My Newest Fan

Today was a busy day at the bus. I got a note! IMG_6121 But first, I’ve got to give props to Cornwall Living Magazine and their launch party last Wednesday. Not only did they let me bring my kids to the launch party, but the swag was perfectly kid-friendly: pencil crayons! And they fed us pizza. Then they played this video:–nA_4E& I laughed when I saw myself at 0:55, and Max said, “That’s you, Mama!”

Is it a selfie when you take a picture of your picture?

Is it a selfie when you take a picture of your picture?


Okay, that's a selfie. But Max steals the show.

Okay, that’s a selfie. But Max steals the show.

Where's Anastasia? Rolling around on the ground, of course. What else would you do in a restaurant?

Where’s Anastasia? Rolling around on the ground, of course. What else would you do in a restaurant?

Cornwall Living Magazine has generously offered to send free copies to people who ask. So get in there! They also send copies to embassies around the globe. Max, Anastasia and I raced home so I could hand off the kids and hurry over to my interview on Vankleek Cooley via VankleekFM. You can listen here: if you page down to “Listen to the May 28th, 2014 Show – Hour One.”  My interview starts at 31:00.

Fascinating to meet Louise Sproule, the owner and publisher of The Review. We chatted after, and she mentioned that she’s owned the newspaper for 22 years, and her articles can make people cry. They stop her on the street to hug her. One woman brought her flowers.

I explained that my overarching goal is to have my writing connect me with people, places, and things that excite me. But I started off writing in a vacuum, with only “It’s good. Keep writing” from Matt and editors’ rejection letters for feedback. So Louise and I are kind of the opposite. She knows that she has a dedicated audience every week who pay for her words and may tell her so every week, whereas I’m hungry to carve out my audience (not that I’m going to eat them, but while it’s mega-awesome to have a fan in Saudi Arabia and nab a rare sale in Trinidad and Tobago and Norway, I don’t have people crying on me).

Thus, I was blown away when the Glengarry Book Club chose CODE BLUES for their inaugural meeting.   IMG_2342 Then I waited for them to tear me into tiny strips of beef jerky, since that’s what writers usually do. My own daughter said yesterday, when I was packing my books up for Bloody Words 2014, “Mommy, I don’t like your books. I hate them.” Instead, they said that they enjoyed all the Montreal references, the joie de vivre, the multiculturalism. Fast-paced. Easy read. And they liked Hope.

  • “Hope was a really accessible, normal character. Nothing seemed ridiculous.”
  • “I felt sorry for her. The loneliness, the misery, the stress, a new city, her job, working with difficult people and bosses. I felt dirty. She hadn’t had a shower. I felt how she was feeling.”
  • “I’m looking at Hope, working in a hospital is just so foreign, it would never happen to me, I’d be on the floor. But here, I’m following her around, I’m right with her. She’s got these clues, I can put it together, I can relate to her.”
  • “Most people just don’t give a s—. ‘I just got here, I’m not doing that. I’m not going to worry about it.’ Hope just took off with [the murder case] right away.”

None of them figured out the murderer except Anne, a few pages before. Rhonda always reads the last page first, and she was still surprised.

Rhonda is the one holding up Notorious D.O.C. in the back. Isn't she cute?

Rhonda is the one holding up Notorious D.O.C. in the back. Isn’t she cute?

One of them said that she liked she sex scene. “Your description went to the senses instead of a visual image, which I really appreciated, the tactile details, instead of flowery description.”

Code blues cover 2013 EBOOK-200

The one with the sex scene. Among other things

I was waiting for the “but.” It never came. Maybe they’re too polite to say anything to my face, but it dawned on me that readers want to be entertained. They want to be pleased. They’re not like writers and critics. On a related note,



I was delighted when Bob, Max’s bus driver, wanted to buy “my best work.” I gave him TERMINALLY ILL, and now he periodically updates me on where he is in the book. “Elvis is awake!” “The other doctor wants to take the case!” Or, “There’s a bit of sexual tension here.” (Good thing I didn’t give him CODE BLUES, huh?) “My wife wants to read the book after me.”

If you got anything out of this post, join the team. Buy my book(s)!

In case you missed the Terminally Ill memo. Including the one that Ellery Queen says Hope Sze is “utterly likeable.”

To my amazement, one of the students piped up and said that she was reading HIGH SCHOOL HIT LIST on iBooks (High School Hit List – Melissa Yi). “It’s a bit scary. Is that okay?” I said, and she nodded. hit list POD cover-2013-ebook   Today, Isabelle passed me the note, and I’m waiting for the bus to come, so I can give her a signed copy of HIGH SCHOOL HIT LIST.


