Many found 2022 to be anno horribilis, with war and pestilence carrying on big-time. Personally, 2022, turned out to be not too bad. The best part was returning to the real world and reconnecting with friends, family and fellow authors.
Our first big step: Left Coast Crime held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from April 7 to 10th. Ironically, Ed and I were attending LCC in San Diego in 2020 in defiance of dire reports about a mysterious pandemic. We’d had a great time in LA, seeing friends and touring LA’s amazing public library and my childhood memory, Knott’s Berry Farm. More and more worrying reports were appearing in the media. After only half a day, LCC San Diego shut down. I barely had enough time to say a quick good-bye to friends, Kate Thornton and Grace Koshida before catching our flight back to Toronto.
Three years later, we were B-A-C-K, immunized against COVID and armed with the vaccination papers to prove it. Terrific conference! Well, over 200 in attendance. I was honored to be on the panel, Let’s Keep it Short: Cozies to Noir, hosted by Lisa Q Matthews and to moderate the panel on noir, What’s Noir Got to Do With It, with distinguished authors, Andrew Bourelle, Corey Lynn Fayman and Jo Perry. At the banquet, we were delighted to sit at the table hosted by Steve Brewer, who writes darkly comic mysteries about crooks – dumb ones especially. If you’re in Albuquerque, do visit his family’s bookstore, Organic Books.
More good news: award-winning mystery writer, Mike Martin and his team created The Maple Leaf Mystery Conference and revived a national crime writers conference for Canadians. (Read my interview with Mike on Cyber Cafe at this website.)
MLMC was virtual with hopes that it’ll go live in 2023. Several of the Mesdames of Mayhem moderated or participated on panels. I was very happy to be on the short story panel, The Big Short, moderated by friend, Merrilee Robson.
Toronto’s Word on the Street also returned to life, moving back to its old location at Queen’s Park. Unfortunately, the date conflicted with The Ride to Conquer Cancer, but I supported our Mesdames of Mayhem booth financially and in spirit. This was my 15th consecutive Ride to Conquer Cancer – and the first real world ride after COVID. I managed to pull off the full distance – and to enjoy the champagne reception for 15 year riders. Read about my adventure on this website.
In June, the Toronto International Festival of Authors, recognized crime writers for the first time, through their program, MOTIVE. My dear friend and brilliant author, Lisa De Nikolits, was moderating a thriller panel. She invited me to be her guest at the welcoming reception. I had a lovely time chatting with friend, Maureen Jennings and meeting crime writers from all over the world.
The Crime Writers of Canada booth was located in a tent set up outside the Harborfront Building. Weather did not cooperate: high winds threatened to blow the tent, our books and us away. Little promotion, but my friends, Blair Keetch, Sylvia Warsh and I sold some books and entertained a few hardy souls at our collective reading. All in all, not bad for a first real world foray.
When Words Collide, the Calgary-based multi-genre conference, was virtual again in 2022 from August 12 to 15th . For 2023, there’s good news and bad news: WWC is back in the real world, but this will be its final year.
Running a virtual conference is an enormous amount of work. Several genre writing societies, including Crime Writers of Canada, pitched in to run the panels. I was delighted to be on the cross-genre crime fiction panel, Crossing the Line, moderated by friend, Therese Greenwood. Later that day, I moderated the crime short story panel, Coming Up Short, with friends, Jayne Barnard and Kevin Thornton.
The highlight of 2022 was the launch of In the Spirit of 13, the fifth anthology for the Mesdames of Mayhem, in celebration of our 10th anniversary. For this outing, many of us wrote tales tinged with the supernatural. I wrote “Amdur’s Ghost”, the second story with my beleaguered civil servant, Dr. Ben Amdur. He’s pressured by the new Minister of Health to find her missing ex-husband. On the trail, he encounters devious small town politicians, a mysterious medium and a rabid coyote!
Our launch was a real world event held in my favorite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street on Sunday, October 30th. We were overwhelmed by the terrific attendance. Everyone wore Halloween-inspired masks and we signed and sold lots of books. A special highlight: we made Marian Misters, co-owner of Sleuth’s and the host of all our five anthologies, an Honorary Mme of Mayhem!
But the year wasn’t over yet! My darkly comic story, “Must Love Dogs – or You’re Gone” was accepted by UK publisher, Red Dog Press, for their noir anthology, Gone. I was blown away by the quality of stories, including “Eyes the Brightest Blue” by editor Stephen J. Golds. To make the cut was an honor – and it’s my first British publication.
After I had the good news from England, I had more good news from Mystery Magazine here in Canada. They loved my thriller short story, “Last Island”, featuring Danny Bluestone, the hero of my novel, Windigo Fire. And they made it the cover story for their November issue! I especially love how beautifully artist Robin Evans captured Danny’s brutal struggle in the wilderness.
Great way to wind up the year. More news soon about what’s happening in 2023!