Lisa de Nikolits's Blog: Lisa writes, reads and blogs from time to time...

December 29, 2018

My Impossibly Hopeful Bookish Plans and Dreams for 2019!

Let me be the first to admit I hate New Year’s Eve! I regard most new things with suspicion and New Year’s Eve is no exception. And, while I don’t make resolutions, I do try to map out the year in terms of hopes and goals.

Of course the superstitious person inside me tells me I will jinx things by talking about them but here goes, anyway! (And a note to readers, I tried to format the italics correctly but Goodreads kept hanging up on me so apologies for that!)

I am a person split in two, a real Gemini in action. By day, I’m an art director/graphic designer, a freelancer by necessity in an alarmingly shrinking industry.

2018 was pretty good to me, with lovely work on the Canadian Tire Wow Guide, Walmart’s Live Better magazine, and two thoroughly enjoyable advertorials for Elle Canada and Clin D’oeil magazines.

Not only does my day job put bread and butter on the table and a roof over my head (lazy but apt clichés!) but I love it. I love being a designer – it’s a much easier job than writing (which is how I started out many years ago on a long-gone magazine, Garden & Home, a facsimile of Homes & Garden, riding on the famous coattails of that magazine and fooling advertisers into believing it was the real deal.) I was a feature writer at the time and the publisher fired the layout artist and I discovered my calling. Writing was so stressful whereas design was such fun!

I was happy to write fiction by night and design by day and this is still true today. So hopefully 2019 will see more freelance work come my way - what was once an Olympic-sized arena is now little more than a few inflatable wading pools, but we will remain optimistic!

And the books… oh, I have many impossibly big hopes, plans, wishes and dreams for the books! Translate that into real life and it becomes readings, editing, writing, blog posts, launches, conferences, salons and so much more!

January will see two events, a radio interview with Nancy Bullis at HOWL CIUT, and a Tom Gannon’s Urban Art Folk Salon and January is going to be a really busy writing month. I’m working on a domestic thriller/noir/time-travel sci-fi work, The Rage Room, and I’m looking to have a very polished first draft by mid-January. This has been one of the hardest books I’ve written – time travel fries my brain! But I have a rough first draft and it’s getting there.

The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution will be published by the wonderful Inanna Publications in fall 2019 and I’m aiming to have the rigorous self-edits of this done by end of January.

Rotten Peaches will take centre stage in February with a blog tour with my good friends, Partners in Crime, with lots of reviews and interviews coming up for that. I’ve received so much great feedback about this book from readers which is wonderful! I hope you’ll check out the website (below).

And, the first week of February will see me and Rotten Peaches at the Ontario Librarians SuperConference which is always a lot of fun!

March will see edits on Hit Me With Your Pet Shark, my story for In The Key of Thirteen, the music-themed anthology that the Mesdames of Mayhem will be launching in the fall. Our anthologies keep going from strength to strength so I’m very excited about this! There is a call for submissions for the anthology, so be sure to visit the Mesdames of Mayhem website for guidelines.

March will be see me prepping for April – April may or may not be the cruellest month depending on your point of view, but it certainly will be one of my busiest! First up there’s a trip to Milan to launch Una furia dell’altro mondo with Le Assassine which is the Italian publication of No Fury Like That. I am so excited about this, I can hardly think about it!

And huge thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts Abroad program for a travel grant to make this possible. I had to submit an Excel spreadsheet for this – not my forté – and a guy from the Canada Council actually phoned me and walked me through how to fill it in – how lovely was that? And he even followed up, restoring my faith in the kindness of strangers and proving that sometimes bureaucracy really can be on your side!

There are two events planned for the Milan adventure and I will make sure to post those details closer to the time.

Hot on the heels of my return from Milan, the Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter have invited me to be on a panel on the 18th, about using Toronto as a setting for books.

And on Tuesday, 30th April, I am hosting the Salon of the Collective Creative at the Annette Street Library with a fantastic lineup including Nancy Ceneviva (artist), Peter Graham (musician), Terri Favro, Stedman Pardy and a member of the Mesdames of Mayhem.

May will see edits on The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution with my wonderful Editor-in-Chief, Luciana Ricciutelli, as well as a visit to the Bloody Words MiniCon (which looks like huge fun, readers and authors, please check it out, link below!), and a fabulous reading with the amazing Junction Reading Series at Famous Last Words.

Last time I read at FLW, they made a No Fury Like That cocktail and it was so delicious (recipe on my website) that I wonder if I ask them about a Rotten Peaches… hmmm why not? Maybe it will have peach schnapps!

I’ve got another manuscript knocking around, Boomerang Beach and I’d love to find a home for this book. This is truly one of the wildest, craziest books I’ve ever written but I have faith someone will love it – but it’s so nuts I may have to publish it under a different name! So that will be June – as well as prepping for The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution and The Rage Room should be in very good shape to get that into the world.

Neither Boomerang Beach nor The Rage Room would be Inanna’s cup of tea but I am working on Mad Dog and the Sea Dragon (a novel inspired by the short story in Thirteen Claws with the Mesdames of Mayhem and I’m hoping that might be a good fit with Inanna for book #10, fingers crossed!

And the Mesdames of Mayhem have some interesting cards up our sleeve, so standby for some innovative ideas from our wonderful gang!

July sees my first ThrillerFest in New York! Rotten Peaches and I will be heading off to enjoy ourselves. Rotten Peaches has received a lot of love from the International Thriller Writers and I’ve been a guest on three Roundtables and a few guest posts ad the book has been enthusiastically received by the ITW.

