronto. Being a mystery author is a really hard job!
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase A Killer Read Berkley Prime Crime, now available Read & Buried, coming Nov., 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012



I never thought anything could compare to the high you get when your first child is born. So it rather shocked me when – Alex and Natalie stop reading now – I experienced something akin to that high again last Thursday night at the Arthur Ellis short list event in Toronto. Yes, I had actually made the short list! And dang, wasn’t that a kick.

But also alarming. I raced home to dig out my ‘bucket list’ written 23 years ago, written in 1989 when I won my first writing award (Canadian Living Magazine). Damn straight, I’ve been kicking around a long time, decades longer than most of my colleagues realize.

This list of What-I-must-accomplish-before-I-die also included such items as “Learn to dance Flamenco,” and “Fly a plane.” Flamenco got a tick in 1996 (damn hard on your feet) and so did plane (except I ran out of money during the whole pilot training thingy and had to metaphorically bail). That list also included a few other items, one of which was x-rated (I invite people to comment by guessing what THAT was. If you’ve read Rowena Through the Wall, you may come close.)

One by one, I had crossed all these items off my list. Except one.

Back in my home office with the lovely arched window and the rickety desk, I opened the old claret journal (paper journal, of course – no smart-phones back then.) There it was, page marked with a post-it tab: “Bucket list.” And the only remaining uncrossed item: “Be a finalist for a major writing award.”

Not the winner, you note. Nope – my goal back then was to be in good company. And dammit, Thursday night put me in the best.

I’ve won six awards for fiction before. This year I was a finalist for the Derringer. But in no way did that begin to reach the thrill of being shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for short stories, at our Crime Writers of Canada event, with so many of my author friends in attendance and cheering me on.

Bless them. Writers are the best people in the world. They are the smartest people I know, always using their minds. And they have big hearts. They know the true joy that comes from being assessed by a jury of your peers, and found worthy.

For on Thursday night last week, I discovered that “A Jury of Her Peers” is the highest court. The title of that celebrated short story by Susan Glaspell rings in head and heart. And I am supremely grateful.

Melodie Campbell is the author of over 40 short stories and 100 comedy credits. Her third novel, The Goddaughter (Orca Books) will be released Sept. 1.

Monday, April 23, 2012


What's your starting point?

How many of you start writing a book with a theme in mind? How about a social issue you want to address? Just what is your starting point?

I thought I started with the characters. I'd think of a person, male or female, age, occupation and give him or her a name. Then I'd try on a plot for size. Did this character fit into an art scam which ended up with murder or was this person more the librarian with a deep-rooted crime fighting persona who beat the bushes when a favourite patron is found dead in the stacks?

Weave around those facts some supporting characters within a setting; the dialogue would then emerge and voila, a story is born.

I didn't think I wrote with a theme in mind. Surprise, self. You do! The enlightenment came to me from a question Vicki Delany asked when working on the Bloody Words conference programme for this year. The answer had been there all along, I'd just never had the time or taken the time, to stop and think about it.

My series is about community. Not the physical setting with city boundaries or county lines. It's the community of people who come together, in this case to form a book club, and how relationships then develop and what comes out of that. In this case, six people who besides discussing books, get into some serious sleuthing.

This community is supportive and therefore develops into some deep friendships. Much like some of the communities I belong to; the various communities you belong to, also. And hopefully, that's a theme that resonates with readers and will keep them reading through the next two books in the series.

Of course, it helps to have a puzzle to unravel, since this is about mystery...and that body or two adds the enticing element.

So, back to my original you have a theme when writing? Are you aware of it when you start? Or is it something that finally dawns on you, when someone asks the question?

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
Read & Buried, coming Nov., 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012


The party's over...pass the caffeine!

Wow...what a night! Had such fun at my joint launch with Vicki Delany at the Library & Archives last night. Couldn't believe how quickly the time went. First we were setting up, then signing, talking and reading and then cleaning up. What did that take -- 20 minutes?

Thanks to everyone who attended. It really means a lot to an author to have old friends, for me -- former customers who I'd lost touch with, family and writing colleagues turning out to help celebrate. Because each launch, but especially the launch of your first book, is so special and exciting.

Vicki Delany, ever glamorous in her exotic hat collection, was worth the price of admission! She's such fun to work with on an event. And an old pro, having had ten of these already under her belt! Thanks, Vicki.

