Sunday, December 27, 2009

Another good review!!!

I'm just thrilled to have stumbled upon another good review of
Blood and Groom! This one appeared on the New Mystery Reader website.

Blood and Groom by Jill Edmondson

Publisher: Dundurn Press ISBN: 978-1-55488-430-8

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Retired rock singer turned private investigator Sasha Jackson finds herself employed by a nasty woman who owns an art gallery. This woman wants Sasha to find out who killed her ex fiancé to clear her own name of suspicion that seems to follow her around.

Sasha starts her investigation with questions to all the people who knew the groom and they seem to mostly favor the art gallery owner, Christine Arvisais, as the killer. But, she has an alibi.

The investigation leads Sasha deeper into the lives of the family and friends of the deceased that bring complications into the mix and danger. And she then learns of another ex fiancé dying and the weirdness that goes with it. Her investigation takes a new direction and she is soon on the track of a killer.

This is an investigator with a different background to hold the attention of any mystery reader looking for something a little different. A private investigator with a second job on a phone sex line as extra trappings will show the reader how she survives until her new business takes off.

Recommended for the mystery fan who likes those touches of reality that bring true life into their world. Talented author Jill Edmondson has crafted a set of intriguing characters set in a background where the raw edges of moneyed life meets the gritty reality of survival of poverty.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Libraries are your friends!

Hey there fellow authors and aspiring writers!

One thing I have seen little of (actually, almost nothing of) around the blogosphere is the topic of libraries.

As an author, I love libraries!

Now, writers out there may be saying: "But wait, why do you love libraries? People borrow your book for free. Wouldn't you prefer that people bought it rather than borrowed it? Don't you miss out on all those royalties?"

Hopefully lots of people borrow it!

Libraries are good to authors in three specific ways:

1. They usually promote new books, new authors, new titles. They often have newsletters offering blurbs on recent acquisitions. They frequently set up display tables with "new" books or "this just in," or they will sometimes set up a table by "Canadian authors" or other themes.

Unless you have a BIG budget, it would be next to impossible to get that kind of prominent display and/or publicity from the big chain bookstores.

Your book can and will get noticed because of any of these types of library promotion. For example, the Toronto library system ordered 14 copies of "Blood and Groom" and there are 33 holds placed already on returning copies. The Ottawa library system has ordered 7 copies of my book, as as of this morning, there are 24 holds placed on returning copies.

2. Okay, so you're not making huge royalties from each borrower, but the library users can spread word of mouth. People may notice them reading your book on the bus, or may see them reading your book during the lunch break. They may tell a couple of friends (or,hopefully many friends) about it ... and maybe some of those people will go out and buy a copy... When you're a new author, your main concern should be on getting an audience, building a readership, generating a buzz...

3. Libraries LOVE events: author meet & greet, readings, panel discussions, etc. Authors are generally welcome to bring books for sale and signing at such events. So, again, there's potential for word or mouth; there is an opportunity to build your audience; you might sell some books, and... I can't see any disadvantages.

As a new author, I am getting mixed responses from bookstores about having events. Some welcome the idea, but would prefer to wait until I have a second book out; some are more interested in having events with 2 or 3 authors. I can understand all this; it makes perfect sense as they're in business to sell books, and new authors might not be much of a "draw"... yet!

So, for now, I will keep plugging away at both, but I fully intend to spend just as much time promoting at libraries as I do with retailers.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

Jill (and Sasha)

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Way cool! My article on single mothers in crime fiction was posted today on the "Type M for Murder" blog.

The question is: with such a strong presence of women in crime fiction, why are so many of the heroines "amateur" sleuths? Where are the single mother police procedurals?

Have a look and let me know what you think. There really does seem to be a potential niche for a hardboiled, single mom, police procedural or similar...

Cheers, Jill

Friday, December 18, 2009

Do you really need an agent?

I can hear the screaming already!

What??? Why do you even have to ask??? Whaddaya mean: "Do you really need an agent?"

It's an innocent question, and not one meant to rankle anyone. I'm just wondering aloud...

In my early days, when I first started writing, my instructor at the only writing course I've ever taken was not a fan of agents. Her point had more to do with economics than anything else. As she put it, writers make so very little these days anyway, that automatically giving away 10 or 15 percent to an agent was not fiscally sound.

Now, before you jump on me, I must state that I heard these words as I was starting out, and, although, they've obviously stuck, I did keep an open mind about agents (since all was and still is new to me).

