CBC Picks Stockholm Syndrome as One of the Best Crime Novels of the Season, Free Unfeeling Doctor Audio Book, and Jewish Noir Nominated for Anthony Award


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First the most jaw-dropping news, to me. CBC Radio picked STOCKHOLM SYNDROME as one of their best crime books of the season.
Yup, for summer 2016, Dr. P.K. Rangachari, mystery novel enthusiast and professor in the faculty of medicine at McMaster University, told Shelagh Rogers, the mystery panel, The Next Chapter audience, and basically the planet that they should read my thriller about a hostage-taking on the obstetrics ward, where Dr. Hope Sze has to deliver a baby and get everyone out alive.
So why do I pair this news with a picture of me and Max in a helmet? Well, zip lining is not a bad metaphor for writing.
IMG_7485“What happened to you?” said a nurse last week, pointing at a purple and yellow bruise on my arm, just beneath my scrub sleeve.
I glanced at it and smiled fondly. “Oh. I went zip lining with my son’s grade four class.”

I’d gone zip lining before, in Costa Rica. Truthfully, my favourite part was climbing up the ladder and the guide saying to my husband, “Is this your wife?” and giving me an approving look. I also loved the toucan in the trees that had another guide yelling, “Toucan! Toucan!” and pointing, so that an oblivious tourist forgot to brake and crashed into the trees.
My least favourite part was that this was part of a possible horse riding/mountain hiking combination package, and another tourist complained, loudly, “I can’t believe they have horse manure! They should put up signs to warn us!”

That’s writing at first. Fun. Lots of adrenaline. Highs and lows. Can be expensive if you throw money into it. Surrounded by people who don’t want to do the work, crave easy success, and are utterly outraged they’re surrounded by feces.
IMG_7497Zip lining at Arbraska was harder. First of all, because safety regulations are so much stricter in Canada, we had to clip on carabiners all the time, even climbing up a ladder. There were fewer guides, since labour costs more and at least two schools had taken over the camp. And I was trying to keep an eye on a bunch of ten-year-olds, while not just pleasantly zipping from station to station, but also swinging on logs on chains, crossing rope bridges, crawling through tunnels, and so forth.
That’s what writing is like now. I’m conscious of how I’ve had to climb up one foot at a time. How, if I decided to take a leap, I have a whole family I’d potentially have to catch. But I’m also taking some risks and reaping some rewards.

CBC Next Chapter Stockholm Syndrome cropped Screenshot 2016-06-20 13.36.27 copy

Click to buy.

Click to buy.

I told you the big one: I’ve yearned for an interview with Shelagh Rogers ever since I was living in a windowless, TV, and Internet-free basement in my first year of Arts & Science at McMaster University. CBC Radio saved my brain. So, okay, I haven’t gotten an official interview yet. But my name has now appeared on her show, Melissa Yi (Canada) alongside Michael Robotham (Australia), Andrew Taylor (Britain), Sally Andrew (South Africa), L.S. Hilton (Britain), Steve Burrows (Canada), Naomi Hirahara (USA), Esmahan Aykol (Germany & Turkey), Belinda Bauer (England & South Africa), Sally Andrew (South Africa), Barbara Nadel (England), Dan Fesperman (USA), Craig Johnson (USA), Val MacDermid (Scotland), Adrian McKinty (Ireland).
I mention everyone’s countries because Shelagh asked if any of us were Canadian, and I was curious enough to look up the answer: only two of us. We are truly competing internationally, folks, when the CBC selects a few books as the best of 2016, and only 14 percent are homegrown. I’m not complaining, but nowadays, when you want to get noticed, you have to be the best in the world.

If you listen to the interview, STOCKHOLM SYNDROME is at 11:42.
So that’s me climbing to the eagle’s nest and zipping my way down, screaming in victory.

In celebration, all Hope e-books are now on sale. CODE BLUES is only $2.99 (50% off) and the other books are $3.99 (33% off) for a limited time only.