Thanks, too to Mary Jane Maffini who also glammed up the event as our MC! Witty and mysteriously adept at ferreting out facts with which to pepper the intros! And thanks, too to the ever-supportive members of The Ladies' Killing Circle!

I'm afraid I can't get my brain working in blog format today so will leave it at this launch wrap-up. Because as we all know, today it's all about back to work. A deadline is looming....aren't they always!

Happy writing and happy launching to those planning their own fetes!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
Read and Buried, coming Nov., 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The Underling

I read a book recently that I really loved. This isn't unusual in itself. I like books just about as often as I dislike them. The thing is this wasn't a book I expected to like as much as I did. First of all, it's not a mystery, although it has some pretty suspenseful moments and it evolves into a dandy spy story at the end. And secondly, the heroine of the novel is a secretary, of all things.

The Underling, by Ian McKercher, (GSPH, 2012) is about the beginnings of the Bank of Canada as seen through the eyes of young Frances McFadden. Frances was no ordinary secretary although she was probably not unique among her peers in the Government of Canada and its agencies. Remember that women who chose this profession (and it was one of only a handful available to us in the first half of the twentieth century) often gave up any chance of marriage or families of their own. It was only in the sixties that the Bank of Canada allowed women to remain in their jobs once they married.

Frances is seventeen in 1934 when she's plucked out of Ottawa's High School of Commerce to organize the research facility that would become Canada's central bank in 1935. Although young and inexperienced, she is a perfect character to lead readers through Canada's formative years as an economic player on the world stage. She's efficient, articulate, resourceful and most of all, she's inventive. The men in this heady world of finance were far too busy going to meetings to actually carry out the plans they made. It was women like Frances, who with little direction or supervision figured out how to make things happen. In 1939, with war looming, Frances sails to Europe to rescue the Polish Gold reserves from a rapacious German Reich.

Half the fun of reading The Underling is trying to figure out what is historical fact and what is fiction. McKercher's Ottawa of the thirties with its streetcars and elevator operators rings true. The author is an historian and he obviously knows old Ottawa inside out. William Lyon MacKenzie King is a character in the novel as is Graham Towers, the first Governor of the Bank of Canada. We do know that the Polish gold reserves were sheltered by Canada during the war but whether they were captured in a friendly heist by a twenty-two-year-old girl is something I prefer not to question. There are some stories that are so well written that I allow myself to be swept away and want to believe they actually happened.

The official book launch for The Underling will take place at 7:30 p.m. on April 22 at Glebe-St. James United Church hall, 650 Lyon St. Ottawa. The book is available at independent bookstores in Ottawa as well as Chapters and online at Kindle and Kobo.

Sue Pike has published a couple of dozen stories and won several awards including an Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Crime Story. Her latest, Where the Snow Lay Dinted will appear in the January issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.

Sue and her husband and an opinionated Australian Shepherd named Cooper spend the winter months in Ottawa and the rest of the time at a mysterious cottage on the Rideau Lakes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


It’s launch time!

If you follow Erika Chase or me on Facebook, or on Twitter, you’re undoubtedly aware that tomorrow night is LAUNCH NIGHT! The first Ashton Corners Book Club mystery, A Killer Read will officially make its presence known.

Not that anyone could have missed the fact that it’s now on the bookshelves in local stores and available on line. And, please allow me a little BSP here, as I’m

sure this will happen only once in my life – it made #2 on the Barnes & Noble Mystery Bestseller list and #28 on their overall list last week! I don’t know if I was more shocked or delighted. Probably a dead heat.

So now, two weeks and some days later, it’s the launch. Why bother, you might ask? Everyone knows already.

True. But the point of the launch is to celebrate. I’ll be celebrating with my good friend Vicki Delany as she launches her 11th novel! That’s quite an achievement in itself. Gold Mountain is the third book in her second series, the Klondike Gold Rush series and it’s a lot of fun. Vicki’s really made a name for herself over the years and it’s taken a lot of hard work to get where she is. So, we’re celebrating all of that.

And, we’re celebrating our writing friends and readers. It’s a wonderful, supportive community and I know, Erika wouldn’t have made that bestseller list without a lot of reviewing, tweeting, and liking by friends.

Of course, writers write for themselves. For the pure pleasure of weaving together a story and then sharing it with the readers. So, this is also a celebration of the reader. Without them, who would buy the books? Okay, relatives are a given. But we’re truly thankful that someone chooses to buy, read and enjoy what we’ve spent so many months writing and agonized over through rewrites and edits.

