Cakes and Killers at Rahier Patisserie

A Mystery Tea in two weeks, Feb. 20! Tickets include tea, coffee, Rahier Patisserie’s delicious desserts, and crime fiction tidbits from Madeleine Harris-Callway, Lisa de Nikolits and myself. And a few copies of our books as prizes.

Not a bad way to keep warm and cozy on a winter afternoon in Toronto.

Isn’t Lisa’s poster, below, delectable enough to eat?

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Start Writing Your Novel

The first class of my new novel course, Novel Writing I: How to Start Writing Your Novel, was held last night at George Brown College.

Novel Writing I is a change for me. I usually teach Novel Writing II, a more advanced level, but I’m filling in for instructor Rob Brunet this semester. Every Tuesday evening until the end of March, 6:30-9:30 p.m., at George Brown’s St. James Campus, 200 King Street East, Toronto.

The current class is a small one, which will give us plenty of opportunity to critique writers’ works-in-progress over the next 11 weeks. Students should be well into their novels by the end of the course, and ready to hit the ground running in Novel II.

The first class has come and gone, but it’s not too late to register. You can sign up online here. You’ll see that Rob Brunet is listed as the instructor, but pay that no mind. I’ll be manning the ship through March 26.

And check out Novel Writing II, which runs Tuesdays April 9 through June 25.



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A Very Merry Christmas!

“I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight, ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!'”

— Clement Clarke Moore

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Interview on Dead to Writes today!

Interviewed by Donna Carrick of Carrick Publishing on Dead to Writes today!

And Donna reads from my story “Antonia” in World Enough and Crime.

Thank you, Donna!

Download the podcast by following this link.

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‘Anger is a powerful inspiration’: author Bill Prentice

Bill Prentice

I’m pleased to have Bill Prentice with me today on Moving Target. Bill is a Toronto-based writer who specializes in international trade, investment marketing and economic development. He’s also a crime fiction writer. His debut novel, Why Was Rachel Murdered?, has just been released.

Q. Why Was Rachel Murdered? is a thriller that throws former RCMP financial crimes specialist Neil Walker into a web of Ponzi schemes, backroom politics and corruption stretching from Toronto and New York to earthquake-shattered Haiti. Bill, why do you write financial thrillers and what does the sub-genre mean to you?

A. Of the seven deadly sins, I think greed poses the most dangerous threat to our society.

The 2008 global financial meltdown devastated the savings and dreams of millions of people worldwide. As I watched the investigations unfold, I was struck by both the heedless greed of the handful of fat cats who were responsible for the debacle, and the aura of entitlement around them as they climbed in and out of their limos. Their greed was criminal yet nobody went to jail. They were Teflon-coated, and they knew it. Many of the same players are still running things today. It makes me mad. And, for a writer, anger is a powerful inspiration.

Why was Rachel Murdered? throws a harsh spotlight on that ugly reality. From the reader feedback I’ve received, it also succeeds as a fast-paced thriller.

Q. What research did you do for the novel? It’s fiction so can’t you just make it all up?

A. Money-laundering has become a global scourge, so there is a wealth of credible information available online. What became clear during my research was that the hands of Canadian bankers and politicians are not as clean as one would hope. Statistics Canada reports that, from 2000 to 2016, there were only 316 convictions for money-laundering in Canada. By contrast, in the UK during 2017 alone there were 1,435 convictions. That disparity demonstrates the reluctance of Canadian politicians to write and enforce effective anti-money-laundering laws.

Why was Rachel Murdered? plays out partially in the political realm. Several readers have commented on how authentic it feels. Research for that came not from online sources but from life experiences. During my 30+ years as a freelance writer, I often worked in the fields of international investment marketing and public policy. I have helped craft trade policy documents and participated in the closed-door briefings of cabinet ministers – the good, the bad and the stupid.

Q. Let’s talk about the writing process. Do you have a plot nailed down before you start writing?

A. If the writing world is divided between plotters and pantsers, I definitely fall in with the plotters. I work out key events in the overall story arc and sketch the main characters before I begin a first draft. I’m also a big believer in getting the structure right, probably because I started my writing career in television scriptwriting where structure is God.

Q. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

A. BIC-HOK – bum-in-chair, hands-on-keyboard. There is no substitute. It’s often frustrating, sometimes painful and occasionally intensely rewarding but you can’t beat it as the route to better writing. It’s also the only way to get the book finished, so you can start the next one.

Q. You were a finalist for Crime Writers of Canada’s Best Unpublished First Crime Novel award in 2015. Did being a finalist help your writing career?

A. Being nominated for that award was transformative. It was a huge validation. Even though I had made my living for several decades as a writer, Afghan Silk was the first novel I had written and shown to anyone outside my family. The fact that other crime writers thought it had merit gave me the confidence to sit down and write what became Why was Rachel Murdered?

While I was hugely flattered by the response to Afghan Silk, the novel is set in the fast-changing global medical marijuana industry. It would require time to update and re-write, and I would prefer to spend that time on a new story. So for now, it sits on my hard drive but, in the future, who knows?

Q. Speaking of the future, will there be a sequel to Why Was Rachel Murdered?

A. Yes. The sequel will explore the international art world in which talent plays second fiddle to high stakes, smoke-and-mirrors hustling, and where the market value of an odd-looking sculpture can rise over a two-week period from $28 million to $64 million. It’s outrageous, ridiculous and dangerous, which makes it perfect fodder for storytelling.

Thank you, Bill!

Why Was Rachel Murdered? is available on Amazon and Kobo.

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Only 99¢ — Canadian!

SAFE HARBOR, the first book of my Pat Tierney mystery series WITH A BRAND NEW COVER, is only 99¢ — and that’s Canadian — on Amazon today.

Check it out here!

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Short Story Contest!

The Mesdames of Mayhem are holding their second short story contest for unpublished Canadian crime fiction writers. The winning story will be published in the Mesdames’ fourth anthology, In the Key of Thirteen, in 2019. This is a terrific opportunity to become a published fiction writer!

Entries must be about a crime — a murder or a significant theft or a scam.

Music is the theme of all the stories in the anthology — hence the title, In the Key of Thirteen. Contest entries must be based on a work or works or music, or the words of a song. Music from any time period is permitted. But please note that song lyrics are under copyright and cannot be quoted in a story unless permission has been received from the songwriter. And this can be expensive.

Stories should run between 2,000 and 5,000 words.

Stories will be judged blind, so no personal identifiers are permitted anywhere in the header, footer or body of the story. Include the story title and page number in the document header on each page.  Story file in .rtf format, double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point and one-inch margins.

Maximum of two submissions per writer. All submissions must be electronic. Deadline is March 1, 2019, so you have five full months to write a story.

Send submissions to

The winning author must sign a contract with Carrick Publishing. Royalties will be shared equally between all contributors to the anthology after the publisher’s expenses are recovered.

Good luck!

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