Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bonnie Ferrante's 3-Random Questions Interview with me

It's an odd thing to be interviewed about a book and have the interview appear months later, when the next book is almost out. Here's some background on 'Maddie Hatter and the Deadly Diamond', the first in the Maddie Hatter Steampunk Adventures, when her second adventure is barely six weeks from release.

See the prior interview here:

And see more about Maddie's second adventure over here:

Sunday, March 19, 2017


 Maddie's back in action!

A mysterious message from a midnight duelist sends fashion reporter Maddie Hatter to New York’s finest parasol dueling academy, where she foils a daring daylight kidnapping and embarks on her most dangerous adventure yet!

May 2017 from Tyche Books

Pre-order here:

* Enter to Win  *
an Advance Copy

any or all
teaser covers 

with #MaddieARC

Maddie's first published adventure, MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND (Tyche Books 2015) was a finalist for the Prix Aurora Award and the Books Publishing in Alberta Award, and won the e-Festival of Words Award.  

For up-to-the-minute news about Maddie and my other writings, find me on Facebook or Twitter 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fun with Book Clubs

Recently I had the pleasure of discussing MADDIE HATTER AND THE DEADLY DIAMOND with The Intrepids book club in Comox, BC. 

This was their first exposure to the world of Steampunk. For reference, we used the definition:

Steampunk (noun): a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology; a style of design and fashion that combines historical elements with anachronistic technological features inspired by science fiction.

As Maddie Hatter is a fashion reporter, the subsidiary definition of "homage to vintage fashion with a modern, sassy twist" is also appropriate. Maddie's fictional fashions follow historical fashion more closely than some Steampunk novels - and many Steampunk costumes - do, in large part because the ladies' apparel of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras offers great scope for any writer who loves elegance and fine fabrics.

More On Maddie
We also discussed the novelists considered to be the forefathers (and one foremother) of Steampunk literature: HG Wells (especially The Time Machine), Jules Verne (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), Arthur Conan Doyle (the Professor Challenger stories), and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein, for the advanced laboratory and energies with with Dr. Frankenstein was experimenting).

Several members mentioned how much they enjoyed Maddie's daring and adventurous spirit. One member, a French-speaker, was irked by the name Hercule Hornblower; even though she recognized why his name was what it was, the juxtaposition of the French and English names got on her nerves. Apart from his name, she found Hornblower fun.  One member was reading the book with her granddaughter, who found the clockwork birds fascinating. Several found the references to the game of Clue enjoyable, and everyone loved the fashions.

Photos of some club members with their books:

 They were sorry I hadn't brought that huge, flower-and-ribbon-bedecked, Madame Taxus-Hemlock hat I usually wear at signings.
Judging by the reactions at my last public book-signing, when fully half the autograph hunters were over 40 (and most of the rest under 15), The Intrepids are not alone in the category of mature Maddie fans. I look forward to seeing them again next winter, when two more Maddie Hatter books are in print and ready for their 

PS - for reference, here's a photo of one of Maddie's youngest fans. The book looks huge in her small hands.
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Holly-Jolly Holiday Tableware

Because at heart we all adore those impractical, once-a-year dishes, right?

First up, from Limoges: for all your morning coffee or afternoon tea guests, or to treat your senses for a perfect, solitary cup of your favourite hot beverage:


 To go with elegantly modern or Art Deco decor, here's a whole line of Meissen 'Wave Pur' with holly, all the way down to napkin rings like this one. What shade of napkin would you use with this?
And this fruit bowl. Who says you have to fill with fruit? Why not mini-muffins or dainty liqueur truffles?

For a slightly more robust - or rambunctious - party, picture still-warm spiced muffins on this pretty plate from Portmeiron, Wales .

  There's a whole line of it, including teapot. Great for a hearty after-sleighride event. 

Happy Holiday Dreaming!

 For up-to-the-minute news about Maddie and my other writings, find me on Facebook or Twitter

Friday, November 11, 2016

Monday, November 7, 2016

New Release Nugget: WAKING ANASTASIA by Tim Reynolds

 A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Today I welcome Calgary fantasy author Tim Reynolds. He's been called Canada's modern-day Aesop by Barbara Budd on CBC's 'As It Happens'. He's a finalist for the 2016 Baen Fantasy Adventure Award. He has a twisted way with a keyboard and a knack for yarn-spinning. WAKING ANASTASIA is his third book, following on the urban fantasy BROKEN SHIELD and the collection THE DEATH OF GOD AND OTHER STORIES.

Here's his nugget of wisdom:

My latest novel, WAKING ANASTASIA, had a unique inception. First it was a dream, then a screenplay, and finally, the novel.

