Happy Birthday to The Retreat!

We had an amazing first week with The Retreat on store shelves! I couldn’t be more pleased — and couldn’t be more grateful to those of you who have pre-ordered or bought a copy, put your photos of the book on social media, and generally made me feel like a very lucky writer indeed.

If you’re looking to read up on The Retreat and find out what all the fuss is about, you can read reviews in the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, and the Telegram — or check out these interviews in the Newfoundland Quarterly or at Resilient Writers. Or find out more about my process, what I like to read, and how I think about writing in these articles for CrimeReads, the Literary Review of Canada, and Macleans.

What’s next?

I’ll tell you the best ways you can help promote a writer or a book you love, whether that’s me or someone else: 
— Buy the book! A pre-order is nice, but any sale is a good sale, especially in the crucial first weeks when a book is trying to gain traction or momentum. 
— Tell yo’ friends! If you love a book, throw a photo up on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or wave it about on TikTok, whatever platform you like to use. (I’m sure there are others but I am in my 40s, let me be.)
— Tell some strangers! A great way to help a book get better attention is to post a positive review on Amazon, Indigo, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads… you get the picture. In the case of the Big Online Retailers, the number of reviews actually affects how much or how little a book is “shown” or promoted, so your two cents makes a great deal of difference.

And of course, I know so many of you have already done these things for me, and all I can say is a very humble thank you. You have all made a huge difference in my life, and your support is what allows me to keep doing this job and living the life I really love. So, thank you, truly, with all my heart. 

Launch Party for THE RETREAT: Giveaway Alert!

GIVEAWAY ALERT! We’re launching The Retreat in just over two weeks, and the #giveaway fun starts now! Register for the launch by midnight, Sunday, July 11th for a Monday morning draw! Three lucky winners will receive a “The Retreat” cocktail kit, created specifically for our launch party by Terre restaurant in St. John’s, and a signed copy of the new book ❤ Register here: https://bit.ly/3gOijXD

Spring updates: HYSTERIA on the Raddall Shortlist, Elisabeth at the Humber School for Writers, & more!

*So pleased to share that HYSTERIA is on the shortlist for the Thomas Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award, along with books by Sharon Bala and Lisa Moore, making us a kind of Newfoundland Trifecta for this year’s prize– or the meanest gang you ever saw. You can catch me reading from the book at the Welcoming Reception on June 5, at the GEO Centre in St. John’s–  along with authors Terry Doyle, Susie Taylor, and Kevin Major, and Atlantic Book Award nominees Sharon Bala and Mark Critch.

Shortlisted authors Christine LeGrow and Shirley Anne Scott, of Saltwater Mittens fame, will also be on hand with a display of Newfoundland knitwear and knowledge. The event is free and open to the public.

*Starting this week, I’m also on faculty at the Humber School for Writers. If you’d like the support of a mentorship to help you finish your book-length manuscript, there’s still a few days left to sign up! I’ve worked with poets, fiction writers, and non-fiction writers alike, both at Humber and in Creative Writing programs at UBC and MUN. The Humber certificate program can be done from anywhere, and lasts from now until mid-December, giving us lots of time to sculpt that manuscript into shape. Want to sign up? All the information is right here. 

*While I mostly have my head down this spring, trying hard to get a full draft of the new novel finished, I will be in Halifax in mid-July as a keynote speaker at the Kings College Humanities for Young People Symposium. I’ll be talking about Fear (yikes!), and my fellow keynote is the estimable activist and journalist, Desmond Cole. The symposium is open to the public, and I’ll post more information on the event as summer draws near.

*Last but not least (not by a long shot!), did you know that HYSTERIA is now out in paperback? Yes she is. And, I have to say, I can’t think of a better summer read for your cottage or lakeside cabin. Order it up right here.

Wonderful Woody Point.



Heritage Theatre, Woody Point. Photo by Tom Cochrane.

It’s hard to imagine a better beginning to the fall literary festival season than the perfect gem that is Writers at Woody Point.

Nestled within the bounds of Gros Morne National Park, the town of Woody Point sits on beautiful Bonne Bay, just across the water (and a water taxi ride away) from another picturesque town, Norris Point — and only a short car ride from some fantastic hikes (check out the Tablelands and Trout River, among others.)



Woody Point audiences are so incredibly warm and engaged, it’s hard not to feel spoiled.


View from the community trail, waterside.

I was doubly-spoiled this time around: while I was there myself to read from the new novel, Hysteria, one of the short stories from my first book, How To Get Along with Women, was adapted by David Ferry for his ongoing Short Waves/Short Stories theatre project.


A stealth shot of rehearsal. Left to Right: Beatrice Freedman (stage manager), director David Ferry working double-duty as narrator, actors Colin Furlong and Jenny Munday as Jim and Nadine, and Sarah Newell singing. Guitar and music composition by Erin Best and Sandy Morris, (who is sadly hidden away in this photo, behind Newell).

Part live theatre, part radio drama, Short Waves/Short Stories took my own story, “Jim and Nadine, Nadine and Jim” to a new audience in a new way. Ferry also dug up a long poem I wrote in 2009: an excerpt from Letter on St. Valentine’s Day was set to music by Erin Best and Sandy Morris and performed live by Morris and Sarah Newell.


Jody Richardson and Candice Pike break down the fourth (third?) wall of radio.                        Photo credit: Tom Cochrane.


This was my third invite to the festival, which happens in mid-August every year. I’ve decided this makes me part of the Three-Timers Club.

It certainly makes me lucky.

New! From Ms Fixit: The Personal Master Class

Great news! Responding to an increase in queries, I have expanded my mentorship services to include a new, custom-designed program:

Starting September, 2018: The Personal Master Class. 

For writers who are looking for longer-term guidance as they work through issues and complete a manuscript-in-progress, this one-on-one, five-month bespoke mentorship will help you get past the hurdles and finish that draft.

I’ll be offering the program twice a year: beginning September 1st or February 1st. Enrolment is limited. For more details, or to get in touch, check out the Ms Fixit page here. 

Who wore it better? (novelist edition)

During the last few weeks of fevered rewrites on the the final draft of my new novel, I relied heavily on this clip of Kathleen Turner, as romance novelist Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, literally crying as she writes the last few words of a book:


So much so that I decided to recreate the moment for myself here, if I ever indeed finished. TODAY IS THE DAY. I just sent the final draft manuscript of Hysteria off to my editorIt’s about ghosts, memory, fairy tales, America, the drug industry, sisterhood, and the Twilight Zone. Coming Spring 2018! I can’t wait to share it with you. ❤

In which we begin again

ImageThis is a picture of my office door. It’s also largely how I managed to write The Devil You Know in a house I share with four children and a dog, while I was working a full-time job. Any other parents out there know what I’m talking about? It’s the pre-emptive answer to all possible questions and needs: Can you make me a sandwich? (No.) Can you drive me to mall? (No.) Can you help me find my other shoe? (No.)

Any two year-old has already learned  that NO is the most powerful word, but it somehow took me 37 years to re-learn that lesson — and use it to my advantage. (I share the house with my husband, too, of course, but he’s a brilliant and supportive guy, so the sign is not really aimed at him. Or, at least a whole lot less.)

The power of NO comes in using it to define your boundaries, give yourself guilt-free permission, and defend your own positive time (to the death! Okay, maybe that’s too much.To the pain?)

I’ve been thinking  a lot about this in the last week, partially because I noticed articles like this LinkedIn piece making the rounds. Learning to say No is a valuable skill. More salient was Jonathan Ball’s great post about scheduling writing time rather than just trying to “find it”.

IMG_0006All this came across my screen at the right time, when I’d been gearing up to start work on a new project. So the NO sign is back up on the office door today. (Full disclosure: I’ve been working solidly, on schedule, for a week or two now. So it’s time to let the rest of the household know.)

The only difference this time around? I’ve made a second sign, for the inside of the office door. It’s the sign that tells the writer YES.

Under the Influence

I’m busy today, trying to drum up a column for the good folks at National Post Books — something about the wealth of influences that go into something as big and long-term as a novel, and how all those things filter down and through the story. While I have to pick and choose for the column, I thought I’d put a simple list in here. Things that were important to the building of The Devil You Know, all the bits and pieces of culture I can think of that I was reading, watching, remembering, or listening to on repeat while I was writing. I’ll try and add things on as I remember them. (Surprise! Gone Girl isn’t on the list… it’s still in my bedside pile.)

Bonus add: Because of the vagaries of search engine algorithms, some things just didn’t come to my attention until I was in the final editing and fact-checking stages. You can imagine how surprised I was to stumble across this retrospective article by Jim Rankin in the Toronto Star. Written for the fifteenth anniversary of the case, in the opening lines he describes  his experience as a new reporter, sitting in a car and watching the search of Bernardo’s house in St. Catherine’s — the exact scene I’d just written for Evie.

Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi

Brain on Fire, Susannah Cahallan

The White Album, Joan Didion

Caught, Lisa Moore

“Fits”, from The Progress of Love, Alice Munro

The Killing Circle, Andrew Pyper

90s mood music by Nirvana, RHCP, & Sinead O’Connor, among others.

Audrey Hepburn in “Wait Until Dark”  (In this Hitchcock thriller, Hepburn plays a blind girl targeted by some bad guys. Her solution? Turn out the lights to even the playing field. You’ll have to watch it to see if it pays off… )

Jodie Foster in “Silence of the Lambs” (For the record, I didn’t re-watch this one; it’s the last really scary movie I’ve ever seen in a theatre, I think — but I did read over the detailed synopsis when I was trying to figure out how scary plot lines need to go.)

Emma Stone in “Easy A” (my daughter was keen on this movie at the time, and I loved Stone’s raspy voice and quirky-cool character)

And if you’re really up for some heavy reading, look for this judicial system Report on the Bernardo investigation, written by Mr. Justice Archie Campbell and available freely online. (This report was also something I came to late in the game, when I was trying to check my facts, but I ended up including a few extra things that jumped out at me and were too interesting to leave out. I haven’t read the whole report, as I was worried it would distract me… plus, I just don’t have the stomach for those details.)