A lovely surprise today, September 13th, from my friend and publisher, Donna Carrick: the first-run copies of The Mesdames and Messieurs of Mayhem’s 5th anthology, In the Spirit of 13! For the first time, we have a hard cover in addition to our standard paperback – it’s intended mainly for libraries.
Note goth background in keeping with the supernatural themes of our crime story collection. You can pre-order both versions on Amazon here.
But best of all on Friday, September 13, 1985 at 5 pm our daughter was born. My parents were horrified that I went into labor on such an inauspicious day – in their opinion. But our daughter was arriving no matter what: the best present we ever had. Thirteen has proved to be our lucky number.
Time and its winged chariot and all that…hard to believe that this year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer was my 15th straight ride. And it’s thanks to your support, dear friends, that I’ve been able to maintain this streak!
According to stats provided by the organizers, there are 90 riders in the 15 year group, less that 1% of the estimated 40,000 participants. Certainly the Ride treated us very well, beginning with a free “diamond” helmet.
Because of COVID, the Ride’s past two years went virtual, which meant I’d been taking it easy, doing 200 km in four 50 km segments in the week before our designated weekend. Back in the Real World though The Ride was 100+ km each day over the weekend of June 11/12. I had work to do to get back in shape!
First the good news: I had a great training buddy, Peg, an old running friend who wanted to cross The Ride off her bucket list. Now for the bad news: she’s a machine. Not only is she a super-fast runner, she’s a veteran of quadrathons where you run, swim, bike and kayak. ARGH! Needless to say, trying to keep up was agony, if not impossible, but it got me back on track!
June so far had offered up perfect training weather but predictions for June 11/12 looked dire. Two days of rain back-to-back? Mind you, I have done The Ride in the rain though it was only one day. And I did get drenched despite my then rain jacket. Wisely, as it turned out, I bought a new, truly impermeable jacket.
Day 1 of The Ride dawned…stormy. All the 15-year vets gathered on the steps of Princess Margaret for a group photo.
We then rode in a peloton down to the starting line at Exhibition park. That added 7 km to the 103 km distance to Hamilton, but so what? Totally worth it to be part of such a wonderful group of people.
Day 1 went smoothly. The rain held off except for a few sprinkles though the skies did look unsettled for the whole journey. The route has improved a lot since 2008: fewer hills, excellent signage alerting you to hazards, traffic police stationed at busy intersections. But The Ride still owes a lot to its intrepid volunteers who man the rest stations and who sweep the route in cars or on motorbikes to fix broken-down bikes, get riders medical help and even to pick up the exhausted ones and their bikes.
The route ended with a fab 5 km downhill zoom into McMaster University where the 15 yr vets had another treat waiting: champagne and nibbles reception at the PMH / KPMG tent. Ed, my faithful road crew every single year, I indulged! Great to connect with fellow riders. I especially love this guy’s shirt BTW.
Day One was the easy one, Day Two was…not! At 6:30 am, I retrieved my bike from safekeeping and hit the road for Niagara Falls. There’s a long climb up onto the escarpment, a low gradient bike trail 7 kilometres straight up. It’s a doable grind with a spectacular view at the top. I could see across the lake all the way to Toronto – and the storm clouds gathering overhead.
The rain started – with determination. I’d stopped by the side of the road to pull on my new rain jacket when a fellow rider hailed me. She’d taken shelter under the eaves of an old barn. The weather app on her phone showed a rapidly approaching thunderstorm.
As I made my way over, the heavens opened. In the ensuing downpour, our shelter was rapidly filled up by storm-tossed riders. Crowded in like the Tokyo subway, we waited for the thunderstorm to pass.
As the rain eased up, I set out, having ridden in wet conditions before. Soon I discovered that the helpful vents in the side of my jacket didn’t keep out serious rain. Oh, well. Ed brought me hot Starbucks coffee at the next rest stop. He got several cash offers for it from other riders!
But the rain hid something wonderful. As I passed through Jordan, I spotted our friends, Bill and Lynda, standing by the road. Turns out that this year, the route passed right by their house! They’d braved the storm and gotten soaked to cheer me on – I couldn’t believe it! We hugged and cheered – and then I was back on the road.
The rain continued sporadically as I rode through the farms and vineyards of Niagara. Though flat, this point in the journey can feel endless. I marked off the Thorold drawbridge, the town of Pelham and at long last the Niagara River. Amazingly, people have docks and boats that close to The Falls!
During the last stretch to the finish line, I chatted to another 15 yr rider who, due to back issues, has done the distance every year on a recumbent bike. And I thought my 120 km were hard work. Great to cross the finish line.
More great surprises: I ran into my yoga buddy, Della and her riding partner, also veteran riders!
