Posted in detectives, life, mysteries

Playing detective: Sherlock Holmes, the board game

Think you’re good at solving puzzles? Always figure out who the murderer is in the book you’re reading before the sleuth does? Then this game is for you.

In the board game Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you and your fellow players are part of the Baker Street Irregulars. At the beginning of each case, Holmes briefs you about the situation: the crime, the location, any other information he might know. Then he goes off to solve the case and leaves you to try to do the same. The goal is to see if you can solve it as fast or even faster than Holmes does.

The game is cooperative, which means you’re working with your fellow players to figure out the culprit, their motive, and answers to other case-related questions (the murder weapon, say, or where the stolen object was stashed). The game comes with ten cases, a detailed map of Victorian London, a newspaper for the day the case occurs full of news stories, personal and social notices, and advertisements, and a directory, where you can look up pretty much any person, place, or service you might need to visit to solve the case.

Obviously the brie and crackers are integral components of solving the crime.

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Posted in books, Legwork Wednesday, life, writing

Legwork Wednesday for March 22, 2017

Legwork Wednesday is a weekly writing/reading/general life update. By recounting my week’s activities, I can chart my progress, update any of you who might be interested, and keep myself accountable. You’ve got to do a lot of legwork to solve the puzzle and reach your goal.

General writing: I finished a short story draft for the Alice Munro Short Story Competition. I’d been having some trouble with it because I could see where it started and why, but not how it ended. I spent some time thinking about GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. That really helped me think about what was going on. I knew my character’s goal, but I hadn’t worked out the motivation or conflict. Thinking about those brought the other main character to life and fundamentally changed the thrust of the story, turning it from something sort of meditative to something sort of weird. The weird is okay with me! I’m planning to edit, get some feedback, and polish over the next couple of days, and maybe even send it in early for that April 1st deadline.

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Posted in life, writing

Finding a lump. Finding perspective.

I’ll start this post with a spoiler: everything’s fine.

Four weeks ago I found a lump in my left breast. I sort of willfully ignored/explained it away. PMS, sometimes things feel a bit funny, probably nothing to worry about. I didn’t want to deal with it, but it hummed away in the back of my mind. I was always aware of it.

After ten or so days, it was definitely still there, a tangible something. My partner felt it and gently suggested I get it checked out. I admit, I had an ostrich response: stick head in sand, pretend nothing is wrong, maybe it’ll go away.

But I made the appointment. I didn’t have any luck with cancellations, so it was another week and a half’s wait. Then an ultrasound and a wait for the results. I’m so relieved and happy to say that it’s turned out to be a benign fibroadenoma. Fibroadenomas are cysts 10-15% of women in North America have. We’ll keep an eye on it with checkups every six or twelve months, just to be sure, but my doctor was very clear that this is nothing to worry about.

Super great news. A little creepy to know there’s just this weird, quarter-sized mass of differentiated cells in there that didn’t used to be there. But it’s not cancer.

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Posted in books, detectives, mysteries, sci-fi

The genre-benders: Three sci-fi detective tales


Mystery books are often divided between contemporary or historical, hard-boiled or cozy. Is it a police procedural, a PI, or an amateur sleuth tale?

But murder and mayhem aren’t confined to a single genre. Even classic sci-fi writers like Isaac Asimov have written whodunnits. Here are three excellent books or series in sci-fi settings that give their protagonists a seriously twisty and thrilling mystery to solve.

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Posted in books, Legwork Wednesday, life, writing

Legwork Wednesday: a weekly reading and writing roundup

Starting this blog is part of a healthy writing habit I’m cultivating. By recounting my week’s activities, I’ll give myself a way to chart my progress, update any of you who might be interested, and keep myself accountable! I’ll cover my general writing, my novel, what I’m reading, any mystery-related news, and what else I’m working on.

Why Legwork Wednesday? Because like the great detectives, you’ve got to do a lot of legwork to solve the puzzle and reach your goal.


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Posted in books, detectives, mysteries

Three Favourite Literary Detectives (Who Aren’t Holmes or Poirot)

For many readers, the detective makes or breaks the mystery. As important as the case is, if we’re not invested in the sleuth, it doesn’t matter how innovative the clues or how gruesome the murder. I watched Castle because I loved watching Nathan Fillion’s facial expressions and the awesome chemistry between him and Stana Katic, not because I was particularly worried about the murder of the week.

Great mysteries happen when you have great characters figuring out the inventive solutions to puzzling crimes. Our classic usual suspects, Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, and their ilk, deserve the homage paid to them. But here are some modern sleuths (written about in the past decade, though appearing  in various historical settings) who make me race to bookstore for their latest outings.

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Posted in life, writing

Getting started

I’ve been writing in various capacities for a long time, and working with other writers for the past decade as an editor. I used to harbour dreams of writing and publishing a novel, but somehow those got lost in the general hubbub of life. Moving to a new town, pursuing a career, classes after work, setting up house, time with friends, freelance work after my in-house job….somehow in all of that, I convinced myself that my role was as amanuensis for other writers and let my own writing aspirations go.

But somehow even though I had decided I probably wasn’t a writer, I was still writing all the time for work. Blog posts, book reviews, newsletters, back cover copy, handouts for workshops on writing (irony), even children’s books and short stories (under a different pseudonym).

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