Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bloody Words Convention

So, this weekend I'm off to the tenth annual BLOODY WORDS convention.  This will be my first ever book-writing-mystery-literary convention of any sort.  It happens to be held in Toronto, my city, which is why I'm going.

I am really looking forward to it!  It will be great to mingle with other writers and fans and folks from the publishing world.

Also, I'm on a panel discussion Friday evening" "Bad Girls" in crime fiction (hmmmm... wonder why they picked me???)

Then on Saturday, I'm doing "Book Speed Dating" which sounds like a great promo opportunity.  After that, I'll be at the SIsters in Crime signing table.

So, I am excited about the coming weekend and I'm sure I'll have lots to report afterwards.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

23 Ski-Doo, Groovy and Hip!

Is there an 'E' in groovy? 
The fact I have to ask that indicates just how UN-groovy I am!!!

I'm sure you all know about Urban Dictionary and other online sources for scoping out current slang and idioms.  Also, Urban Dictionary (IMO) is only helpful to check a word you already know, and won't spill out a bunch of suggestions if you're looking for that je ne sais quoi turn of phrase.  So, I've recently tried something different as a way to get tuned into the latest street talk.

Long ago, I created a Facebook fan page for my Sasha Jackson Mysteries.  I have over 1000 fans, and I can get demographic info about them (though no individual info).  Most of my fans (48%) are between 15 and 25 years old, so cooler and hipper (more hip?) than I am by far.

I recently posted a query on the Sasha fan page wall about contemporay slang.  The results were very helpful!  It turns out the word I had planned on using was wrong for the context I had in mind.  But the fans gave me some good suggestions for other common terms to use instead.

Funny to think of using Facebook as a tool to help you in the writing of a novel.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Oui, oui, wheeeee!

I went to Montreal, P.Q. this past weekend...

The trip to Montreal was half business, half pleasure.  I met up with a few friends, but the catalyst for the trip was to do some book store signings in a city (any city!) outside of Toronto (most of my book promo events thus far have been in the Toronto area). 

Montreal is a good sized city (one of the three biggest cities in Canada) and it seemed like a good idea to try to build some word of mouth in another urban centre.

BUT... Montreal, or at least the province of Quebec, is French speaking (officially).  Montreal, however, does have a large English and/or bilingual population, so I figured it would probably be okay to try a signing there...

WOW!  It went even better than I had expected, and - ironically- it was even better than some of my Toronto events! 

I signed on Saturday afternoon at Chapters Pointe Claire and on Sunday afternoon at Chapters on Rue Ste. Catherine; I sold 20 and 24 copies of Blood and Groom respectively. 

What blew me away, though, was how incredibly supportive and encouraging the staff at each store were!  The Ste. Catherine staff - in particular Sam, Mathieu, and Ian - were awesome!!!!  They steered people my way, they made sure all the staff on duty were aware of the event and knew about the book.  It was a great feeling, a really positive environment, and I look forward to signing there again someday.  I also have to give a shout out to Craig and the staff at Pointe Claire, they were fantastic as well. 

As for the language issue, well,  it wasn't an issue at all, really.  A few customers were French speakers (or readers) only, but many people were interested in talking with me about the book and no one gave me grief for chatting them up in English.

So all in all, it was a great weekend.  A big, hearty THANK YOU to Chapters Quebec!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Obsolete Furniture... and Books

I remember years ago, every furniture store had a selection of microwave oven stands to choose from. Homes back then did not have a shelf space built into the kitchen to accommodate a microwave oven.  I also remember buying TV stands and stereo stands.  Now TVs are wall mounted, and you no longer need a stand that has a shelf to hold the VCR and space beneath it to store your VHS videos.  Think back too about buying a slim line stand or rack to hold all your CDs once you got rid of all your vinyl (or stuck it up in the attic).

