Nuts and Bolts of Writing

L-R Alison Bruce, Donna Warner, Liz Lindsay, Joanne Guidoccio

Yesterday evening, I participated in a lively panel discussion with three other mystery writers at the main branch of the Guelph Public Library. We are all published authors and members of Crime Writers of Canada.

We gave mini-presentations on our favorite nuts and bolts of writing—The Right Opening, Character Development, Self-Editing, Building Your Author Brand—and read excerpts from our recent novels. During the Q & A sessions, we delved into a variety of topics, among them short stories, writing and critique groups, conferences, and contests.

Thanks to librarians Andrea Curtis and Deb Quaile for organizing and facilitating this event.

To learn more about Guelph Partners in Crime, visit our websites:

Alison Bruce

Joanne Guidoccio

Liz Lindsay aka Jamie Tremain

Donna Warner


Meet the Authors–Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

L-R Gloria Ferris, Donna Warner

Yesterday, I attended an author event featuring two of my fellow Guelph Partners in Crime, Gloria Ferris and Donna Warner. In addition to reading from their novels, Gloria and Donna shared an interview with the International Thrillers Writers and answered questions from the audience. A lively discussion followed, and several topics were covered, among them e-books vs. print books, reviews, book covers, inspiration, and querying.

Thanks to librarian Chris Fraser for organizing and hosting this event at the Evergreen Seniors’ Community Centre in Guelph.

Librarian - Chris Fraser

Librarian – Chris Fraser

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Where to find Gloria…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon

Where to find Donna…

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon


TGIO Party for Guelph #NaNoWriMo

nanowrimocrestFriday evening, I joined four other NaNoWriMo winners at Fionn MacCool’s in south Guelph for our TGIO (Thank God It’s Over) party. Of the 96 members in the Guelph region, 26 of us completed 50K words and more during the month-long marathon.

Thanks to our M.L. Cindy Carroll for organizing and motivating us throughout the month. We plan to meet throughout the year and compare notes on our NaNoWriMo projects.

As for next year, I’m in for another round. Ideas are percolating for The Missing Gigolo, Book 4 in the Gilda Greco Mystery series.

My final stats…50,940 words with an average of 1,698 words per day.

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At Fair November

On Friday, I crossed the 30K threshold on my NaNoWriMo manuscript, A Different Kind of Reunion. To reward myself, I decided to visit the 42nd Annual Fair November Craft Show at the University of Guelph.

I spent a pleasant afternoon visiting the booths of over eighty artisans showcasing traditional and modern Canadian handmade crafts. Every craft imaginable–pottery, kiln fired glass, copper and enamel accessories, hand-felted clothing, metal work, beeswax candles, wooden toys–and some I had never encountered before–recycled granite accessories, up-cycled ladies clothing, vegan handbags.

And the gourmet food products!

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Half-Way Party for Guelph #NaNoWriMo

nanowrimocrestLast evening, eight of us met at Fionn MacCool’s in south Guelph for our half-way party. We are an eclectic group of writers but still manage to find common topics of discussion. The conversation was an animated one as we chatted about our WIPs, e-publishing vs. traditional publishing, evil day jobs, and NaNoWriMo.

We also debated the merits of different writing processes. We appeared to be divided (not so evenly!) between plotters (write using chapter outlines) and pantsers (write by the seat of their pants). While I like to stick with my comfort level of 1700 words per day, several of the others have written 5000+ words in one day.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening, and I left, inspired to continue writing.

My Word Count (as of Tuesday, November 15) – 25,599 words.

Goal (by Wednesday, November 30) – 50,000 words.

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ONWARD ♦ AVANTI ♦ EN AVANT ♦ WEITER ♦ ADELANTE ♦ AVANTE


Inspired by Emma Donoghue

emmadonaghueOn Wednesday evening, I attended Emma Donoghue’s reading at Lakeside Hope House in downtown Guelph. This Cafe Philosophique event, organized by the Bookshelf Cafe, was well attended by fans of the prolific author of several novels, short stories, and plays, among them the international bestseller Room (her screen adaptation was nominated for four Oscars). Her recent release, The Wonder, was shortlisted for this year’s Scotia Giller Prize.

After a short introduction, Emma proceeded to give a dramatic reading from The Wonder, a fictionalized tale based on real life cases of fasting girls during the Victorian era. I would have loved listening to a much longer reading.

An armchair conversation with author and creative writing professor Michael Winter followed.

Throughout the conversation, Emma referred to her children (Finn and Una) and commented on how useful they have been to her writing career. She uses anecdotes from her children’s lives and enlists their help with research. Her daughter selected the riddles used in The Wonder.

the-wonderHaving read the book recently, I was fascinated to learn more about the back story and Emma’s writing process.

Emma applied a dark twist to Hillary Clinton’s famous saying—“It takes a village to raise a child”—and came up with “It takes a village to kill a child.” Throughout the novel, there are many instances of well-meaning professionals (priest, doctor, nun, town elders) behaving passively and not stepping up to save the eleven-year-old child who is slowly starving herself to death. In short, The Wonder can be described as a crime story where a crime has not taken place yet.

When asked about her weaknesses, Emma commented, “I suck at plot. My first books were shapeless.” To correct this problem, she learned to plan the plot in advance and outline what happens in each chapter before beginning to write. But she made it clear that she does not follow a linear path and write “x” words per day or produce one novel each year. Instead, she muddles along and researches in a generous spirit, following her curiosity and taking as long as it takes to write the novel.

With no set schedule in place, she often steals time to write during her children’s activities. She also writes in cars, trains, planes…anywhere she can bring her laptop.

Interesting Quotes…

My children have infected my writing.

I’m surprised at how strange and heroic parenting can be.

I like putting my readers through the ringer.

I’ve made money from writing about people suffering.

I’ve emigrated twice (Ireland to England to Canada) and it was the best thing I ever did. It is splendid training for writers. We can become too smug and comfortable if we say in one place.

Where to find Emma Donoghue…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook


Kick-Off Party for Guelph NaNoWriMo

In July of this year, author Cindy Carroll lobbied to have a NaNoWriMo group in Guelph. In the past, writers had to join groups in nearby Kitchener, Hamilton, or Toronto. Not too far, but still far enough for those of us who do not like to spend hours commuting on major highways. Thanks to Cindy’s persistence and willingness to take on the M.L. role (Municipal Liaison), we now have a local group with 70+ members. Find out more about Guelph NaNoWriMo here.

Earlier today, fourteen of us gathered at Symposium Restaurant for the Kick-Off Party. We shared our NaNoWriMo handles, plans for the month, and other shop talk. A diverse group, we write in several genres, among them mystery, romance, urban fantasy, memoir, and inspirational literature.

Alpha Order - Maame Apenteng, Francis Bake, Cindy Carroll, Sarah Jean Devries, Amy Donkers, Jess Frey, A. Pearl Graham, Joanne Guidoccio, Kathleen Herbinson, Jo Kasunic, Pamela Simmonds, Michelle Summerfield, Tim Teece, Elizabeth Winfield

Alpha Order – Maame Apenteng, Francis Bake, Cindy Carroll, Sarah Jean Devries, Amy Donkers, Jess Frey, A. Pearl Graham, Joanne Guidoccio, Kathleen Herbinson, Jo Kasunic, Pamela Simmonds, Michelle Summerfield, Tim Teece, Elizabeth Winfield

ONWARD ♦ AVANTI ♦ EN AVANT ♦ WEITER ♦ ADELANTE ♦ AVANTE