Saturday, April 29th was the third annual Authors for Indies, a day on which authors and booksellers together celebrate independent book stores. In previous years, I’ve had a great time at Books and Company in Picton and Book City at the Beach in Toronto.
So imagine my delight when I learned that the Village Bookshop in Bayfield was one of the participating indie bookstores this year. Bayfield lies 10 minutes south of our family cottage in Goderich (of tornado infamy) and this was a great opportunity to meet some Huron County writers.
The Village Bookshop has a fairy tale setting in the heart of Bayfield, one of the prettiest towns in Ontario. Many years ago, this lovely yellow building housed a bakery and tea room. Sadly, it closed, but happily The Village Bookshop moved in. Golden hardwood floors, an eclectic mix of books for all tastes, a children’s play area and an emphasis on local authors -what’s not to love!
Bayfield’s bookstore has a long tradition of supporting authors. A few years ago, my friends Cathy Astolfo, Janet Bolin, Alison Bruce, Mel Campbell and I had a wonderful time as authors at a mystery-themed literary festival.
Martha Beechie, the present owner, loves to support local authors. She spoiled us on April 29th by serving sparkling wine, local craft beer and pastries from Goderich’s beloved Culbert’s Bakery!
I joined local mystery author Judy Keightly and Andy McGuire, poet and new father, in meeting local readers. Windigo Fire sold out immediately as well as all my consigned copies of Glow Grass and 13 O’clock. (Should have brought more!)
In between writing mysteries, boating as well as creating and producing plays with Bayfield’s community theatre, Judy and her husband are embarking on a new adventure. They are the new owners of a vineyard. Huron County promises to be the next wine-growing region of Ontario.
The Village Bookshop shares space with an artist who teaches painting during the summer months. Luckily, the only fox in the area is the one decorating the studio wall because Martha owns a brood of chickens who provide fresh eggs every second day. A pretty, fluffy-feathered breed, Martha has named each bird after a distinguished author.
My personal favorite was Munro named after Huron County’s most distinguished local author: Noble prize winner, Alice Munro who wrote her world famous stories in nearby Clinton, Ontario. Martha let us in on a secret: Ms Munro slips into The Village Bookshop from time to time to sign her books.
Next time you are visiting the Grand Bend or London area, drive a few miles north and Eat the Local Books in the Village Bookshop.
Revenge, guide dogs, cats big and small, beleaguered ladies of a certain age and a cop with a tarnished heart, meet them all here in Glow Grass and Other Tales.
The characters in the seven stories and two novellas fight for justice even when their sense of justice is warped. The tales include “The Lizard” and “Kill the Boss” winners of The Bony Pete and Golden Horseshoe awards, respectively. You will enjoy, “The Ultimate Mystery”, finalist for the 2015 Derringer and “Glow Grass”, runner up for the 2016 Arthur Ellis Best Novella Award.
My personal favorite is the comedy story, “Amdur’s Cat”, an excerpt you will find on this website. I drew on my working experiences with the Ontario Ministry of Health. I’ll leave it to you, readers, to decide which ones are true and which ones I are products of my warped imagination!
I’m delighted to announce a the print launch of my collection of short crime fiction, Glow Grass and Other Tales, now available on Amazon.
Glow Grass includes my Arthur Ellis finalist novella of the same name as well as Derringer finalist, “The Ultimate Mystery” and Bony Pete First Prize winner, “The Lizard”. The stories are dark, but book-ended by two light-hearted comic turns, “Kill the Boss” and “Amdur’s Cat”. In each tale, justice is served, though it may be slightly twisted.
You think I’m kidding, dear Readers? No need to wait for a time machine. Merely hop in your smug-emitting hybrid and head down to Huron County in August.
Fall fairs are big here. It’s still possible to be a big fish, or even a small fry, in your local pond without competing with the millions and millions served on the internet. You can find fame growing the largest vegetable, making cakes with vegetables, crafting fantasy planters, great pies or jams and pickles.
The handmade quilts and tapestries are especially awe-inspiring: all hand sewn. True artistry!!
Pies are a fall fair staple. Not only in a variety of contests but best of all for eating! The variety is huge: apple, rhubarb, strawberry, blueberry, pecan, pumpkin, raisin. If you can dream it, you can enjoy it here.
We manage to drive through Stratford regularly without getting infected by Shakespeare but summer stock comedy greatly appeals so we headed to the Blyth festival. If Truth Be Toldturned out to be a well-acted drama about local heroine and Nobel prize winner, Alice Munro. Sadly we missed the comedy about the turkey baster…
The theatre package included a country supper at the Legion. Awesome! But we hadn’t counted on the current demographic for summer stock theatre. Suffice it to say that we were the youngest by a lot!
Dinner time on the ticket said 6:15 pm. We wandered up and down the main street of Blyth and finally conceding that we were uncharacteristically early, we walked the 50 feet to the Legion. Rule #1, elderly people always arrive early. Rule #2, don’t get between the geriatrics and food or there will be blood. At 6:00 pm there wasn’t a seat to be had except two up against the wall in the corner at the furthest distance from the bar and the washroom.
Food as expected was “meat, potatoes and two veg” and the roast was cooked the way my dad liked it, black all the way through. Portions were huge and the volunteer wait staff friendly. But what’s this? Something that looked like miniature coloured marshmallows in a creamy dressing. No, that couldn’t be. But yes MARSHMALLOW salad! I didn’t think they made rainbow, mini-marshmallows anymore.
It tasted the way you’d expect it to taste. But when in Rome… And I slather chutney, red pepper jelly, etc on my cheese and meats so the sugar sin was probably the same.
Ed was delighted to find Old Vienna on tap, a beer he hadn’t seen since he guzzled it as an engineering undergrad. Huron County: the veritable Jurassic Park of retro brands.
And dessert was pie, of course, but lemon meringue and banana cream disappeared long before the waitress ploughed through the crowd to reach our Arctic exile. We settled for pecan and pumpkin – both damn good! – but skipped the watery, grey coffee. Americanos at the fancy new hipster bar across the street proved a salvation – and our true urban nature.
This eerie picture is the cover art for my upcoming book, Glow Grass and Other Tales, published by Carrick Publishing.
My short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, print magazines and ezines. In Glow Grass though you can read seven stories and two novellas at once, including my Arthur Ellis short-listed thriller, Glow Grass itself.
Re-reading my stories, I see that they are noir, but the beginning tale, “Kill the Boss” and the ending novella, Amdur’s Cat, are comic romps born out of my frustration while working for the government. My tribute to Yes, Minister.
Many of the stories are winners or finalists for awards: Arthur Ellis, Derringer and Bony Pete.
I’ll keep you posted about the upcoming cyber launch and print launch of Glow Grass, most probably in mid to late October.
Rosemary and I first became friends through our literary critique group which continues to thrive 15 years on. When we met, we'd each had one or two crime short stories published. Since then we've both published several more stories and been short-listed for the Unhanged Arthur and the Debut Dagger awards. And together we have broken through the barrier of traditional publication though Rosemary continues to set the pace!
This week Imajin Press released Raven Lake, the third book in Rosemary's popular Pat Tierney series. Rosemary draws on her work experience as a business journalist to create Pat, a tough, warm-hearted financial manager who runs her own business, deals with her family's many problems and solves crimes faster and better than the police! Jack Batten, the Toronto Star's crime fiction reviewer, has called Pat "a hugely attractive sleuth figure".
Subscribe to Rosemary's blog, Moving Target. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her website, too.
The most successful novels are sparked by their authors’ passions. What passion did you follow in Raven Lake?
Gliding in my kayak over a quiet lake or creek, preferably one with no cottages, I feel completely plugged into nature. I come upon turtles sunning themselves on logs; loons teaching their chicks how to fish; herons blending in with marsh vegetation as they stalk their suppers; mink and bobcats drinking from the edge of the lake. One day, I rounded a bend in a creek and found a young bear fishing. Surprised to see me, he scrambled up the bank and disappeared into the woods.
So it was mandatory that I get Pat into a kayak—and, of course, she loves paddling as much as I do. And when Imajin Books asked me for suggestions for the Raven Lake book cover, I immediately thought of a figure in a kayak. I was thrilled with the cover that artistic director Ryan Doan came up with—complete with the shadow of a raven on the water. The back cover has a flock of ravens—an “unkindness” of ravens is, I believe, the collective noun.
I set Raven Lake in Ontario cottage country in the summertime to celebrate my many wonderful summers in the Haliburton Highlands north of Toronto—God’s country, it surely is! During those months, I spent a fair amount of time in my kayak exploring the lakes of the Leslie Frost Centre, a spectacular 32,000-hectare Crown land nature preserve that was accessible from my cottage.
Did you revisit any favourite topics in Raven Lake?
In Raven Lake, I took on a new financial crime based on a real scam that was plaguing Ontario cottage country two summers ago: cottage rental fraud. Con artists were posting photos of lakefront properties on legitimate internet vacation rental sites. Would-be renters would wire their money to the “property owner” – discounts were given for payment in full – and when they arrived for their vacations, they were told by the real owners that the property was not for rent.
A crime perfectly suited to cottage country.
Like Pat, I’m appalled by the financial exploitation of unsuspecting people that is rampant these days. Con artists are swindling their victims out of their savings through investment frauds, identity theft, telemarketing scams and loan schemes. The penalties for these crimes aren’t tough enough in Canada to deter these crooks.
Where can readers buy Raven Lake?
Click on the book cover image above. It will take you directly to the Amazon store in your country. And here’s the link, too:myBook.to/RavenLakeTierney
What do you like about the crime fiction genre?
Crime fiction gives me an opportunity to work with some great bad guys and gals, characters I can really love to hate. I believe the antagonist is the second most important character in a novel, after the protagonist. I avoid completely evil antagonists because I can’t believe in them. No one is bad all the time.
I like the sense of closure at the end of a mystery or thriller. Peace and order has returned to the world. It may only be a temporary state of order; the antagonist may still be out there. But it’s peace and order for a time.
Tell us about your readers.Where are they located? Which topics have proven to be the most popular with them?
Many of my readers are women, and judging from readers’ reviews, they seem to be taken with Pat Tierney’s ongoing family problems. They like the fact that she’s an Everywoman: a single mom who supports her family, does her very best for her clients, and has to deal with a whack of domestic problems. They can relate to a character like her.
The beauty of e-books is that authors can reach people who read English throughout the world. Safe Harbor, my first mystery, currently has 115 reader reviews on Amazon.com, and I think it’s safe to say that most are American readers. There are 15 reviews on Amazon.co.uk, so I know I have some British readers. And, of course, I have many readers in Ontario and I credit public librarians with bringing Ontario writers to the attention of library users.
Will there be a fourth Pat Tierney mystery?
I certainly hope so, although I’m not sure where Pat will take me next. I need to spend some quiet time this coming summer listening to her.
Where can readers buy the first two Pat Tierney novels?
Spring is sprung in a cold Canadian way. Canada geese tread water and shards of ice at our cottage. Getting ready to breed.
And they aren’t alone…
On my friend, Gail Hamilton’s farm, on a warm sunny day, you will encounter THIS!
Buried under the heap of writhing reptiles are some very bothered female garter snakes. ARGH!!
Important to remember though that garter snakes are not venomous and perform a valuable ecological service in keeping down the insect and rodent populations. More of them is a good thing.
Our daughter had a pet garter snake named Slither. Caring for Slither introduced me to Toronto’s strange sub-culture of reptile fanciers. Did you know that they hold fashion shows for iguanas? And that iguanas make intelligent pets? This knowledge inspired me to write my award-winning story, The Lizard, which appeared in Crimespree Magazine, Issue 52 and was reprinted in Kings River Life Magazine, August 2014.
There’s a darker side to reptile fancy, too, starting with “pinky”, the most delectable food that no snake can resist. And what exactly is pinky? A euphemism for fresh frozen baby mice. (Ee-yuck!) Snake hoarding figures in a story I’m drafting now, working title Snake Oil. Stay tuned!
According to Mr. Graves, we hit it out of the park!! And I’m especially delighted that my story, “Glow Grass”, was singled out for special mention!
Here’s the full text of the review:
A book of short stories is like a box of chocolates. There are those decadent dark chocolate truffles, those syrupy little beehives with a cheery inside and then…you get the picture.
Short story writing is a style where the author gets about a minute to ‘reel ‘em in and land ‘em’. No time to waste words. The author gets one shot to score. Short story writing can be the Waterloo that some authors fear. Enough.
13 O’Clock is a box full of delights. No assembly line writing here. It is short story writing that delivers. Did I like each story equally? No, but all of them got me in that critical first minute. In a long list of fine, hand-made “chocolates” includes “Perfect Timing” and “The Test of Time” by Melodie Campbell, “Thrice the Brinded Cat” by Joan O’Callaghan, “The Bench Rests” by Rosemary Aubert; this story took me back to those poignant legal series featuring Ellis Portal. Stories by Donna Carrick, Catherine Astolfo and M.H. Callway hit the spot. And I must mention oneother. I’m sure you’ve heard the oldie about those can’t do…teach. Well, some say, those who can’t write…edit. But “Mirror, Mirror” by Cheryl Freedman blows that saying out of the water. Here’s one of Canada’s finest editors who can write!