Category Archives: News

Mexican Celebrations

The Day of the Dead displays were still on the Malecon when my husband Will and I arrived in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on November 15th. Plaster and papier mâché skulls, altars, and Catrinas lined the ocean boardwalk, remnants of Nov 2nd’s Dia de los Muertos – the day many Mexicans honour their deceased relatives and friends with celebrations, parades, and visits to gravesites. The Malecon’s most impressive display was the elegantly dressed skeleton lady standing 74 feet 4.9 inches tall. Last year the Guiness Book of Records declared her the tallest Catrina in the World. In 2023 she returned in a new outfit that shimmered in the breezes. At night a loudspeaker piped her voice to the Malecon crowd, “I am the most beautiful woman in Puerto Vallarta.”

Monday November 20th was Revolution Day, a national holiday in Mexico. Will and I got curbside seats for the parade, which features school groups dressed in traditional costumes, often in the colours of the Mexican flag – green, white, and red. The parade moves in a stop and start style as the groups stop to perform dances and acrobatics for the crowd. We really enjoyed the first few acts, but then ten, fifteen, twenty minutes passed. The children gathered in shady spots to wait. By then we were getting hot and retreated to our hotel pool.

Mexico doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but restaurants offer US Thanksgiving dinners for tourists. Will and I treated ourselves to a buffet Thanksgiving meal at a beachfront hotel.

Before dinner, we worked up an appetite with a Malecon walk and discovered that our Giant Lady had been dismantled. Her head and bones awaited pickup the following day.

Before we left downtown Puerto Vallarta for our relaxing beach week, stores and hotels were setting up displays for Christmas, another festive time of year in Mexico. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Feliz Navidad y Prospero Ano!

Bouchercon San Diego & more

Calgary’s first snowfall of the season has got me dreaming about my holiday in California this September. The main purpose for the trip was to attend Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in San Diego. My husband Will (an avid mystery reader) and I spent four interesting days attending panels and events like Speed Dating for Writers and Readers and the New Author Breakfast. Both were more fun than I’d expected and popular enough to fill the large rooms by 7:00 am. When we weren’t occupied with the convention, we enjoyed the views from our hotel in the San Diego Marina. 

After the convention, we stayed an extra day in San Diego to see a little more of the city. We walked along the boardwalk and took the short ferry ride to Coronado Island, an upscale vacation beach community. The highlight was a concert in the park featuring a great cover band. Hundreds of people gathered. Since we didn’t have chairs, we stood at the front and danced to songs like “Witchy Woman” and “One of These Nights” made famous by the Eagles.   

From San Diego, we drove to Julian, a “hippie” town located in the apple-growing hills east of the city. In addition to exploring the quirky, historic former gold mining town, we gorged on apple pie – arguably the best I’ve ever had. A half dozen bakeries produce pies for tourists, many of them day-trippers from San Diego. 

Sunshine, warmth, ocean, books, wine, apple pie — pretty much a perfect trip!  

Hosting a Book Launch

Last month I held my first in-person book launch in 4 1/2 years. Fifty people gathered in The Treehouse at cSpace, which is located in Calgary’s former King Edward Junior High School. I had toured the renovated building when cSpace opened in 2017 as an arts and community hub and fell in love with the Treehouse meeting room. Its top floor setting, three walls of windows, and outside deck offer panoramic views of the city. On September 21st the weather was perfect for an evening event.  

Prior to the launch, I often wondered if the effort was worth it. After I settled on the venue and date, the first step was sending out invitations. I created a Facebook Event page, invited my Facebook friends who live in Calgary, and kept the page active with comments to stimulate interest and discussion. In one comment I talked about cSpace and urged people to come to the launch to see what this unique building is like. In addition to numerous artist studios, cSpace houses community groups for seniors, indigenous peoples, writers, and those interested in speaking French. 

For friends not on Facebook, I created an invitation, which I emailed to each person. I started out wondering if anyone would come. But eventually enough people said “yes” that I realized I’d get a good crowd. Then new worries set in. Would they enjoy themselves and be glad they came?


During the week before the event, I purchased wine, juice, and snack food: cheese, crackers, vegetables and dip, and desserts.  


I developed a PowerPoint presentation, which focused on Calgary locations that inspired my story. I combined these with readings from the novel interspersed through the presentation. My first reading featured my protagonist Paula Savard in her office in Inglewood, Calgary’s oldest suburb. In my mind, Paula works in this four-story brick building on Inglewood’s main street. My added touch: the building is rumoured to be haunted.   

For fun, at the end of my talk, I added a trivia quiz. Since the novel takes place in spring 2020 during the first COVID-19 lockdown, the ten trivia questions all related to COVID-19. I took my questions from the COVID timeline that I’d made for the novel to remind me of what was happening in the world on the story’s dates. To test your memory, here are my first two trivia questions:

  • On what date did WHO (World Health Organization) declare COVID-19 a pandemic? Month, day, year required.
  • Shortly after this declaration, what celebrity couple announced in Australia they’d tested positive for COVID-19?   

The questions turned out to be too hard. The winner only got three right and received her prizes, which were priceless during the lockdown: hand sanitizer and a roll of toilet paper. 
I wrapped up the presentation with random draw prizes: two mystery puzzle books and two sets of playing cards because a character in the novel has a gambling addiction that affects the plot. 

Then everyone gathered for conversation, wine, food and drink. I signed books and talked with as many guests as I could. From the buzz in the room and comments afterward, I think people enjoyed the event. 
Was the work and strain I put into launch preparations worth it? I don’t know. It’s fun to to host a party to celebrate something good in life and now I have these wonderful pictures with friends who made the effort to attend and cheer on my writing. 

Calgary Herald Bestsellers List

Since I no longer subscribe to physical newspapers, a friend emailed me this clipping from yesterday’s Calgary Herald. Nice to see Spring Into Danger listed in actual print.

In the old days, I used to laminate newspaper clippings of my articles and previous appearances on Calgary’s Bestsellers List. Now I save them to my digital files.

# 1

Thanks to a great turnout at my book launch, my novel, Spring Into Danger, hit #1 on today’s Calgary Herald Bestsellers List. Here I am on the list in pretty good company.

CALGARY BESTSELLERS

Calgary Herald

Compiled from information from Owl’s Nest Books and Shelf Life Books.

30 Sep 2023

FICTION 1. Spring into Danger

Susan Calder. After thieves break into a store and steal two bicycles, a psychic phones Det. Mike Vincelli.

2. Brave Like the Buffalo

Melissa Allan and Jadyn Fischer-mcnab. A children’s book with a message that will inspire all readers.

3. The Last Devil to Die

Richard Osman. It’s rarely a quiet day for the Thursday Murder Club when shocking news reaches them — an old friend has been killed.

4. Lady Tan’s Circle of Women

Lisa See. The latest historical novel from See, inspired by the true story of a female doctor from 15th-century China.

5. Fourth Wing

Rebecca Yarros. Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda.

6. The Covenant of Water

Abraham Verghese. A shimmering evocation of a bygone India.

7. Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology

Shane Hawk and Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. (editors). Many Indigenous people believe whistling at night can cause evil spirits to appear.

8. Yellowface

R F Kuang. White lies. Dark humour. Deadly consequences.

9. Tom Lake

Ann Patchett. Patchett once again proves herself one of America’s finest writers.

10. Lessons in Chemistry

Bonnie Garmus. Elizabeth Zott is a scientist who becomes the star of a beloved TV cooking show.

NON FICTION 1. The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartenders Guide From the Celebrated Speakeasy

Jim Meehan and Chris Gall. Jim Meehan, PDT’S innovative operator and mixmaster, is revolutionizing bar books.

2. Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory

Sarah Polley. Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director and actor explores memory and the dialogue between her past and present. Canadian author.

3. The Home Cafe: Creative Recipes for Espresso, Matcha, Tea and Coffee Drinks

Asia Lui Chapa. With this classy curation of recipes, you’ll find endless ideas.

4. The Met Office: Pocket Cloud Book

Richard Hamblyn and the Met Office. This book provides you with all the information you need to identify different kinds of clouds and the weather that may be on its way.

5. Alberta Wildlife: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Animals

James Kavanagh. Covers 140 of the most common and familiar animals you are likely to encounter.

6. Bugs & Slugs, 2nd Edition: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar North American Invertebrates

James Kavanagh. This guide highlights over 140 familiar species of insects, spiders and invertebrates.

7. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

David Grann. A twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

8. The 48 Laws of Power

Robert Greene. Every law here has an interest in total domination.

9. How the World Really Works: The Science Behind How We Got Here and Where We’re Going

Vaclav Smil. An essential analysis of the modern science and technology that makes our 21st-century lives possible.

10. Fire Weather: The Making of a Beast

John Vaillant. A riveting journey through the intertwined histories of North America’s oil industry and the birth of climate science. Canadian author

My Book Launch is over

I really enjoyed my book launch on Thursday evening at cSpace Marda Loop. Fifty people attended and seemed to be having fun. The weather was lovely. Many guests stepped outside to the deck for views of the city. I was too busy greeting people, getting ready for my presentation, and signing books.

Here’s a photo of me signing a book for my hiking club friend Jennifer. Note the post sunset light through the floor-to-ceiling window behind us.

Tonight’s the night!

My book launch for Spring Into Danger is tonight at cSpace King Edward Marda Loop. I think I have everything prepared and will have lots of stuff to bring up to the 4th floor Treehouse — food, drinks, disposable dishes, my computer for the PowerPoint presentation, door prizes, and more. Books will be the heaviest item, since I’ll be supplying Owl’s Nest, the bookseller for the event.

It looks like we’ll be fortunate with the weather. After two overcast days, the sun is out. It won’t be summertime warm, but people will be able to step outside on the deck as well as catch views of the city and mountains through the Treehouse’s glass windows.

My husband Will and I are going early to get a parking spot in the lot since cSpace has another event going on that night. For those who come later, there will be plenty of free parking on the nearby streets.

I look forward to seeing friendly faces in the audience cheering on my new book.