So, I hope you’ll be able to join Vicki and me for our celebration of us and you! And don’t forget…there will be chocolate!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime, now available
Read and Buried, coming Nov., 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The Anti-Noir

I believe I may have invented a new sub-genre: the anti-noir.
Noir is roughly defined as essentially pessimistic, having a hopeless tone, depicting a world that is inherently corrupt, a sense of heightened anxiety and alienation. (Wikipedia)

In contrast, my new book, Gold Mountain: A Klondike Mystery is set in the Yukon in 1898, at the height of the Great Klondike Gold Rush, where optimism, warranted or (mostly) not, was the order of the day.

In the late 1890s, the United States was in the midst of a severe depression. When news of a gold strike in the remote Canadian Territory of the Yukon reached the depression-stuck cities of the south, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people abandoned farms and factories and families, sold all their possessions, borrowed what they could, quit jobs, and headed north, into the wilderness. It was perhaps the last time in history when thousands of people could simply leave home, sell everything, and set off – on foot! into the wilderness in the hopes of making a fortune.

They were driven by a spirit of optimism that was largely unwarranted. By the time news got to the Outside of the gold finds, most of the best claims had been taken, and all that was left for those who scrambled up the Chilkoot Trail (with a thousand pounds of supplies on their back) were jobs working someone else’s claim. Other than a few lucky miners, the people who really made the money were those who ‘mined the miners’. The dance hall owners (such as my protagonist, Fiona MacGillivray), businessmen, shop keepers.

When you consider that in the summer the sun barely set, that dance halls, bars and gambling rooms were open 24 hours a day (with the exception of Sunday), that the North-West Mounted Police (precursors to the RCMP) had stamped law and order on the town so that crime wasn’t much of a problem, Dawson in 1898 really was the opposite of noir. Is there a word for that? There should be.

But clouds were gathering…

The nineteenth century was coming to an end, and the twentieth about to begin. With so much hope and promise. In Gold Digger, the first book in the series, the landlady, Mrs. Mann, says to Fiona’s son Angus, when he wishes they had a telephone: Many wonderful changes you’ll see in your lifetime, dear.

The tragedy of the twentieth century is that all the changes weren’t exactly wonderful. Angus is 12 in 1898 – in 1914 he’ll be 28, just the right age to enlist in World War I.

I have attempted to keep a lighthearted tone in the series, fitting the sense of the time and place that I get reading about it and looking at all the wonderful old photographs. The horrors of the twentieth century are still to come, so let’s let the cheechakos and sourdoughs and dance hall girls and NWMP officers and gamblers and ladies of the night have their fun while they can in the Last Great Gold Rush.

“It’s a crime not to read Delany,” so says the London Free Press.

Vicki Delany is one of Canada’s most varied and prolific crime writers. Her popular Constable Molly Smith series (including In the Shadow of the Glacier and Among the Departed) from Poisoned Pen Press have been optioned for TV by Brightlight Pictures. She writes standalone novels of modern gothic suspense such as Burden of Memory and More than Sorrow (Sept 2012), as well as a light-hearted historical series, (Gold Digger, Gold Mountain), set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush, published by Dundurn. She is also the author of a novel for reluctant readers, titled A Winter Kill, part of the Rapid Reads series.
Having taken early retirement from her job as a systems analyst in the high-pressure financial world, Vicki is settling down to the rural life in bucolic, Prince Edward County, Ontario where she rarely wears a watch.
Visit Vicki at ,, and twitter: @vickidelany. She blogs about the writing life at One Woman Crime Wave (

Monday, April 16, 2012


Spring has sprung!

A blog I was reading earlier triggered today’s thoughts. It’s spring! Time for new beginnings. And rather than mention a certain wedding I attended, I’m back to writing topics.

I’m thinking of new beginnings for older books. Those ones that have gone out-of-print or may never even have met a publisher. Everywhere you look, authors are turning these wonders into e-books and the reading public seems to be snapping them up.

The Ladies’ Killing Circle decided to give it a go and put together Little Treasures last year. It’s a collection of our short stories from the very first LKC anthology, The Ladies’ Killing Circle. We went the easy route and hired publishing whiz Donna Carrick to handle to technical side, a decision we’re still patting ourselves on the back for. While many choose to do the entire process on their own, none of us has the time nor inclination (read ‘technical knowledge’) to tackle the task.

