2017: So much to be thankful for

Ed Piwowarczyk reading at Sleuth of Baker Street.

2017 is on its way out, and I have much to be thankful for in the course of it. First of all, for  my wonderful husband Ed Piwowarczyk. His patience (with me) never ceases to astound. He’s the first reader of my writing, and he edits the finished product. We’ve been married for 23 years, although we met many years before that when we worked for Excalibur, the student newspaper at York University. We dated for a few months, but went our separate ways because I was too bull-headed to realize what a treasure he was. God and the Universe gave me a second chance years later.

Linda Cahill at Bouchercon 2017.

I’m also thankful for great friends, too numerous to list here. Several stand out, though: Linda Cahill, who I’ve known since our school days. And the generous, talented women in the Mesdames of Mayhem, my writers’ network. Kahlil Gibran says in The Prophet, “Your friend is your need answered…For you come to him with your hunger and you seek him for peace.”

The Mesdames went on to more successes in 2017: a booth of its own at Word on the Street in September, a table at Limestone Expo in Kingston in May, and many readings at libraries. The highlight, of course, was the publication of 13 Claws collection of stories by Carrick Publishing. It had a great launch at Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore in October. And it scored a great review from the Toronto Star‘s Jack Batten, including well-deserved mentions for Madeleine Harris-Callway and Catherine Dunphy. Ed edited the collection, and he and I both had stories in it.

Holding a copy of Passport to Murder at its book launch.

My personal highlight for 2017 was having my story, “The Queen-Size Bed,” included in Passport to Murder, the story collection complied for the Bouchercon 2017 crime writing convention that was held in Toronto in October. It was quite a thrill to see my writing in the same volume as stories by Janet Hutchings, editor of Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and Michael Bracken, recipient of a 2016 Derringer for lifetime achievement in short mystery fiction. “The Queen-Size Bed” is set in Cuba, my favourite winter vacation spot.

Speaking of vacations, Ed and I returned to Cuba in February where we took in the Legendarios del Guajirito show with artists from the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro-Cuban All Stars. Their music set the crowd on its feet.

We spent 10 days in Haliburton (God’s country!) in July, and revisited cherished landmarks such as the Haliburton Sculpture Forest and (the real) Raven Lake. In September/October, we visited Europe, specifically Budapest, Prague and Vienna. Bewitched by the strong Hapsburg women.

As with any year, there were passings to mourn in 2017. Thankfully, no one close to us, but several beloved celebrities whose work touched us. These include Canadian musician Gord Downie and, just two days ago, American mystery writer Sue Grafton.

Goodbye 2017. Much to look forward to next year.

At Word on the Street with author John W. Simpson.

 

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