Human Remains in Montreal (Librairie Bertrand & CBC Radio’s Homerun). Coming soon to Ottawa!

When I write, and when I’m in the ER, I’m always taking risks.

In the ER, it’s obvious. Anyone could crash at any time. But I’m surrounded by a good team.

When I’m writing, it’s more private. Most of the time, no one sees me succeed or fail.

Except at a book launch.

“The average book launch has two people, and one of them is a friend of the author,” said Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Kobo director.

Clockwise from top: Dr. Yi, Dr. Adams, Maria, Su, Dr. Wein, Day’s

In Montreal, I was.afraid I wouldn’t have two.

I graduated from Montreal over a decade ago. I don’t have that many friends left in the city, and most of them are doctors with families. “I’m on call.” “I can’t go out in the evening.” “Who are you, again?” (Okay, not quite.)

Dr. Adams and Maria

Librairie Bertrand is this gorgeous bookstore in old Montreal. They have a garden in the back. Horses clip by on cobblestone streets. I had the best chicken sandwich of my life around the corner. But would anyone come to my launch?

I’ve learned two things about launches: bring as many people as possible–bribe them if you have to–and make sure your hosts are happy. If it’s a bookstore, people must buy books.

So my stress wasn’t just for me, it was for Librarie Bertrand.

When I walked in, ten minutes early, Ian Shaw, the head of Deux Voiliers Publishing, was waiting for me.

Beautiful corpses: Su and Maria

Then artists Jessica Sarrazin and Jason de Graaf walked in; he had to go to his gallery in Montreal that week, so they coordinated with my launch. “We didn’t tell you in case we couldn’t come.”

Author Su J. Sokol opened the door, fresh off her super-successful Blue Met Panel (sold out. Not even standing room). Better grab her book, Cycling to Asylum!

Mayday, mayday! Dr. Yi & Sophia

And another author, Day’s Lee, a multi-talented writer of not only YA and children’s books, but also plays and films–check out my interview here or her own website. A powerhouse of a writer and a good person. Check her out!

Help! ABC’s! Sophia & Dr. Yi

Dr. Ted Wein stepped through the door. I was shocked. I haven’t seen him since he teased me about my pregnancy belly with my son Max. Since then he has set up a comprehensive Stroke Prevention Unit at MUHC, the first of its kind in Canada, which is tragically being closed.

Next, Dr. Chryssi Paraskevopoulos managed to come despite an onslaught of “red phones.” (They call you on a special red phone when then big cases come in.) I haven’t seen her since I graduated!

Fun fact: both these doctors were incorporated into St. Joseph’s Hospital, Hope Sze’s Montreal hospital, under different names. If you know them, see if you can spot them in Code Blues.

Maria Davila, a member of the Glengarry Book Club, dashed in after a hard day’s work.

Dr. Rob Adams of Alexandria made it as well! By this point, during the ebb and flow, someone asked, “How many people are doctors?”

“Half,” I realized aloud. “Hey, why don’t the civilians pretend to be human remains, and the doctors can resuscitate them?”

Most attendees were puzzled, but they’d met me before and were aware of my general insanity. I ushered them into place. Don’t they look lovely? The bookstore staff was laughing away.

Last, but certainly not least, Sophia Petritsis showed up and was the most enthusiastic corpse of all!

Plus, we ran into Dr. Ed Hargassner on the way out.

Altogether, that was pretty awesome!

And … CBC Radio’s Homerun featured Human Remains!

I’m very excited about this. Richard King, the CBC Homerun reviewer-author, called Human Remains “a great medical mystery. Wonderful characters and plot.” He was so impressed that he gave a copy to a physician friend. Hooray!

Want some Human Remains? I’ll be in Ottawa chairing the Emerging Crime Panel at Prose in the Park on Saturday, June 10th, at 16:00 (Parkdale).

I will also be signing my books at Louise Penny’s Ottawa International Writers Festival event June 16th. Although of course the focus will be on this New York Times bestseller and lovely human being, she’s graciously allowing the judges and the winners from the Capital Crime Writers Audrey Jessup Writing Contest to share a little of her spotlight.

Thanks to everyone who has supported Human Remains. We love you!


Five Riddikulus-ly Fast, Easy Ways to Throw a Harry Potter Party

1. Pumpkin juice


“Pumpkin” juice. Photo by dieraecherin via morguefile.

