When Words Collide – party time

I’ve been conscripted to help organize the Calgary Crime Writers/Crime Writers of Canada party social at When Words Collide. The party will take place the first day of the conference, Friday Aug 9, from 9 PM to midnight at the conference hotel, the Carriage House Inn. You’re all invited to this free event. We’re working on a fun theme. Stay tuned for more details once we figure them out.

Hello summer

First day that really feels like summer. Under blue skies, eleven of us enjoyed our annual bookclub potluck lunch in our backyard. We spent more time discussing the flood than books, but came up with our list for next year. Looks like a good selection, with settings all over the world.

Flood

Relatives and friends, hearing and viewing reports about the Calgary flood, have been calling and e-mailing to ask if we’re okay.

Sunnyside, Calgary, with downtown behind

We live fairly high-up from the river and have escaped the flood’s effects – so far. Life, for us, functions normally, aside from cancelled events and inconveniences.  My heart goes out to the numerous southern Alberta residents forced to evacuate, those with flood-damaged property and, most of all, the loved ones of people who lost their lives in High River.

While we feel somewhat like outsiders to this local disaster, Will and I can understand. This is the third major flood we’ve experienced in less than year, in three separate world locations.

The first one, which impacted us most, was last fall’s flood in York, UK. Prior to the trip, we booked an apartment along the river for five nights. It came with bicycles and we had visions of biking along the river pathway, as well as making day trips to sites outside of town, such as Castle Howard, the grand estate where  the TV series Brideshead Revisited was filmed. None of that happend.

Me in our York apartment courtyard

After several days of torrential rain, the river spilled over the pathway and rose up buildings that now looked like homes in Venice. Water filled our apartment building courtyard, the only access in and out.  Our worst morning in York, we waded through murky, thigh-high water dressed in our bathing suits, ducked into a public washroom and changed into our street clothes.

Last month, when I left for a holiday in Austria and the Czech Republic, I joked that I hoped a flood wouldn’t hit us again. It did, during the final week of our trip, in Prague, following five days of heavy rain. As in Calgary, the country declared a state of emergency and called in the army. Soldiers erected flood walls and sandbagged threatened areas and buildings. One block from our house, we stepped over barricades to go to our favourite bakery. Subway lines were closed, as were city parks due to the risk of trees falling due to soggy ground. This resulted in us changing several sight-seeing plans and prevented us from making a day-trip to Terezin, to view the concentration camp, because the routes to the town were under water and Terezin was evacuated. Instead of evenings spent strolling the iconic Charles Bridge – it was closed – we joined the multitude of tourists and locals photographing the swollen river. Water rushing over paths and parks made us glad to be distant from the flood’s worst effects.

A rare sight: Charles Bridge, Prague, empty of pedestrians

I’m back …

… after a 40 day holiday to Austria, the Czech Republic and Toronto. When I left, the trees in my yard were barely budding.  I returned to summer bloom – and mosquitoes.

After such a long time away, I’m eager to return to writing. Calgary’s June rains (plus the bugs) might help tie me to my computer and writing room, although I don’t want to miss our short summer weather. My priority, for the next month, will be enjoying the warm air and blue skies, getting exercise and healthy eating. I managed a fair bit of the first ones on the holiday, but couldn’t resist gorging on Austrian and Czech pastries, schnitzel and dumplings, among other arterty-choking cuisine, and inexpensive wine and beer.

Old Town Square, Prague: Dumplings, Beef in Cream Sauce & Pivo (Beer)

A look at my blog, shows I haven’t posted since January. Yikes. Last winter and spring, I was focused on finishing the third draft of a new novel before leaving on the trip and let the blog slide. I’ll get back to it during this more relaxed summer period. Tune in for some travel-related posts.

A sunny cruise on the Danube River

Always the Bad Guy

When Words Collide multi-genre writing conference comes to Calgary Aug 9-11, 2013. I’m registered and looking forward to a busy, informative and fun three days. Last year, I participated in three panels. You can listen to podcast of one called Always the Bad Guy.

The discussion wound up focussing on anti-heros, a topic I hadn’t given much thought to before the panel. Interesting to wing it in front of an audience.

CBC Book Sale

Calgary Readers: Check out the CBC Book Sale for some really great finds.

Book Club with Fran

I hosted a fun, informative book club gathering yesterday featuring Alberta author Fran Kimmel and her novel The Shore Girl.

The Shore Girl is short-listed for this year’s Alberta Readers’ Choice Award. Voting is now open to the public. Prize is $10,000. The winner will be announced at an Edmonton gala on May 25th.

Arthur Ellis Awards Event & Announcement

Thursday, April 18, I’ll be hosting another event – the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards Annoucement.

The event will feature feature music by Calgary Folk duo Hazel Grey, a Musical Crime-Show Theme Quiz, a Mystery Title Scavenger Hunt, a presentation by Canmore mystery author Stephen Legault, the short list announcement, food, drink, chat. Come learn what the Arthur Ellis awards are all about and who’s hot in Canadian crime fiction writing.

When: Thursday, April 18, 6 PM
Where: Owl’s Nest Bookstore
815 49 Avenue SW, Calgary

It’s all free and everyone’s welcome. Hope to see you there!  

Writing in the Works – More Photos

Susan enjoying an emcee moment

Reader playright Ken Cameron & Susan

Ken, Susan, Roberta Rees, Lori Hahnel, Inge Trueman & Steve Passey

Writing in the Works 2013

Writing in the Works 2013 was a roaring success last night. About 75 people packed the reading room at Memorial Park Library. Marje Wing, librarian, kicked off the evening with a plea to support the Calgary Public Library by getting memberships for all family members and taking out lots of books and other materials. Following Marje, we enjoyed listening to five inspiring and entertaining readers: Ken Cameron, Lori Hahnel, Steve Passey, Roberta Rees and Inge Trueman. I enjoyed playing host to the event. Thanks to everyone who helped, read and attended.

Susan emcee WITWorks

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