Code Blues EBOOK cover 2015 derringer kris storybundleNotorious POD SHOE front 5x8 brighter 2016-300TerminallyJUTOH ebook cover 2014
Italian Assassins cover POD front-FINAL with YI and skullyoga cover NEW octavia ganesha 6x9 with SKULLAlready read the Hope books? Meet Octavia Ling, Ottawa public servant by day, who celebrates her birthday by trying out THE ITALIAN SCHOOL FOR ASSASSINS. When her roommate gets murdered, assassin school turns all too real. On sale for 99 cents (a whopping 84% off) for a super-short time!
Octavia’s adventures continue in THE GOA YOGA SCHOOL OF SLAYERS, which Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine reviewer Steve Steinbeck called “a lot of fun,” at the cut-throat price of $2.99 (50% off)! (My yoga killer short story, “Om,” was published in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and I had to keep playing with the idea of yoga murderers. I love Octavia and her squeeze, Dario, and India is a fascinating country. As Shashi Tharoor points out, “Everything is recycled in India, even dreams.”)

Today only, use the code 50JUN at Kobo. You’ll get 50 percent off any or all of my books, on top of these prices, so you could pick up THE ITALIAN SCHOOL FOR ASSASSINS for less than 50 cents plus tax. Cheaper and healthier than a lead-filled dollar store necklace!

Jewish noir cover

Who’s going to win an Anthony? Jewish Noir (we hope)!

E-book and print available. Audio coming soon!

Audio version new on Audible for only $6.95! Audio and eBook bundle on Gumroad for $8.99!

Other happy news: JEWISH NOIR was nominated for an Anthony Award, considered one of the most prestigious awards in mystery fiction!
And…THE MOST UNFEELING DOCTOR IN THE WORLD AND OTHER TRUE TALES FROM THE EMERGENCY ROOM is now available as an audio book on Audible, narrated by The Review editor Louise Sproule and edited by Jean Sarrazin of Vankleek.fm. I’m giving away a free copy to one of you lovelies, so hit me up online or offline!
I never pretend everything is fake-perfect, so I must assure you that I still see feces all the time, most recently in a toddler’s bathing suit, and of course in the ER or or the hospital wards. But I keep climbing, baby. I keep climbing.

Success: People, places, and things that excite me, from Shelagh Rogers to Bloody Words

Joanna Penn and Kris Rusch have blogged lately about success.

My success is minuscule compared to many writers, but my M.O. is not buckets of money. I like money, because it represents freedom, but I don’t neeeeeeed money or prestige.

I set out my goals here. I want my writing to connect with people, places, and things that excite me.

So when I picked up the phone and a neighbour named Rhonda asked me to join a new book club, and said maybe they could do my book for the next meeting, I was deeeeeelighted. (Also, surprised to hear that they’d hesitated to invite me, thinking I might be too busy. Ask me! I’m always looking for fun.)

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

Now starring the in the Glengarry book club! Will they like it? Guess I’ll find out next month.

And they did pick Code Blues, the first Hope Sze novel, which was awesomesauce. I just had to giggle in embarrassment when Rhonda told everyone it was a fun, quick read, and that they’d enjoy the Montreal references, but that parking tickets are now $52, not $30. Oops.

Steve Steinbock, the reviewer from Ellery Queen, Facebooked me seven reasons that I had to come to Bloody Words, the mystery conference in Toronto. (The list was hilarious. If I get permission, I’ll post it, but probably the funniest was (2) to join me, Howard Shrier, and Ken Wishnia in a Yiddish cussing contest.) I’d considered going after my friend Rebecca Senese told me about it, but the $190 conference seemed steep. After that message, though, I told Matt, “If Ellery Queen asks you to go to a conference, you go.” So I’ll be in Toronto June 6-8. And I have to say, it made my day that Steve was asking me to come. I’m a very small potato. Unbelieveable when someone higher up in the French fry industry says, Hey. C’mere.

Look. This incorporates both the theme of me as a small potato and the murder theme for me going to Bloody Words. You see how I did that?

Look. This incorporates both the theme of me as a small potato and the murder theme for me going to Bloody Words.You see how I did that?

Then Yasmin tweeted about my blog on Emergency Room: Life+Death at VGH, and I looked her up and realized that she’s one of the stars of the show. In fact, she got the closing words of the final episode. And the most hilarious parts is, she tagged my friend Anna to read the blog post…and Anna is the one who highlighted it in the first place, because she’s my Vancouver General Hospital friend who used to work in Montreal.