We’re now contemplating producing another but that decision requires a few more glasses of wine.

What a great way to breathe new life into stories that have long been forgotten. There’s an entire new readership out there theses days and tons more books with which to compete. Little chance those earlier backlist or stand-alones would have a chance if it weren’t for e-books.

And I say that, even after spending a frustrating week with my Kobo. I know, I may one day embrace the new technology but for now, it was expedient but not particularly pleasing.

I’d be interested in hearing your e-book experiences. Hope they all start out with the phrase, “I made tons of money doing this.”

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase

A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime, now available

Friday, April 6, 2012



It's Blog-oliday time! I won't be posting again until Monday, April which point I'll be back from a trip to the sunny southern regions and my son's wedding!

So, since I'll be partying it's only fair that the blog be in party mode also.

Hence, a Blog-oliday and you're all invited. However, you have to bring along your favourite character from a mystery novel. And, we'd like to know why this character is so privileged to receive an invitation.

I'll start it off by bringing Insp. Aurelio Zen from the Michael Dibdin series. He's irreverent, a bit on the dark side, but with a sense of humour at just the right moments, and a lot of tales to tell. Plus, he's Italian! Okay, he is also dead. But these are fictional characters, so anything goes!

Okay...your turn! I'm anxious to see what our party mix is like by the time I return.

Party on!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Honouring one of our own.

Today on Ladies’ Killing Circle Thursday, I want to celebrate the Mystery Maven herself. This is a very special week for her.

For nearly twenty-five years, Linda has worked tirelessly on behalf of Canadian mystery writers and readers. She started off by founding a local writers’ group called Capital Crime Writers at a time when there were almost no groups dedicated to this craft. It began with half a dozen members and over the years grew to about eighty, becoming the most productive writers’ group in the city, possibly the country. It is responsible for Ottawa’s huge success as a hotbed of crime (writing, I mean), launching the careers of about twenty published writers. Linda was its first president. In short order she also gathered together the critiquing group that became the Ladies’ Killing Circle, editors of seven successful short story anthologies.

Her love of mysteries, and her understanding of the hurdles faced by new authors and particularly Canadian authors, also led her to buy Prime Crime Mystery Bookstore along with friend and fellow Ladies’ Killing Circle author Mary Jane Maffini. Over the years, Linda welcomed numerous authors for signings in her store, found homes for their books and celebrated their launches. When Mary Jane’s writing demands became too arduous, Linda continued alone, one of only a half-dozen bookstores dedicated to crime in the entire country.

In the twenty years since we began, we LKCers have all had success with our short stories. We have sold stories elsewhere and received numerous Arthur Ellis Best Short Story nominations and awards (including Linda). We have also gone on to success in other writing ventures, three of us as novelists, Vicki Cameron as a YA writer both here and overseas, and Sue Pike as a publisher/ editor of her own anthology, as well as a premiere short story writer. Linda hosted all our launches and supported us throughout, while her own writing aspirations had to take a back seat.

But no more. After ten years of coping with economic crashes, the rise of big box stores and road construction on the store’s street, Linda decided it was time to let her own dreams take flight. She worked hard on a proposal, landed a three-book publishing contract with Berkeley, and began to write the first in her Ashton Corners Book Club series set in Alabama and written under the pen name Erika Chase. As every author knows, it’s a looo-ooong process from first draft to book-on-the-shelf, but that day finally arrived this week. Linda’s debut novel, A Killer Read, was released this week, and will be officially launched at the Library and Archives Canada on April 19.

Even as she worked on her own writing, Linda didn’t abandon her crime writing and reading friends. To replace Prime Crime Bookstore, she launched Mystery Maven Canada, which has quickly become one of the top blogs of, for and about Canadian crime fiction.

But enough of self-sacrifice, Linda. This is your week, and I know that the rest of us LKCers and indeed all your friends in the writing community are thrilled for you. A Killer Read is a fabulous read. Come hell or high water, we will all be there on April 19 to celebrate with you. Congratulations, Linda!

Barbara Fradkin is a child psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. In addition to her darkly haunting short stories in the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, she writes the gritty, Ottawa-based Inspector Green novels which havewon back to back Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada. The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, explores love in all its complications. And, her new Rapid Read from Orca, The Fall Guy, was launched last May.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The masters of crime....

April is also the release month for another Canadian mystery author, one far better known than Erika Chase, whose contribution to the Canadian crime writing scene is immense.