So how did my training buddy, Peg, make out? Well, I saw her at the start of the ride on Day One and then didn’t see her again. We kept missing each other because she was leagues ahead of me. We celebrated our successful Rides a few days later at The Granite Brewery – out of the rain!
Best of all, this year 3700 riders raised $16 million for cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital. In 15 years, The Ride has raised $250 million to fight cancer, the most successful charity fund raiser in Canada’s history!
Lots happening this beautiful summer to share with you. First of all, I’m delighted to reveal the striking cover of Red Dog Publishing’s GONE anthology. I’m honored to have my story, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone”, in this collection. GONE will be available for pre-order August 1st.
And I had a wonderful opportunity to be part of the Dead to Writes podcast where fab designer, Sara Carrick, reveals her secrets behind the cover for In the Spirit of 13, the Mesdames of Mayhem’s 10th anniversary anthology. In discussion with publisher, Donna Carrick and the story wrangler (me).
It’s hard to believe that 10 years ago, my friend Donna Carrick and I brainstormed an idea over lunch: what if our two writing groups got together to tackle this new social media beast? Little did we imagine that we were creating a national group that would have four critically acclaimed anthologies and a CBC documentary!
This fall, we are bringing out our fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13! Crime stories with ghosts, spirits and alcohol, oh, my! Ranging from comedy to scary noir. And best for last, here’s the cover!
It’s been a crazy few weeks while I trained for The Ride to Conquer Cancer, my 15th straight ride. The 2022 Ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls, in support of cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital, takes place this weekend, June 11&12th.
And June 4th, I helped out at the Crime Writers of Canada booth at the Toronto International Festival of Authors. For the first time, TIFA, focused on crime fiction with international luminaries such as Maureen Jennings, Peter Robinson, Linwood Barclay, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid.
The wind nearly blew us away in the open CWC tent, but I had great fun chatting with fellow crime writers. I even sold a few books to the passers-by who stumbled over our exhibit.
I was also interviewed by friend, Donna Carrick, on her podcast, Dead to Writes. We are promoting the Mesdames fifth anthology, In the Spirit of 13, which comes out this fall. You can see and hear me here.
And I sold two stories in May! My Danny Bluestone winter thriller, “Last Island” was bought by Mystery Magazine, publication date TBA. And my dark comedy thriller, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone” was accepted for the upcoming anthology, GONE, by Red Dog Press in the UK. My first British publication! GONE will be published in November.
I was delighted to interview Mike Martin, creator of the Sergeant Windflower mystery seriesand the founder of the Maple Leaf Mystery Conference. To register, click on the poster!
Read my interview with Mike on the Mesdames of Mayhem website here. Canada’s been without a national crime writers conference for a few years so the upcoming virtual conference is most welcome. Fingers crossed for a Real World conference in 2023.
Sergeant Windflower’s latest adventure, Buried Secrets, is now available on Amazon.
Canada has a new national mystery conference, The Maple Leaf Mystery Conference to be held May 24 to 28, 2022. The conference is virtual in 2022 – and if COVID cooperates, it’ll become a Real World event in 2023.
MLMC offers a wonderful opportunity to meet two masters of crime fiction whose work has led to two internationally famous TV series: Maureen Jennings, author of the Inspector Murdoch series and Ian Rankin, creator of Inspector Rebus. Readers can also watch leading Canadian crime writers on panels. Here’s the tentative schedule.
I was delighted when author friend, Sam Wiebe, announced his latest Dave Wakeland thriller, Hell and Gone, the third in the series about the introspective Vancouver private investigator (Harbour Publishing).
The first two Wakeland books were stand-outs: Invisible Deadwas a finalist for the City of Vancouver Book Award and Cut You Down was short-listed for both the Hammett and Shamus awards. But Hell and Gone is the best Wakeland novel yet!
The book opens with a harrowing robbery and shoot-out, one of the most gripping action sequences I’ve read in recent memory. Wakeland witnesses the crime, tries unsuccessfully to help the victims and struggles with PTSD as a result. He’s determined to bring down the perpetrators, but this puts him in conflict with his business partner, Jeff Chen.
Hell and Gone focuses on Jeff, who up till now was more Wakeland’s foil: the moral, stable, non-violent half of the partnership. Sam delves into the intricate historical ties to crime in Vancouver’s Chinese community and the traps that can befall the modern generation of business owners like Jeff. His portrayal of Wakeland’s PTSD is especially believable.
The plot offers enough twists and betrayals to rival Dashiell Hammett himself. (Sorry no spoilers!) You’ll stay up all night to get to the last page.
And for emerging writers, I highly recommend Sam’s online Mystery Writing Mastery courses. The 14 beginner’s lessons are free.