I can see the advantages that an agent can offer, number one being: landing you a publishing contract. Bingo! That's what all aspiring writers ultimately crave, isn't it? To be published? For a new, unknown author, an agent can open doors, pave the way, and all that good stuff.

However, in my case, I thought I'd try things both ways. I sent out twenty query letters. Two of my letters were sent to agents and the remaining 18 were sent to publishing houses. FYI - I live in Canada and queried only Canadian agents and publishers.

I got rejection letters from both agents.

But, I was offered a contract within about 3 months by a reputable publisher, and my book is now in stores.

I'm not trying to be a naysayer, but in my case things worked out well (and rather quickly) doing it on my own.

I wonder how many aspiring writers focus on getting an agent rather than applying directly to the publishing houses? I also wonder about the relationship between (not getting) an agent and self-publishing. Hmmmm... Do many people try the other steps or do they look at publishing as an either or situation between agents and vanity press?

I would love to hear from writers and agents about the relationships, and pros and cons of working with an agent. I know there is still much for me to learn about the world of publishing and I am curious about your own stories and experiences.

Thanks, Jill

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Very Excited! Just got a great review!

"Blood and Groom" got a great review by Don Graves in today's
Hamilton Spectator!!!!

The full text can be found here:

Excerpts of Don Graves's comments:

"Edmondson shows promise with deft plotting and
clues constructed to provide inroads
into the characters and the action."

"Edmondson shows the storytelling skill to turn this debut into
a Toronto-focused series with room to grow. "

Needless to say, I am absolutely thrilled!

Guest Blogger: Donna Carrick

This post is from Guest Blogger Donna Carrick! Thanks Donna!

Donna is the author of The First Excellence, Gold and Fishes, and The Noon God. She is also an active member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Social Media and the Arts ~ by Donna Carrick, December 12, 2009

I’m a huge fan of Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn. In my opinion, these on-line tools and others like them are invaluable to the modern artist.

It’s true, not everyone shares my affection for Social Media. We’ve all heard the arguments: It takes too much time away from writing… Book sales do not correlate to number of ‘Tweets’ … Everyone on the Internet is trying to sell something… etc…etc.

Valid arguments, all. And yet… there is another factor to consider when weighing the value of today’s Internet connectivity.

As artists, (writers, painters, musicians …you get it) we have a responsibility to the future. That responsibility, in a nutshell, is to pass down our art to those who follow – to tell them what we can about our place and time.

What I am currently witnessing within the heart of the Social Media jungle is a powerful movement of new, vibrant, unfettered and independent artists. In my own tiny corner of the great forest, I’ve ‘met’ a virtual army of talented writers. Many are forming groups even as I prepare this blog. At least three are planning a 2010 Independent Artists Festival in Europe based on contacts formed through Twitter.

It’s ‘renaissance’ time, folks! The new guard is forging ahead and will not be quelled. Its passion is fuelled by the sense of artistic camaraderie that is emerging from Twitter, FaceBook, LinkedIn and the others. These are indeed exciting times!

If our only goal as writers is to sell more books, then Social Media may not be the answer. But if we want to shake the world, well, that’s another story! Take a moment to be still and feel it. The earth has already begun to move.

Lofty ideas? Perhaps. But majesty and grandeur have always been the objectives of the artist. Expressing those ideals is the writer’s mandate.

I firmly believe tomorrow’s ‘greats’ will emerge from within this Social Media groundswell. With that in mind, regardless of whether I “sell more books”, I want to be a part of the wave!

Yours in moving together towards the future,
Donna Carrick

Donna's links for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are:
Twitter: @donna_carrick
FaceBook: Donna Carrick
LinkedIn: Donna Carrick

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What a SMASH!

Well, the "Blood and Groom" launch party was last night, and I'm pleased to say it was a smashing success!

I've been worriying, and planning, and worrying some more, and micromanaging this event since early autumn, and the soiree turned out even better than I'd hoped or dreamed!

Great crowd! The folks from COPE were all there (thank you!), lots of friends and family, a big group from Dundurn, old high school chums, the book club chicks, the trivia folks, GBC staff and students, and a few people I haven't seen in 10 or 20 years... HOLY SMOKES! WOW!

Ace Anais (one of my students) played the part of the Bloody Bride: doesn't she look wonderful! And, yes, that really was my wedding dress!

Moose the Florist outdid himself with the flowers. These are real roses with images printed right on them! We gave single roses to every guest and I had two bouquets: one fresh flowers and the other dried flowers. Very cool!

My neighbour Patricia is awesome and I couldn't have pulled this off without her! Patricia baked the cake, acted as cashier and sales clerk for the books, and basically she kept me sane!

I sold and signed over one hundred books! Wow, what a fun and heady feeling seeing people line up to get a book signed by little old moi!
So, a great night and I couldn't be happier!
Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Blood and Groom Launch party is tonight!!

Party is from 5:00 to 10:00 pm at The Pilot Tavern (second floor) , 22 Cumberland Avenue (near Yonge & Bloor) , Toronto.

I am so excited and so nervous!

I think I have planned out every little detail: food, drink, decorations, music, and so on.

A lot of friends have helped me organize the party - kudos to them!

I expect a good turn-out (100+ people!)

Cheers, Jill

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mystery writers' organizations

Hey Folks,

Time to do a bit of PR for some local organizations that have helped me A LOT!

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) is an organization for... you guessed it. I have been involved with them (one way or another) for about four or five years. I began as an associate member (that's the designation for fans and unpublished but aspiring writers). In the last year or so, I have become an (ahem) author member.

This is a great group to be a part of. They have some cool discussions via their Yahoo group, they have a mentoring program, they publish a monthly newsletter detailing author events, and they offer all sorts of other goodies.

CWC presents the Arthur Ellis Awards (AE) for excellence Canadian Crime Writing. A few years ago, I was one of the judges for the Best Novel category. I got to read a lot of great books that I may never have stumbled upon, by authors I hadn't yet heard of. That was fun and a neat conversation starter at dinner parties.

The AE is named for Canada's last official hangman. For more info about the awards, check

CWC has recently created a fan page on Facebook. Check it out at: (Crime.Writers.Canada). There's lots of good mystery info on there and a lot of fun stuff, like photos, book trailers, and links.

Another organization I belong to is Sisters in Crime, Toronto chapter (SinC). They're also a great resource and a great support for mystery writers and fans. Their monthly newsletter includes reviews, trivia, event listings and maybe an interview or two.

SinC also has monthly meetings with a neat variety of guest speakers, from newly published authors to a talk on poisons that are available in your backyard (you'd be surprised at how deadly some of those pretty flowers or innocent looking mushrooms can be).

I definitely think aspiring writers (for mystery or any other genre) should get involved in writing groups or associations. I've learned a lot from both CWC and SinC, I've met some cool people, and have had a lot of support and encouragement as I worked away at my writing.

Plus, both groups are having their Christmas parties this week, yippee! Time to eat, drink and be deadly!

Cheers, Jill

Friday, November 27, 2009

My first EVER review!!!

And it's in Margaret Cannon's column in Canada's national newspaper!

Also a review on the "Book Bird Dog" blog: saying:

"Good mystery plots, clever title. The mystery splits into two separate stories later in the book, and it's done well."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Trailer Part One

It was a lot of fun making the book trailer... That's probably because we drank all the mistakes! Here's the first cocktail:

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Subway Book Signing Tour

I am so happy to know that "Blood and Groom" is out (a bit early!) and it's already in stores! It wasn't supposed to be at the distributor's until November 16th, and then give it a week or so to be delivered, received, shelved, etc.

So, because the arrival date was supposed to be late November, I haven't got much promo stuff planned yet (stores are too busy in Nov-Dec with Christmas stuff). That's okay, there is lots I can do now and even more I can do in the New Year.

In the meanwhile, I have been hitting local stores and local libraries and talking to individual staff about "Blood and Groom." The response has been positive. A number of libraries want to arrange a reading or author meet & greet. Of course, I'm happy to plan those.

As for local bookstores, I have gone around to all those that I can reach by subway and have signed whatever copies of my book they have in stock. In return, they have all given me a front facing and put a sticker on the cover "signed by author." So, that's all been kind of cool.

Next focus is on the launch party, which is on December 8th. I am very excited about it and I dearly hope some media types show up!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A round of drinks for the characters...

I've invented a bunch of wacky cocktails for some of the characters in
Blood and Groom.

Clockwise, beginning with the silver martini glass:

1. Chocorettotini for Sasha
2. Carousel for Rachel
3. Bitter Venom for Christine (penis straw optional)
4. Bloody Groom for Gordon
5. Teddy Bear (Teddy Bare) for Ted
6. Snake in the Grass for Darren
7. White Wedding for Rebecca

Recipes to follow...


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nonfiction and Academic Writing

Okay, so you know I write fiction and that "Blood and Groom: A Sasha Jackson Mystery" will be in stores in a week or two; however, I have spent a helluva lot of time over the last two years writing nonfiction, academic stuff.

I have just finished my MA degree, with a concentration in Cultural Studies, which in my case meant minority literature, which includes Feminism and Women's Writing. To that end, I married my love of crime fiction with my studies and did a few papers on women in detective series.

My favourite paper is called "From Spenser to Yeats: Feminism's Answer to the Hardboiled Sleuth is on the Wagon and Rides a Harley." In this, I argue that the Jane Yeats character by Liz Brady is every bit as much of an ass kicker as Robert B. Parker's Spenser.

Another paper is called "Hardboiled and Hairspray: Feminism and Stephanie Plum." Anyone who has read this series by Janet Evanovich would probably scratch their head at the thesis, but upon close examination, Stephanie - clumsiness, shoe shopping, and mascara notwithstanding - is a modern version of the noir PI walking down the dark and seedy streets.

Finally, I did a paper called "Supermoms, Supersleuths" in which I look at the discrepancy between fact and fiction in terms of the incidence of single mothers and detecting/law enforcement jobs.

So, there, that's another side of me and my writing. And, I really think the academic stuff benefitted me greatly as I was writing "Blood and Groom" - certainly it gave me a solid foundation in the genre.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Author's Copy!


I just got my author's copy of "Blood and Groom"!

My first book!


It finally feels real!

Now I can't wait to see it in stores... soon!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Social media and your characters and your plot...

A question for all you writers out there:

Given the way that social media (Blogger, Facebook, You Tube, MSN Messenger, and so on) have infiltrated day to day life, I am wondering about their presence in fiction.

Do your characters use MSN messenger? Does your character have a profile on Facebook? Does your heroine send text messages to her friends? Is there an embarrassing wedding video of your protagonist on You Tube? Does anyone in your books send out "Tweets"?

Just curious... Jill and yes, I am now on "Twitter"... @JillEdmondson
Blood and Groom will be available in two weeks!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cocktails in Blood and Groom

Well, like the hardboiled dicks of yore, booze plays a part in Blood and Groom. However, unlike the old sleuth who pulled a fifth of scotch from his desk drawer, Sasha imbibes with friends at funky bars around town.

Sasha's tastes in alcohol are varied; it all depends on her mood, the setting and the company. On a hot summer day, she'll have a fruity drink with an umbrella, and on a cold winter day, she'll pour a coffee with Bailey's.

Sasha and Lindsey knock back a few martinis when they have dinner at Shane's restaurant; they get into the Jagermeister when they go on a tear along Queen West; Sasha hoists a pint of Creemore while at the Wheat Sheaf; and - of course - she enjoys the odd glass of wine... just so long as it doesn't get thrown in her face.

New Web Site is up and running!

I finally got a friend to update my web site.
This is such an improvement over the old version!
Thanks Dave!

Of course, it has a synopsis of Blood and Groom,
and one for Dead Light District;
it also has a cool photo tour and a Google Map
of the places mentioned in
Blood and Groom.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tag Lines for "Blood and Groom"

So, continuing with the theme of promotion and more promotion, I spent all day Sunday at the computer. I was creating, rejecting, printing, screwing up, and designing various print things I can distribute hither and yon in order to get word of mouth happening and to generate interest.

I came up with a few good tag lines:

A fatal comedy of Eros...
Haute couture homicide...
Four funerals and a wedding...
Always a bridesmaid, never a suspect...
Malice, mayhem, murder and Manolos...
Gives new meaning to "until death do us part"...
Nancy Drew in a head-on collision with Sex and the City...
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something dead...

Friday, October 23, 2009

A little more about Victor and his Dating Profile

I haven't said much about Victor yet...

To know him is to love him, sort of. Victor is a very nice, very rich DWEEB! He's a nerd, a dork, a geek... There is no nicer way to put it. He's socially awkward, always says the wrong thing at the wrong time, but he's harmless, and he means well, it's just that he's so... argh!

Victor was one of Sasha's first clients, and since she wrapped up his case a while back, he has developed a crush on Sasha... lucky her, not!

So, Sasha is doing her best to try to help him find the love of his life, or at least a date - anything to get him out of her hair. He had his eye on one woman and Sasha gave Victor advice about how to try to sweep the woman off her feet. One thing Sasha suggested was a box of truffles, but Victor thought Sasha meant truffles the mushrooms, not the chocolates. Needless to say, that didn't work.

So now it's time for Victor to try online dating. Here is Victor's profile/personal ad:

Are you the Girl for me?????

Looking for a long term, committed relationship with someone who shares my hobbies. I enjoy stamp collecting, rock polishing, reading old maps and calculating baseball statistics.