Gail Bowen's 13th novel in the Joanne Kilbourn series, Kaleidoscope, will be released later this month. That's an amazing feat from the viewpoint of someone just starting to populate the shelves.

Gail's first book, Deadly Appearances appeared in 1990 and I was hooked. I loved the Joanne Kilbourn character, the recent widow of a political aide, who becomes enmeshed in the murder of a politician they both knew. She was a clever, warm, convincing person, mother of two, and if I recall correctly, teaching part-time at the university. My apologies, Gail if I've gotten the teaching part wrong. I obviously need to go back and start at the beginning again. I'd enjoy that!

In subsequent novels, Joanne Kilbourn has grown on all fronts -- as a mother, teacher, lover and once again, married but always, a sleuth who is passionate about helping her friends and writing wrongs. That sounds trite but Joanne has a strong sense of morality and integrity, both propelling her to search for the truth.

The novels have grown in depth and breadth, all to the benefit of the Canadian mystery writing scene, emerging authors, and the ever-demanding readers.

We owe Gail Bowen an enormous amount of respect. Just as we also owe Peter Robinson, William Deverell, and those giants of crime writing, Eric Wright, Howard Engel, L.R. Wright, Laurence Gough and Medora Sale. Those were the authors who led the charge to making the crime and mystery writing genre a relevant piece of the cultural landscape in this country. Of course, there were others and I should go on but I know I'll always leave out a name of importance.

Perhaps you can help me? Who would you add to this list? And, I'm thinking, authors who started their careers in the 70's, 80's and 90's.

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Release Day!

This is it -- the official release day of A Killer Read! I can't believe it's finally here and in another way, how time has flown. I guess that's always the way with good things.

I did get a sneak preview though. Yesterday I wandered through my nearby bookstore -- just to look -- and there it was. Face out, even! I was so thrilled, I took a picture.

The various stages have made me aware of the reality but it's been a long process.
The cover conference was probably one of the highlights, as it gave a texture to what had been only words, up to then. Then came the advance reading copies. What fun! Followed by my author copies of the actual book. You wouldn't believe how many places in a house you can find to display a mass market book!

And now, it's out there for the world to see and hopefully, to enjoy.

It's also a significant day because I'm emailing my finished edits of Read & Buried, the second Ashton Corners Book Club mystery, back to my editor. I enjoy working with the editor's comments. They're a jumping off point for new ways of saying things, different angles to view the plot, and methods to ramp up the pace, when needed. A challenge to the brain...and that's always good.

So when my excitement level settles down, the piles of filing that have been gathering over the past few weeks are finally whittled down, and a celebratory glass of something titillating happens with dinner then it will be time to get back to work.

Tomorrow, that is. Because a deadline's approaching for book #3 and I'm anxious to get back to it. take another look at those pictures!

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read
Berkley Prime Crime

Monday, April 2, 2012


A royalty or two.

My son asked, after taking a look at the cover for my next book, are the cats asking for royalties? So far, two cats have appeared on the covers. That's because the main character has two Siamese cats, as do I. I told him, they get treats.

The authors who make up the blog site are brainstorming right now to create a new banner. We want something that says 'edgy and cosy'. One author facetiously suggested a cover with cats, dogs, goats and a cow...well, you get the picture. Stick a cute animal on the cover and readers immediately think, 'cosy'.

Which must mean, you can judge a book by its cover.

But we all know, that's not a great idea. If you're lucky to have a publisher who welcomes your input as an author when its cover conference time, then it won't go too far astray. But there are far more publishers who don't invite the author into the loop, until its too late. The author is presented with the cover. Too bad if you don't like it or worse yet, it doesn't really fit the story.

One of my biggest complaints as a bookseller was that publishers rarely asked the bookseller for advice. For a couple of years, Random House of Canada invited booksellers to a day of conversation in Toronto after the annual BookExpo events. At one session, we were shown an series of cover concepts for upcoming books and asked our opinions. Imagine!

They were really onto something there because who knows the customers better than booksellers. Forget those marketing departments. Booksellers talk to customers every day; booksellers observe what leaps out at customers from the shelves; booksellers know they have to work extra hard to sell a book with a horrid cover.

But I digress. Don't blame the author for a lacklustre cover but do let them know just how much you love a dynamite cover.

I love my covers. I'm lucky, I know. Here's wishing all authors a publisher who listens and covers that really tell it like it is.

Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming this week!
from Berkley Prime Crime