Posted in books, Legwork Wednesday, life, writing

Legwork Wednesday for April 19th, 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.

Life: I was on vacation last week in the nation’s capital. I love Ottawa. It’s a beautiful city, lots of museums and points of interest, very walkable, and great restaurants and cafes for lounging. The trip was a combination anniversary gift to ourselves and much-needed break. Ottawa is just far enough by comfy train ride from Toronto to feel like you’re genuinely away while also being cost effective. We checked out the Alex Janvier exhibit at the National Gallery of Canada, Parliament, Rideau Hall, the Byward Market, Chinatown, and many other places. We ate poutine and strolled along the Rideau River. We even walked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his way in to work! I did a lot of reading, napping, relaxing, and…

Writing: This has been a rewarding couple of weeks. I completed and submitted a short piece to Paper Darts’ microfiction contest on the theme of cleanliness and a draft for the OBPO’s What’s Your Story? contest. One thing I’m really focusing on is plot: it’s great to have an image of X as a starting point, but that setting or character sketch isn’t often enough. I ask myself all the time now: “Why is this something someone would want to read? What is interesting here? What keeps someone from putting down a book or closing a tab?” From that focus on “but what happens, and why is that interesting?” I’m finding more depth to characterization. The OBPO story needs a lot of refinement, but at least it’s down on the page.

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Posted in Art Heist April, books

Art Heist April: The Goldfinch

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It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.

In 2013, the book world was abuzz with news that the new Donna Tartt was finally here. Tartt had previously written two highly acclaimed novels, The Secret History and The Little StrangerThe Goldfinch became an instant sensation and it deeply divided readers. Some people disliked it’s sprawlingness, its subplots, or its hefty length. I was on the other side, loving this book and falling completely into the world Tartt created. The Secret History is one of my favourite books, and The Goldfinch was a more than worthy successor.

The book begins with Theo Decker ill and alone in a hotel room in Europe, sweating out something major that has just happened. Is he going to be arrested? What criminal dealings is he mixed up in? We jump back in time to the young Theo, visiting the Metropolitan Museum with his mother. . . just before a bomb goes off. Dazed and in shock, Theo searches for his mother and instead finds a dying man who insists Theo take a painting by Fabritius, a student of Rembrandt’s. Before he knows it, he’s stumbled outside, painting rolled up in his bag.

Goldfinch

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Posted in Art Heist April, books

Art Heist April: Hot Art by Joshua Knelman

AHA banner KC updated

It’s Art Heist April on Kat’s Clues! Join me all month long to discover books, movies, and more, all featuring art heists.

Let’s kick off the month with a real-life account of how art thieves operate and move art all over the world. Hot Art: Chasing Thieves and Detectives through the Secret World of Stolen Art, by Joshua Knelman, is part-caper, part–true crime. The story begins when Knelman is approached by an art thief in Toronto who wants to tell his story about a small but lucrative gallery heist. From there, we dive into a global investigation of how the art-theft world works, following cops in Hollywood, lawyers specializing in art theft, Interpol agents, and known thieves.

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Posted in books, Legwork Wednesday, life, writing

Legwork Wednesday for March 29, 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’ve officially sent off my short story for the Alice Munro Short Story Competition! I’m really excited about this. It’s the first completed-and-sent story I’ve worked on since returning to fiction writing after a five-year hiatus. Now I’m doing some research for the Ontario Book Publishers Organization’s 2nd annual What’s Your Story? Short Prose and Poetry Competition for Emerging Writers (deadline: May 1st, 2017, 1300 to 1500 words). This is a neat one, as the story needs to set within one of four defined Toronto neighbourhoods. I have the germ of an idea and the faintest whiff of a main character, so I’ll be spending some time teasing out what kind of plot might come out of the germ.

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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 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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