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Author Archives: stratfordauthors

About stratfordauthors

I'm an author who wants to facilitate connections between readers and writers in and around Stratford Ontario Canada.

Meet E. Craig McKay

E. Craig McKayE. Craig McKay lives in rural Canada, near Stratford, Ontario during summer and Almunecar, Spain in winter. Born in Toronto, Craig spent summers at Oliphant Beach until age 16. He graduated from Western Technical High School in Printing and then attended Runnymede Collegiate before completing an undergraduate degree in Philosophy at Brock University, and an M.A. in English at Niagara University.

Craig taught English Literature and Police Report Writing at Niagara College for 31 years. During a sabbatical from Niagara College, he studied and taught at Laval University, Quebec City and later studied and taught in southern France.

Craig is a private pilot, a scuba diver, and directs a wine import agency. He has competed internationally in handgun and shotgun and in 2003 crossed the Atlantic from Spain to Barbados with four friends in a 40-foot sailboat.

He has written professionally since 1969 when he was for four years a movie critic for the St. Catharines Standard. At that time he annually came to Stratford to report on the Stratford Film Festival. He has since published two textbooks and twenty years of articles on wine, food, and travel in several magazines, including Elite Food and Wine Magazine under the names James W. Marsh and Craig Gambarotto-McKay.

In 2008 he began writing fiction as E. Craig McKay, His novel, Hit by the Dealer, 2011, was the first of a three-book series of Crime Fiction which includes Cross Country Hit, 2012, and Hit with the Ladies, 2013. His novella, Arial; Shieldmaiden of Middleworld, was released in electronic form in late 2011 and in print in 2013. Short stories appear in anthologies: Pulp Empire, Villainy, Wynterblue, Rapunzel’s Daughters, Pulp Empire, and Queer Fish. Science Fiction and tales of speculative mythology have been published by Dead Mule, School of Southern Literature, Renaissance Magazine, and the Canadian Broadcast Corp. His murder mystery, Brand of Death, was released in 2013.

Welcome Craig! Please tell us about your latest book:

E. Craig McKay's Brand of DeathMy most recent book is Brand of Death. It is a Murder Mystery set in 1906 Sedona, Arizona.
It is in the form of a classic detective novel with the five major components (as invented by E. A. Poe and used by Sir A.C. Doyle and many others)
1.    The detective Hero is the local doctor, Dr Pendergast,
2.    There are two police officials Marshall Hopkins and Jake Witherspoon,
3.    The companion is Brad Pendergast,
4.    There is a ‘master criminal’ (to be discovered),
5.    There is an unusual crime.

Frontier doctors of the late 19th century were the quintessential general practitioners. They brought children into the world and they struggled to keep their neighbors alive in the face of threats which included disease, accidents, natural disasters, and in the troubled times, the occasional gunshot wound.

Doctor Robert Pendergast is the town doctor of a small mining and agricultural community. The town was known as Red Rocks until the early 1900′s. It is s today named Sedona, Arizona. 1906 was the year of the San Francisco earthquake, an event of the type referred to as an act of God. For the townfolk of Sedona death came to their community that year by the hand of man.

Dr. Pendergast turns his talents to the solution of a problem which pits his deductive and resolvent skills against madness and worse.

The setting plays a major part in the development of the storyline which involves cattle rustling, card playing, shootouts, posses, horses, and cowboys. It is in effect what one would expect in a western mystery. I have extensively researched the times and places and have attempted to be true to the spirit of the frontier and as accurate as possible while presenting what I hope is a compelling story.

One unusual aspect of the structure of the story is that I have presented the action from a number of viewpoints. I am personally happy with the results and hope they will prove interesting and entertaining to readers

Is this book linked or connected to any other work you’ve published? If so, how?
Brand of Death is the first in a planned series of Murder Mysteries featuring Dr. Robert Pendergast. The ‘Hit Series’ was Crime Fiction. The progression to a classic detective novel is probably a natural evolution.

Was there a specific incident, inspiration or concern that prompted the writing of this book?
As a college professor of English I offered many elective courses which featured, or dealt exclusively with, some of the great mystery writers. I have long enjoyed and admired the writing of E.A. Poe, Somerset Maugham, A.C. Doyle, Agatha Christie, Dorthy Sayers, Raymond Chandler, and many other authors of more recent vintage. The cinema of Akira Kurosawa, especially Rashomon, was a specific influence on my choice of structure of Brand of Death.

Did the writing of this book surprise you in any way?
I am constantly surprised by the way characters take on a life of their own and how their personalities propel the direction of the action. This effect was more pronounced in Brand of Death, perhaps because of the number of main characters and the strength of their personalities on me.

What do you like best about being a writer?
Writing, and reading, have always provided an entry into alternate realities for me. Both provide access to experiences everyday life seldom provides. Writing especially allows freedom of expression and a medium of connection with a sort of meta-world in which all is possible, nothing is precluded.

Is there anything about becoming a published author that you didn’t expect?
The support and encouragement that I have received from friends and fellow writers has been quite a surprise. I am constantly finding people willing to share ideas and experiences from literature.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Write for yourself and hope others will like the product. Do not be afraid of rewriting and rethinking. Set pieces aside for a period and reread to better evaluate them. If you can find friends who are willing to read your work and be constructively critical, employ their help. Most of all, do not fear rejection.

What’s next for you and your writing?
I am currently researching for a 2nd in the Dr. Pendergast series. The novel will take place mostly in 1908 Arizona. It has a working title of: If Stones Could Cry. It will include some flashbacks to Civil War days in Iowa. Therefore, the burden of research is the most detailed that I have yet undertaken. The process of laying the groundwork and developing outline is extensive, but I am enjoying it. I take a great interest in both layout and cover design. It seems to me an integral part of the process.

Is there a local connection for your book(s)?
Some of my stories have been set in Ontario. Since I am newly arrived in the Stratford, area my connections are yet to be made.

Where can readers buy your book locally?
The books are not in any Stratford bookstores yet. I hope to place books in some stores in 2014. for the moment they can most easily be found on Amazon or Kindle.

Is there a particular place in Stratford you like to write? Why?
I usually write each morning in my home office in Carlingford. I find it comforting to gaze across the open farm fields and watch wildlife while surrounded by my tools of research.

Do you belong to a writers’ group, locally or elsewhere?
I was a member of Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador during the four years spent there and since moving to Ontario have joined a local writers group which meets monthly.

Do you teach writing workshops? If so, when and where?
I taught for many years at Niagara College and would welcome the opportunity to meet with young writers. But to date I have not undertaken any such activity.

What do you think is the best resource in the area for writers and aspiring writers?
The best resource for any writer is the vast heritage we have of other writers.

Is there one thing you’d like to see added to our community? Why?
It is too early for me to give that sort of advice. It would, of course be nice to have a venue where developing writers could offer their work directly to the public.

Why do you live and write in Stratford/Perth County?
I live here because my wife and I love the area; I write because I must write wherever I am..

Connect Online!

Craig’s website

Craig on Facebook

Craig’s full list of books:

Hit by the Dealer   (Crime Fiction novel, 1st of the Hit Series Trilogy)

Cross Country Hit   (Crime Fiction novel, 2nd of the Hit Series Trilogy)

Hit with the Ladies  (Crime Fiction novel, 3rd of the Hit Series Trilogy)

Ariel; Shieldmaiden of Middleworld  (Fantasy Novella, !st of Middleworld Series)
There is an except of  Ariel; Shieldmaiden of Middleworld at http://www.ecraigmckay.com

Shining Bright   (Collection of short stories in large print version)

Brand of Death   (Murder Mystery, 1st of The Dr. Pendergast series)

(N.B. Brand of Death is also available in large print as: Dr. Pendergast Investigates)

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in Authors, Interviews

 

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Meet the Authors II

We’re kicking off our second winter of events with another Meet the Authors night!

This year, Meet the Authors will be on Wednesday December 4, from 6:30 to 9. It will be held at the Stratford Public Library, upstairs in the Auditorium.

This year, we’re going to try something different and a more casual format. We have sixteen authors participating, and they’ll all have copies of their books available for sale. We’ll start with a few introductory comments at 6:30, then leave you to mix and mingle, as well as talk to the authors one-on-one. There will be light refreshments available.

Participating authors are listed below – the links on their names and photographs will take you to their Stratford Authors interview. It’ll open in a separate window (or tab) so you don’t lose your place.

