Thursday, April 28, 2011

Arthur Ellis Awards Short List Announced

The Crime Writer's of Canada have announced the short list for this year's prestigious Arthur Ellis Awards for best crime fiction, and non-fiction, published in 2010. Indigo book store at Bay and Bloor streets in Toronto hosted the event tonight with a panel of Canadian writers that included Rosemary Aubert, Linwood Barclay, Rick Blechta, Maureen Jennings, Susanna Kearsley, Dorothy McIntosh, Brent Pilkey, Howard Shrier, and Eric Wright.

Here are the nominees for this years Arthur Ellis Awards:

Best Crime Novel:
Michael Van Rooy - A Criminal to Remember
Louise Penny - Bury Your Dead
Mike Knowles - In Plain Sight
C.B Forrest - Slow Recoil
Jeffrey Moore - The Extinction Club

Best First Crime Novel:
Hilary Davidson - The Damage Done
Avner Mandleman - The Debba
Michael McKinley - The Penalty Killing
Nicholas Ruddock - The Parabolist
Chevy Stevens - Still Missing

Best French Crime Novel:
Jacques Savoie - Cinq secondes
Jacques Côté - Dans le quartier des agités
Michel Châteauneuf - La société des pères meurtriers
Bernard Gilbert - Quand la mort s’invite à la première
Johanne Seymour - Vanités

Best YA Crime Novel:
Allan Stratton - Borderline
Sharee Fitch - Pluto’s Ghost
Yvonne Prinz - The Vinyl Princess
Alice Kuipers - Lost For Words
Norah McClintock - Victim Rights

Best Crime Short Story:
Jas R. Petrin - “In it Up to My Neck” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Mary Jane Maffini - “So Much in Common” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Jordan McPeek - “The Big Touch” Thuglit Magazine
James Powell - “The Piper’s Door” Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
William Deverall - “The Bust” Whodunnit, Sun Media’s Canadian Crime Fiction Showcase

The Unhanged Arthur category for Unpublished Novel:
John Jeneroux - Better Off Dead
Kevin Thorton - Uncoiled
Jayne Barnard - When the Bow Breaks

Best Crime Non-Fiction:
Roy MacGregor - Northern Light
Stevie Cameron - On the Farm
Robert Wright - Our Man in Tehran

Congratulations to all the nominees! The winners will be announced at the Bloody Words Convention June 2nd, held this year in Victoria B.C. For more information visit the Crime Writer's of Canada Website:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge

Another fabulous flash fiction challenge by Chuck Wendig: Five Random Words. Here's the deal. Write a story in 1000 words or less containing the following random words: figure, dusk, flirt, mobile phone, wig.

I Guess You Were Wrong

It was dusk when Karl saw her figure emerge from the alleyway and lurch into the streetlights. She was talking on her mobile, walking in that exaggerated flirty strut she had developed. In spite of the obvious wig of long dark curls, he knew it was her. Josie. That fucking bitch. He knew he’d find her down here on low track. Was she actually hawking her pussy for small change, or a piece of rock? Certainly looked that way. Fucking bitch.

This was it. This was the last time he was coming down here and subjecting himself to this torture. He’d made up his mind. Decided what he would do if she rejected him again. This was going to be her last chance.

Karl swung his SUV around as soon as the traffic had eased enough to allow him to do a U-turn without killing anyone. He slowed down and crawled along side the curb where she stood in a tight zebra print dress and black leather fuck-me boots, under the streetlight. How cliché, he thought.

Karl lowered the window, pulled up close to her and stopped. He waited for her to peer inside and see his face. A look of surprise and then annoyance passed over her features, thick with makeup, her puffy lips a shocking red.

“Get in,” he said.

“Karl, what the hell are you doing here?” She rolled her eyes and scowled. She closed her phone and leaned her bare arms on the window frame, looking tired.

“Get in,” he repeated.

“I’m working Karl. You can’t just keep coming down here and doing this, you know?”

He tried to smile, make his eyes sad, play on her emotions. “I need you to come home.”

“Jesus Christ. What’s wrong with you?” She flipped the fake hair back from her shoulders and her eyes scanned the street. She had glitter on her cheeks.

“Didn’t I make it clear to you last time?” she said, wagging her phone at him like a chastising school teacher. “Didn’t I tell you it was over. I’m done with this shit, Karl. I told you. I don’t need this in my life.”

“Okay, okay,” he raised a hand. “I’ve got cash. What do you want? Let me buy some time.”

“Fuck sakes what is wrong with you? I don't need your money. Have you been drinking, Karl?”

He listened to her moan and complain to herself as she shuffled back and forth on the sidewalk in front of the passenger door. Yet she didn’t walk away.

“We need to talk. It’s about Dolly.” He knew he’d said the right thing as he caught the anxious flash in her eyes. She exhaled as if it was such effort and opened the door, slide onto the seat.