I am a successful, self-employed male, 5'5", 192 lbs. I am clean shaven, have brown eyes (I wear bi-focal, horn-rimmed glasses with tape on them), brown hair (I'm kind of going bald but no one notices because I comb over the bald spot).

I enjoy going out for a nice romantic dinner at an all you can eat buffet, and I like polka dancing. I also like a quiet evening at home - drinking a glass of warm milk and listening to my Ethel Merman collection.

My favourite colour is plaid, my favourite flavour is vanilla, my favourite book is Roget's Thesaurus, and I have a pet goldfish named Goldy.

Drop me a line if you think we're a match!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Reality Check: Book Promotion and PR....

The world of publishing – like so many other industries – has changed a great deal over the years. The changes mean that (among other things) publishers and authors handle promotion and publicity very differently than years ago. If a writer thinks his job is done once he finishes the manuscript, he’s living in the clouds.

In many cases, once the contract has been signed and all the final edits are done, that’s when the real work begins! This is probably especially true for new, unknown authors. Publishers don’t roll out the red carpet, book first-class airline seats on your world book tour, and give you an unlimited publicity budget.

This link from the Washington post details what one new author did the get people to notice her book.

This New Yorker article – funny as hell – gives a tongue in cheek overview of PR and Marketing in a memo form. Well worth the read!

Finally, this article in Walrus gives an overview of dollars and cents in the book world. Very informative.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More of The Devil's Dictionary (Ambrose Bierce)

INJUSTICE, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the back.

JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.

JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.

KILL, v.t. To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.

KLEPTOMANIAC, n. A rich thief.

LAWFUL, adj. Compatible with the will of a judge having jurisdiction.

LAWYER, n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

LITIGANT, n. A person about to give up his skin for the hope of retaining his bones.

LITIGATION, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Planning the Launch Party

Well, this is very exciting - finally!!! Things are moving on schedule, so I can finally make plans for the book launch party, wheeee!

I have been thinking of it for a while and have lots of ideas. I almost think I'm putting more thought and effort into it than I did for my own wedding :)

Since the book is called Blood and Groom it obviously has a wedding theme to it. I've decided to have a twisted wedding theme for the launch party.

So, there will be a wedding cake (made by my neighbour Patricia), but instead of all cutsey and nice, the tiered confection will have "blood" drizzling down it and the groom doll lying in a bloody mess at the bottom. There is a blog called "Cake Wrecks" that has sample of the kind of cake I have in mind.

I am also having customized roses done up with the book title and a smoking gun. Yes, really. I know a florist who does this - it's almost like putting a tattoo on a real flower. The florist's name is Moose (yes, really!), and he is also going to make up a bridal bouquet for me to toss at the end of the night. Moose the Florist's website is .

Finally, what "wedding reception" would be complete without a "toast to the bride"? So I have asked the bar where I'm having the party to order some bubbly for me.

As for decor, well, I have ordered two rolls of yellow crime scene tape: Police Line Do Not Cross.

All in all, I think it will be a hoot!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ambrose Bierce - the Devil's Dictionary #1

Ambrose Bierce wrote several sarcastic, witty definitions. I have posted some related to crime and law here. For more, see .

1. ACCOMPLICE, n. One associated with another in a crime, having guilty knowledge and complicity, as an attorney who defends a criminal, knowing him guilty. This view of the attorney's position in the matter has not hitherto commanded the assent of attorneys, no one having offered them a fee for assenting.

2. CEMETERY, n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager.

3. CUI BONO? [Latin] What good would that do me?

4. DEBAUCHEE, n. One who has so earnestly pursued pleasure that he has had the misfortune to overtake it.

5. EMBALM, v.i. To cheat vegetation by locking up the gases upon which it feeds.

6. FUNERAL, n. A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure that deepens our groans and doubles our tears.

7. GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.

8. GUNPOWDER, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels.

9. HABEAS CORPUS. A writ by which a man may be taken out of jail when confined for the wrong crime.

10. HATRED, n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Bordello Blood" or "The Hooker Book" or...

The Hooker Book

Okay, that’s not the actual title... it’s just how I have always referred to it. The working title is “Bordello Blood” and that will likely change. An alternate title is “Mourning Prostitutional” but I’m not 100% sure the pun works...

Anyhow, the manuscript is done, finished, signed, sealed, delivered... no contract for it yet, but hope springs eternal...