PeterBlushPeter Blush

Ger weaving covers for GR book. (3) IMGP0017Gerard Brender a Brandis

mbrandisMarianne Brandis

Deborah CookeDeborah Cooke/Claire Delacroix

egertonDiane Egerton

pamfluttertPam Fluttert

YvonneHertzbergerYvonne Hertzberger

Marthe JocelynMarthe Jocelyn

LiiindsayLindsay Kroes

pattiPatti Miller

frpic1Frank Reid

helgaHelga Sarkar

JessicaSubjectJessica E. Subject

KellyWalkerKelly Walker

AlisonWearing

Alison Wearing

CharlesMountford

Charles Mountford

We look forward to seeing you at the library that night, and to helping with your holiday gift shopping!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Reader Events

 

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Meet Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong is the author of the NYT-bestselling “Women of the Otherworld” urban fantasy series and “Darkest Powers/Darkness Rising” young adult paranormal series, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets.

 

Welcome, Kelley! Please tell us about your new book:
Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. omens-cdn-smThe only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Is this book linked or connected to any other work you’ve published? If so, how?
It’s not linked to my previous books, but it’s almost a cross between the Otherworld and my Nadia Stafford books, which means the plots are more heavily mystery, but unlike Nadia, there are some paranormal elements. Lighter elements, though—omens, portents, second sight etc rather than werewolves and witches.

Was there a specific incident, inspiration or concern that prompted the writing of this book?
No.

Did the writing of this book surprise you in any way?
As much as I enjoyed the Otherworld, it was refreshing to do something else after so many years working in one fictional universe. It showed me that it really had been time to move on.

What do you like best about being a writer?
Entertaining readers. My goal is to tell a fun story, and if I succeed at that, then I’m happy.  I’m particularly thrilled by emails from people who don’t consider themselves “readers,” but enjoyed my book, then go out looking for more to read.  Too often kids learn to associate reading with schoolwork, and it’s great when they learn it can be entertaining, too.

Is there anything about becoming a published author that you didn’t expect?
I wouldn’t trade this job for anything.  I love it.  Of course there are things that are tougher than I expected.  Staying published, for one thing.  I’m at the point where I’m not in danger of losing my career if the next book fails, but there’s still that constant pressure to do better and fear of starting to slide backward.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
My advice is horribly boring.  Read everything you can get your hands on and write whenever you get the chance.  Writing is a craft and the only way to improve at a craft is to work at it.  That means not only writing but actively working to improve by taking courses, reading writing books, joining writing groups, seeking feedback and, perhaps most importantly, learning how to accept and apply feedback.  If you wanted to become an artist, you wouldn’t expect to pick up a brush and immediately paint a masterpiece.  Don’t expect that from writing either.

loki-webWhat’s next for you and your writing?
I’m also trying my hand at middle grade. This May I launched a Norse-myth-based trilogy co-written with Melissa Marr. The first book in that is Loki’s Wolves.

Where can readers buy your book locally?
They should be carried in any general fiction bookstore. My latest releases can sometimes also be found other places that books are carried—drug stores, WalMart, Costco etc.

Do you belong to a writers’ group, locally or elsewhere?
I’m a member of one in London.

Do you teach writing workshops? If so, when and where?
I do an annual stint for the University of Toronto summer writing school, teaching Writing Dark Fantasy. I also periodically give workshops at libraries, school, etc.

What do you think is the best resource (in Stratford or in general) for writers and aspiring writers?
In general, libraries and post-secondary schools often offer writing courses and workshops, which are a great place to start and to hone the writer’s craft.

What’s your connection to Stratford?
I don’t have one to Stratford per se, but I grew up in London.

Connect online!

Kelley’s website

Kelley’s blog

Kelley on Facebook

Kelley on Twitter

Kelley on Goodreads

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Stratford Connection

 

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June Event

Wednesday June 5
7 – 9 PM
Stratford Public Library Auditorium

Digitally Publishing Your Book II
Thanks to the popularity of his talk here in March, Mark LeFebvre from Kobo Books will be returning for a more hands-on workshop. Mark will walk us through the process of digitally publishing a book on Kobo, and show some basic formatting for digital books.

You may wish to review some of the basic information links in advance of his presentation.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Writers' Resources

 

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May Event

Wednesday May 8, 7-9 PM
Stratford Public Library Auditorium

Writing in the Fantasy Genre

Have you ever thought of writing an epic fantasy novel that sweeps readers across a world not quite like our own? Do you read or write alternate history? What about young adult fiction with fantasy elements? The allure of a world slightly askew from our own has appealed to readers and writers for as long as stories have been told. What are the reader expectations of this kind of fiction? How do writers create alternate universes that are plausible? What are the marketing possibilities for fantasy? Three local authors will share their experience in writing and publishing in this well-established and vibrant genre.

Our panelists for this discussion will be:

rjanderson3R.J. Anderson

MelanieCard_72dpiMelanie Card

YvonneHertzbergerYvonne Hertzberger

Ken Lillie Paetz and friendKen Lillie-Paetz

This event is co-hosted by the Stratford Public Library and is a free event. All are welcome!

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Reader Events

 

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Resources for Mystery Writers

At last night’s panel discussion, a few resources for mystery writers were mentioned. Here are some links to get you started on your quest to write the perfect who-dun-it.

Crime Writers of Canada

Mystery Writers of America

Sisters in Crime

Toronto chapter of Sisters in Crime

Crime Writers Association

Also, Anne Marie asked about book designers and it seemed that many of you didn’t know what these talented individuals do. You might want to check out Joel Friedlander’s blog – he’s a book designer and provides information as well as resources for indie-published authors, right here.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Writers' Resources

 

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More from Mark

Mark LeFebvre is coming back!

Wednesday June 5
7 – 9 PM
Stratford Public Library Auditorium

Digitally Publishing Your Book II
Thanks to the popularity of his talk here in March, Mark LeFebvre from Kobo Books will be returning for a more hands-on workshop. Mark will walk us through the process of digitally publishing a book on Kobo, and show some basic formatting for digital books.

You may wish to review some of the basic information links in advance of his presentation.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Writers' Resources

 

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Indie Publishing Links

During our panel discussion on March 6, Mark Lefebvre and Deborah Cooke mentioned a number of online resources in passing for authors contemplating digital publishing their own work. We promised to pull together a list of hotlinks for you, and here they are.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Remember that Google is your friend, and that the opportunities in this niche are changing rapidly.

Digital Publishing Portals for Authors
Amazon KDP
Apple iTunes
Barnes and Noble PubIt (for those with US mailing addresses and payment abilities)
KOBO Writing Life
Smashwords

Getting Started
Smashwords Style Guide – some of this free book is out of date, but it provides a nice overview of the differences between digital and print books in terms of formatting.
CISS – the Canadian ISBN Service
• Find out some more about ISBN#’s from Bowker or a lot more from Wiki
Kindle Boards – these discussion boards are free for both readers and writers
• Writers’ Groups – if you belong to a writers’ organization, check with them for resources for indie-published members.
• Listserves – search in Yahoo.Groups for listserves geared to indie authors. Many of these listserves have databases of information pooled from member authors about cover artists, formatters, advertising portals, etc. etc. They may be genre-specific. For example, Deborah subscribes to Indie Romance Ink.

Tips from KOBO
Five Easy Steps for Formatting Your Book
Ensuring Your Goodreads Reviews Appear on Kobo
Pricing eBooks
Creating Links to Kobo
Working with Booksellers – a video by Mark for IndieReCon, an online conference held for indie-published authors. There’s a lot of data on this site in addition to Mark’s piece.

Industry Blogs
KOBO Writing Life blog
Mark Coker’s blog at Smashwords

There are a number of writers who blog regularly about the challenges and rewards of indie publishing, as well as the state of the publishing industry. Here are a few popular choices, although you’ll easily find many many more:
Joe Konrath
Julie Ortolon
Edward W. Robertson
Kris Rusch
Dean Wesley Smith
Deborah Cooke (Wild West Thursdays)

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2013 in Writers' Resources

 

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April Event

Wednesday April 3
7- 9 PM
Stratford Public Library Auditorium

Writing Mysteries

The mystery genre is large and diverse, with so many subgenres that it can be daunting for an aspiring author to decide where to begin. What are the reader expectations from a mystery? What’s the difference between a mystery, a suspense, and a thriller? What trends exist in the mystery genre? What are the markets for publishing mysteries? Join several local authors to learn more about this vital genre.

RuthBRuth Barrett

Bruce Barber

Paul Knowles

Deborah Cookemoderated by Deborah Cooke

All are welcome at this free event, co-hosted by Stratford Authors blog and the Stratford Public Library.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Authors

 

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More on Digital Publishing

Thanks to everyone who came out last night for our panel discussion with Mark LeFebvre and Deborah Cooke on Digitally Publishing Your Book. For those of you who were unable to make it, you missed a lively and interesting discussion.

Mark and Deborah are compiling some helpful links for authors who wish to explore this publishing path. Look for that to be posted here on the blog next week.

We are also discussing the possibility of Mark returning to Stratford in the fall to do a more hands-on presentation about uploading digital content. If this is of interest to you, please let us know. (You could comment on this post, for example.)

 
7 Comments

Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Writers' Resources

 

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