The scent of vanilla and stale tobacco wafted off her. She stared straight ahead, sat uneasily in the seat. Didn’t look at him as she took out her cell phone from her purse and hit a button.

“Yeah, I’m gonna’ take, it’s problem,” she said in a thick voice and then shut the phone.

“You got a place we can go?” he asked feeling a lump in his throat.

“Parking lot up the road.”

“I want you to come home, Josie,” he said trying to keep his voice calm.

“We’ve been down this road too many times.”

Karl pulled into the parking lot, parked in a spot in the shadows and killed the engine.


Josie lay on the cold asphalt, gazing up at the trees against the night sky. A cold breeze swept across her bare thighs. The temperature had taken a sudden drop. She could smell the rain that was just beginning to come down; big splats that struck her arms and face. The kind of rain that would pelt hard and fast in a matter of seconds. She could hear the rumble of thunder overhead. Then the sound of an engine starting.

She managed to turn her head in time to see the sleeping face of her little girl in the back seat. Dolly. She was wearing a plastic princess crown caught in a net of blonde curls, a soother plugged into her mouth. Josie tried to call out, to scream, but no sound emerged from her throat. The SUV pulled out, leaving her lying in the parking lot, blood gushing from her stomach and chest.

She had to do something. She had to get help. Her phone! She could call for help. Where was her cell phone? It was in her purse. Where was her purse? Pain tore through her gut as she reached beside her for her purse. Finally her fingers found the cell phone inside.

She could feel herself fading, her consciousness ebbing away. Her fingers tried to make out the numbers in the dark as she lay with her eyes closed, concentrating on taking slow, steady breaths. The welcoming sound of a her partner came on the line. She felt suddenly warm and peaceful. It was like floating, floating away on a tide where nothing mattered. She felt herself slipping away and she didn’t fight it. She was tired of fighting, of striving, of always pushing. She was tired of the consent struggle, the dull, heaviness of her body in this world.

“Officer down. Officer...down...” Josie closed her eyes as the rain crashed into her.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books: Jana by David Veronese

Publisher: Serpent's Tail, 1993

Jana (A Tale of Decadence) is indeed just that, decadent. Eddie Verlaine is a young American male hanging out in Amterdam when he meets Jana, a mysterious feme-fatale character that he becomes completely captivated by. So much so that when she asks him for a large sum of money, he gives it to her without hesitation. When Jana introduces him to her friends, he's soon involved with drug smuggling.

Eddie is a bit of a reckless character, somewhat aimless, and continually puts himself in harms way. He doesn't seem to have any idea what he's doing or why. I don't know that I like such a hapless main character. Mostly I found myself angry with his stupidity. But the other eclectic cast of characters are compelling and memorable. I loved Veronese's descriptive prose. Jana is a wonderfully audacious novel unlike anything I can think to compare it to.

Visit Patti Abbott's blog for more Friday's Forgotten Books:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Let The Shadows Fall Behind You

Let The Shadows Fall Behind You
By Kathy-Diane Leveille
iUniverse 2009
Reviewed by Julia Madeleine (originally published in The Streetsville Village Times, Evening Out Magazine, & Port Credit Village Times - April, 2011)

Brannagh Maloney is working in Northern Ontario with a crew of wilderness preservationists tracking birds, when her boyfriend Nikki goes missing. Heartbroken over his disappearance, Brannagh travels back to her childhood home in Saint John’s, New Brunswick, where she reconnects with her girlhood friends. There she begins to unravel a bigger mystery from her past: the murder of her mother and her best friend’s little brother.

Let The Shadows Fall Behind You is an interesting and complex exploration of loss and childhood trauma. The story of Nikki and Brannagh’s relationship runs parallel through the story, and the past is interwoven with the present search for the truth about Brannagh’s family. I did find the blur in the temporal lines a bit distracting, even jarring at times as there didn’t seem to be any distinct transition. In spite of this, the novel is worth the read. Kathy-Diane Leveille writes with a hypnotic eloquence this is entirely captivating.

The Midwife Of Venice by Roberta Rich

The Midwife Of Venice by Roberta Rich
Doubleday Canada, 2011
Reviewed by Julia Madeleine (originally published in The Streetsville Village Times, Evening Out Magazine, & Port Credit Village Times - April, 2011)

Had I seen this book on a shelf in Chapters my eyes would certainly have drifted over it, I wouldn’t have even given it a second glance. Historical fiction isn’t something I’ve ever sought out. The title especially wouldn’t have interested me. But I have to say, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read The Midwife Of Venice.

The novel is set in 16th century Venice where the main character, Hannah Levi, is a midwife living in the Jewish ghetto. Her husband is a merchant who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery in Malta. One night a Christian Count comes to Hannah desperate for her to assist his wife who is in a difficult labour. But a Jewish woman helping deliver a Christian baby is against the law and not only would it put her entire community at risk, it’s a crime punishable by torture and death. But with a large sum of money offered to her for her efforts, enough to buy her husband’s freedom, Hannah decides to risk everything for the man she loves.

