Crime Writers Of Canada Announces Arthur Ellis Awards

Crime Writers Of Canada has announced the shortlist for this year’s best in crime writing, so if you’re looking for a good read, here’s the list for you. This year is exciting for me as a have several friends on this list. Good luck to all!

Announcing the 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards 

Shortlists for Crime Writing

Best Novel

Brenda ChapmanCold Mourning, Dundurn Press

Barbara FradkinNone so Blind, Dundurn Press

C.C. HumphreysPlague, Doubleday Canada

Maureen JenningsNo Known Grave, McClelland & Stewart

Alen Mattich, Killing Pilgrim, House of Anansi

Best First Novel

Janet BronsA Quiet Kill, Touchwood Editions

Steve BurrowsSiege of Bitterns, Dundurn Press

M.H. CallwayWindigo Fire, Seraphim Editions

Eve McBrideNo Worst, There Is None, Dundurn Press

Sam WiebeLast of the Independents, Dundurn Press

Best Novella *

Rick BlechtaThe Boom Room, Orca Book Publishers

Vicki DelanyJuba Good, Orca Book Publishers

Ian HamiltonThe Dragon Head of Hong Kong, House of Anansi

Jas. R. Petrin, A Knock on the Door, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine

Best Short Story

Margaret AtwoodStone Mattress, McClelland & Stewart

Melodie CampbellHook, Line and Sinker, Your McMurray Magazine

Peter ClementTherapy, Belgrave House

Madona Skaff, First Impressions, The Whole She-Bang 2, Sisters in Crime

Kevin P. Thornton, Writers Block, World Enough and Crime, Carrick Publishing

Best Book in French

Hervé Gagnon, Jack: Une enquête de Joseph Laflamme, Expression noir / Groupe librex

Andrée Michaud, Bondrée, Editions Québec Amérique

Maryse Rouy, Meurtre à l’hôtel Despréaux, Édition Druide

Richard Ste MarieRepentirs, Alire

Best Juvenile/YA Book

Michael BetchermanFace-Off, Penguin Canada

Sigmund BrouwerDead Man’s Switch, Harvest House

S.J. LaidlawThe Voice Inside My Head, Tundra Books

Norah McClintockAbout That Night, Orca Book Publishers

Jeyn RobertsThe Bodies We Wear, Knopf Books for Young Readers

Best Nonfiction Book

Bob Deasy (with Mark Ebner), Being Uncle Charlie, Penguin Random House

Charlotte GrayThe Massey Murder, HarperCollins

Joan McEwenInnocence on Trial: The Framing of Ivan Henry, Heritage House

Bill Reynolds, Life Real Loud: John Lefebvre, Neteller and the Revolution in Online Gambling, ECW Press

Paula ToddExtreme Mean, McClelland & Stewart

Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel

Rum Luck by Ryan Aldred

Full Curl by Dave Butler

Crisis Point by Dwayne Clayden

Afghan Redemption by Bill Prentice

Strange Things Done by Elle Wild

 And the winners are?

Find out May 28!

15 Tips For A Successful Author Reading

Writing means learning, and learning all the time, for the rest of your life.

In the modern world of publishing, whether you choose the traditional route or self publishing, much is expected from an author. Writing a great novel is only the beginning of the journey if you want your work to have a public audience.

Last week, I experienced some intense learning about reading aloud. And by this I mean what it takes to read your novel or short story in front of an audience. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I won the Audrey Jessup award for short story crime writing from the Capital Crime Writers. Part of being nominated meant reading aloud before the winner announcement was made.

The reading was on June 11th. During the week before the event, I attended the Bloody Words conference in Toronto. A bit of luck, as it turned out, because I heard seven authors read. Then on Monday June 9th in Ottawa, I attended a reading by three Scandinavian authors. That’s 10 readings I could learn from.

Here’s my advice about delivering a great reading:

The advice is slit into  4 sections.

Practice before the event:

  • Don’t leave practicing to the last-minute. Practice every day even for short periods of time. If you can, read to an audience.
  • Practice pausing for commas, periods, paragraph breaks, and starting new scenes.
  • Practice until you can take your eyes away from the words and make eye contact with the audience. This will engage them in your reading. Reading to a mirror will allow you to see if you’re looking up.

