I’m very happy to share this announcement from Publishers Marketplace about the publication of my next book! MOVING ON is a young adult supernatural coming of age story, which follows Bree Banks as she becomes a reaper-like Attendant, tasked with helping the living transition into death. I’m so excited to join the Black Spot Books family of authors, and I can’t wait for you to read MOVING ON next year!
I’m so thrilled to announce that Past Presence is nominated for an Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel, awarded by the Crime Writers of Canada! It’s such an honour to have my work recognized from a group of such talented writers, and to receive such uplifting news in difficult times was so welcome. Congratulations go out to my fellow nominees, Philip Elliott for Nobody Move, and Denis Coupal for Blindshot!
Summer’s here, and my thoughts have naturally turned to some of my favourite things: time outside in the sunshine, vacation reads and refreshing beverages. Normally I accomplish this by pouring a shot of gin into a Slurpee and whiling away the afternoon in my hammock with a good book, but for this post I’m going to kick it up a notch and share a sangria recipe that’s inspired by a scene in Past Presence.
What could be better than this?
In the scene, Kellen, the bartender at the Soberly Inn and Public House, creates a special sangria to welcome the inn’s new owner, Audrey, to town. Here’s how it goes down:
As I’m about to ask him for a pint of the local microbrew, he slides a large wine glass full of ice in front of me and starts pouring something ruby-hued from a pitcher into it.
“I was going to—” I start, pointing at the taps, but he shuts me down with a scorching look that dries up my words. Even my thoughts are lost in his gaze, which is two parts exasperation and three parts lust. What does this guy want from me? Whatever it is, I’m half-tempted to give it to him, as imprudent as that would be.
“You are the most contrary, argumentative, difficult woman I’ve ever met,” he says. He’s leaning forward over the bar, and it wouldn’t take much for me to meet him in the middle. “Just this once, stop trying to get the best of me and trust me. Okay?” I purse my lips and raise an eyebrow, but I don’t reach for the glass. Even though it looks delicious. Even though I feel like the icy drink is the only thing that will keep me from spontaneously combusting on the spot. “It’s sangria,” he tells me in a more conciliatory tone. “Special of the day. I’ve been brewing it all afternoon, just for you, as a welcome-to- town.”
“No, you haven’t.” The words come out before I have time to think, and his stare intensifies. One eyebrow arches above the other. Wordlessly, he points at the chalkboard over his shoulder, where the specials are scrawled. Underneath the catch of the day, it reads “The Apple of Audrey’s Eye: a cabernet sangria infused with three types of Oregon-grown apples, fresh California citrus, and a slug of gin.”
“Yes, I have. Now taste it and tell me how it is. I wanted you to be the first, so I’ve been telling everyone else it isn’t ready yet.”
The sincerity behind the gesture evaporates my playful defiance and brings me perilously close to tears. I’m not used to being treated so kindly by a near stranger, even a too-flirty-for-his-own-good one.
“Well?” he asks after I down a healthy mouthful, rolling it over my tongue and allowing it to cool my heated cheeks.
“Dangerously good,” I tell him, and I mean it. “This could become a serious addiction for me. You need to tell me how to make it.”
“Absolutely not,” he says with mock outrage. “A good bartender never shares his recipes, but there will always be a bottomless pitcher here, waiting for you. That’s a promise.”
“Bottomless pitcher, you say.” I’ve already drained my glass, and I’m starting to feel lightheaded.
“You just tell me when to stop.” That look again. I’m burning up inside. What else to do, but keep on drinking?
Want to give it a try for yourself? I can assure you, it’s beyond delicious.
I reached an important milestone on my work in progress this week:
After around nine months of work, I wrote ‘The End’ on the first draft of my latest book, currently titled MOVING ON. It’s a young adult fiction novel about 17-year-old Breanna Banks, who finds herself not only unexpectedly dead, but recruited to join the Attendants, who help the dying as they transition from one plane of existence to the next. It’s a job she very much does not want, but with a global catastrophe in the near future and Attendants in high need, does she really have a choice? Between working with the limitations of ADHD in a place where there are no meds, trying to satisfy her demanding mentor, developing a crush on a living boy who will literally never know she exists, and desperately missing her family and friends, Bree must find a way to fit into her new role before disaster strikes.
This is a story that made me cry real tears, in a coffee shop of all places, while I was writing it, and while that might sound pretty grim, I’ve actually enjoyed every minute I’ve worked on it. Reaching ‘The End’ feels bittersweet, to say the least.
But! A first draft is only a first draft. There’s editing to do, and filling in missing bits and things I made note of to add later. And if I can tell you a secret, I enjoy editing and revising even more than writing. I have so many ideas for how I can improve the story in the hope that others will love it as much as I do. It may be ‘the end,’ but that’s only the beginning for a writer. Stay tuned! I can wait to share with you all where this story goes.
Hey, guess what this post is about? Yes, have the chance to win some incredible new releases, all by debut authors! I put together three giveaways this month, and no matter what you like to read, there’s something for everyone! You can enter one, or all three! Contest closes June 15, 2019. Check them out:
You know that expression, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry? This is the story of how amazon.ca thought my book Past Presence was a pair of ladies’ shorts.
I’m not unfamiliar with things going catastrophically wrong. There was the time I booked a venue for my wedding reception, paid a pretty hefty deposit, only for them to declare bankruptcy and lock their doors a few weeks later. There was the time I bought return plane tickets from Guatemala for a month earlier than our departure, and found out the day before we were set to fly home. And then there was the time Amazon listed my debut as casual fashion. Check it out:
This went up in December, and although it was fixed relatively quickly on the US site, it stubbornly remained shorts on the Canadian Amazon.
