Sunday, 3 June 2012

Book Signing Appearance on June 2, 2012

Yesterday I was pleased to be able to appear at Chapters Kanata in Ottawa to sign copies of Marcie's Murder, the second Donaghue and Stainer Crime Novel, which was published in April. The weather was not very good outside, and so there was a steady stream of customers in the store in the afternoon. I had a great opportunity to chat with many people, some interested in crime fiction and some not so much. One visitor in particular has her own little story, which I'll tell you about at the bottom of this post.

I was very pleased to have a chance to chat with Iona McKay, a former Canada Customs colleague of mine, with whom I'm pictured, above. Among other things, we talked about my trip to Scotland. Iona's mother is from the Isle of Skye, and she reminisced about visiting her grandparents for many years in the summertime. She convinced me that when I return to Scotland, which I will, I'll have to start with a tour of Skye. I have a funny feeling that my connection to Scotland, which began last month with my fabulous week at The Glenrothes distillery in Rothes, will be one that lasts the rest of my life. How fortunate I am!

Thanks to Margaret Leroux and Peter Fox for coming with Iona as well. Very much appreciated, as you know.

I was also very happy yesterday to have an opportunity to re-connect with Anie Pulsifer, another former colleague from Canada Customs. Anie was a manuscript reader for Blood Passage and has agreed to serve in the same capacity for The Fregoli Delusion, which should be ready for dissection in September. Thanks for stopping by, Anie!

Now for my little story. During these signing appearances, rather than sit in my chair for the afternoon looking like a ticket clerk in a bus station, I prefer to stand up and walk around a little bit, handing out my bookmarks and chatting with people. At one point a woman came in with two young girls, accepted a bookmark from me and looked at it with some interest as they walked away. Some time later the older of the girls, perhaps twelve or fourteen years old, marched up to me and asked me if I was the author. I admitted that it was so. She told me she also wanted to be a writer and asked if I had any advice for her.

Moments such as this are rare and precious, indeed. I asked her what she liked to write, and she told me she wrote fiction, so I told her to practice being a storyteller. When you're talking to people and telling them about something, think about it as a story. Hook their interest and have a good finish, like a punch line. Be a storyteller. In addition, write every day. Writing requires practice, and I urged her to write something, no matter what it is, every day. Look for feedback from other people, pay attention to what gets a response from them. And don't quit. No matter what, keep writing.

Like most of us, I thought of a hundred other things afterwards I could have told her as well. Be conscious of spelling, grammar and punctuation, never be afraid to look up words in the dictionary just to be sure, even though you think you know what they mean or how to spell them. Try different styles, experiment with different forms. Once you get a writer started, it's hard to shut them up. But she seemed satisfied with what I'd thought of on the spur of the moment, and when her mother appeared, to tell me about having found Blood Passage and Marcie's Murder in the Chapters/Indigo system online for the Kobo, she listened with great interest.

I realized after they left that I didn't know the young lady's name. What kind of detective would I be, right? But privacy is an important commodity these days and I don't like to ask someone's name just to satisfy my own curiosity. The point is that she knows how to find me, thanks to the bookmark in her mother's hand. Young lady, you can always find me here, at The Overnight Bestseller, or at my website at or on Twitter at @MichaelJMcCann1, and I'll always have you at the back of my mind as I'm writing about the creative process and my experiences as an author. I hope you can take something from my jottings and apply it in your own budding career. I wish you all the best.

Before signing off for now, I should remind everyone that next Saturday, June 9, I'll be at the Collected Works bookstore in Ottawa, 1242 Wellington St. W., between 2:00 and 4:00 pm to sign copies of Marcie's Murder. I'd love to have a few more conversations like the ones I just described to you. Come on out!

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