Friday, November 4, 2022

Deep Discussions with Crime Writers of Canada

The Gales of November: more than a literary device!

In between recurring power outages across BC, CWC social media guru Erik d'Souza managed to get three Western Canadian crime authors together online on a recent Friday afternoon for The Western Wing, ep. 5 Smashing Stereotypes. Follow me, international crime sensation Tara Moss, and crime radio whiz Alan R. Warren through our sometimes windblown discussion of true crime, disability, and challenging character stereotypes in our books. 

 

FACEBOOK LIVE (unedited recording)

 

Video descriptor: We see a Zoom screen split into four panels. The first shows Erik D'Souza. He wears a collared white shirt and glasses, and has dark hair. He is wearing ear buds.

The second panel shows Tara Moss. Tara is a tall white woman with long dark salt and pepper hair. She is using her wheelchair, Nyx, and is wearing a grey top and dark red lipstick.

The third shows Alan R Warren, a white man with grey beard and a baseball cap, with shelves of books behind him.

The fourth panel shows Jayne Barnard. Jayne describes herself as a short white-haired woman with red glasses and a straight-necked burgundy sweater.

 

 Since 1999 Tara Moss has written 14 books, published in 19 countries and 13 languages. Her latest is the internationally bestselling historical crime novel The War Widow. The sequel, The Ghosts of Paris, hit stores in the USA, Canada, Australia and NZ on June 7, 2022


ALAN R. WARREN  has completed 24 non-fiction books covering True crime, Cults, Human Trafficking, History, and memoirs for three different publishers, including RJ Parker/Vronksy Publishing in Toronto, Canada & WildBlue Press in Colorado, America. The Producer and lead host of the Popular NBC Radio shows House of Mystery' and 'Inside Writing, both heard on the 106.5 F.M. Los Angeles/102.3 F.M. Riverside/ 1050 A.M. Palm Springs/ 540 A.M. KYAH Salt Lake City/ 1150 A.M. KKNW Seattle/Tacoma and Phoenix.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Daggers Week Welcomes Liz Rachel Walker

Photo credit to Dani Cyr Creative
This multi-talented Canadian has already won Crime Writers of Canada's award for best unpublished crime novel. Now she--and it--are shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger in the UK.

 

Welcome, Liz. 

Tell us what your life looks like when you’re not writing?

LIZ:  I have a BA and MA in sociology and worked for 15 years in social and health research. But I became physically disabled in 2011 and had to stop that career. I have a connective tissue condition called hypermobility spectrum disorder--my connective tissue is more flexible but also more fragile than average. It led to me developing overuse injuries and extreme stiffness. In 2014, a medication helped reduce my extreme stiffness, and I partially recovered my mobility. I still have physical limitations, but I do several hours of physiotherapy every morning and become mobile for the day. I live in Victoria, BC, with my husband, Kevin Bartlett, who’s also a writer, and we regularly edit each other’s work. (The editing sessions can be painstaking and often involve chocolate or gin.)

 

Some couples make editing each other look easy. Others....? It's clearly working for you and Kevin Bartlett since you're both on the Debut Dagger Shortlist.

What previous writing experience do you have? What got you started writing crime?

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Crime Writing Twins impress the Debut Dagger judges

Yesterday we had one half of a couple who both made the Debut Dagger shortlist with different manuscripts this year. Today we have a set of twins whose joint manuscript made the longlist. Welcome to American writers Jennifer Slee and Jessica Slee.
Jennifer Slee

 Congratulations to you both on coming to the attention of the Debut Dagger judges!  Tell us, please, how did twins come to co-writing a crime novel. Can you remember whose idea started the whole project?

Jennifer and Jessica: We’ve been writing short fiction on our own for years—we were both fortunate enough to go through the undergraduate creative writing program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where we learned from Lawrence Naumoff, Daniel Wallace, and Randall Kenan, and this experience gave us a great foundation in fiction and non-fiction—though we can’t say crime writing was ever seriously discussed! That interest came more from what we were reading growing up—we had bookshelves full of mysteries and thrillers.

We started by each attempting to write a novel on our own, but quickly realized that when we worked together, the writing was so much stronger and we progressed much faster. While this project began as Jennifer’s idea, since our work features large ensemble casts and multiple POVs, we both take the lead on different chapters. We’re lucky that we have extremely complementary strengths. Jennifer is skilled at research and big-picture plotting, while Jessica takes charge on editing and rewriting. In the end, despite having two authors, our goal is to make the voice match feel seamless.