And, despite my vow to not make resolutions, I did, with Open Book Toronto! I said I was going to publish The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution and write some short stories and poems! So I’d better make time to make good on this promise!

And, as summer rolls into fall, attention will start to switch from Rotten Peaches (which will have received a lot of love by this time!) to The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution and the launch of In The Key of Thirteen.

I’d also like to revive the sadly neglected Minerva Reader, my blog featuring unsung heroes in the literary world. I simply haven’t had time and I do have some wonderful candidates to feature but that’s not going to be top of the list!

And I’m sure more bookish things will pop up along the way. I admit to being a bit daunted by this mountain that I’m going to try to climb! I’m going to have to be magical when it comes to time management and energy conservation! Lots of irons in lots of fires! So Friends, if you see a bit less of me on social media, it’s because I’ll have my head down, working very hard at all of the above!

I also need to update my writer website – it was a small templated affair and it’s groaning under the weight of images and information I pile on it – but that may have to wait!

I’d like to wish everyone an amazing year of reading and writing and doing all the things that matter to you! Here’s to good health, good luck and may all good things come your way!

The Milan visit: and download the pdf.
The Mesdames of Mayhem:
My website:
Bloody Words MiniCon:
Canada Council for the Arts:

I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien.
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March 14, 2018

Even The Books We Can Never Understand May Have a Message For Us!

People who know me know that I love nothing better than promoting the work of another writer that I’ve discovered - a hidden treasure as it were. I even have a website to this end, The Minerva Reader, which has been neglected of late due to my own writing projects but I’ll be returning to that as soon as I can – I’ve got a stash of treasure lined up!

People who know me also know that I love nothing more than exploring the hidden corners of the world, those neglected, out-of-the-way places, sometimes dimly lit, perhaps a little disorganized – the furthermost cry from the big-box strip malls that leave me feeling desiccated and wrung-out.

I set new goals for this year. Write more. Write better. I’ve severely truncated my socializing in order to meet these goals. I’m behind in the writing, of course I am because I am trying to do so much, but generally speaking, my nose-to-the grindstone efforts are being fruitful. Add that to my day job (and no complaints there, last summer was dismal to say the least), and the hours to meet friends and chat are not abundant.

I had been trying to make plans with a good friend for the past six months and eventually it came to be – dinner at The Rendezvous restaurant on the Danforth, my favourite place to dine. Greenwood and Danforth is an Ethiopian neighbourhood and I love it for that too, the Africanness of it. I know Ethiopia is way north east of my most northern African point, Zimbabwe, but Africa is Africa.

Hence my delight at finding the Enat Convenience Market across the street from The Rendezvous. I was early for my dinner and I happily looked forward to spending some time in the store which I could sense, by peering through the window, was filled with African treasures. Little grass pots, all manner of crosses, a fascinating book with a girl on the cover, a girl with a crow on one shoulder, a dove on the other, her hair a white braid on the left, a black braid on the right, an owl to her right foot and a rooster receiving benediction from her outstretched left hand.

She is holding scales in her other hand and her torso rises from a tree, with two leaves modestly covering her breasts. Four stars dot the sky and clouds from which she ascends. A moon is a crown on her forehead, a half-dark, half-white moon. What is this book? I can’t make out the cover. Never mind, I’ll go in and have a look.

Ah, and then I am thwarted. The door is locked. The ‘open’ sign is off. A handwritten sign says “I’ll be back!” and that’s it. I am locked out of the cave of treasures.

Never mind, I tell myself, I will return the following day. And I do. The little grass pots remind me so much of my African home that I am moved to tears. No, I want to tell the woman behind the counter, I am not hormonal or mentally unbalanced, I love the memories that spring to mind and heart when they appear with the strength of a hug.

I investigate the store from top to bottom. The proprietor is suspicious. What am I doing, sniffing all the brands of incense, holding the little grass pots and closing my eyes, asking her the price of each and every cross and finally, asking her about the book. I kept it for last – this book, who wrote it, what was it about? It was the main reason I had returned. That girl, the cover… I was fascinated.

The book is written in a language I cannot understand. It looks Arabic. I am disappointed. I will never know what the book contains. I look up ‘Ethiopian language’ when I get home and Wikipedia tells me that “Amharic is spoken principally in the central highlands of the country. Amharic is an Afro-Asiatic language of the Southwest Semitic group and is related to Geʿez, or Ethiopic, the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Orthodox church; it also has affinities with Tigré, Tigrinya, and the South Arabic dialects.”

The interior of the book is beautifully designed, there is a faded image of the girl on each page, with a border and carefully spaced type.

I put the book down. I ask the proprietor about the author is but I think she is getting annoyed with all my questions and she shrugs. I pick it up and put it down again, regretfully. I buy a cross and I leave.

The next night (tonight), I return. I have to have the book! I don’t care that I will never understand what it says – it has already spoken to me.

I explain to the proprietor that I too am African and I tell her that I love her store. We get chatting and she tells me that her sister owned the store for eight years. Then her sister got cancer and she took over. Today is my sister’s birthday and I feel her grief – I can’t even imagine my world without my sister.

I tell her I am very interested in the book and she shows me there is an email address inside. Ha! I can ask the author about the book. I chat more to the owner and I buy a grass pot and the book and I leave, to email the author, Wubit Zewdu.

Of late, I, and a few of my friends, have been wondering about the meaning of life, what do we leave behind and what can be remembered? What will be remembered? Of course we cannot know but some days, when one connects with a perfect stranger, over something that a person took great care to create, to discuss love and loss, well, then things seem to make sense, isn’t that so? We create, therefore we are. We love, therefore we are alive.

