Curl Up With A Good Book Or Binge?

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The wind howls at your window, you’ve got your favourite snack and you’re ready to settle in for a long, cozy night of…?

Do you read a good book or go binge your favourite show?

If you’re the sort that would rather be whisked away by the printed or electronic word, I’d love it if you would take a minute and fill out a short reader-centric survey for me. You can find it here.

Who is your favourite author right now?

How To Build A Town

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One of the things I’ve recently become interested in is the ways cities and towns are planned and laid out. World-building is seen most predominantly in science fiction and fantasy, but my focus lately has been mysteries. I got to wondering, surely world-building was important in the mystery genre, right? Three days of searching on Google seems to be returning a negative reply. If Google is to be believed, (and I don’t), mystery writers never consider world-building, they just seem to pick a city and plop their story and characters into a pre-made place.

That wasn’t the way I wanted to go with my mystery, Body In The Bush.

Body In The Bush is the story of an Indigenous detective named Anais Quinn. She is forced to return to the town she grew up in, Sitka Cove, after being away for twelve years. One of the first cases she’s assigned is the investigation into the discovery of a deceased person in the woods (what we call the bush up here in Northern Ontario) outside of town. I knew before I’d written a single word that I wanted my mystery to take place in Northern Ontario. The experts all advise, “write what you know”, and I’ve made Northern Ontario my home for a number of years. There are secrets up here, just as there are in cities. The people that call the bush home have ambitions, jealousies, untapped potential, greed, dreams and aspirations just as much as anywhere else in the country. And it is all of those things that drive people to commit crimes against one another, no matter where they live. So why is Northern Ontario so under-represented in the mystery genre?

The answer lies in Toni Morrison’s advice to writers everywhere. “If you cannot find the story you want to read, you must write it yourself.”

So I have.

But I didn’t want to write about a town that already existed. I wanted to make my own town, and not only to avoid the controversy that Stephen Leacock endured when he wrote Sunshine Sketches of A Small Town. So I turned to world-building. 

Initially, I envisioned Sitka Cove as having about 40,000 people, but that number has been dialed back recently. I see Sitka Cove as the centerpiece of a series of mysteries, so I want to leave room for it to grow. It has schools, diners, shops, an art gallery, a police force, a medical center, a museum that focuses on the town’s history, and good neighborhoods as well as bad. The town was founded on the shore of Lake Superior, and climate change is wreaking havoc on one of the older parts of town in the form of floods every time the water levels in the lake rise. Historically, Sitka Cove (simply called ‘Sitka’ by the locals) relied on the logging and fishing for income and growth. But as time passed, roads crept ever closer to Sitka and the people had options. As my story opens, provincial roads now stretch all the way into the town, and brought with it a chain of donut shops and all of the vices of a city. The local economy is about to boom now that diamonds have been found in the cliffs and bluffs not far from town. A college will be opening soon too — growth will be everywhere. With growth comes crime, and all sorts of cases for Detective Anais Quinn and her partner Lorne Winters to solve.

Next time, I’ll share my vision for my fictional town and how it fits into my mystery. Stay tuned!

Wild Times

Wild Times

An aged Western showman reflects over his long and colorful career 
Few bother to separate the myth of Colonel Hugh Cardiff from his real life. The nation knows him as a sharpshooter, buffalo hunter, moving pictures pioneer, and one-time proprietor of the greatest Wild West show the nation has ever seen. Some of the stories are true, some exaggerated, and some rank among the wildest of tall tales. But for a man who has lived like Colonel Cardiff, the facts trump the myth. In the spring of 1868, Denver is the richest, wildest city west of the Mississippi. When an overweight Easterner named Dr. Bogardus rolls into town to announce a shooting contest with a $1,000 prize, ears prick up. Young Hugh wins the shoot with an ancient muzzle-loading rifle, knocking glass balls out of the air and missing only four out of one hundred targets. He is famous at nineteen, and the Colonel’s wild life is just getting started.

I had read the paperback version of this book years ago – a copy from my library. I fell in love with the story. I was so glad to see it in ebook form years later, I had to buy it. It is every bit as charming and engaging as I remember. Fantastical in some aspects, surprisingly real in others. (There really was a Capt. Bogardus that was a champion shooter!) I will read, and re-read this book again and again. I highly recommend this book to every Western fan.

If you’re into Westerns, you can find this book in your favourite format at your favourite bookseller. Have you read this one yet?

Answering The Call – A Review

AnsweringTheCall

There are so many things to say about this book, I’ve actually been pondering this review for hours.