Jessica Slee
Tell us a little bit about your shortlisted manuscript, set in The World’s End State Park (is Pennsylvania your home turf?). Geo-caching has long fascinated me, and I can see how it gives you authors the opportunity to showcase a lot of the park’s notable features. How well do you two know the park?

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Daggers Week #3

Welcome our 3rd Debut Dagger interviewee, Kevin Bartlett, with his shortlisted novel, Henry's Bomb.

 

Tell us something about yourself. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

 My day job takes up a lot of my time. I work for a research institute, operating a dozen oceanographic radar systems on the BC coast. A lot of it is computer work, but there is a field component as well. One week I might be in the office writing code, but the next I might find myself clambering out of a helicopter or schlepping spools of electrical cable up above the high tide mark on a remote beach.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Daggers Finalist Laura

As our second Debut Dagger interview for 2022, we welcome author Laura Ashton Hill with her shortlisted manuscript, Holloway Castle 

 Tell us something about yourself, Laura. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

LA:  I’m a mother of two secondary school age girls and married to a publican. The pubs are great places for picking up snippets of local history— particularly of a criminal nature. As a judge my grandfather sentenced the Kray twins. I’ve met people who knew them, journalists who covered the case and even heard about the carpenter who, the night before the trial started, worked in the dock of court number one at the Old Bailey. His job was to extend the bench so they could fit all ten of them in!

 

Is this your first entry into the Debut Dagger? Where did you hear about this contest for unpublished crime novels, and what decided you to enter? Have you entered other writing contests with this or other works?

LA: This is the second time I’ve entered. I sent off for a mini critique because

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Daggers Longlister Katherine Futers

Welcome today Katherine Black Futers, who turned her MA in Creative Writing into a focus on entering writing contests, and this spring received the validation of reaching the Debut Dagger longlist with the opening chapter of her second novel-length crime manuscript: Lufkin, Texas

Is this your first entry into the Debut Dagger? Where did you hear about this contest for unpublished crime novels, and what decided you to enter? Have you entered other writing contests with this or other works?

KF This was my second entry into the Debut Dagger. I also entered last year with my first novel, No Fouler Fiend. I heard about the competition through my MA course at the University of East Anglia. Since starting the MA in 2019, I’ve entered a number of writing contests. No Fouler Fiend came third in the Yeovil Literary Prize 2021. I think the competitions are a good way to test the writing, plus placing and/or winning gives validation to a manuscript when submitting it to agents and publishers.

 

Tell us a little bit about your shortlisted manuscript: cosy, noir, not easily categorized?

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Is this a DAGGER I see before me?

This is not a Dagger Award.
Every May and June my mind flashes back to Spring 2013, when I got the email here in Calgary saying I'd made the longlist for the UK's premier award for unpublished crime novelists: the Debut Dagger. It was the most exciting day of my crime-writing life! 

But it was soon superseded by another email saying I'd made the shortlist too, and that I was invited to the awards banquet in London, England.

Of course I went! All the way from Western Canada straight into southern England's hottest July. London was baking. The Tube was sweltering. I met many great crime writers both new and established. Gyles Brandreth gave a great speech that we still reference today (ask him about the 90-90 rule). Louise Penny and her lovely husband made us welcome. THIS MAN kissed my hand.

What is this award?

Not a Dagger Award either.
From the Crime Writers Association:

"The Debut Dagger is a competition for the opening of a crime novel by a writer who isn’t represented by an agent by the time the competition closes, and who has never had a traditional contract for any novel of any length, or who has never self-published any novel of any length in the last 5 years. Writers submit their opening 3,000 words and a 1,500 word synopsis. The deadline is 6pm GMT of the last working day in February.

Entries from shortlisted writers are sent to UK literary agents and publishers. Every year, authors find representation this way.

 For full rules and how to enter the Debut Dagger, please click on the Entry Process below. For info about how the CWA supports our community of debut writers visit the Debuts section."

Still not a Dagger Award
This year's Dagger Awards will be presented at the CWA Daggers Gala coming up on June 29th at Leonardo City Hotel on Cooper’s Row in London.

In the lead-up to the Big Day for the 2022 finalists, I'll be interviewing one long-listed and 3 short-listed authors on their manuscripts, their inspirations, and their life outside of writing crime.

First up, on June 21: Longlister Katherine Futurs with her entry, Lufkin, Texas.