Technical preparation:

  • Don’t staple the pages. Stapled pages are noisy when turned and are awkward to hold in place.
  • Number your free pages in case you drop them.
  • Ask how many minutes you have to read. Then prepare for a few minutes less, the exact amount of time and a few minutes more. If other readers don’t show up, you  might be given more time. If the proceedings are running long, you might be given less time, Be ready so you can end with a cliff hanger or a dramatic spot that will leave people wanting more.
  • If you’re reading from printed pages, print in font large enough to read. Remember the lighting could be dark or there could be glare from other lights. If the font in your printed books is small, you can always print the pages you want to read and place your book in front of you while you’re reading.
  • Ask what the setup will be. Is there a podium where you can set your pages? Will you be holding a mic? Will you be standing or sitting?

At the event, before you read:

  • If you’re not first, watch the other readers for what works and doesn’t work. Standing with the mic too close to the sound system can cause feedback, having the mic too far or too close to you mic can make understanding your words difficult.
  • Have your material ready. Don’t start looking for the section you want to read after you’re at the podium. This distracts the audience.

During your reading:

  • Once you are on stage, thank the hosts of the event. This will make your look professional and give you time to let your voice and your nerves settle before you start reading your story.
  • Breathe. This sounds obvious, but breathing will make your speech clear. During the reading, I was so nervous at first, I couldn’t bring air into my lungs. At the end of the first page, when I had to flip to the next page, I moved the mic away from my mouth and took a deep breath. This helped me calm down.
  • Don’t explain your work in the middle of reading. Let your words speak for themselves.
  • Only brief the audience about the story if you’re not starting at the beginning.
  • Speak slowly.

Remember: the audience came to hear you and they want you to succeed, so smile and have fun.

If you have any tips on reading aloud, please share 🙂 I’m always looking for ways to improve.

Thanks for reading . . .

Farley’s Friday: A Wheaten Can Listen Well (Audrey Jessup Crime Writing Award)

Farley here,

I’ve had a weird week.

Kristina talked for days on end and it took me a while to figure out what she was doing. First I thought she was talking to me, and I felt pretty flattered to get so much attention.

Then I realized she was focussed on something else entirely. And look what she made me wear.

Farley in Hat

“Take this hat off my head,” I bark.

“You’re my audience,” Kristina says.

“Audience for what?” I bark.

“I have to read aloud at the Audrey Jessup awards, and I need to practice.”

“Yeah, but why do have to wear a hat?”

“Because I’m pretending you’re sitting in a bar listing to me read my story.”

Okay, I get it. She’s nervous and wants to practice. She keeps mumbling something about the 10,000 hour theory and the more you do something to better you get at it.

So the night of the awards, she comes home all happy and dances around the living room. She won 🙂

Kristina Stanley Audrey Jessup

Now I just wag my tail. I’ll let her read to me anytime if it helps.

Woof Woof.

Capital Crime Writers


Prepping for a Reading

Have you ever read your writing aloud in public? I haven’t and am about to.

My short story “When a Friendship Fails” has been nominated for the Capital Crime Writer’s Audrey Jessup. As part of the nomination, the 5 nominated authors are asked to read part of the story aloud. The event is taking place in a pub in down town Ottawa.

The complete story takes 20 minutes to read, and I’ve been given 7 minutes.

I’ve been using Audacity to practice, and to deliver a strong emotional impact, I need to choose if I should read:

  • from the beginning
  • middle
  • or the last three scenes

Audacity makes me listen and practice. After I decide which section to read, I can work on the timing.

Here’s my question.

When reading a scene on a page, the reader can see paragraph breaks and knows a new character is speaking. But when listening to a story, the listening doesn’t have the advantage of seeing the paragraph breaks. I’m not an actor who can change the sound of my voice for each character (although I’m trying),  so when reading from a finished work, is it okay to add a few he said/she said tags to make it clear who is speaking?

What comes next and is the most nerve-wracking of all: I have to read aloud in front of people.


Thanks for reading . . .

Thanks to HSW Literary Agency

Life as a writer is often spent behind closed doors working hard, but there are moments when a writer catches a glimpse of hope that her work may actually entered the world of the published.

Margaret Hart and Natalie St. Pierre at the HSW Literary Agency have been working hard behind the scene to help me get my novels published.

Their last post at HSW Literary Agency:News certainly made me smile, so here’s a shout out to say thanks.

Sometimes a girl just has to share her happiness.

Thanks for reading . . .

Here is what HSW wrote about me:

Persons Unknown? Crime Writer Kristina Stanley Makes Her Name

Author Kristina StanleyThe life of an author, quietly perfecting her craft, is often anonymous. But the efforts of crime writer Kristina Stanley are at last getting the attention they deserve: Stanley has three works up for separate crime writing awards!

Descent, the first book in Stanley’s Kalin Thompson series, is nominated for the Unhanged Arthur, the Arthur Ellis Award recognizing the year’s most promising piece of unpublished crime fiction. Over in the UK, the Crime Writers’ Association honours book two in the series, Burnt, with a nomination for their Debut Dagger. Finally, just in time for Short Story Month, Stanley’s “When a Friendship Fails” is nominated for the Capital Crime Writers‘ Audrey Jessup Short Story Award.

Congratulations, Kristina! We anxiously await the results!

Farley’s Friday: My Human Is Doing The Happy Dance

Farley here.

My human is singing “Debut Dagger Shortlist” and doing the happy dance. Sometimes Kristina looks really silly, but she’s so happy I won’t mention that to her.

I give her my confused look to ask her what’s going on. Seriously, she’s freaking me out.

Farley looking interested

She makes we wait until I settle down. Then she says, “My novel BURNT has been shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award.”

“Huh,” I bark.

“It’s from the Crime Writers’ Association in the UK for unpublished authors.”

I decide I better do the happy dance too.

Farley Happy Dance

Then I bring her a present. Who doesn’t like an already chewed stick?

Farley With Stick


Well apparently Kristina. She won’t chew it, but she’s still dancing.


Woof Woof


See Mystery Fanfare: CWA Nominations

Crime Writers Of Canada: Arthur Awards

I’m giddy with happiness and need to share.

Writing  and trying to publish a novel is a long, seriously long, journey, with very few accolades along the way.

With trepidation, I entered DESCENT in the Unhanged Arthur competition. This competition is for Canadian writers and is given for excellence in mystery, suspense and crime writing to unpublished authors.

I submitted my entry last fall. In January came the first exciting news. Descent made the long list. A wild sense of relief filled me. Descent had made it that far, and I felt pretty good. Now, all I had to do was wait until April 24th for the short list announcement.

That’s sounds easy, right?

Wrong. I didn’t sleep for the four nights leading up to the announcement. On the night of the 24th, I went to bed not knowing if Descent made the list or not. I woke up more times than I want to admit, but forced myself not to turn on my computer and check. If Descent wasn’t on the list, I knew I was in for a completely sleepless night.

On the morning of the 25th, I took my first sip of coffee, opened my laptop and collected my email.

The first message I read was from a facebook friend. The text read : Congrats on making the short list.

I looked up at my husband and smiled.

“I told you, you would make it,” he said with a big grin on his face.

Next I read the email from CWC (Crime Writers of Canada) with the official notice that Descent was short listed.

I asked my husband to read the email, just to make sure I wasn’t reading only what I wanted to see.

“Yup, he said. You made it.”

Friday turned out to go by in a blur. I couldn’t quite believe I was on the list.

Saturday morning, I woke up with the first feeling of happiness about the award.

I’m still in the middle of my journey, but once in a while it’s good to stop and enjoy small successes.

Thanks for reading . . .

Here are the places I found the announcement:

CBC Books

Crime Writers Of Canada

Blog Mystery Fanfare

Blog Criminal Element

Blog Shots Crime and Thriller Ezine 

Blog Mystery Mavin Canada

Blog Black Mask

Blog The Rap Sheet

Blog Mystery Scene

How to Get a Free Manuscript Critique

The value of blogging hits home. I’ve been following Joan Edwards for a while now and here’s what happened.

Joan posted an offer of a free manuscript review just for commenting on her blog. So I commented and I won.

I sent the first 1000 pages (oops – I meant words)  of my novel Avalanche to Joan. Joan assured me complete privacy and got straight to work.

What Joan did:

  • She sent me a covering letter describing her overall strategy and what her highlighting meant .
  • She gave me high level comments before reviewing each line in detail.
  • The critique included story line, grammar and punctuation comments.

It’s exciting to receive professional feedback that will help me improve the quality of my story. She included areas for improvement and highlighted sentences she thought were good. Now I have to get to work and make this better. It’s amazing what a second pair of eyes can do for a manuscript. I wish I could have Joan review my entire manuscript. Thanks Joan. You are a star!

If I didn’t blog, I never would have had this opportunity. This comes right back to Authors Helping Authors.

Thanks for reading . . .

CWC First Novel Awards

The Crime Writers of Canada Crime Novel Awards

If you are looking for a new author to read, the short list for the 2013 Arthur Ellis Awards is out. Sometimes I find it hard to find a new author to read, so each year I check out the CWC list. There are other categories for Canadian crime writers if you are looking for an author you already are familiar with.

The five novels short listed for the BEST FIRST NOVEL  are:

Confined Spaces by Deryn Collier

The Dead of Winter by Peter Kirby

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

A Private Man by Chris Lang

The Beggar’s Opera by Blair Peggy.


Thanks for reading . . .