Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Introducing....Alison Bruce

Alison Bruce has a degree in history and philosophy, which has nothing to do with any regular job she`s held since. After university, her first career was a comic book store manager where she was in charge of advertising and promotions as well as the usual retail chores. She started writing and editing professionally for business and community organizations in 1991. In partnership with two other women, she published Women’s Work for five years, serving as the principle writer and general editor. In addition to CWC, Alison has worked for York Region and the Windfall Ecology Centre. And she will still argue philosophy after all these years.

Okay, that’s the official biographical info on Alison, as given to me.  Now here comes the fun stuff:

Alison started writing stories for other people when she was twelve. She lost her first novel in the women's washroom at Ryerson University (not known if it was stolen, or if she flushed it). A year later she received her first rejection slip for another story. Being a sensitive sort, she waited several years before trying for her next rejection slip.

As a result of having inherited her mother’s and sister’s libraries, she now has six copies of The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer.  Her niece is named for the title character.  Her daughter Kate is named for comic characters: Kitty Pryde of the X-Men and Katie Powers of the Power Pack. Her son Sam is named for the cat she had as a child.  Her blog, “Have laptop will travel” (http://alisonebruce.blogspot.com/) was inspired by the book title: Have Gat Will Travel, first seen as a child climbing the bookshelves.

Alison is fueled by coffee and one heck of a sense of humour about life. She’s the kind of gal who gets your back and won’t let you down. She won’t let you down as a writer, either.

Her book Under a Texas Star is now available at Amazon.com.  And it’s damn good.

Melodie Campbell

Let's Be a Reality Blog

I avoid Reality Shows. To me, they promote the competitive side of humanity, and not in a positive way. Big Brother, the Bachelorette, Flavor of Love, Survivor, Dancing With the Stars. To be fair, I haven’t watched full episodes of these.

Yet the last Olympics held me in thrall. That was Reality, too, though, with very deliberate dramatization of individual’s backgrounds. The difference? A very inspirational presentation.

There is no denying that Reality Shows are popular, and have been for a long time. Survivor started in 1992. Some thought Reality Shows were a hedge against strikes by the Writers Guild, and would not be here for long. Hmmm….Survivor, est. 1992…

I will admit to watching one: So You Think You Can Dance. This is more Sport than What Can We Film When They Think No One’s Looking. Each season begins by showing a range of applicants from phenomenal dancers, to heart of gold but missing an element dancers, to have you ever watched the show? foot shufflers. Dramatically presented, and with a positivity and a hey you gave it a good try attitude. But what really seals it for me is the growth of the selected competitors. Some just blossom before your eyes from one week to another.

So, Karen Blake-Hall was starting a blog, with emergent mystery writers. Driving home from work (the best time for ideas!), I mused…with a multitude of blogs out there, what could make hers special? Somehow the Reality Show popularity occurred to me, and I thought…

…How would a Reality Blog work? You can’t eliminate contestants. The blog is a group of writers working together, not competing. Oh, but let’s be real….everyone wants to sell their books and there may be a limited pool of book-buying dollars out there…

I proposed to Karen that part of my role here could be to present challenges. Writing related. Promotion related. We’ve got a number of writers just ready to blossom on the mystery scene with a bloody big splash. Watching their progression, seeing how they respond to different assignments, could be entertaining and for the mystery crowd…intriguing.

The first challenge will be issued June 14th. Keep your mystery-loving, adventure-craving eye on us!

Monday, 30 May 2011

Introducing...Karen Blake-Hall

Karen is my Sister in Crime in Toronto. She has written in the romance arena, but now she’s found a happy home with crime writing.

The first thing you notice about her…she’s always smiling. Unless she’s talking about plotting. Then she twinkles wickedly!

Asked about her influences, Karen replied “Iris Johansen, Allison Brennan, Sara Paretsky, Wendi Corsi Staub, Heather Graham, of late Rick Mofina, David Corbett, Wayne Arthurson, and Robin Burcell. Once I read a book and I can’t put it down, I’ll read everything I can from that author. I’m just a compulsive.”

She comes with a game plan. And she’s capable of execution! She oversees two critique groups, generates her mystery prose on schedule, and is always on the lookout for good stimulation.
When she realized, at Left Coast Crime 2011, that she should ramp up the violence in her writing, her delight was somewhat disturbingly evident. She shared with me her eager willingness to explore activities in her crime research that neither a martial arts expert nor her husband would participate in.

Currently Karen works in a department store, giving authenticity to the setting of her first mystery. I’ve had a peak at Working Stiffs. It’s going to be a twisted fun read when we get our hands on it! She’ll be posting on every other Thursday, starting June 9th.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Introducing... Janet Costello

When you walk into Janet Costello’s ‘library in the sky’, you know just the kind of person she is: smart, articulate, and extremely well read.  And we’re not kidding about ‘library’.  Wall to wall bookcases line Janet’s living room, which includes a centre isle of back-to-back bookcases.  Heaven.  Take a peek into her closets and you’ll know even more about her: cases of red wine signal the warm and generous person she is.

Rather than write fiction, Janet says she prefers to shine the spotlight on others, and indeed she does this by doing interviews with writers.  She is a supporter of all mystery writers, with extra shout-outs for Canadians, Sisters in Crime and her blogmates.  Janet has volunteered for several conferences, including Bouchercon 2004, Bloody Words 2010, and can be seen any place where she can pitch in.  She has a special knack for creating a variety of puzzles, which are regularly featured in the SinC newsletter.

But reading is where Janet truly inspires awe.  Her rush reading pile…well, actually, it’s three bookcases.  Rush Rush reading pile – twenty-four books at the moment.  She says her influences are biographer Nancy Mitford, Inside the Actor’s Studio’s James Lipton, Edgar Wallace, Nevil Shute, Dick Francis and Ruth Rendell.  For their gracious and generous manner at all times, Canadian mystery writers Louise Penny and Anthony Bidulka.

Frankly, if we’re talking gracious and generous, Janet embodies these attributes in spades.  I’m proud to call her my friend.  Her first post will be on Tuesday May 31.

Melodie Campbell

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Introducing...Heather Mac Archer

Heather Mac Archer loves murder; she loves history and is currently writing not one but two murder mysteries one set in the UK and one in Canada. Both feature beautifully detailed locales.
Heather thinks the challenge of a good murder mystery is to draw an emotional link between the murder and the crime. “There is always a link to the past, either in the childhood of the murderer or the life of the victim.”
After her minister father taught her to read at four, she inhaled everything in his library from Thornton W. Burgess animal stories to theology, psychology and history. Spreading her literary wings in the Fenelon Falls Village Library, she consumed all of Agatha Christie by her early teens. She admires Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Ian Rankin, John Goddard, Kate Atkinson and Anne Perry for their portrayal of the psychological aspects of crime in “a delicious way.” Other influences include two history degrees and copyediting murder stories during her career at the Toronto Star:
“I can’t visit a place,” says the deceptively mild-mannered Heather with a gentle smile and a glitter in her eye “and not sit back and look around and think this would be a fine place to set a murder.”

Heather’s first blog appears Monday, June 6, 2011.