As you may have guessed from the titles and alternate names, it’s about the sex trade. The idea came to me in December 2008. I had just finished an essay for one of my MA courses. The essay was on equality and fair treatment for sex workers. I dug up a pile of mind-boggling facts and statistics, and all sorts of interesting/shocking research and notes (much of which didn’t make it into the final essay just because of maximum word count).

Some of the stuff I had learned was just way too interesting to be deleted or tossed into the recycling bin with all the other papers and outlines and rough copies of the essay. As well, I have long wanted to write about something to do with Mexico. So, there you go, that was the genesis of Bordello Blood, or The Hooker Book ,or Mourning Prostitutional, or whatever it ends up being called*.

I started writing it in mid-December 2008 and completed the whole thing by May 2009. In it, you’ll see many of the characters you met in Blood and Groom: Lindsey is back, as are Shane and Jessica. To learn more about the plot, check out the synopsis listed under July postings.

** Another title just came to me: I think I like “Dead Light District”... what do you think?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's on Sasha's Bookshelf

Sasha loves to read when she has time between cases. Naturally she's a mystery fan, so her bookcase has the following crime and detective novels:

-The whole Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich

-Most of the Inspector Morse books by Dexter

-Several dog-eared books in the Nero Wolfe series (about the only books Sasha will re-read). She even has the series continuation by Goldsborough.

-Letters D through N of Sue Grafton's alphabet series starring Kinsey

-The McNally series by Lawrence Sanders (carried on by Lardo), plus the Commandments and the Deadly Sins, but none of his stand alone titles.

Other than mystery fiction, Sasha's bookshelves also have miscellaneous non-fiction, humorous books and some almost "capital L" Literature, like:

-Biography of Winston Churchill

-To Kill a Mockingbird - one of her faves

-Dreams from My Father

-Animal Farm

-Barney's Version - laugh out loud funny!

-Crime and Punishment

-Catch 22

-Everything by Jasper Fforde (Thursday Next is better than Nursery Crimes, but all are worth reading)

-The Essential Dalai Lama

-Everything by Christopher Moore 

-The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

-The last 16 issues of MAD Magazine

-Every issue of Billboard, going back about ten years.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Quotations about crime, law, etc.

Quotations about crime, law, and so on...

Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they? - George Carlin

Obviously crime pays, or there’d be no crime. - G. Gordon Liddy

The key is to commit crimes so confusing that police feel too stupid to even write a crime report about them. – Randy K. Milholland

Behind every great fortune there is a crime. -Honore de Balzac

Going to trial with a lawyer who considers your whole lifestyle a Crime in Progress is not a happy prospect. – Hunter S. Thompson

A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers. – H.L. Mencken

If it weren’t for my lawyer, I’d still be in prison. It went a lot faster with two people digging. - Joe Martin

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. - Frank Zappa

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. - Voltaire

The reason there is so little crime in Germany is that it’s against the law. - Alex Levin

We live in an age when pizza gets to your home before the police. - Jeff Marder

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A few more lines I like... from Blood and Groom

At a spa retreat: The scrawny clerk with her granite complexion and tombstone teeth was hardly a walking advertisement for the “New and Improved You” espoused by this holistic hell.

Some say money is the root of all evil, but I say it’s the root, trunk, branches, and all.

Clowns at my wedding? Other than the bride and groom, I’d have never thought of it.

Was fate trying to tell me something? Like maybe I should take up recreational glue sniffing?

I got a call from Mick, asking me what kind of flowers I’d choose for my bridal bouquet. “Dandelions,” I said.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A few lines that made me chuckle... from "Blood and Groom"

Page 2:
“So, being accused of murder is shameful, but actually doing it is fine?” (Sasha)
“Exactly. If I’m going to get credit for something, I’d prefer it for something I really did do.” (Christine)

Sasha, page 5:
I could never see the point of yoga as a part of a fitness regime, too passive, and too easy to slip into a coma and call it a workout.

Sasha, page 23:
“Oh. Yeah. Baby.” My voice held about as much sexual excitement as a Jersey cow being milked.

Sasha and Lindsey at an exclusive spa, page 87:
After that we were off to our wellness class: ‘What Colour is your Aura’? Dude, I hope it’s tie-dyed.

Sasha, page 184:
Horniness had little to do with being culturally inclusive, unless you think of it in terms of an equal opportunity penis.

Page 217:
“What the fuck… this place looks like the Tasmanian Devil had an epileptic seizure in it,” Mick said.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Queries and Rejection Letters

I guess I was pretty lucky in that I landed a publishing contract relatively easily and relatively quickly.I’ve heard horror stories of novelists trying to get their first contract, and ugh... One mystery writer I know has a binder with 125 rejection letters... number 126 said yes, so perseverance paid off in his case.
Once I had the book done (February 2008), I left it alone for a while because I was busy as hell with work (teaching) and school (my MA). Things lightened up a wee bit in June and July, so I did some editing and revising of the manuscript ... took the 297 pages to 303 (but I actually didn’t change very much, just mostly caught typos and added a bit, obviously).

When school (teaching) ended in mid-August, I decided to send out a bunch of query letters.
A query letter is something you send to publishers to try to generate enough interest to ask for the whole manuscript. It’s sort of like a sales pitch or even a cover letter and CV for the book... submitting the entire manuscript would be like the interview, getting a publishing contract would be like getting the job.
I wrote a one page sales pitch and a two page synopsis of Blood and Groom. On August 16th, 2008, I mailed them out to twenty publishers and agents (only two were sent to literary agents).

I heard back (in one way or another) from eleven of the twenty (which is actually a good percentage of acknowledgements). Of the eleven who responded, five asked me to send them the whole manuscript, which is a very good response rate.

Ultimately, I received two contract offers!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How I started and finished writing "Blood and Groom"

I had a couple of other books in the works in the summer of 2007, but I suddenly came up with an idea – from out of nowhere – for another book. I shelved the other two (they’re still in the works...) and got busy with what eventually became “Blood and Groom.”

From the summer of 2007 through Christmas 2007, I worked on it now and then – mostly on weekends. In roughly six months, I wrote about 162 pages – most of which were written during Christmas holidays when I had lots of time off work and was between courses in my MA.

Then I did something rather stupid...

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) has annual awards for crime writing (fiction and non-fiction) in Canada. The awards are called the Arthur Ellis Awards (named after Canada’s last official hangman). A few years ago, Crime Writers of Canada announced a new award category: The Unhanged Arthur.
The Unhanged Arthur is for unpublished, aspiring novelists.

To enter into this category, one must have a completed manuscript. The process is thus:
  • Send the first 25 to 30 pages of a completed manuscript to CWC, along with an entry form and whatever other paperwork they require.
  • From all the entries (I believe there were about 120 entries the year I participated), a list of ten finalists would be selected.
  • These ten finalists would be contacted by mid-to-late February.
  • Upon being selected as a finalist, the contestant would have one week to submit the completed manuscript to CWC for further judging.
  • The winner and runners-up would be announced at the Arthur Ellis Awards soiree in early June.
Notice that I used bold for the word completed????
Well, the in third week of February, I received notification that I had been selected as one of the ten finalists. This was on a Tuesday morning. I had until 5:00 pm the following Monday to deliver the completed manuscript to CWC.
Ooops!!!! I hadn't worked on it at all since Christmas break, and the 162 page half-finished book was still a 162 page half-finished book.
Luckily, the third week in Februray happened to be Reading Week – a week off from teaching and from my MA courses... THANK GOD!
I chain smoked, guzzled coffee, hardly slept, and the 162 page manuscript became 297 pages by the time I hand delivered it to CWC.
I didn’t make it any further in the contest than that, but at least having the deadline made me finish the book. I was a bit disappointed in June when I heard the Arthur announcements for the Unhanged Arthur category... and my name wasn’t there.
On the bright side, at least I now had a completed manuscript and lots of time during the summer to fine tune it and then try to find a publisher... which you’ll hear about in my next post!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The waiting game...

Okay, so I got the book contract in November 2008... and the book will be published in November 2009. As exciting as it is to know the book will be out this Fall, the waiting is the hardest part! It feels like the gestation period for an elephant.

However, things are starting to happen. The cover has been designed, I have met with various people from the publishing house (Dundurn), and "Blood and Groom" is in the Dundurn Fall catalogue. So, it's starting to feel more real now...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Synopsis: Dead Light District

Bordello Blood

As open minded as she is, private investigator Sasha Jackson feels out of place when her latest cases plunges her into the world of commercial sex. A classy madame has hired Sasha to find a missing Mexican hooker, which seems easy enough at first. However, things become complicated when a nasty pimp turns up dead in the wrong hotel. The case becomes even more complicated when a spaced-out call girl, an arthritic old lady and a Rastafarian pawnbroker enter the scene.

Sasha figures out why the hooker ran away but has no idea where she is running to. But how fast can anyone run in stiletto heels? It isn’t until the next body turns up that Sasha realizes why the hooker must choose between fight and flight, and why the choice is so difficult. What Sasha doesn’t count on is illegal immigration, a slumlord in sweats, a Neanderthal bartender, and that designer kitchen wares will both threaten and save Sasha’s life.

As confusing as the case is, Sasha’s personal life is even more in disarray. Her ex-boyfriend is hoping they can make beautiful music together, a forgotten high school romance resurfaces, and - after a bit too much wine - an innocent flirtation moves to the next level. For the moment, though, the only guys on Sasha’s mind are a blond kindergartener, a battered drag queen and a guy who just can’t keep his pants zipped up no matter what city he’s in.

Sasha tests her moral compass as she tries to understand the sex trade and what someone will do in a moment of desperation. She is even willing to look the other way, but then Sasha realizes her ass is incredibly hot and the killer is incredibly cold.

Synopsis: Blood and Groom (published November 2009)


When not talking dirty at her part time phone sex job, or singing cheesy cover tunes in generic suburban bars, fledgling private investigator Sasha Jackson is spending her days trying to figure out how “till death do us part” applies to her jilted client.

Christine Arvisais was dumped by her gold plated fiancé days before mailing the wedding invitations. Four months later, he was shot in a Toronto ravine during his Saturday morning jog. Christine says she was wrapped in seaweed and bathing in mud when Gordon Hanes went to the mahogany paneled VIP room in the sky.

Then another former fiancé falls victim to another femme fatale and it appears Cupid’s bow is no match for the Grim Reaper’s scythe.
As Sasha continues her investigation, she uncovers a pattern of guys who skipped “I do” and now never will. It seems a coincidence, until Sasha learns the real meaning of “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

With her dad driving her crazy via long distance, and her brother steeped in confusion about his own romantic comedy of Eros, Sasha must figure out who’s whacking would-be grooms before it becomes a case of four funerals and a wedding.

Sasha's Favourite Toronto Hangouts

Well, obviously, her brother Shane's restaurant Pastiche on Elm Street is one of her happy places, as is just about any restaurant with good food (and screw the boring vegan places, or the uptight fine dining establishments with snooty waitrons).

Any bar with good live music is a fave, as is any decent patio not facing a noisy, dirty street.

Sasha's haunts include The Pilot Tavern (Cumberland Avenue), Cafe Diplomatico (College Street), The Hideout (Queen West), Cafe Volo (Yonge Street),

The Wheat Sheaf (King West), and The Horseshoe (Queen West), as well as any authentic dim sum, Indian or Thai restaurant.

Sasha lives in Riverdale, on Carlaw, between Danforth and Gerrard. The renovated red brick detached home she shares with dad Jack and brother Shane is the home she grew up in. Not surprisingly, Sasha loves The Danforth.

Other favourite neighbourhoods include The Esplanade and St. Lawrence Market, Queen Street West, and Kensington Market.

PI Sasha Jackson heads to each of these fave hangouts in her debut caper 
Blood and Groom

Sasha Jackson Bio

Sasha is about 5'9", slim, has long blond hair (um, at least, well, it was long until the fire...) and she doesn't really need to wear an underwire support bra, but is damn glad she did that one night...

She's a Leo and reads her horoscope almost everyday (and always does the exact opposite of what it says). After the horoscope, she turns to the comics strips - which aren't nearly as funny as they used to be. Bring back Calvin & Hobbes! After the horoscope and the funnies, Sasha does the crossword (in ink) but only the regular crossword puzzles, never those damned cryptic ones, and don't even ask about those evil sudoku puzzles, arghh!

Sasha votes in every election (except for that one time when she couldn't get out of bed, ugh...), but she is not married to any one political party. However, if Sasha were an American, she definitely would have voted for Obama.

Organized religion scares the crap out of her, but she does believe in a higher power/superior being/heavenly den mother/cosmic CEO.

Some of her favourite quotations/adages are:
What? Me worry? (Alfred E. Neuman is sorely underappreciated).
Fall down seven times, stand up eight.
Hope is the confusion of the desire of a thing with its probability.
If you have 100 priorities, you have none.
Pickles make squishy bookmarks. (Did Confucius say this?)

Sasha still has a crush on John Travolta, circa the Grease and Saturday Night Fever days; she really thinks Archie should ditch Veronica and go for Betty; and although she loved playing with Barbie dolls, she mutilated every one she ever owned by either cutting their hair or applying ballpoint pen eyeshadow.

Sasha got kicked out of Girl Guides after just five weeks. Her Dad was a little embarrassed about this, but not at all surprised. Soon after her short-lived paramilitary stint, Sasha discovered boys and kissing - both of which were infinitely more interesting than selling cookies.