Travel: Toronto & Brantford

Toronto

Sushi Inn:

Bernice introduced me to Yorkville’s Sushi Inn on Tuesday, where we feasted like queens for a combined total of $39 plus tip. I’m talking seaweed salad, avocado salad, sushi pizza, spicy tuna, and one order of salmon teriyaki that came with miso soup, salad, and rice. The spicy tuna was the best I’d had in my life. No joke.

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In return, I taught her how to take a car selfie.

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Works better with the car light on.

 

Wednesday

Park Hyatt

I haven’t seen Karen since…medical school? Possibly a wedding afterward. But basically, aeons ago.

She introduced me to the Park Hyatt rooftop bar. Under the warmth of the overhead heaters, I briefly took off my coat, and we drank $20 cocktails and I ate marinated olives and almonds off our own tray of bar snacks.

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IMG_3713She had to go to a teaching session on breast lumps, so I meandered into Queen’s Park, then the Lillian H. Smith Library. I’m a library fiend. I read Mariko & Jillian Tamaki’s This One Summer and another graphic novel, The Cute Girls Network. Now I want to read Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore.

I ate spicy eggplant at a Chinese restaurant on Dundas street called something like The Best Seafood Restaurant. The fresh scallions were a nice touch, and it cost a grand total of $6.37 plus tip. (The guys at the next table got some sizzling plates and kept talking about the grouper.) I gave the servier $10 and asked if I could bring an extra fortune cookie home for my other child. He gave me four fortune cookies, and we were both happy.

Finally, my chef d’oeuvre: a cheap massage. Not the creepy kind. The Chinese kind.

I chose the 30 minute reflexology and 60 minute Swedish massage for $65 at the Oriental Natural Spa. Yeah! I haven’t had a massage since I was eight months pregnant with Anastasia, and that time, the NYC massage therapist just kept saying, “Gentle. Gentle” because of my baby.

This was the opposite.

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I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO THOROUGHLY MASSAGED IN MY LIFE.

He would have backed off if I’d asked. He did ask, “Hard? Not hard?” I said, “No, it’s okay.” I decided to push through the occasional discomfort. I walked back to my airbnb and I felt sore, like I’d done a huge workout, instead of getting worked over for 90 minutes.

It was a good thing. I prefer to know that I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

I left a big tip.

Then I crashed at my airbnb. Super clean, private bathroom, a balcony with a view of City Hall and the CN tower. I only regret that I didn’t get to try the gym.

Brantford

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I was at the Brantford Public Library on Tuesday as the guest speaker for their memoir program, Lifescapes. It was the first time I’d been paid to speak as an author. “You were talked up a lot,” one couple informed me. (It turned out they’d founded Canada’s Cystic Fibrosis association. Pretty cool, non?) I’d met the brilliant librarian, Robin Harding, at Bloody Words 2014, and she invited me then. I did talk about memoir, as well as traditional and indie publishing, and my tips for success in writing, and in life, frankly (view my cool slides on Slideshare here).

I was a little nervous that no one would show up, so I was super happy that three people came half an hour early. And then we basically filled up the auditorium!

Now I have a soft spot for Brantford. Maybe next time I’ll get to enjoy the city more. The train was perfect and only ~12 minutes walk away from the library.

On Saturday, Majinx did their Houdini show in Vankleek Hill. I did a book signing beforehand, because Terminally Ill is about an escape artist who chains himself up like Houdini and nails himself into a coffin, but doesn’t escape, and needs Dr. Hope Sze’s help to a) survive, and b) figure out who would have sabotaged his stunt. If you want to read this ebook for free Kobo, just enter the promo code HOPEGONE. You can also use this code for Code Blues or Notorious D.O.C., but you’ve got to pick one.

My next appearance is at the Canadian Undergraduate Conference on Healthcare in Kingston November 14-16th. It’s the first time I’m speaking at a health care conference. Previous speakers include astronaut Roberta Bondar and CBC’s White Coat Black Art’s Dr. Brian Goldman, so, no pressure.

Note: this post was delayed by work and out of respect for the shootings in Ottawa. I’m thinking of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and his family, and am grateful to Sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

Happy reading and safe travels.

Camping Can Be Criminal#5: Rob Brunet, Ryan Aldred & Steve Steinbock

I chose to publish this today because my EQMM buddy, Steve Steinbock, got his “What I’m Working on Now” column published at Sleuthsayers. Yay, Steve!

We’re heading into the August long weekend in Canada. Perfect camping time, should you choose to do that kind of thing. I don’t, but my friends do.

I’ve already waxed eloquent about Rob Brunet, the up-and-coming mystery writer whose first novel, Stinking Rich, will debut September 8th. His short stories will appear in Ellery Queen, as well as just about every other mystery magazine, and is just an all-around good guy. Bought a round of drinks at Bloody Words 2014, too (I don’t drink much, but I admired his generosity). Check him out:

The smell of a tent is distinct. The vinyl (?) bottoms of the new ones vs. the canvas of old. True dark when the fire burns low. Super bright stars. What’s on the ground? Bare rock, pine needles, well-worn hard-packed earth. Crickets or frogs at night. Birds in the morning. The smell of the fire. Coffee that you wouldn’t touch in the city but sooo good in the bush. God, I miss it.

Ryan Aldred is an interesting guy. I met him at Bloody Words as well, at our banquet table of young, hungry writers, and he was the first person to seriously suggest joining Reddit. He started the Bar on a Beach mystery series, with its inaugural novel, Rum Luck.

Cicadas in the treetops on a hot day. Clothes that smell like wood smoke for days afterward. Three feet of warmth at the top of a Canadian shield lake and the fifty feet of inky cold beneath. Looking up in the sky and seeing hundreds of thousands of stars. The whoosh and sizzle of a marshmallow catching fire. Moths the size of your palm bumping into the globe of a lantern. Haunting loon song as you fall asleep at night. Beads of moisture running down the outside of the tent after a morning dew.

Like what you read? Both Rob and Ryan will read at Noir at the Bar in Toronto on August 20th, along with the always-intriguing Tanis Mallow.

I’m working on today, but I would have liked to see the sold-out Majinx tribute to Houdini at l’Orignal Jail. I might still see if I can sneak by.

You see how I did that? Turning a holiday weekend into a hotbed of criminal writers and performers? You’re welcome.