Tag Archives: #Canadianmysterynovels

Three Days Until Book Launch

With my book launch three days away, I’ll rerun my September BWL Blog Post – Biking Inspired my Mystery Novel. I’ll touch on aspects of this at the launch. Here’s the original post:

In April 2020, my husband Will and I got e-bikes for an activity to do during Calgary’s shutdown for the COVID-19 pandemic. We’d enjoyed regular biking all our lives, but I’d grown tired of struggling up streets in my foothills home city and walking my bike up the steeper roads. 

The previous year I’d tried out an e-bike at a mountain festival and was awed by its instant power and the ease of pedaling up the base of a ski hill. Will and I considered upgrading to e-bikes then but didn’t get around to it. Now, with a summer of limited options looming ahead, we checked out bikes at several local stores and settled on a small store close to our home.  

On our second visit I asked the owner/manager why his store was open when most retail outlets were closed for the pandemic.   

“Bikes are considered essential,” he said, with a tone of pride or surprise. “We’re transportation.” 

I used that line in my new novel, Spring Into Danger.

That spring 2020 I was busy finishing the third book in my Paula Savard Mystery Series and starting to mull ideas for the fourth. Since Paula is an insurance adjuster, her next case would come from her insurance work. Ten Days in Summer (book # 2) involved a building fire with a suspicious death. Book # 3, Winter’s Rage, developed from a hit-and-run collision that killed a woman. A theft case seemed the likely next adventure for Paula. How about a break and enter at a bicycle store?

Our bike purchases led to several follow-up trips to the store. My front basket kept popping its screws and was eventually recalled for safety reasons. My spring-loaded seat came off whenever I grabbed it to lift the bike. Okay, I probably shouldn’t be lifting the bike that way, but it’s a habit. 

The store owner gave me a regular seat and ordered a replacement spring-loaded one. Each time we phoned or went to the store to enquire about the order’s progress, he’d tell us about delays in the supply chain due to COVID protocols at the Vancouver port and the demand for bicycles causing backlogs in orders. Everyone was out walking or biking that shutdown summer. We witnessed the shrinking bicycle stock in the store. The owner told us people now had to wait months for e-bikes. 

In hindsight I wonder if I enjoyed those store visits as an oasis of normalcy in the midst of the pandemic shutdown. Grocery stores — about my only other in-person shopping — often had lineups. This bike store didn’t. At the grocery store checkout, customers waited on floor markings spaced safely apart. Grocery shoppers crabbed about others blocking the aisles since we weren’t allowed to pass anyone. Nothing like that at the bike store. By summer most grocery store workers and customers wore masks. I saw no masks in our bike store; the bottle of hand sanitizer on the checkout counter went unused. Grocery shortages annoyed me. We already had our bikes and were only missing my spring-loaded seat. It never did arrive. After two years of waiting, we and the store owner gave up. I find my regular seat comfortable.

My story mulling continued. If I set my next novel during the COVID-19 shutdown, an open store, with casual protocols, would give my sleuth Paula a chance to do much of her work on the claim in-person. Having characters meet face-to-face is generally better than phone calls for drama in story scenes, since more can be shown through body language. For the same reason, in-person would be better than having Paula meet story characters on online platforms, which would become her new work method when COVID-19 hit. The book could still feature plenty of Skype and Zoom calls to give a flavour of the times.  

I started writing the novel in fall 2021. So much had changed since the pandemic start that I felt a strange nostalgia for those first months, when COVID was new and frightening and most of us had no clue what lay ahead. I wanted to process that early experience and decided to set the story in April 2020, when the shutdown was in full force. The novel starts with Paula taking on a new claim — a break and enter at a bicycle store that raises questions. Through her investigations, Paula navigates COVID-19 restrictions, which impact the characters and plot in so many ways that the whole story would change if I removed the pandemic.

Now we’re into a post-COVID world — sort of. Will and I are still biking, although we’ve done less each year as other activities reopen. Our biking got off a late start this spring thanks to holidays in the UK and Ottawa. In addition, Will’s e-bike developed serious mechanical problems, which required more visits to our favourite bicycle store.