2nd interview, on June 23: shortlister Laura Ashton Hill with Holloway Castle

3rd Interview, on June 25: Canadian shortlister Kevin Bartlett with Henry's Bomb

4th Interview, on June 27: another Canadian shortlister, Liz Rachel Walker with The Dieppe Letters.

See the full list of 2022 Debut Dagger longlisters and finalists


And how did I and my finalist manuscript do back in 2013? 

Alas, I didn't win. My opening chapter for the manuscript, 'When the Bow Breaks,' a prequel to 'When the Flood Falls,' was that year's Highly Recommended, but it wasn't picked up by any of the agents who approached me after the banquet. 'When the Flood Falls,' though, went on to win Canada's Crime Writing Award of Excellence for Best Unpublished Manuscript (the award then called the 'Unhanged Arthur') and kicked off a 3-book (so far) series set in the mountains and foothills of Western Canada: The Falls Mysteries.

STILL not a Dagger Award!

If you're an aspiring crime writer with the opening chapter of a manuscript you hope will take you far, here's a page you'll want to bookmark for when the Debut Dagger annual submission season opens again in the fall of 2022.

For the most current news about The Falls Mysteries, see 

Facebook  

Twitter

 Instagram

Thursday, May 26, 2022

AND THE WINNER(S) ARE....

 

CRIME WRITERS OF CANADA ANNOUNCES THE WINNERS OF THE 2022 AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE 

 40-CWCLogo-Banner-RW

 

May 26, 2022

Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2022 Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing. Started in 1984, the annual Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence, then known as the Arthur Ellis Awards, recognizes the best in mystery, crime, and suspense fiction, and crime nonfiction by Canadian authors.

On behalf of CWC, Judy Penz Sheluk, Board Chair, wishes to congratulate all the winners. The presentation of the winners can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjSQew_DnnA

Best Crime Novel sponsored by Rakuten Kobo, with a $1000 prize
Dietrich Kalteis, Under an Outlaw Moon, ECW Press

Best Crime First Novel sponsored by Writers First, with a $500 prize
Ashley Audrain, The Push, Viking Canada

The Whodunit Award for Best Traditional Mystery sponsored by Jane Doe, with a $500 prize
Candas Jane Dorsey, What’s the Matter with Mary Jane?, ECW Press

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada sponsored by The Engel Family, with a $500 prize
C. S. Porter, Beneath Her Skin, Vagrant Press / Nimbus Publishing Inc.

Best Crime Novella sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $200 prize
Wayne Ng, Letters From Johnny, Guernica Editions

Best Crime Short Story sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $300 prize
Elizabeth Elwood, Number 10 Marlborough Place, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

Best French Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)
Patrick Senécal, Flots, Editions Alire

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction) sponsored by Shaftesbury, with a $500 prize
Kevin Sands, The Traitor's Blade, Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book sponsored by Simpson & Wellenreiter LLP, Hamilton, with a $300 prize
Nate Hendley, The Beatle Bandit, Dundurn Press

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript sponsored by ECW Press, with a $500 prize
Renee Lehnen, Elmington

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

CWC Unpublished Award of Excellence Interview: Renee Lehnen


AND THE WINNER IS...


RENEE!

Congratulations to all the finalists!

 (see her video interview here )

 

Today we welcome first-time finalist  

AND NOW WINNER of the 

2022 Crime Writers of Canada Award of Excellence

 for Best Unpublished Crime Novel:   

Renee Lehnen

with her novel manuscript, Elmington

 

We interviewed Renee before the winners were announced, and after she won we asked for a winner's statement, which is below, and followed by her original interview.

Renee writes:     On the afternoon of May 26th, I received the news via the Crime Writers of Canada (CWC) YouTube presentation that I had won an award in the category of “Best Unpublished Manuscript” for my novel, Elmington. As I was due for my afternoon shift at Spruce Lodge Home for the Aged, I only had time to text the news to my husband, daughter, and son before I set off for work on my bicycle. All evening, my heart was bursting with joy and gratitude to the CWC, contest organizers and judges, and ECW Press, the award’s sponsor. Since Thursday, I’ve had time to celebrate with my family and friends and I have a small hoard of empty wine bottles and a dull headache to show for it.

     Writing Elmington was my Everest. Although crafting the story was its own reward, winning the award feels like standing on a mountain peak with a sunrise for company. And I’m intensely curious about the work of the other writers who were shortlisted. I hope I’ll have the good fortune to read their stories in print.