The Midwife Of Venice, is more than just a slice of life novel from the past, it’s a fast-paced suspense story that’s not only beautifully written, but a genuine page-turner.
Roberta Rich has created a fierce heroine in Hannah Levi, whose character leaps off the page. The descriptions of life in the 16th century are so vivid and rich in detail I found myself getting lost in the landscape depicted before me. The brutality of that time period, and the sensation of life and death always hanging in the balance throughout the story is compelling. The only thing about this book that I found disappointing was the fact that it wasn’t twice as long, because it certainly felt epic. Highly recommended.

visit Roberta's Website to learn more:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jeff Bennington's New Thriller REUNION

Thriller writer Jeff Bennington's new novel REUNION is coming out officially on April 15th and it promises to be quite the spine-chilling suspense. Jeff has stopped by today on his blog tour to tell us about his book and the inspiration behind it. Also, some lucky people are going to win a Kindle! Jeff is going to tell us all about it. First I'd like to give a big welcome to Jeff and let him know how honoured I am to have him here as a guest. Jeff, I wish you a ton of success with your new book and let me just say...that book cover rocks!

Hi Julia and fans of Julia. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you through Twitter and Facebook. Your followers should know how cool you are so I just want to say…”Julia is a cool writer! You should follow her, read her books and her blog…always.” Thank you. I feel better. Now before I start, I want to remind everyone that I’m giving away 2 FREE Kindles on May 15th – one will go to one lucky REUNION Blog Tour follower and one will go to a REUNION Blog Tour host. For details about the book, the Kindle giveaway rules, blog tour dates, and blog topics, go to

Why Write Fiction About a School Shooting?

Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, wrote his investigative, non-fiction book to find out why the killers did what they did, and to find out what happened to the survivors. I think he accomplished his goals and has enjoyed a fair amount of success. Dave’s motives for writing his book are very similar to the reasons I wrote REUNION, a fictional, supernatural thriller.
For me, the driving force behind REUNION was that I too wanted to discover what would cause someone to kill his classmates – not just at Columbine, but I wanted to discover what his or her life would be like. I wanted to dive into the dark, depraved mind of a distressed youth and swim around with my feet feeling the slimy bottom of his brain. I wanted to know what he thought the morning he walked in and started shooting. I wanted, on the edge of needing, to know about his demons and what kept him awake at night.

I also wanted to know what the victims’ lives looked like twenty years later when the memories settled and they had families of their own. I wondered how extensive the changes in their lives would be. Would they live buried in resentment, in a victim mentality, or would they become better, spreading a message of hope to a world in need of answers. To clear my mind, I needed to answer those questions or forever feel them scratching and clawing at my mind. I didn’t like the sound of that.

A third reason I wrote REUNION in a fictional format is because I wanted to address the supernatural, the spiritual, the unearthly side of school shootings. Just look into the eyes of one of the killers on television and you’ll see hateful, broken, angry eyes. When I see that, I see spiritual anguish. I see pent up frustration. I see a person closed off to humanity, absolutely controlled by his inner demons…and that, in my opinion, can only be investigated through speculation, and a wacked out imagination.

Enter… Jeff Bennington, the author meant to write this horrifically hopeful novel.

So off I went into the shadowy recesses of my creative nook, and formed David Ray from the clay of my fears; disturbed, bullied, abused, neglected, all real scenarios in this day and age, and put him into a place where he felt cornered with no way out, with no other option but to end his life and those who have tortured him. I wanted his character to be as dark and pathetic and sad and angry as possible, so I threw him into a spiritual battle, one that plays out in his mind and one that’s directly connected to a supernatural source.

Later, as in twenty years later, the dark spirits return. When I first constructed the basic plot elements for REUNION, I knew that something had to join the group – something mean, something ugly, and something absolutely detestable. I know it sounds sick, and to some degree it probably is, but I wanted to put the survivors to the ultimate test: not just one school shooting, but yet another attempted massacre. I wanted to find out if they could beat their fears and find closure through revisiting the past in the worst of circumstances.
But that wasn’t enough. No. I had run them through the fire, to cleanse them of their fears, because as life returned to normal, I found them living sad, burdened lives. Like any conflict, we can learn and grow, or give up and sink into the ocean of a faithless, hopeless existence. I wanted something better for them. And my guess is, you will too.

Thanks for reading. Be sure to “follow” Julia’s Blog, reading and commenting regularly, and then go to to learn more about the book and the tour. And most importantly, be sure to show your support by purchasing REUNION on April 15th so it can shoot up the rankings through buying en masse. Peace.

Find Jeff and REUNION here:

Also check out REUNION book trailer: