MY 15TH RIDE TO CONQUER CANCER!

First ride 2008!
And now! I’m an avatar in the digital age!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greetings Readers!

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.

Ready to roll
A loud cheer for Princess Margaret Hospital

 

 

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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.

Arriving at McMaster

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.

 

Champers reward
Love the shirt, love the message

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrating with fellow 15-yr vets

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.

Wet and c-c-c-cold

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!

Brave…or not?

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.

Number 15 is done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More great surprises: I ran into my yoga buddy, Della and her riding partner, also veteran riders!

Della, me and Della’s friend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS!

Greetings Readers!

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).

S5 E103: The Mesdames of Mayhem, In the Spirit of 13, Sara Carrick & M.H. Callway on cover design

And last but far from least, I’m honored to be a guest blogger on Writers Write. Here’s my take on Why I Write Short Fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CYBER CAFE: Meet Lynne Murphy, Author of Potluck

Lynne Murphy

It is my great pleasure to welcome my mentor and fellow crime writer, Lynne Murphy to Cyber Cafe. For the past 20 years, Lynne has been the leader of our writing critique group. We’ve gone through many ups and downs of the writer’s life together, but more importantly, champagne parties to celebrate our many triumphs. 

Lynne can’t help being funny. She is the creator of the gang of feisty residents in the Golden Elders Condo. The ladies are the heroes of  stories in several Sisters in Crime and Mesdames of Mayhem anthologies. Lately, she’s penned darker tales like “The Lady Killer”  in the upcoming CWC Anthology, Cold Canadian Crime and “The Trespassers” in the Mesdames new book, In the Spirit of Thirteen.

Lynne has now published her collected works in Potluck together with her new novella, A Damaged Heart. And yes, that’s Lynne on the cover offering special brownies… 

Potluck launches on Zoom this Saturday, April 23rd, at 2 pm, hosted by Lynne’s publisher, Carrick Publishing. All readers most welcome. Here’s the link: Launch Meeting – Zoom

 

 

MHC: Were you always a writer? Did you know from childhood?

I learned to read when I was four. I read everything I could get my hands on from then on. When you like reading so much, you want to write. There was a weekly paper in Saskatchewan called The Western Producer and it had a young people’ page called The Young Co-operators. Our motto was “We Co-operate.” The Saskatchewan spirit! They accepted contributions and it was a thrill when I was ten to see my fiction in print.

MHC: What draws you to writing crime fiction?

I like puzzles: jigsaws, crosswords, mysteries. I especially like stories with a twist, stories that surprise you. I hope there are some surprises in the stories in Potluck.

MHC: Potluck contains your collected short stories. I especially enjoyed reading about the adventures of the residents of the Golden Elders Condo. How did you come up with scenarios like growing marihuana in the flower beds?

We had a garden committee at the condo where I lived. One of my friends there had an arthritic shoulder and nothing seemed to help her. This was before marihuana was legal in Canada so I started thinking “What if?”  The best stories seem to start with that, don’t they? Most of the stories about the Golden Elders are rooted in real events from my former condo.

MHC: Tell us about your new novella, A Damaged Heart. What inspired you to write darker this time?

It was the character I created, Kirsty. I started out writing about a man who had been a traitor during WWII and how that affected his daughter. But then Kirsty took over and the treason disappeared. She had a miserable childhood and there wasn’t much to be funny about. Although, she has her own dark sense of humor that pops up now and then.

The story I have coming out in Cold Canadian Crime, the new CWC anthology, is also very dark. Grim, in fact.

MHC: What do you especially enjoy about being part of an anthology, like the Mesdames of Mayhem or Sisters in Crime?

I like how we all support each other. We show up for launches and buy each other’s books and write reviews if we enjoy them. It’s great to be part of a community.

MHC: Why do you believe that your stories tend to be humorous?

The humor sneaks in even when I’m trying to be serious. I mentioned the Western Producer: when I was about eight,  I won a poetry contest they had for kids. My poem was called “Peaceful Thoughts Disturbed”, and it described the beauty of the landscape and ended with the line, “Yeow, there’s a bug down the back of my neck”.  I was trying to be funny even then.

MHC: What will you be writing next? Will you explore other genres in addition to crime fiction?

I have a short story I’m working on right now about a woman in the Golden Elders who forgets to lock her door and comes home to find a man in her bed.  That happens quite often in seniors’ residences, where people can’t find their own apartments. But this man is dead!  I have a story in Potluck called “The Trespassers”, which is more horror than mystery, but the horror is real.

DO JOIN US FOR LYNNE’S ZOOM BOOK LAUNCH, THIS SATURDAY, APRIL 23RD, 2 PM!

NEWS: Interviewing Mike Martin, Founder of Maple Leaf Mystery Conference

I was delighted to interview Mike Martin, creator of the Sergeant Windflower mystery series and 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.

EAT THIS BOOK: THE COLD VANISH by Jon Billman

I was a bookish child and so inept at sports that my friends would fight to NOT have me on their team. But two amazing women got me to love sports – and changed my life forever.

In university, my sister-in-law got me into hiking, biking and downhill skiing. (We also had adventures dinghy sailing.) And my friend, Marian Misters, co-owner of Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore, introduced me to road running.

Hard work and perseverance accomplished more than I dreamed of: I’ve run a marathon, regularly biked 120 km at a stretch and skied black diamonds without dying! But I remain in awe of ultramarathoners, adventurers and mountain climbers whose exploits I devoured in the late, great Outside magazine.

Jon Billman, is a search-and-rescue expert, a former wildland firefighter and regular contributor to Outside. In The Cold Vanish, he explores how and why people continue to go missing in the wilderness. It’s been said that the solution to an enduring mystery is often sadly banal. That may be true of the many cases Billman writes about, but like Jon Krakauer, he unveils the tragedy behind each story – and a warning.   Venturing into the wilderness requires an abundance of caution.

Billman’s book reads like a thriller. I couldn’t put it down. The overarching  story centers on Jacob Gray, a 22 year-old cyclist who disappeared in Olympic National Park in Washington State.  He’d embarked on a cycling journey but shortly after leaving home, his bicycle was found abandoned by the side of the road, all his gear intact.  Close by was the fast-flowing Sol Duc River. Searchers assumed the worst: that he’d tried to fill his water bottle, fallen in and drowned.

Billman formed a close friendship with Jacob’s father, Randy, who never gave up hope of finding his son. They searched for Jacob for over a year, chasing scenarios from Jacob being involved in the drug trade to joining a cult to simply walking away from the world.  (No spoilers, you must read through to the end of the book to find out what really happened to Jacob.)

The reasons behind these disappearances range from murder to accidents to running away. Billman interviews scientists – there aren’t many of them – who  research how and why people go missing in the wilderness.

So how do people go missing? Much of the time accidents are to blame, usually falls when the person was on their own.  The other main reason? Simply getting lost and dying from exposure, which usually means dehydration or hypothermia. People greatly underestimate the amount of water they need when hiking, especially in the heat. And even temperatures as moderate as 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) can lead to hypothermia.

Sadly the vast majority of the cases do not end well. Billman does include a miraculous rescue, that of a young yoga teacher who went missing in Hawaii for over two weeks. She wandered off the marked trail in a nature preserve and got lost. She survived a fall and a broken leg, but knew enough about nature to stay dehydrated.  Search planes found her by chance in an area of the preserve far outside the search range. She’d wandered much farther than anyone had predicted.

The takeaways from the stories: those who go missing for a long time are found by chance and by people unassociated with the original search and rescue team.  Often as not, the missing  person is in a location logic did not dictate.

Important to remember that our predominantly urban society is spectacularly underequipped to deal with the wilderness. It’s not Disneyland. When exploring the wilderness, listen to the advice of forest rangers and park wardens. Don’t wander off marked trails.  Take the right amount of water, food and supplies with you. And never go alone.

My rating: 5 stars  Eat this book!

A Footnote:  In 2016, at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix, Arizona, I took a tour of the Apacheland Movie Set museum. Our guide told us how a hiker had died the day before of heat and dehydration. He’d wandered off the beaten track and gotten lost, one canyon looking much like another. Also that day, three German tourists had set off into the desert with umbrellas to ward off the sun, but greatly underestimated the quantity of water they needed. Fortunately they were rescued, dehydrated but alive.  Read the full story here.

YOUR INVITATION TO THE LAUNCH OF A GRAVE DIAGNOSIS!

Do join me and my fellow crime writers for the Zoom launch of Carrick Publishing’s new crime fiction anthology, A Grave Diagnosis.  This collection of tales of murder and malaise appropriately launches on Halloween!!

AND a special Halloween treat – here’s our video on YouTube!  Thank you, editor and publisher, Donna Carrick!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mesdames of Mayhem Book Launch Marathon!

My friends and I have embraced Zoom. It’s become an indispensable tool for authors during these dystopian COVID times.

Since the run-up to Christmas is a strong market for book sales, I pitched the idea to the Mesdames that we run a series of Zoom book launches.  They loved idea and the Mesdames’ Book Launch Marathon took off!

First author was my friend, Rosemary McCracken who just published the 5th book in her popular Pat Tierney series, Uncharted Waters. By all accounts our Zoom launch was a terrific success. Our three secrets? Planning, planning and planning.

Rosemary McCracken

Rosemary shares her excellent write-up about successful Zoom launch planning from an author’s point of view on her blog, Moving Target. Read it here.

Even better, watch our video of the whole launch!!

Here are my pearls of wisdom from the moderator / techie side:

  1. For an audience greater than 40+ people, the moderator and the techie must be two different individuals.
  2. Work closely with your author before the launch to:
    • develop interesting questions
    • make a list of invited guests for vetting during the event
    • support each other before, after and during the launch!
  3. Make the launch interactive to engage the audience
    • allow lots of time for Q& A
    • have contest questions throughout the launch
  4. Email the links to the author’s book(s) on Amazon, etc. to all invitees.

Our next marathon event is the launch of Carrick Publishing’s new crime fiction anthology, A Grave Diagnosis. Appropriately enough the launch date is on Halloween! Saturday, October 31st, 2pm. And as a contributing author, I can kick back, relax and be a guest this time!

For more information visit www.mesdamesofmayhem.com and www.carrickpublishing.com

 

 

 

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS! Cover Reveal for A Grave Diagnosis

Sara Carrick, book cover artist extraordinaire, worked her magic for the upcoming anthology, A Grave Diagnosis.  All 35 authors voted and overwhelmingly this amazing cover was the favorite.  Here it is!

 

The launch date this fall will be announced shortly!

NEWS! NEWS! NEWS! Meet me at When Words Collide!

Greetings Readers!

Last year I had the best time at the wonderful multi-genre festival, WHEN WORDS COLLIDE! in Calgary, Alberta. I was part of a crime fiction panel and learned about coz-play and writing children’s books.

I also had the privilege of reading at Noir at the Bar and getting to know the great authors and editors behind Coffin Hop Press, the publishers of The Dame Was Trouble.

Visiting Calgary also became a sentimental journey.  My childhood can best be described as unsettled. Five of my early years were in Calgary – where we lived in three different houses.

Strangely enough my memory of Calgary as a patchwork of disparate cityscapes proved to be accurate. And one of my old homes still exists! There I had a magical conversation with the current owner. (Stand by for a Surreal Trapdoor blog.)

Because more importantly,  WHEN WORDS COLLIDE 2020, will be on Zoom this week, from August 14 to 16th.

Best of all registration is FREE!! Register here.  THE PROGRAM AND LINKS IS NOW UP!!

I’m delighted to one of the TEN Mesdames of Mayhem who are on the conference. panels.

We Mesdames have our very own panel, Meet the Mesdames of Mayhem, Saturday, August 15th, 4pm (Toronto time), 2 pm (Mountain time). (Donna Carrick, Rosemary McCracken, Madona Skaff, M. H. Callway moderating.) 

Donna Carrick
Rosemary McCracken
Madonna Skaff

 

 

 

 

We’re also out in force for The Long and Short of Crime, Saturday August 15th, 2 pm (TT), 12 noon (MT). (Jane Burfield, Rosemary McCracken, Lynne Murphy, Caro Soles, M. H. Callway moderating.)

Jane Burfield
Lynne Murphy
Caro Soles

 

 

 

 

Be sure to check out friends and authors Jayne Bernard, Melodie Campbell and Lisa De Nikolits.

Jayne Bernard
Lisa De Nikolits
Melodie Campbell

 

 

 

 

Jayne Bernard, Melodie Campbell   Plot vs Character, Crime Fiction’s Eternal Grudge Match, Friday, August 11th 3pm (TT), 1pm(MT) 

Lisa De Nikolits, Caro Soles,  Can the Crossover Fit the Crime? Saturday, August 15th, 12 noon (TT), 10 am (MT)

Jayne Bernard, The Heroine’s Journey, Sunday, August 16th, 1 pm (TT), 11am(MT) ; From the Mean Streets to the Deadly Wilderness, Sunday, August 16th, 3pm (TT), 1pm (MT); Diversity in Speculative Fiction, Sunday, August 16th, 5pm (TT), 3pm (MT)

 

My Story on Audio

Great news!

My long story, “Brainworm”, is featured on Donna Carrick’s Story Stocking, Part One on July 22nd and Part Two on July 29th.  “Brainworm” first appeared in the Mesdames of Mayhem’s latest anthology, In the Key of 13.

In the story, Fiona, a middle-aged woman worn down by looking after her difficult stepmother, has a near miss on the highway during a biting winter blizzard. The shock forces her to face the danger about to devour her.

Click here to tune in to this podcast.

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