Yasmin ER star Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.54.43 AM

So it’s come full circle, and the closest I’ve come to a blog post going viral. In this case, it’s more like my blog post going water cooler, because it’s a relatively small group of people, but still. Shelagh Rogers. Need I say more?

Another Twitter win was that a new friend/fan made up a hashtag for Dr. Hope Sze, #HopeIsCool.

#HopeIsCool twitter Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 8.54.43 AM

I’ve never met @vmchick, so this here I am, connecting with new people who have excellent taste.  #livingthedream

“You’re quite the celebrity at the dentist’s office,” said my husband Matt, and in fact, when I made it for my appointment, Maria (the secretary), Dr. Levon Kichian (our dentist), and Kim (a dental hygenicist) all bought copies of Terminally Ill. “I started reading it already. Very intriguing,” said Dr. Kichian.

Loose Tooth

Look closely. Combines dentistry & bloody theme. Photo by Terri Heisele.

At the hospitals, they’re quite used to me writing, but if I call for a consult or for an admission, a staff member might say in passing, “Congratulations on your book” (which means they don’t plan to buy a copy, but they’re aware of my fifteen minutes of fame. Cool enough), or “I started reading your book. It’s beautiful. Now I have to buy the other two” (well, only Dr. Shah said that. But here’s hoping!).

One last win: Kobo’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre had pushed me to talk to bookstores. I found it hideously embarrassing, but I got over it, and now the Hope Sze books are available in the following select locations:

R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria
58 Alexandria Main, Alexandria, ON K0K 1A0; (613)525-9940; rlbooknook@eastlink.ca

The Quirky Carrot
1 main street south; (613)525-2229; Facebook

Sunset Yoga
Église Ste. Marie de l’Assomption, Cp 119 4172 Route 34, K0C 1L0; (613) 662-YOGA(9642); sunset_yoga@yahoo.ca

Penny’s Market
7340 regional road 23, K0C 1J0; (613)551-4806; info@pennysmarket.org

Coming soon:
Fassifern General Store; RR 5 in Alexandria, ON; (613)525-2144

You can also order any Olo Books/Windtree Press book from your local bookstore. Just go in and say, “Here’s my money,” and they’ll make it happen.

Thanks, exciting people. You rock!

“Only connect.” —E.M. Forster

From Fangirl Blogging to Tweeting with Shelagh Rogers


“Elvis” (Kobo director Mark Leslie Lefebvre), Barnaby Bones, reader Lesley Orr, and Melissa Yi. Yes, I know this is a giant picture. But it’s so awesome. Photo by Margaret Caldbick.

So I was pretty excited when my friends told me that we’d made the Standard Freeholder and Seaway Valley News last week and the Glengarry News (with this photo) this week.

Then I got retweeted by Shelagh Rogers.

When I was at McMaster University, cloistered in a windowless basement apartment that cost only $275 a month, I’d listen to Peter Gzowski and Shelagh Rogers on CBC Radio’s Morningside and dream about them interviewing me, about my books.

Yes, I know. Only me and 10 million other people had the same dream.

But yesterday, I moved one tiny step closer. I was approving comments on my previous post, a rave review of the show Emergency Room:Life+Death at VGH, And not only did the show’s producer, Kevin Eastwood, thank me on Twitter, but a few people had favourited it and retweeted it. Including…

@shelagh reteweet Screen Shot cropped 2014-04-03 at 4.55.22 PM

So what do you say to one of your media idols? I don’t care if this question is so 2002. Comments welcome!

In the meantime, a few people have asked where they can buy Terminally Ill.
melissayi_terminallyill_eBook_final daisho

Why, online, of course, through Kobo and other fine e-railers, and in trade paperback at R&L’s Book Nook (613-525-9940; rlbooknook@eastlink.ca) in Alexandria.

Personalized copies are also available from the author (moi), but I am sold out, and a rush shipment should arrive next Wednesday, right in the middle of a bunch of my ER shifts. If you see a zombie staggering around with a stethoscope and books, say hi.