My release date was rapidly approaching and when my Canadian readers went to search for my book, they were directed to choose a colour and size instead. I can’t tell you how many friends and family members ‘helpfully’ messaged me to let me know about the problem while I ground my teeth down to nubs.
When I contacted Amazon in person some time in February or March about it, after multiple ‘incorrect product information’ reports had no effect, they first told me my publisher had uploaded the wrong info. I highly doubt this could be the case, because lol, really? Then they said it was an IT problem but it would be fixed within a few days. Time ticked by. My launch date of April 1 came, and still, ladies’ shorts. What else could I do?
I ordered them. THEY WERE SIX CANADIAN DOLLARS.
Although the delivery date was set for early June, they actually arrived a couple weeks ago, and let me say, these are definitely a pair of Athletic Linen Cozy Oversize Lounge Capri Pants Shorts and not a novel about a woman who uses her ability to see past lives to solve present-day murders in a seaside town. They also smell like a tire fire.
Best six dollars I ever spent? I mean, it wasn’t the worst six dollars I’ve ever spent. That would probably be on the venti vanilla latte I dropped directly outside Starbucks that one time and ruined my wool coat.
About three weeks (THREE WEEKS!) after my launch, the issue was finally resolved, and the linen shorts were no more. Or maybe they do still exist somewhere in the Amazon ecosphere, causing havoc with some other poor author’s listing, getting passed from writer to writer like the author version of the murderous spirit from It Follows. What did I get out of it? A bunch of lost sales… and a great story.
I belong to a great group made up of authors who are all releasing their debut novels in 2019, and for the month of May we’re taking part in a Twitter chat with a different prompt every day! Check out the #Debut19Chat hashtag on Twitter every day for a new discussion!
It’s official, Past Presence is the #1 book in Calgary! The Calgary Herald’s Books section has Past Presence ranked first on their list of bestselling books in Calgary, as reported by local bookstores. I am utterly overwhelmed!
I don’t even care that they spelled it wrong. That’s how excited I am.
I know this is due in large part to my incredible network of friends and family who pre-ordered and bought books at my launch party. Many thanks to all my supporters!
Every debut author needs a debut launch party! I was so happy to celebrate the release of Past Presence with friends, family and new readers at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary. I had hoped for ten or fifteen people to show up, but about 50 people came for a reading, signing and chat. The second time they had to bring out more chairs, I started to cry, and I ended up reading to a standing-room-only full house. My gratitude cannot be quantified.
Look at all these people!
My hands AND my voice were shaking, as I read chapter one of Past Presence.
Of course I brought a typewriter so people could leave me encouraging messages.
It’s a night I will never forget.
CBC Calgary even came out and filmed a segment! You can catch it here at the 27:40 mark, it was their end-of-program local feel-good story of the night 🙂
Many thanks to Angela for the pictures, and Becky for your reporting!
It’s been a few years since I tread these boards. Blogging took a back burner to pretty much everything else for awhile, including writing. Consider this the mother of all round-up posts, because we have almost five years to cover.
Became editor-in-chief of Birthing Magazine, a position I still hold today. We publish three times a year, with a focus on serving pregnant people and parents of children under two. It’s a great magazine, and I love flexing my editorial muscles.
Started writing a new novel! Untitled at the time, it began to shape itself into a paranormal mystery concerning past lives, present-day murders and what it means to be family. More on this later.
Adopted my best friend, a 15lb orange tabby named Oliver Venkman. There has never been a better cat.
Travelled to Wales, England and Scotland. Many shenanigans ensued.
Depression. Womp womp. Stopped writing.
Travelled to Costa Rica, and then a few months later solo to Copenhagen.
Recovering from depression. Still not writing, but making plans to start again.
Paid off my mortgage, quit one of three jobs I was holding. Depression starts to lift.
Start writing again in February, on the same mystery I abandoned in 2015.
Travelled to Wales and Cornwall, discover that Cornwall is the first place I’ve ever been to that feels like home. While I’m gone, my house almost burns down and we have to move out until repairs are completed.
In July I take a one-week getaway to Galiano Island and write over 20,000 words of the book that still doesn’t have a name. Finish shortly after, spend some time editing and on a whim, decide to pitch it during the #DVPit pitch party on twitter. Get several requests for full manuscripts! Settle on calling this book Past Presence.
In December, receive an offer to publish from one of the presses that requested my full, Literary Wanderlust. Accept–I’m going to be an author!
Just so much editing.
Also New Zealand, and a very quick trip to London for the Miss and I for her birthday.
Pub date is set for April 1, 2019.
I’m off anti-anxiety meds for the first time since my mid-20s. It’s a lot of work to keep myself safe and healthy, but worth it to not be so numb all the time.
Complicating that is a diagnosis of ADHD, but I have a good team of mental health professionals who are working with me to learn the skills I need to be at my best.
Start writing a new novel, called Moving On. It’s a speculative YA story about Bree Banks, a 17-year-old girl who dies unexpectedly. She finds herself recruited to be an Attendant, a supernatural being who helps guide people from the living into death, a job which she neither wants nor feels she’s well-suited for. It’s full of heartbreak, sassy dialogue and #ownvoices moments for the neurodiverse. I’m having a blast writing it.
Thailand in January with six friends. Japan in February with my family. This is a very big lot of travelling. I vow to stay home for a good long while.
I think that pretty much catches us up! This blog will now return to its regularly scheduled programming of writing life, tips and tricks, typewriters (oh, I have some new lovelies) and interviews with fellow writers.
tl;dr: The last four years have been upsy-downy but now I have a book out and I went a lot of places.