Trust me when I say that this isn’t the usual route to publication. 99% of writers skip at least the screenplay part of the process, and here’s why…

Think of a finished novel like Michelangelo’s David. Your first draft is akin to Mike going to the Carrara marble quarries and selecting the perfect block of marble, looking for density, purity, and colour. You, the writer, select your words with the same care, and when the first draft is done it’s a weighty, unwieldy thing, hardly art, more like a block of words full of potential.

But as you edit, tweak, and refine your story, it’s like chipping away at the block of marble, taking what’s not necessary to leave behind the perfectly paced, brilliantly envisioned story, polished to a sheen and ready for the world to see.
Now, imagine if you will, starting with a skeleton instead of a block. Compared to a novel, that’s what a screenplay is. The skeleton contains the dialogue, and the locations, but none of the details. What a screenplay describes as “EXT. DAY. SUNNY. URBAN PARK” could take two pages of a novel to describe the sounds and scents, and maybe the colour of the Frisbee that lands at the heroine’s feet. I found that to flesh out “EXT. DAY…” to become “scuffed neon orange disc” throughout the entire manuscript is as tedious as adding marble to the skeleton would be to create David by gluing on instead of chipping away. I’d love to say I’ll never do it again, but I still have five more terrific screenplays begging to become novels. Kill me now.


Why should being murdered keep a girl from living it up a little?

When Jerry Powell inherits a torn, bloodstained book of poetry he has no idea that it contains the soul of Anastasia Romanova; but when he accidentally awakens her ghost, he discovers that death hasn’t dulled her sense of mischief and joy for life.

Between driving across the continent to start a new job in a new city, fending off a shady Russian antiquities collector, and ignoring his worsening migraines, Jerry doesn’t have time to cope with his undead royal houseguest.

Unfortunately for him, time isn’t on Jerry’s side.

 WAKING ANASTASIA officially launches November 8th at Owls Nest Books (815A 49th Avenue SW)

Edited to add this message I just saw from Tim:  Just got word that my story "Tamarack & the Stone", which was a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Award, got an Honourable Mention in the 4th Quarter of 2016!  Congratulations, Tim!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

New Release Nugget: TOUR DE MORT by Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock

A New Release Nugget is a short piece about one new thing an author learned during the process of writing their new book, something they hope will encourage and inspire other writers as they navigate the swirling currents of creation and publication.

Since their retirement from the University of Alberta, Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock have collaborated on three prior Danutia Dranchuk mystery novels, each of which touches on some aspect of the social conscience that is a vital part of both these BC writers. Their fourth book, TOUR DE MORT, comes out November 4th, 2017.

Publishing the Hard Way
As someone whose first three novels were traditionally published, I had a lot to learn when circumstances nudged co-author Chris Bullock and me into self-publishing TOUR DE MORT.
We are not technically adept enough to do everything for ourselves, so we chose a hybrid self-publishing service that conducts almost all transactions electronically. This system created poor communication with those involved in production, especially in design.
TOUR DE MORT is a fictional version of the first Cops for Cancer ride down Vancouver Island. So I searched stock images until I found a suitable cycling photo. Then came the five-month design process.
* I submit author photo and bios, blurb, reviewer comments and cover image electronically to our Account Manager, having noted on a form that the cover should seem ominous, foreboding.

* First proofs: Cyclist appears in full on the front; the cropped image on the back looks more menacing. Yes! I say in a sticky note on the PDF (my only means of communicating with the Designer). Put that on the front.

* Second proofs: Cropped image on the front, but still not menacing enough. Add red streaks leading towards a puddle of blood, I suggest.

* Third (and supposedly last) proofs: Red streaks have no relation to the bike’s path; a red blob looks like it’s been slapped against a wall. Our Account Manager at first ignores my complaint. We pay extra for a fourth round.

* Fourth proofs: The cover image as you see it. Hurray!

* Our softcover copies arrive. About the Authors (on the hardcover dust flap) has disappeared. Our new Account Manager investigates. The Designer’s email about possible ways of accommodating this material hadn’t been passed on to us.

Missing in this process is an experienced, knowledgeable publisher keeping an eye out. Long live traditional publishing!

About the book:

Sinister "accidents" threaten the Tour de Rock, a thousand-kilometre cycle ride to raise money for children's cancer. Spurred on by her young nephew's leukemia, RCMP Corporal Danutia Dranchuk has signed up as a rider but soon finds herself investigating. Events take a startling turn when people close to Danutia become caught up in a web of speculation and murder that she seems powerless to untangle.

Learn more about Kay Stewart & Chris Bullock