     I write to try to make sense of a confusing world, to translate my frustrations into humour, and to save money on psychotherapy, but most of all, I write to be read. If any agents and publishers have found themselves in the grayest rut in Dullsville and long to take a risk on a new novelist, please contact me. A simple text will do – 226-880-1064. I promise to do my utmost to avoid ending your career!

 

Original Interview Below

Me: Tell us something about yourself. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

Renee I’m a registered nurse and I work in a long-term care home. My husband is also a nurse. When we’re not working, we like to be outdoors – hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, etc.

 

Me:   What previous writing experience do you have? What got you started writing crime?

Renee Most of my writing has been academically oriented. For many years, I wrote to make sense of the world – not in a therapeutic journal but in essays in which I laid out my thoughts and ideas on things I struggled to understand. I still do this.

When my kids were teenagers, I found I had enough time to take a creative writing course at my local community college. Since then, I’ve written poetry, short stories, and three unpublished novels.

 

Me:  Is this your first entry into the Awards of Excellence? Where did you hear about this contest for unpublished crime novels, and what decided you to enter?

Monday, May 9, 2022

2022 CWC Awards: Unpublished Interview with Delee Fromm

Congratulate Delee Fromm for her finalist manuscript

 The Strength To Rise

 

Tell us something about yourself. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

DF: I would love to say I spend my spare time skydiving but my real life is more mundane. As a lawyer and former psychologist, I consult with law firms and corporations on the topics of in women’s advancement and implicit bias. I also guest lecture at various universities on the topic of negotiation, something I have taught since the late 1980’s when dinosaurs roamed the land.


 What previous writing experience do you have? What got you started writing crime?

DF: I have always written. As a psychologist I published research, while as a commercial real estate lawyer I wrote articles on land title and tax issues. More recently, as a consultant, I authored two books on career skills – one for lawyers and one for women: Advance Your Legal Career: Essential Skills for Success (LexisNexis Canada) and Understanding Gender at Work.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Unpublished Award Interview with Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas's manuscript, Part Time Crazy, is a finalist for the Crime Writers of Canada Best Unpublished Crime Novel 

I’m 62, a retired English and Philosophy teacher. When I’m not writing I’m curling with a bunch of


other old guys (in the winter) or canoeing and fishing on the French River (in the summer). I play the banjo and guitar, and do weird paintings with mis-tinted house paint. (I’ll attach a couple of images if I can figure it out). A long time ago I was a member of Canada’s national rowing team. I coached rowing and wrestling for almost thirty years.

The first pieces of writing I had published were two personal essays in the Globe and mail. I’ve had a bunch of sci fi and horror stories published in cheesy anthologies and magazines but haven’t fooled a major market yet. I like all types of crime and mystery writing, but my absolute favorite style is the mock-noir, like Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon, Paul Tremblay’s The Little Sleep or Kinky Friedman’s Elvis, Jesus and Coca Cola.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Unpublished AE Shortlist Interview: Pamela Isfeld

 Canadian Crime Writing Awards of Excellence

 Best Unpublished finalist interview: Pamela Isfeld  

 

My guest today is Pamela Isfeld, two-time UAE shortlister. Is this going to be her year? Read on and decide for yourself if her manuscript would get your vote!

 Tell us something about yourself. What is your life like when you’re not writing?

 PI: I’m a career Foreign Service officer currently serving as President of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO). I’ve had assignments in Moscow, Nairobi, Sarajevo, Kabul, Kandahar, and Warsaw. When I’m not writing, I’m working to protect the interests of my membership in areas like salaries and working conditions, and to promote the value of Canada’s foreign service to the government, media, and the public. I’ m also the devoted servant of two fourteen-year old pugs, Lenny and Squiggy.

What previous writing experience do you have? What got you started writing crime?

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

A happy look back at my past, and other crime writers' future

The SHORTLISTS are OUT!!! 


Late April always heralds the finalist announcements for major crime fiction awards: the CWA Dagger Awards in the UK, the Edgars in the USA, the AE in Canada.

The Falls Mysteries got their published start with a win in the Best Unpublished Manuscript for WHEN THE FLOOD FALLS in 2016 (its prequel, WHEN THE BOW BREAKS, was a finalist for the CWA Debut Dagger a few years earlier). And years before that, my first full crime manuscript, a historical set in Prohibition era Moose Jaw, was also a finalist for the AE. 