First off, it is a sequel. This is not a stand-alone book, and I wish I had known this before starting to read. I picked up on this early in the first pages when events were referenced and I had no idea what the characters were talking about. So I went back to Bold Strokes Books and bought the first book, ‘Calling The Dead’. Without going into that book’s review here, let me tell you the two books and their titles are as inter-woven and necessary to each other as a right shoe is to the left.

So, I’m going to assume that you’ve read ‘Calling The Dead’ and trust me when I say, you want to. Really. Now you’re wondering if this book is any good. It is not just good, it is a gut-grabbing, hair-curling, roller-coaster of twists and turns all wrapped in a murder mystery. This is not your grandmother’s mystery! There is blood and guts here, and lots of it. There are sick and twisted bad-guys with sick and demented goals. There are good guys and gals too, lots of them, who want to see the depravity stop and people protected. Chivalry, high emotion and love abounds here as well. The story is paced well and the characters, and there are many, are so well crafted, that you’ll swear they aren’t made-up. Both main families feel so real that you think that you could just call them up. There is only one question I was left with, but it makes no difference to the story.
Why is Sept’s hair white?

So in closing, first, get yourself a copy of ‘Calling The Dead’, then get yourself a copy of this book, ‘Answering The Call’. Prepare to lose yourself in a world of Ali Vali’s making. Leave the dishes unwashed, and let the dog out before you start reading because you won’t want to be disturbed afterward. Oh yeah, and enjoy Mike too.
Fabulously creepy cover, a wonderfully gripping story…what are you still doing here? Go get your own copy!

Second In Command – A Review

SecondInCommand

This book was a pleasant read. Not dark and twisty as I expected. The characters are memorable, even the one I wanted to slap for being spineless most of the time. She eventually breaks out of that pattern and grows, so don’t give up on her. The rest of the cast is so memorable, I was still thinking about some of them days later.

I’d like to see if these characters turn up anywhere else in the author’s imaginary universe. They’re the kind of people I could have Sunday brunch with. Wonder how I can get an invitation?

I was honored with an ARC from Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley. This book is due out December 11th.

Breaking Character – A Review

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This is Lee Winter’s best book yet. There is the snark and attitude we’ve come to expect from her leading ladies. Secrets and lies lurk behind every corner and before long Elizabeth and Summer have painted themselves into a corner. It’s intriguing watching how their lie evolves, grows and takes on a life of its own.

While I cannot put my finger exactly on what makes this a better story than the author’s other works, I can tell you it is a must-read. When it finishes, you’ll wish there had been more. You’ll want to go for burgers with Summer and Elizabeth, you’ll want to tag along for Shakespeare night, just because they are such fascinating people.

I want to re-read this again, if only to hang out with two of the best characters Ms. Winter has created.
Yep, it’s that good.

When Cori and Devi First Met

 

Once upon a time, there were two women who were tasked with retrieving a party of scientists who had travelled through a stable wormhole to another world. Those women, Coriander Wolf and Devi Aradesta, already had quite a history, and although they didn’t yet know it, they would enjoy a remarkable future. I’m still working hard to finish Infinite Worlds, and my editor assures me that every bit of dialogue that is tweaked and every scene that I modify, only makes the novel stronger and more vivid. So while I’m still plugging away on that, I’d like to remind you how Coriander and Devi first met back in ‘If It’s Easy’ (which happens to be for sale at your favourite book retailer).

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Here’s an excerpt;

Coriander stepped away from the community bonfire when a small twinkle of light caught her eye. As she moved toward the lake, she noticed the sky was filled with the brief blue-white flashes. They rose from the grass, blinked over the water and danced with an otherworldly lustre.

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” A voice to her left said.

She turned and tried to see who’d spoken, but the fire was behind them and all she saw of the other person was a silhouette.

“I’ve always loved them,” she replied. “Full of immediacy and living in the moment.”

“And hope,” her companion in the dark replied. “The males flash to females to signal their availability. It’s a firefly singles bar!”

They both laughed briefly.

“I remember catching them when I was a little kid and keeping them in a jar so they could light up my room,” Coriander said quietly.

“Did you know they aren’t really flies at all, but beetles?”

“Really?”

“Once they reproduce and the eggs are laid, the adults die,” The dark form stuck her hand out. “I should introduce myself; my name’s Devi…Devi Aradesta.”

“Coriander Wolf, but everyone calls me Cori,” She returned the handshake, and they turned back toward the lake to watch the fireflies again.


I invite you to check out your favourite online ebook retailer and pick up a copy of If It’s Easy while it’s still cheaper than a cup of coffee!