Vince wanted more dog pictures. Here you go.

I’m happy on so many levels. She’s obviously intelligent and curious, probably heard about the TERMINALLY ILL book launch and went on my website to find something that spoke to her age group. She reads both e-book and print. And she and her family are willing to spend their hard-earned money on my work! To answer her question, my e-books are available everywhere (just starting out on Google Play today). My print books are available on Amazon, and you can order them through your local bookstore, including R&L’s Book Nook, which will be hosting a book launch for the latest Hope Sze novella, STUDENT BODY, on September 20th, 2014. The Hope Sze medical mysteries are now available in trade paperback at the following locations:

R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria
58 Alexandria Main, Alexandria, ON K0K 1A0; (613)525-9940;
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);
Fassifern General Store; RR 5 in Alexandria, ON; (613)525-2144
Penny’s Market7340 regional road 23, K0C 1J0; (613)551-4806;
We’ve added three more retailers:

The Review 76 Main St. E, Vankleek Hill, Ontario, K0B 1R0, Tel: (613) 678-3327, The Brown House 20363 Concession Rd 5, Green Valley, ON K0C 1L0 (Hwy 34 & Brown House Rr 2), 613-347-2583 A L Macdonald Grocery Inc. Williamstown, ON K0C 2J0 Phone: (613) 347-2770 Happy reading!


Here she is. Yay, Isabelle!

So You Want to Write a Mystery…


Will shoot for milk

I did a WritersFest workshop on writing mysteries. That was the idea, anyway. Actually, most people wanted to talk indie publishing and making money. It wasn’t until I checked my notepad later that I found some mystery craft questions, which I will answer here.

I also randomly picked a winner for the book draw. But because it was a mystery workshop, and I’m a pain the bum, I’ll announce the winner at the end of the post.

Question 1. How do you keep the protagonist hidden until mid-point?

I don’t. I like to have the protagonist, the main character, front and centre. In general, I don’t recommend hiding anything in a mystery.

Mystery readers are smart. They like to piece clues together. If you just hide information, they’ll throw your book across the room. So give them the information they need, but distract them while you’re doing this. It’s like the author’s a magician, saying, “Look at the hand, look at the hand,” and the audience is hypnotized by the bunny he pulled out of the hat and completely misses the knife he’s carrying in his left hand. Kris Rusch said that Ellery Queen is the best at this.

Or, to put it another way, check out this Daniel Simons’s awareness test video ( The clues are always there. But the reader has to piece them together.

I’ve got to work on this myself.

Question 2 & 3. How do you plot your mysteries? How do you effectively incorporate plot twists into your book?

I like to write by the seat of my pants, surprising myself, and then I go backwards and try to braid it all together. Fun but inefficient.

If you’re more organized, I highly recommend Camille Laguire’s blog. This is my favourite post, about how to turn a missed phone call into a plot device. Brilliant: She outlines plot here (, comparing it to a movie of the week.

And now, moving on, since people may be tired of hearing about me (another secret of writing–don’t bore the reader):

Thanks to Jodi White for trekking all the way from Toronto to join in WritersFest, after I asked Kobo to participate. (How many corporations would do this, and donate five Kobos to give away? And did you know that for every e-book you buy on that Kobo, a portion of the sale will go to the local Coles bookstore in Cornwall, because they support indie booksellers?)

I also learned from Jodi that the best way to link to your book is through the ISBN, and that Kobo now has a separate children’s section, which just might help spike children’s book sales. They’ll also start a reader loyalty program next year.

Thanks to everyone who came to WritersFest. Time is valuable when you’re pursuing the writing dream. I especially thank those of you who spent your hard-earned money on my books (and in Linda’s case, at least three times). I really appreciate it. Thank you.

Finally, I just have to give a shout out to Joseline Beaulieu, a multi-talented tour de force who not only expertly teaches me yoga at Sunset Yoga, but also belly dances with sabres, has a degree in marine biology, and raises money for the Madagascar School Project. She came to the workshop and brought me a card, an armload of flowers, and a squash. A squash! How could you not love this woman? You’d be hard-pressed to create a character this unique!

Joseline Beaulieu, sabre dancing to raise money for Child Haven

Joseline Beaulieu, sabre dancing to raise money for Child Haven. That’s right, she puts us all to shame.

So now that I’ve kept you in suspense long enough, who won the book draw, based on a randomly selected number?

Congratulations, Judy S!