A pre-book launch break – four days away

Yesterday I was in full summer mode. My husband, three friends, and I went to Banff and e-biked the Bow Valley Parkway to Johnston Canyon and back, about 50 hilly kilometres. Will and I don’t have powerful e-bikes and our bikes had less than 10 percent power remaining by the end. The day started out crisp but warmed in the afternoon. The mountains, golden leaves, and turquoise Bow River were beautiful in sunshine and cloudless sky.

Getting closer – five days to my book launch

Hard to believe my book launch is only five days away. I’m finding it hard to focus on preparing for the event in the midst of Calgary’s burst of summer weather. Wednesday I went hiking in our beautiful Kananaskis mountains south of the city. Today I went to another part Kananaskis for a short hike and our hiking club’s annual highway cleanup. It’s always disappointing to find so little garbage by the roadside. Tomorrow I’m off for a bike ride in Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway, which is closed to motor vehicles this month. But Sunday, despite the forecast sunshine and warm temperatures, I will have to get down to work.

The launch party for Spring Into Summer will take place Thursday, September 21, 2023, 7:00-8:30 p.m. cSPACE Marda Loop, 1721 29th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta.

Six Days to go

Now I have less than a week to prepare for my book launch on Thursday, September 21, 2023, 7:00-8:30 p.m. cSPACE Marda Loop, 1721 29th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta. There’s still lots for me to do, but I couldn’t resist an afternoon bike ride in our beautiful early fall weather. Today Will and I did one of our favourite biking loops, from our home to Douglasdale Ridge, then to Fish Creek Ridge and back. We enjoyed views of the Bow River, the mountains, Fish Creek, and the Calgary skyline.

Seven days to book launch

Opal Magazine is back in action. Here’s the first piece I wrote for the new issue. I describe my initial process of planning my book launch, which will take place a week from now. https://opalpublishing.ca/2023/09/06/planning-a-book-launch/

Above is a photo of cSpace Marda Loop, the launch venue. The Treehouse is the top floor of the extension on the left hand side.

Thursday, September 21, 2023, 7:00-8:30 p.m.

cSPACE Marda Loop, 1721 29th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta

Eight Days to Go…& Pie

Eight days until the launch of Spring Into Danger and I’m still thinking about my recent trip to southern California. After attending the San Diego Bouchercon convention, Will and I rented a car and drove to two locations less than two hours away. The first was Julian, a former gold mining town in the hills east of San Diego. After the mining declined, outsiders looking for an off-the-grid lifestyle moved in. Will and I had spent a night in Julian some years ago and were struck by its hippie/country vibe. The town has become locally famous for its apples and pies. A number of bakery shops and restaurants in the small town make their own apple pies and some specialty bakeries offer other varieties.

We bought an apple pie to eat during our two days there and loved it so much we bought a cherry pie to take to our next destination. In addition to eating, we enjoyed a day trip from Julian along a twisting and turning road to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. It was too hot to hike, but we loved the scenery almost as much as our pies.

Ten Days to Launch Date

I flew back last night from my ten-day holiday in Southern California. Now there are ten days to go until the book launch party for my new novel, Spring Into Danger. I’ve bought the wine and liquor license but still have invitations to send, a program to prepare, and food to get. The event will take place Thursday, September 21, 2023, 7:00-8:30 p.m. at cSPACE Marda Loop, 1721 29th Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta

My holiday began in San Diego, where I attended this year’s Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. I enjoyed attending numerous panels and events and meeting fellow mystery writers and fans. Highlights for me were the Guest of Honour interviews — it’s always interesting to hear what makes a great author tick.

The convention’s setting in the marina was ideal. Above is a photo of the night view from my hotel room. I loved watching planes descend behind the high rise buildings and land at the airport, which is surprisingly close to downtown.

When Words Collide Chapter One Finale

Last weekend I spent a busy three days at Calgary’s When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers. This was supposed to be the ending of the festival’s successful thirteen-year run, but it will continue next year under new and enthusiastic management. You can read about my experience this year on today’s BWL author insider blog. https://bwlauthors.blogspot.com/

I look forward to connecting with new and old WWC friends next year!