So I have a special place in my heart for those who make the AE shortlist for their unpublished manuscripts. Over the coming days I'll have interviews with this year's Unpublished shortlisters. 

For now, let's congratulate all the finalists in all the categories.

The Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence
2022 SHORTLISTS

 

Best Crime Novel
sponsored by Rakuten Kobo, with a $1000 prize

Linwood Barclay, Find You First, William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Daniel Kalla, Lost Immunity, Simon & Schuster

Dietrich Kalteis, Under the Outlaw Moon, ECW Press

Shari Lapena, Not a Happy Family, Doubleday Canada

Roz Nay, The Hunted, Simon & Schuster

 

Best Crime First Novel
sponsored by Writers First, with a $500 prize

Ashley Audrain, The Push, Viking Canada

Fiona King Foster, The Captive, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Byron TD Smith, Windfall: A Henry Lysyk Mystery, Shima Kun Press

Katherine Walker, All Is Well, Thistledown Press

David Whitton, Seven Down, Rare Machines an imprint of Dundurn Press

 

The Whodunit Award for Best Traditional Mystery
sponsored by Jane Doe, with a $500 prize

Candas Jane Dorsey, What’s the Matter with Mary Jane?, ECW Press

Alice Bienia, Three Dog Knight, Cairn Press

Jackie Elliott, Hell's Half Acre, Joffe Books

Catherine Macdonald, So Many Windings, At Bay Press

Vicki Delany, Murder in a Teacup, Kensington Publishing Corp

 

The Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada
sponsored by The Engel Family, with a $500 prize

C. S. Porter, Beneath Her Skin, Vagrant Press / Nimbus Publishing Inc.

Cathy Ace, Corpse with an Iron Will, Four Tails Publishing Inc.

Alice Walsh, Death on Darby’s Island, Vagrant Press / Nimbus Publishing Inc.

Sam Wiebe, Hell and Gone, Harbour Publishing Co. Inc.

Kevin Major, Three for Trinity, Breakwater Books

 

Best Crime Novella
sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $200 prize

Marcelle Dubé, Identity Withheld, Falcon Ridge Publishing

Brenda Gayle, Murder in Abstract (A Charly Hall Mystery, book 6), Bowstring Books

Wayne Ng, Letters From Johnny, Guernica Editions

Elvie Simons, Not So Fast, Dr. Quick, Dell Magazines

 

Best Crime Short Story
sponsored by Mystery Magazine, with a $300 prize

Pam Barnsley, What can You Do?, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

Hilary Davidson, Weed Man, Dell Magazines

Elizabeth Elwood, Number 10 Marlborough Place, Dell Magazines

Charlotte Morganti, All My Darlings, Die Laughing: An Anthology of Humorous Mysteries

Melissa Yi, Dead Man's Hand, Dell Magazines

 

Best French Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Roxanne Bouchard, Le murmure des hakapiks, Libre Expression

Marc-André Chabot, Dis-moi qui doit vivre… Libre Expression

Guillaume Morrissette, Conduite dangereuse, Saint-Jean

Patrick Senécal, Flots, Editions Alire

Richard Ste-Marie, Stigmates, Editions Alire

 

Best Juvenile or YA Crime Book (Fiction and Nonfiction)
sponsored by Shaftesbury, with a $500 prize

Karen Bass, Blood Donor, Orca Book Publishers

Rachelle Delaney, Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster, Puffin Canada

Cherie Dimaline, Hunting By Stars, Penguin Teen

Kevin Sands, The Traitor's Blade, Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

Jordyn Taylor, Don't Breathe a Word, HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers)

 

The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book
sponsored by Simpson & Wellenreiter LLP, Hamilton, with a $300 prize

Sarah Berman, Don't Call it a Cult, Viking Canada

Aaron Chapman, Vancouver Vice: Crime and Spectacle in the City's West End, Arsenal Pulp Press

Catherine Fogarty, Murder on the Inside: The True Story of the Deadly Riot at Kingston Penitentiary, Biblioasis

Nate Hendley, The Beatle Bandit, Dundurn Press

Lorna Poplak, The Don: The Story of Toronto's Infamous Jail, Dundurn Press

 

The Award for Best Unpublished Manuscript 

sponsored by ECW Press, with a $500 prize

Delee Fromm, The Strength to Rise

Pam Isfeld, Captives

Renee Lehnen, Elmington

Katie Mac, Ken's Corner

Mark Thomas, Part Time Crazy