Pour orange juice into a pretty vessel. Call it pumpkin juice if anyone asks. Done.

2. Wands made of sticks or wooden dowels2016-09-18-16-15-59
You can make fabulous wands out of chopsticks and hot glue.

Or you could just clean up the sticks in your yard and/or go to a dollar store for wooden dowels.

Unicorn hair optional. More vegan that way.

I had vague plans about the kids decorating the wands, but only my daughter did. Good news: just reuse them for your next party! Or throw sticks back in the yard. You can also use whatever wooden dowels are used for.


3. Sorting hat shortcuts

I was going to print out questions and put them in the sorting hat. Based on each person’s answers, I planned to yell, “Gryffindor!” etc.

This would involve printing out questions and cutting them up. Too much work.

Instead, we went online and did the entire quiz without killing any trees. Apparently, I’m secretly a Ravenclaw. Four kids ended up going into Hufflepuff, included two self-designated Slytherins, so I consider that my contribution to making the world a better place.

4. Force your kids to make the swag.

Are your children addicted watching YouTubers on Minecraft? Me too! So tear them2016-09-15-19-26-17off the screen and put them to work, making decorations for your party. It’s not as pretty as Pinterest, but that’s not the point. The point is to make them touch the 3D world and use their own imagination.

Don’t have kids? Borrow someone else’s.

Or, okay, just print stuff off the Internet. That’s easy too.

5. Pin the Harry and Ron in the Ford Anglia and Whomping Willow

My daughter, Anastasia, was asking about Harry and Ron missing the Hogwarts train and flying the Ford Anglia into the Whomping Willow.

willow-1516877_640And I thought, wouldn’t that make a terrific pin the tail on the donkey game?

We bought two sheets of Bristol board. I asked my husband to draw the Whomping Willow, because he’s more artistic, but he was already making two cakes and feeling quite overburdened, so I sketched it out, and Anastasia made the car. My son Max drew Harry and Ron, but he lost them, so he and another girl hastily drew another.

Spin the kids around (we didn’t bother with a blindfold. Too much work) and see if they can place Harry or Ron in the car!

If you make the car enormous, they’re guaranteed to win. Kids love this. (I’m sure adults love this too, but no one else wanted to do it except me.)

I realized that I’d forgotten to get any prizes, but then I had them pick the “wands” from #3 out of the sorting hat, and they were perfectly happy to pretend to kill each other with them. Mischief managed!




Mrs. Weasley and Hermione


Muggles can teach you all about electricity, Mr. Weasley.


A witch and Sir Cadogan


Isn’t that the cutest Harry Potter card? Tip: I didn’t make it! My friend Tammy did. You, too, can rely on your friends to provide the magic.



One of my favourite presents ever. Anastasia gave me a card I had to buy for myself from the grocery store; one of her favourite stuffed animals; a dime; and a rock from her rock collection.


Art by Jessica Sarrazin/Mrs. Weasley.


Sleep. Art. $. Plus, I sold a Hope Sze short story!

You know how it feels when your kids don’t let you sleep and you want to die?

No? Well, count yourself lucky.

Matt and I are just barely starting to feel human again, but now we’re back to zombie-land. Which makes it very appropriate to post my second #walkcast (podcast recorded whilst walking)–recorded before school ended, but never posted, until NOW.

My first #walkcast is about multitasking: Secrets of Highly Efficient Writers Tip #1: Make Writing a Habit. We’re called the Creative Doctor & Dog because I generally walk with our dog, Roxy. Anastasia appears in later walkcasts too.

Secrets of Highly Efficient Writers Tip #2: Zzzzzzzzz

I was thinking of doing Walkcast Wednesdays. But, of course, that would require organization. However, I do now have a few nice pictures of me and our dog, Roxy.

My artist friend Jessica Sarrazin just had a show at the Quirky Carrot. She made this original, unique cyanotype skirt by hand-exposing flowers and leaves on a wraparound skirt. She explains it much better than me here, with pictures of the process.


Meanwhile, I sold my first Hope Sze short story to Jewish Noir, edited Ken Wishnia.  Just for fun, I made up a cover already. I won’t be able to indie publish it for two years, but you know how I was anxious about losing money on going to Bloody Words? $250 helps a lot! (“Payment on acceptance, baby,” wrote Ken.) Plus Scene of the Crime Books already paid me for the books they sold, and I used Tangerine to photo deposit the cheque. Hooray!