I would hate to see the day when book shelves become obsolete as we give way to electronic books.  I love proudly displaying all my books on a shelf and I love adding to it and crowding the shelf with more and more hardcovers and paperbacks of recent bestsellers and myriad nonfiction works.  I love browsing the bookshelves when I visit someone's home.  I firmly believe a great way to get to know someone is to see what books they have in their collection.

Granted, the e-book revlolution is here and there's no turning back, but I doubt the digitalization of books will ever permeate our society to the same extent that it has in the worlds of music and video.  At least I hope not.  I would hate to see bookshelves become obsolete.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Whodunit on Stage?


I've been away from blogging for a little while; in part that was because I took a fantastic little trip to New York City.  It was fantastic (but then, what's not to love about Manhattan?)  The purpose of my trip was to see some Broadway shows.  I saw "Rock of Ages" which was excellent, and I saw "Memphis" (not bad...) and "American Idiot" (very disappointing).

I kept walking past signs and ads for "ENRON" - yes, a musical about Enron... I wish I had cgone to see it - the reviews have been great.  It sounds loopy enough (and original) that it just may be a great stage performance.  "Addams Family" is being universally panned.

So - now for the point of this blog posting: is there any whodunit that you could visualize on stage (as a musical)?  I know The Mousetrap was on Broadway forever, but it was not a musical (although there may have been versions...)

The only thing that leaps to mind is Poe - I could see his works being put to music and staged. 

Any other ideas?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Blogger: Cathy Astolfo on "Letter Lunacy"

Hi Folks,

Today I am very pleased to have Catherine (aw, c'mon, we're all friends here, so let's call her Cathy!) Astolfo as my guest blogger.  Cathy's post captures what I'm sure many (every?) writer feels about the act of writing... the good side of it, and why we do it.  Sure it can drive us crazy, and we have all stumbled over plot development and battled with writers' block, but we still sit down at the computers and write... Here's Cathy's take on why we do it:


I have an obsession. Okay, maybe more than one, but certainly my prime fixation is with letters and forming words.

Ever since I can remember, words have spilled out of me. In Grade Three, I used to write fairy tales for my classmates. The kind of story that, these days, would have caused a social worker to visit my mother. Blood thirsty and violent, just like all the other fairy tales I’d heard, with evil stepmothers and nasty beasts lurking to swallow up naughty children. In Grade Seven, my teacher actually threatened to give me the strap if I didn’t stop “wasting my time writing”. Even though I had my other work all completed (somewhat obsessively).

In secondary school and on to university, the letter lunacy stood me in good stead: I was always overflowing with things to say, especially in writing. Essays and arguments and dissertations all came naturally when I was allowed to paint them on paper. I truly loved getting an essay question on a test. Besides writing in school, and later on in my career, I write every day in my head. While I am driving, walking, exercising, or reading another book, I am contriving situations, describing scenery, or having a conversation with one of my characters. I cook my novels for months ahead of time.

My obsession is secretly all about one thing: the writing, followed by having people read it. I do have to write, just as I have to eat (and drink red wine). I would write whether or not anyone ever saw my collection of letters. But oh, the thrill of hearing someone say “I loved your book”, or “I laughed and I cried…” or “When’s the next book coming out?” cannot be adequately described. Your obsession suddenly becomes legitimate. You are not a lunatic after all.

Mark Twain said, “This (writing) is the love of your life. It's what I want to do when I wake up. Nothing feels so absorbing, so fulfilling.” Now imagine the love of your life getting recognition and appreciation from others. The proverbial icing on the cake, for sure. Running alongside my passion for words, the way my two cats race each other up and down the living-room, is the obsession with getting my books into print. Followed by marketing, publicity, posters, appearances…one addiction just piles on top of the next.

Evelyn Waugh said, “The art of writing, like the art of love, runs all the way from a kind of routine hard to distinguish from piling bricks to a kind of frenzy closely related to delirium tremens.” She is too right! Off I go – sticking to the routine so I can whirl around in a fit of passion.

Catherine (Cathy) Astolfo

The Emily Taylor Mysteries

Email Cathy at: