This page is meant to be a diary of sorts where Rick hopes to give a bit of insight into the trials and tribulations of being an author with a book that's one of many thousands available when you walk into a bookstore looking for something to read. We won't even go into the number available on sites like Amazon! It's also increasingly turned into a place where, "I can record my thoughts -- at least the ones I want to share publicly -- if anyone's interested." If you'd like to look at the "ancient history", Rick's Blogs go all the way back to 2002 (and a bit from the website's beginning back in late '01), and if that isn't enough, there's also the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Blogs. So go ahead, knock yourself out! If there's anything you feel the overwhelming urge to comment on, click HERE and send Rick an email.

Entries on this Blog are stored with the most recent at the top.

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June 18, 2006: Cemetery didn't win the Arthur Ellis award on June 8th, but I really didn't expect it to, considering the competition it was up against. Having made it my business to read all the other books nominated, I felt as I finished the last, April Fool by William Deverell, that it had to be the winner. It is terrific read and Deverell's writing style is assured, very lean and quite funny. I heartily recommend this book! And it turned out I was correct: it did win the Arthur. Sadly, Bill couldn't be there and he was much missed because I'm sure his acceptance speech would have been very witty and heartfelt. The big problem was that his publisher (and my old one) decided that they wouldn't pay for his plane ticket and Bill (quite rightly) said that he felt this was their responsibility. In retrospect, I'm sure that they feel rather stupid. They certainly looked that way.

Was I let down? Not really (and I'm not just saying that). To be nominated is an honour, especially when 52 other books didn't make the cut -- and many of them are VERY good. If my writing is good enough, I'll get nominated again and maybe even win. The nomination has done something, though: an American publisher is interested in a co-publishing deal, and a couple of good agents have contacted me. Since I parted ways with my previous agent, this is a nice development that may lead to something very good.

I'm about to get the substantive edit to Hell back from my editor and I've put aside a week to deal with it. There are still several bits of tweaking that I want to do and I know that they'll suggest a number of changes, so it's going to be a very busy week. It's lucky that I really enjoy the editing process. I guess that's the musician in me coming out. We always like to tweak.

The bookmark for Hell turned out great, and as soon as we can, we'll get it up on the website. If you'd like one, drop me a line (click HERE) and I'll throw a few in an envelope for you.

May 14, 2006: Well I'm getting close to a month into being an Arthur Ellis nominee. Something awkward that's come out of all this is that I'm also currently the president of Crime Writers of Canada. That has absolutely NOTHING to do with being nominated in that the AE judging is kept very separate from everything. But even so, there have been grumblings about this. It makes me very unhappy that anyone could think this. First of all let me state categorically that if I thought if I'd gotten any sort of favourable treatment, I would pull my book from the list of nominees and resign from the organization. The first thing that I'd have to say to anyone who feels some unfair advantage has been taken must also say that they've read my book! Cemetery of the Nameless is certainly not the best crime fiction ever written, but the reviews have been unanimous that it is a very good book. I am certainly not ashamed of anything about it. Still, hearing this sort of thing is rather depressing.

The bookmark for When Hell Freezes Over has been completed and sent to the printer. I think it turned out very well and will be an effective advertising vehidle for the book. Now I can get back to a spot of editing on the book so the bookmark has something good to slip inside of next fall...

Happy Mother's Day, Mom, wherever you are. You're sorely missed!

April 26, 2006: Monday night I attended the Arthur Ellis Shortlist Release party thrown by Crime Writers of Canada. The Arthurs are the Canadian version of the Edgars (Mystery Writers of America) or the Daggers handed out by Crime Writers Association in the UK. It's a big deal to be shortlisted and especially so this year since 57 books were submitted. When the nominees for Best Novel (2005) were announced at the end, I was absolutely floored when the first book was Cemetery of the Nameless. I don't remember too much for the next few minutes after that because I was really out of it. I stood there thinking, "I'm on the same list as Peter Robinson? Giles Blunt? William Deverell? They've all won Arthurs in the past, especially Peter who has a whole shelf of them. They are also some of my favourite authors, writers I look up to, and the jury actually felt my novel was on a par with theirs? Holy shit! The other author on the list is Alex Brett, an Ottawa writer whose Cold Dark Matter was one of my favourite reads last year. She's a rising star on the Canadian crime writing scene. They actually think my book is on a par with all of the above books?

Those were the thoughts going through my little pea brain. When it had finally sunk in hours later, I had an extra wide smile because Cemetery was the book my previous publisher, McClelland & Stewart, decided that they really didn't want after all, and let me go with a pat on the head after keeping me waiting for the contract for 4 months. I feel especially good for my current publisher, Sylvia McConnell of RendezVous, because she stepped right up to the plate during what I have to say was a pretty dark day for me. Thanks again, Sylvia!

Will Cemetery win? That would be really wonderful, but at this point I feel like I've already got more than I ever thought I would. It's such an honour to be on a shortlist with the 4 other very fine authors.

April 16, 2006: It's a terrific day here in Toronto. Why? Because it's Easter? No! Because we finally have a cover for the new novel! Check out the page for When Hell Freezes Over to see it.

This cover again features the photographic wizardry of my good buddy and ace photographer, Andre Leduc. It's been a very long road to get to this point, but Andre once again came through. What is really interesting about this photograph is that we have no idea where the blue reflections on the cobblestones came from. There were no blue lights anywhere near the place where we the photo was shot and the white point of the exposure was in a completely different place to expect blue highlights. It's a mystery, but that bit of blue is what really makes the photo as far as I'm concerned. The title is the scanned handwriting of my son Jan. The idea here was to mirror something the main character might have written himself: vigorous, a bit angry and something very memorable and different. I think what Jan produced mirrors this perfectly. As for the image on the 8x10 in the foreground, you're going to have to wait a bit longer to find out about that -- and it is a very interesting story in itself.

So I'm happy. This cover will look good faced on a bookstore's shelves and be very distinguishable from quite far away. Whether it will actually help the book sell better is a question which will have to wait until this fall to be answered. Hope you like it.

Cool Stuff: Here's a link to a site with a collection quite good clips, and the one that comes up is especially funny if you're not a cat person:

April 4, 2006: Opening day of the Toronto Blue Jays new season!

I'm listening to it on the radio while I write this. I've always preferred radio to TV for enjoying baseball -- other than being at the game. This year, though, it's a bit bittersweet because the Jays' longtime announced Tom Cheek is not in the booth with his partner Jerry Howarth. Tom passed away at the end of last season and that's left a pretty big hole for me -- not that Jerry's bad or anything! For me (and many others) Tom was the voice of the Jays. He was there for that first game, the two World Series wins, the good days and the bad, and he always handled everything with grace and aplomb.

Tonight is also special because we're going to put up our newly redesigned website. It maintains (for the moment, at least) the same header, but the colour scheme has been freshened up, the typography changed (which should make everything more readable, among other things), and we have a very cool, new navigation bar. And this is just the beginning! They're after me to hurry up with photos, more copy and more ideas on how to improve the site. Hope you enjoy looking around!

I'm in the middle of designing the cover of the next novel, When Hell Freezes Over. As if writing the novel wasn't difficult enough, now the cover design isn't behaving. My first design was shot down by everyone, and after hearing their comments, I had to agree with them. It was not good enough. Back to the drawing board...

So now I have a new concept which involves another photo. Getting that done is proving to be a bugger. Time is running out and I'm really biting my nails here. Cemetery of the Nameless proved to me how critical it is to have the best cover possible. I know of many situations where folks bought the book just because of its intriguing cover design. It was very often faced on bookstore shelves, further indication of its appeal. I can't allow this cover to be any different. I'm also very grateful that my publisher gives me this opportunity since very, very few authors have more than a cursory look at their book's cover before it hits the stores, and as for being able to give it a thumbs up or down, forget about it!. Of course, if this cover turns out to be a dog, I have no one to blame but myself!

Cool Stuff: A very funny commercial from Australia (judging by the accent) called "How Men Screw Up Romance". Enjoy. (Thanks to Andrew Newmark for this one!)

March 17, 2006: Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Well here we are three months into a new year and I'm making my first entry. Pretty sad. I haven't been spending my time doing nothing, dear reader. I've managed to finish a novel, design its cover (and wasn't that a long job!), rejig this entire website, and that's on top of all the other things I have to do on a daily basis. (I know. You're not the slightest bit sorry for me -- and you shouldn't be. I choose to take all of this on. Now, there are times that I wonder if I'm nuts or something. I would be very nice to bugger off and do nothing at all. I maybe read a dozen books a year, whereas I used to read 4 or 5 books a week back in the day! That bothers me, I have to admit.

Tomorrow we're going to shot the cover for the new book. Once again, my very good buddy, Andre Leduc, will be behind the lens doing what he does best. The shot will involve a huge keyboard rig and that's courtesy of Coll Audio owned by the redoubtable Craig Collett who is also going to stand in for my main character. This is the most involved shot we've ever done for a book cover (although the shot with Wilbur the Newfoundland for Shooting Straight in the Dark was quite a production due to the fact we were out on a street in downtown Toronto and Wilbur is high-spirited to say the least). I think When Hell Freezes Over is going to have my best cover yet. It will be posted once it's finalized.

Cool Stuff: This is a new idea for the site. I get a lot of very interesting emails, quirky things that might be fun to share. This first one was sent by Graeme Drinkwalter who is in the trumpet section of the Advocats with me (a good player, too!). Check this juggler (Chris Bliss) out. He's one of the best I've ever seen and I cannot imagine the hours he spent practising this. Call this video "Juggling to the Beatles". (You'll need a high-speed connection to view it.)

I'm going to cut this off here because I have more of the website to do so that I can put it up for you to look at. It's been almost 5 years since I started this website and I should probably do something to mark that occasion this coming August. Any suggestions?

And I PROMISE that I'll be a better correspondent from here on in!

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