I have emailed the author and if she gets back to me, there will be a Part Two to this blog! I hope she will!
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Published on March 14, 2018 17:24

August 19, 2017

In Nervous Anticipation of my Forthcoming Novel

In nervous anticipation of the release of my forthcoming novel, No Fury Like That, I thought I’d take a moment to regroup and look at my writing year so far.

The year began in a very unwriterly way, with my day job taking over for the first three months – I hardly did any writing at all. I’m a freelance art director/graphic designer (specializing in print magazines) and what with the market being somewhat unstable (a polite way of saying it’s dying at a rapid and dismaying rate), I figured it was best to seize all the opportunities that came my way.
I ended up being on triple duty, with a bunch of projects, and it’s a good thing I focussed on them because when April came, everything dried up.
While I was concerned by the absence of work, I decided to put my head down concentrate on my writing, grateful to have the time.

The first project on the list was No Fury Like That. The bigger publishing houses are able to work far in advance, and when their advance reader copies are with reviewers and festival organizers, the smaller, independent houses are still fine-tuning their books, and I took full advantage of this time to sculpt my upcoming novel.

I’m a rigorous self-editor, I read the novel out loud, editing as I go. Then I print it out and painstakingly line-edit and review the hard copy. I input those changes – and I admit that inputting changes is the thing I enjoy least about writing! – and then I read the entire thing out loud again.

And finally, I was happy to send it off to my publisher. Of course, we reviewed the novel together four times but at that point, it was as shiny as I could get it on my own.

I then went back to a waiting novel, a novel I had penned to a first (or actually, second) draft, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution,. What a fun book this was to write! I did a lot of research into anarchy and I discovered it was not quite what I had thought it was. I did two rounds on this book and I submitted it to Inanna, and I am hoping it will be my 2019 book – Rotten Peaches, is scheduled with them for 2018.

I submitted a proposal to be Writer-in-Residence for Open Book Toronto and to my delight, I was accepted to be their November WIR! The theme I came up with is Sixteen Shades of Noir – as there are sixteen posts and I am increasingly interested in noir, past and present. I then invited a bunch of authors to chat to me about their noir – noir I have categorized as revenge noir, domestic noir, Catholic noir, comedic noir, poetic noir, horror noir, punk noir, short story noir, literary noir, YA noir, dystopian noir, noir love, noir soundtracks, Noir@theBar, Toronto noir, and dystopian noir.

I have comments from bestselling authors such as Linwood Barclay, Shari Lapena, Nick Cutter, Karen Dionne as well as many other CanLit superstars so I'm really excited about the series.

On another note, at the beginning of the year, I submitted a short story to the Mesdames of Mayhem’s upcoming anthology, 13 Claws, which will be released in Fall, and my story received excellent feedback from my fellow contributing authors.

Something about this short story called out to me, asking for more… the short story wanted to be a book!

But what kind of book? The short story is noir in the traditional sense of 1950’s noir and I wasn’t sure what kind of book it would make.

I read a bunch of books all of which seemed similar in genre, style and tone: The Widow and The Child, both by Fiona Barton. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. Into The Water by Paula Hawkins (she wrote The Girl on The Train) and The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne.

And I wondered… could I write a book like that? And, would Mad Dog and The Sea Dragon (the short story for 13 Claws), be a good vehicle for it?

Obsessed with my idea, I plotted the short story into a novel (what I thought would be a novel!) and off I went. To my dismay, by the time I reached a quarter of a novel length work, I had exhausted my entire plot! Panic-stricken (which seems to be how I roll), I thought, well so much for that, I can’t write a book like the ones I mentioned, clearly, it’s just not my forté.

I was dismayed but not deterred – just see what happens next, I thought – just sit down and see what comes up. And to my great joy, the twists and turns kept coming and I was quite happy with the result!

The novel was then read by a greatly respected bestselling author friend of mine and she informed me that it was not a domestic noir novel (which I had been attempting) but that it does have great potential to be a genre crime novel, a Tarantino-esque dark read (have I been influenced by all the noir I have been reading?!) and she and I had an excellent chat on how I can work on improving the work.

My friend said the work has a strong vein of dark humour running through it and I was very happy to hear that. The work is tentatively called Jumping Bad and I am currently working on my rewrites of that.

Following the first draft of Jumping Bad, I worked on a few short stories and, in addition, I launched a new website to promote books – The Minerva Reader.

My idea was to showcase books that readers might have missed – I tagged ‘the site to showcase unsung heroes (and heroines) but I have changed that to ‘treasures you might have missed’ and I hope you’ll take a look at the site if you have a moment.

As summer winds down (and I know I shouldn’t mention that!), book launches and festivals kick into gear and one festival to look forward to is Word On The Street, happening here in Toronto on 25th of September and yes, No Fury Like That will be available there!

I’ll be at the Inanna tent, as well as with the Crime Writers of Canada, the Sisters in Crime and the Mesdames of Mayhem and we’d love to see fellow book lovers come out for the day!

And then, there’s Bouchercon, a huge and truly delightful conference that’s happening from the 12th to 15th of October, right here in Toronto – it’s a fabulous festival for both readers and authors! If you’re in Toronto, there’s still time for you to sign up – come on out, it’s going to be a huge party!

I have the honour of moderating a panel of UK writers and we’ll be talking about UK fiction, a subject I love. Don’t you just love reading books that use words like treacle and lorry? The settings in UK fiction are so enticing – one day I’d love to travel solely on the basis of which book was written in which setting! The panel includes the bestselling authors Ruth Ware, Craig Robertson, Charles Finch, Cathy Ace and Marsali Taylor, and I’m a huge fan of all their books, so I’m tremendously excited about that!

No Fury Like That will be launching on 5th October, at The Women’s Art Association, 23 Prince Arthur Ave at 6pm and it’s a free event and we’d love to see you there! Four other authors will be launching too and believe me, you don’t want to miss out on a great evening of books – and the very best cheese and wine!

In case you’re wondering what No Fury Like That is about, it’s a revenge novel and here’s a blurb by fellow Madame of the Mesdames of Mayhem, Rosemary McCracken, author of the Pat Tierney mysteries. (I always feel like other people describe and define my work so much better than I do!)

“Julia Redner seemed to have it all: stunning good looks, a fantastic job, and enough money and perks to live in the style she’d grown accustomed to. But after it all went down and she finds herself in the afterlife, Julia realizes that she didn’t have a single friend and now has a whack of unfinished business to settle. No Fury Like That is a cautionary tale about the perils of rising to the top at any cost. It’s also a smart, satisfying read that’s laced with humour, peopled with quirky characters and moves along at a fast clip. Readers will root for its plucky heroine, hoping she’ll get a shot at a second chance. Another spellbinder from Lisa de Nikolits!”

And here is another review from James Fisher, The Miramichi Reader: “To date, I have read three of Ms. de Nikolits’ last four novels and it has been interesting to see her develop her serious-comedic style that really hit its stride in The Nearly Girl and has continued with No Fury Like That. As with the earlier novel, there are deeper undercurrents at play. InNo Fury Like That, we have a disparate cast of characters united in the afterlife and who for the most part are attempting to make sense of their earthly lives in a "coffee klatch" type of atmosphere, gently guided along by the more experienced Helpers. It is this "stand-back-and-take-a-look-at-your-life" message that is the biggest takeaway from the novel. It is about realisations: how an altruistic life is better than a self-centered mean-spirited one, the struggle for recognition is often futile, your family does need you, even if they don't know it, one act of indiscretion can have fatal consequences and the list goes on.” 

Two wonderful reviews which I hope will entice you to read the book!

And there you go, that's what's I've been up to. After a slow start, with no writing for the first three months, I’ve caught up – and then some – and I now look forward to celebrating the books as well as continuing to work on Jumping Bad.

To all my fellow authors out there, keep writing, I look forward to reading your work (and keep The Minerva Reader in mind, for submissions).

And to all the readers out there, keep reading because you’re the reason we write!

Here are some helpful links:
My author website:
The Minerva Reader:
Mesdames of Mayhem:

Other places to find me: 
• Twitter: @lisadenikolits
• Facebook:
• Facebook Author Page:
• Goodreads:
• LinkedIn:
• Instagram:
• The Mesdames of Mayhem:
• Pinterest:
• YouTube:
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June 15, 2017

I'm curating a new book review blog – The Minerva Reader, featuring fabulous books you might have missed!

These days we are all connected, right? We feel as if know, or at least have access to everything that's going on in the furthermost corners of the world. 

But do we really have any idea of what's out there? Facebook regulates our feeds, Twitters speeds by so quickly that it's hard to follow one’s followers unless they tag you. LinkedIn offers a fascinating flow of business practices and marketing trends but it focusses on the high-profile players. 

We have access to more books, movies, music, insights, trends, games, gossip and news but in a way, all of the intel has become no more than the newest way for big-box stores to advertise – the forum has changed but the players haven't. 

Sure, you might say, no surprises there, so what's your point? 

My point is that I'd like to do something about it. And I plan to do just that!

But first, let’s take a moment to chat tangentially about two goddesses, Inanna and Minerva. 

Inanna is the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, sensuality, fertility, procreation, and also of war. She was also seen as the bright star of the morning and evening, Venus. In some myths, Inanna is the daughter of Enki, the god of wisdom, fresh water, magic and a number of other elements and aspects of life, while in others she appears as the daughter of Nanna, god of the moon and wisdom. As the daughter of Nanna, she was the twin sister of the sun god Utu/Shamash. Her power and provocation is almost always a defining characteristic in any of the tales told of her. [Joshua Mark]

Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom, medicine, commerce, handicrafts, poetry, the arts in general, and later, war. Considered the daughter of Jupiter, from whose head she was born, the goddess was first worshipped in Rome.  [Mark Cartwright]

And here is my connection to these two goddesses.

Back in 1995, in the South African newspaper, The Mail & Guardian,, I saw an advert for a publishing house in London, UK. They called themselves Minerva and they were incredibly good at passing themselves off as a traditional publisher which was also called Minerva, only the latter was legit and they published beautiful and unusual literary works. 

The shysters I contacted operated a smooth operation and I was taken for a ride. Later reports say “They went bust (in 2002) because they were a scam. They were sued by more than 40 of their authors, and were the subject of two exposes on the BBC.”

And that’s good to know!

Now, many years later, I am about to publish my seventh book, No Fury Like That with my dearly beloved publisher, Inanna Publications – so yes, after a wobbly start, the goddesses have indeed to be kind to me!

But why The Minerva Reader? Why do I feel the need to do this at all, host a site to showcase books, when there are so many books (and sites) out there.

Well, to go back a bit, to last year, I was a guest at the Saint John, New Brunswick Literary Festival, FogLit, and it was there that I met Catherine Hogan Safer. I had not read any of Catherine’s works – she had written Bishop’s Road, and was promoting Wild Pieces, her new collection of short stories.

What a gem of a writer Catherine is! And there’s me, connected to dozens of social media sites, and I would never have known about her, had I not met her in person, via the kind invite of a literary festival.

Yes, Catherine received glowing newspaper and online reviews but still, I hadn’t heard of her and in the event that I’m not alone, I’d like to create a forum for the crazy talent out there, that might go unsung.

Therefore, welcome to The Minerva Reader!

This is my way of paying homage to the goddess Inanna, who has been so good to me and I’d like to set right my relationship with Minerva as I’ve been cloaked with shame for many years by that awful experience. The only thing I have kept of the book is a taped-up copy and I don’t mind the front cover which I feature on The Minerva Reader as a memento of past experiences that, while disappointing, were nevertheless the brave efforts of a determined spirit.

I do have a theme in mind for books featured on The Minerva Reader. I want to feature the hard-to-classify, between-the-genre type of book. I write cross-genre novels and no one (including myself!) knows where they fit exactly.

Perhaps I am trying to shine the spotlight on other books that don’t fit the mould that most agents and publishers and reviewers require.

So please send me your unsung heroes but note, I am looking for literary excellence. Not literary novels per se but excellent writing and original thinking.

Perhaps, if you are thinking about sending me your book, check out Catherine’s first because then you’ll see the kind of work I am hoping to feature.

And I am not looking to review the books as much as showcase them. I will read them thoroughly, will write a few lines letting you know why I think the book is a Minerva Reader Recommend and hopefully we will push some new voices to the front of the line!

Submission requirements:
• I am looking for hard copies, no more than 300 pages. I am looking for truly unique voices with flashes of brilliance. Quirky is good, dark is excellent. I love both poetry and prose and I am GENRE-FREE! This is a genre-free zone!

• I am asking publishers and authors to send me work. Publishers, if you have anything new coming up, I’d love to get an ARC from you. 

• The work needs to have been published in 2017 – forthcoming novels would be great.

• The work does not need to be written by a Canadian author or about Canada. Anyone can send me a book!

• The work needs to be traditionally, as opposed to self-published – at this stage, anyway!

And thank you, readers, authors and publishers, for participating. I very much look forward to reading new work!

And, disclaimer, I built the site using a new program, so forgive me if it’s a bit wonky. I’l be sure to fine-tune the

Please note: If you send me a book, there is no guarantee that it will be featured.

Email me at and let me know if you’d like to send me a book and I very much hope to hear from you.

And you can find The Minerva Reader at:
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Published on June 15, 2017 11:33 Tags: authors, books, fictions, genre, literary-blog-post, literature, opinions, reviews, writing

January 12, 2017

2017 - Here's to a New Year with new resolutions!

I am not sure about you but the start of a new year can be quite daunting! It’s very easy to feel completely overwhelmed by all the things you know you’d like to do but it seems very hard to get off the sofa and actually start doing them!

I am definitely a list-maker, to the point where I was practically addicted to lists and, at one point, I had to make a New Year’s Resolution to stop making lists! It was a tough resolution to keep but I stuck to it (although it didn’t put a stop the hundreds of Post-it notes that from being stuck all over the house and filling my purse! To this day, I still find them in jacket pockets – cryptic messages scribbled with book titles and things that don’t make any sense at all!)

Speaking of New Year’s resolutions, the Independent Publishers approached the 2016 IPPY award-winning authors and asked them to submit their New Year’s resolutions and the resolution could be about anything – plans for the upcoming year for life, for writing or for publishing, or for anything at all.

I thought it was a great opportunity to put my writing goals in perspective (for myself), and to help me prioritize what really matters to me. This is what I came up with:

I would like to be more mindful of the bigger picture of why I write. I resolve to acknowledge with gratitude what it means to be part of the creative process. In this age of aggressive social media and competitive promoting, one can become frayed as to the real reasons we write. Resolution: practice mindful gratitude for the opportunity to express an inspiring message with meaning.

You can find the other quotes and the full article here:

The thing is, I've been dismayed, and I am sure I am not alone, by the state of our world in recent times.

Sometimes it can seem like the darkness is winning and it’s easy to be swept away on the tide of gloom but I do believe in salvation.

Salvation can be found in art, and in creativity. And whether you express your creative self by knitting or sewing, or drawing or writing or cooking, or working with clay or photography or any medium you like, I implore you to keep doing it because that’s where salvation lies!

And, know too that there IS good in people. Sometimes we have to work to find it, since the bad guys seem to have the handle on winning the races but they don’t always win, they just shout the loudest when they do.

So seek salvation in creativity and art – that’s my plan anyway!

The bookish year started off well with a lovely radio interview on BlogTalkRadio, with Fran Lewis who also gave the book a five star review. You can hear the radio interview here:

I am really grateful to Fran for her insightful attention to detail and I thank her for this: “The story will evoke many emotions of sadness, anger, frustration, tears and joy with a touch of sarcasm, humor and a hint of the unknown as the unexpected often happens just when you think you have figured it out. Where they all wind up and their fate: Read the epilogue to find out. Interesting characters and a plot that is uniquely crafted and will keep you wondering what will the ending bring.”

And what else does 2017 have in store for my writerly life? I have quite a few readings and events coming up for The Nearly Girl (all will be regularly posted on the various forms of social media) and Inanna and I have a hugely exciting announcement – The Nearly Girl audio book will be available on soon!

This is the first audio book that Inanna and I have done together and I am tremendously excited! We worked very hard to choose the right narrator and we very much hope you will like the results!

As far as writing goals go, I have a new book scheduled for the Fall – No Fury Like That (with Inanna of course) which will be released in September of this year, in time for Bouchercon which will be in Toronto this year. Bouchercon is such a great event for readers and authors! We hope to see a huge turnout of both – there will be fantastic panels and discussions and giveaways and events, so please, join us in Toronto for Boucheron! The Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter are doing a great job at getting this huge event off the ground and I take my hat off to them.