Blood diamonds cover

Hey, if you open a brand new Tangerine account and deposit $250 before July 31st, you get a $50 bonus. And if you tell ’em I sent you (with my Orange Key: 22510100S1), I get $50 too! So far, they’re a vast improvement on HSBC, who closed my business bank account for no reason.

So I’ve got a little money, but our daughter kicked our behinds. How about you? Do you get to sleep?


From to Google News, VankleekFM, and Cornwall Living

Bob Peters interviewed me for last month. Then he took pictures of me for a page in Cornwall Living Magazine. I got to feel like a movie star because I rushed out of the livestreamed North York Emergency Medicine Update conference to get my photo taken in the emerg on my lunch hour. Bob was great, and the nurses and clerks enjoyed getting their photos done too.

(Aside: I’d just worked the day before, which was hellish, but for some reason, that day, we didn’t have as many patients jammed in the hallways. Is that like how patients say, “I was sick until I got here”? Maybe we just need to hire a photographer every time we get overcrowded.)

The day after the article, my husband, Matt, sent me a picture. “You’re on Google News.”

Hey! I beat out dozens of gardeners on Google News!

Hey! I beat out dozens of gardeners on Google News!

Now, Matt had set his Google News to our small town. But even so. Kind of cool, non?

Today is the debut of the newest edition of Cornwall Living Magazine. Par-tay at 4 p.m. I’m bringing my kids.

Max is wearing a shirt by Fili. I love the African trim. I'll try to get a better picture, when he's not hurrying for the school bus.

Max is wearing a shirt by Fili. I love the African trim. I’ll try to get a better picture, when he’s not hurrying for the school bus

Anastasia refused to show her face. But you can see she likes Chirp Magazine, a gift from Helen, the SDG librarian.

Anastasia refused to show her face. But you can see she likes Chirp Magazine, a gift from Helen, the SDG librarian.

At 7:30 p.m., I’m appearing on the radio show Vankleek Cooley, in an interview with Louise Sproule, the publisher of The Review, a 121-year-old, award-winning community newspaper. This is my first show where the interviewer has read my novel, TERMINALLY ILL, in advance, so that’s exciting. Even wilder, it’s live radio, so anything could happen. Listen locally at 88.7 FM or livestream it here:

After today, my paperback Hope Sze books will be available for sale in the lobby of The Review. They’d make a perfect end-of-school present, Father’s Day gift, or “because you’re worth it” pick-me-up. Just sayin’.

 Here's my baby again. Hello, Terminally Ill! Soon to be distributed through Ingram Spark.

Here’s my baby again. Hello, Terminally Ill! Soon to be distributed through Ingram Spark.

As I’m gathering my wits and my books for Bloody Words 2014, I noticed an uptick in sales of TERMINALLY ILL. I fully credit, Steve Steinbock’s “utterly likeable” review in July’s Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. I blogged about how I’d told Steve that Kris Rusch had pointed out the review to me, and that I’m a big Smokey Dalton fan. He’d never read any of her books, but after my tip, he just messaged me to say that her latest, Street Justice, rocks. (Well, he put it more poetically than that. You get my drift.) Sweet!

Speaking of giving credit, I’m appearing on because my friend, the artist and financial planner Jessica Sarrazin, bought TERMINALLY ILL and got Louise hooked on it.

Jessica’s father, Jean Sarrazin, started the radio station. He used to work for the CBC and is “a seasoned audio editor, harking back to the days of 1/4 inch tape, razor blades and china markers.” He “sliced out-takes of piano music for Glenn Gould with those blades.” And now he’s editing the audio book of THE MOST UNFEELING DOCTOR IN THE WORLD. Nifty, huh? (BTW, this book was cited in the Ultimate Reading List for Nurses.)

E-book and print available. Audio coming soon!

E-book and print available. Audio coming soon!

If you’re sick of books (say it ain’t so!), Jessica’s having an art show on June 28th at the Quirky Carrot. Support the arts! As one of Hope’s men, John Tucker, quotes from Dead Poets Society, somewhat tongue in cheek, “[M]edicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.”