I also need to work on the next draft of The Occult Persuasion and The Anarchist’s Solution which I'm very excited about (it’s such a fun story really, even although I attributed a spate of shingles to the novel’s topic of demonic possession!)

The Mesdames of Mayhem will have a brand new anthology out, also in time for Bouchercon, Thirteen Claws, and we are very excited about that!

And then of course, there is reading! I am a voracious reader and I love to gobble up a huge amount of books, as many as I can lay my hands on!

I hope you will check out for updates and also, all events are listed on my author page on Facebook and on Twitter.

And while I don't plan to be antisocial in any way, I will be spending less time on Facebook and more time on my yoga mat, or playing my guitar or reading or knitting - and most certainly writing!

I wish you, readers and writers, the very best for 2017!

Whatever your goals are, I hope you will reach them. And if they seem too overwhelming, just remember – baby steps!

My personal primary writing goal remains the same as it always was: Do One Thing A Day for Your Writing. It can be one paragraph, or one sentence – but just do that one thing and in this way, you can achieve your writing goals!
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December 1, 2016

So Long 2016 And Thanks For All The Fish!

And I have to say, when it comes to my writing and all the love that has been showered on The Nearly Girl, there really have been shoals of lovely, shiny fish!

The Nearly Girl emerged in October with bells and whistles and she, and her various characters, were met with enthusiastic reviews. I really couldn’t have hoped for a better reception and I’d like to say a whole-hearted thank you to everybody who came out to support the book – it really means the world to me.

I think the thing I enjoyed most this year, was the camaraderie of the writing world. Prior to the Toronto launch of The Nearly Girl, I went on a book tour down east, to Moncton, Saint John, St. John’s, Elsmdale and Charlottetown and I met truly wonderful people. I was invited to be a guest at the Saint John FogLit Festival and it was a highlight.

I was invited to stay at the National Water Centre in Saint John, which is an artist and writer’s retreat, and it was magical. I wrote my Watermark story to thank them for their hospitality and you can find it here:

The whole east coast book tour was amazing! Cape Spear in Newfoundland is a must-see! Then there’s Cape Enrage, The Bay of Fundy and Dildo in Newfoundland – but whatever you do, don’t get stuck in the suburbs of Paradise – at one point, much like in the Truman show, I was searching the skies for a rip – anything to get out of there!

But I loved Prince Edward Island with its red African earth and blue Canadians skies – could it be that a piece of Africa broke off eons ago, and drifted north? That may be but what I do believe is that I could happily live there – we had been there for just a day when I told my husband we should get the cat shipped to us and we should just stay. He said perhaps we should try it out for at least a week!

I was also a guest speaker at Word On The Street Toronto which was fantastic, I got to chat to so many people and I made lots of new friends and caught up with old.

The International Festival of Authors invited me to join the LitOnTour event in Woodstock and it was a stellar night. The Knox Presbyterian Church is an architectural wonder and it was marvelous to be able to read there. I really can’t say enough about the IFOA’s hospitality and warmth towards authors – they made us feel incredibly special. As I was a guest of that IFOA event, I was permitted to attend as many readings during the festival as I wished, and so I practically camped out down at the Harbourfront! I listened to David Adams Richards, I met Michael Ondaatje and a slew of hilariously witty Irish poets, and it was all very inspiring and extremely helpful when it came to my writing – the little gray cells really were fired into action!

I also met a bunch of wonderful international authors – two of whom really stand out in my mind – Suzana Tratnik (Games with Greta) and Miguel Angel Hernandez (Escape Attempt). Suzana’s stories are written with such grace, they carry with them complex depths and they tell of human emotions with such power. I learned a lot about short story writing from reading this collection and I really look forward to reading more of this author's work. Miguel’s novel is a fascinating, gripping, thought-provoking read that is not for the faint-hearted but I couldn't put it down! It holds excellent observations about art and it is beautifully written.

And there are many, many more books and authors that I would like to recommend – in fact, I have kept the IFOA program to refer to, when I need to find a book to read! And the list of CanLit writers is longer than my arm – keep an eye on my Goodreads site, as I will be sure to keep that updated with what I am reading.

I was also honoured to be included in two anthologies this year: PAC’N HEAT, a noir homage to Ms PacMan that was co-edited by A.G. Pasquella and Terri Favro and published by A.G. Pasquella, and what fun it was, writing that piece and we had a fab time at the launch!

The second anthology is The Whole She-Bang 3 published by the Sisters in Crime Toronto Chapter and the book proved so popular at the launch at the Sleuth bookstore that it sold out!

I also got to be part of two wonderful Poetry and Music Salon events at the Mount Pleasant and Palmerston Toronto libraries, as well being part of lots of other library readings. I was also honoured to be interviewed on HOWL CIUT896.5FM, by Valentino Assenza and here is the link to that:

So it has been a very busy three months, and you’d like to see some of the goings on, I have updated my website, with pics of the readings and with all the reviews, which I hope you will enjoy reading.

There are also links where you can order a copy of The Nearly Girl (recommended by Valentino Assenza to be a great Christmas present!) and if you do order a copy, I will send you a signed bookmark and button with Dr. Frances Carroll’s signature phrase, DO THE OPPOSITE THING.

And, if you order from the site and use the promotional code Holiday16 you will get 30% off!

Of course, one of the most exciting book events of the year is attending to the current work in progress and I am hard at work at that. This is a novel titled The Occult Persuasion and The Anarchist’s Solution and I would really like to complete a first draft by year-end.

I try to write a novel a year. Why I have set myself this personal deadline, I am not entirely sure but it certainly does make life interesting. I think I have a very low boredom threshold and I like to keep myself on my toes by thinking about the next book. I like to daydream about the characters or try to figure out the plot. It keeps me entertained and challenged, and those are two things my Gemini self needs, otherwise I become restless and annoyed – and I become very annoying to those around me!

People say writing is an isolated process and yes, it is that. However, it also isn’t. You get to hang out with infinitely complex characters who remain hidden for the most part, and you have to wait until they choose to leave the shadows and reveal themselves to you. So, I don’t find writing to be a lonely process, because I am with my pals. I do, however, find it to be fascinating, mysterious, incredibly frustrating, nerve wracking and utterly, utterly exhausting.

And the overwhelming worry is that it will just be a dead-end – what if there is nothing to follow a particular plot twist? What if it all just dies at 55K words?

The unpredictability of the characters is what makes it so harrowing. For example, in The Occult Persuasion and The Anarchist’s Solution, the initial idea was have a ghost appear to a character and then a crime would need to be solved (not exactly breathtakingly original but never mind!). I had an opening scene written out, as well as a careful plot but then, to my startled amazement, the occult persuasion turned out to be the pervasive influence and negative effect of capitalism and greed on the environment instead of a ghostly apparition! And then a bunch of anarchists entered the story with a truckload of toilet paper, and, instead of young couple being my lead characters, a sixty-year old man took the forefront, along with an ex-punk rocker who wants to pay homage to Sid Vicious along with trying to change the world for the better.

So there you go, my 2016 writing year in a nutshell and I can only hope that 2017 will at least match it, if not better it!

Friends, writers and readers, I know that 2016 has been very trying year for many and I hope you will have a wonderful festive season and that you will get to drink eggnog and see your loved ones and enjoy a respite from the grinding harrows of life. I wish you all the very best for 2017 – I hope your particular dreams and wishes will be met, whatever they may be. And I wish you very happy reading and writing!
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Published on December 01, 2016 10:21 Tags: authors-life, book-tours, books, canlit, celebrating, festivals, ifoa, reading, writing, year-in-review

September 10, 2016

The Story Behind Book Number 6! The Nearly Girl is nearly here!

I wrote the first draft of The Nearly Girl in December of 2013. The trip was memorable for three things. The first was that my nephew Grayson was just six months old and I met him for the first time. The second was that I was writing the book on a tiny ancient Macbook Pro (on which I write most of my first drafts as there is no internet or other distractions), and the third thing is that I got caught in a flash storm and was stranded at a ferry stop in Sydney, with the computer tightly tucked under my t-shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag I had found – I had no backup of my work and I couldn’t bear to lose this story!

The Nearly Girl. Accepted for publication by Inanna on the 7th of January, 2015 and about to be published for real. Her first public appearance will be at Word on The Street, Toronto, 25th of September 2016.

I told a friend of mine that giraffes take 13 months to gestate. In terms of The Nearly Girl, I have had two and a half giraffe gestations. And I have not actually given birth yet!

My very first inspiration for the book came about in 1984. 1984 was, as those of you who were around at that time would agree, a stellar year for shoulder pads, Bananarama, Wham! (yes, still with George Michael), Billy Ocean and Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69. TV shows were all fired up: Magnum, P.I., Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Knight Rider and The A-Team. Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Brooke Shields and my own personal fav, Paulina Porizkova, were hot on the covers of Elle and Marie Claire. Hair was big, jeans were pleated and the fashions will never see a revival, as dreadful as they were but there’s no doubt, we were living large and loving every moment!

And none of that has anything to do with The Nearly Girl.

But one book did. The Dice Man. Penned by George Cockcroft under the pen name of Luke Rhinehart, the novel is about a psychiatrist who makes decisions for himself and his patients according to the cast of the dice. Hailed as a cult classic that would change your life, it did change mine. I read it in 1984 and it made me want to write a book of my own with a crazed psychiatrist with his own therapeutic methods of treatment.

Now that I think about it, I have actually spent a lot longer than I thought, working on this book.

It took a long time for my psychiatrist to come to me with his own unique therapy – there was no short cut to my meeting with Dr. Frances Carroll. The road involved an intense study of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia and claustrophobia – the treatment was successful for the latter but not for the former but hey, the less you sleep, the more time you have to write, I guess.

And one day, mulling over my problem(s) and feeling super-annoyed with myself for having said problems, I snapped at myself – ‘just stop it! Just do the opposite thing and you will be cured! Just sleep! Just get in elevators, just go on subways, just get on planes!’

Of course, not being a qualified therapist, this did not achieve the desired result BUT it did spawn my dearly beloved Dr. Frances Carroll who is one of my favourite characters to date.

Such a nutter! And yet, so funny. Well, I think he is hilarious and I hope readers will too but I shouldn’t set expectations about the book in any shape or form – some readers may find him dangerous, or annoying and think he should be locked up. All of these observations would also be correct.

And I must not forget my dear Amelia, protagonist in all of this. She is The Nearly Girl and I was inspired by her by own inabilities to do certain things correctly – make lunch dates and stick to them, or use the oven as a filing cabinet for my manuscripts and printouts, use Vim to clean the dishes and dish detergent to clean the bathtub. And the temptation to just get on a bus, any bus and believe it would get me to my location because really, a bus is just a bus.

I have always struggled with so many of the rules of social engagement – like being at a job for example. At my first place of employment, I phoned my mother. “I can’t stand being trapped like this,” I said. “I have to leave. I can’t understand this rigidity.” She told me to get used it and I realized from her tone that she wasn’t joking.

So Amelia, dear to my heart, is based on my struggles but of course my struggles are just boring and tedious and have financial repercussions and no advantages whereas Amelia is much more interesting than me, and so are her adventures.

So, looking back, it has been a very long road, this longer than two and a half giraffe-gestations of this book and now that the birthing is very nearly here, I feel a mixture of terror and joy. Three parts terror to one part joy. I hope the world likes Amelia and Henry the poet (her father) and Megan the body-builder (her mother) and beloved Ethel and Ed (her grandparents) and of course, Dr. Carroll and the whole gang who attend the D.T.O.T courses.

The Nearly Girl… so nearly here – come on baby, not that much longer to go!

PS I will be at Word on the Street on 25th of September, on a panel with Steve Burrows (A Cast of Falcons) and Dietrich Kalteis (Triggerfish) in the Genre Zone tent from 12.15-1pm with signing in the Genre Signing tent afterwards. The book will also be available throughout the day at the Inanna Booth, #328 and I will be at the Inanna tent from 11-noon.

I will also be at the Sisters in Crime tent from 2-3pm (Booth WB11), Mesdames of Mayhem (9.30-10.30am and 5-6pm, WB12), and the Crime Writers of Canada booth #351 from 3-4pm (right next to the Genre Zone Tent). I really hope to see you there!

Please be sure to check out for reading times, reviews, photographs and all kinds of updates from a writerly world!
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June 1, 2016

My Gravestone Birthday Cake

“When I grow up, I want to be old!”

Yep, I’ve never heard anyone say that either! Because aging is not something we look forward to and the very word ‘old’ is used as a derisive noun, as if being old negates the very things that make you, you. All the hopes, dreams, successes and achievements are all swept aside by that one word: old.

Old. You are good for nothing, you’re a waste of space and energy. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so, not in this Westernized world of ours where youth and beauty are idolized and idealized.

How can one make peace, then, with the aging process when everything is geared towards informing us and affirming how awful life will be when we cease to matter because we are old?

And old I shall be, on my birthday on the 7th of June. I will be 50, which is, inescapably, old. Sure, it’s not as old as I (hopefully) one day will still be, but in of itself, it is old.

When I was coming up with a way to ‘celebrate’ this milestone of decrepitude, I thought of buying a plot in a graveyard and lying on it, to reflect upon my life thus far. But that called for more commitment than I was ready for: perhaps I don’t want to be buried at all but have my ashes flung into the wind somewhere.

Then I thought of having a gravestone made and putting it up in my garden. Lisa de Nikolits, R.I.P. 1966-2016. For some reason, my husband didn’t like this idea as much as I did.

And what was with all the gravestone imagery anyway? Did I really think my life was over? Was I buying in to the notion that all good things were ending because I was now officially old?

I have never been a person to go with the flow. I have never made life easy for myself. I have always fought against the norms for some reason, I have worked too hard, played too little and worried too much. I’ve analyzed, self-criticized, prioritized, categorized and ticked my life off in neat little boxes.

“Liesel,” my Dad told me from the time I was little, “you need to lighten up a bit. Not a lot, but just a bit.”

But fun and frivolity have never been high on my to-do list. I can’t even drink for heaven’s sake! One glass of wine and I am fast asleep at the table while others are downing bottles and doing the naked tango around me.

But before I make my life sound like an endless bore even to myself, that is very far from the truth.

I have had big dreams and while I put a lot of hard work into making them come true, I was also blessed that they came true at all.

A lot of people work very hard in life and don’t get to see their dreams come true. But I have.

I have travelled the globe from corner to corner. I have met fascinating people. I have worked on brilliant magazines. I have explored and photographed and observed and been part of a wonderful world.

And, most importantly, I have been published.

That, since I was about fourteen, was the most important box of my life, to be ticked off. And what a long and arduous journey that was. That I always wanted to be a writer – and felt it was my destiny – didn’t mean that it would all just happen or fall into place.

If Stephen King had a spike of rejection letters, I had a sword. It seemed as if my most important dream would never come true but I never stopped trying. When I finally realized that I had to learn to write in a different manner, approach things from a different perspective and learn my craft in a new way, that was when things finally started to happen for me.

And I would be utterly remiss if I neglected to thank my beloved Luciana Ricciutelli and everybody at Inanna, who give me more love and support and encouragement than any author could ever wish for.

And now, at 50, I would like to say goodbye to a few things. I would like to bury a few things and put them to rest, so that I too may rest in peace daily and be less angst-ridden.

I would like to say goodbye to the ghosts of disappointment that seem so tenacious in hanging around long after they have lost their relevancy. I would like to say goodbye to the self-recriminations of all the mistakes I made. So what? All those things are done and gone and they’re ready for their burial. Ashes to ashes, it’s time to let them go.

So many dreams have been realized, and there is so much more I would like to do.
And I would like to do those things with a bit more peace in my soul. I would like lay the torments of my younger self to rest and move forward with a clean slate.

And that is what I will do in seven days time. Come the 7th of June, I will eat my Gravestone Birthday Cake and say goodbye to the ghosts of old. That’s kind of ironic, the ghosts of old, when they come from my youthful past.

It’s time to let them go. And figs to what the Western world thinks about old! I am going to take 50 to be a new beginning, and you never know, I may even be able to make my Dad happy and lighten up a bit although that may be asking a bit too much!
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May 1, 2016

Bake Your Way to Happiness (the story behind this exciting new book!)

Have you ever had a crazy idea and thought that you just had to make it happen?

I’m sure we’ve all had those moments but then time passes or you try to make the idea come to life but the doors just don’t open in the way that you hoped they would, and you end up wandering off and pretty soon you forget all about it.

Well, you forget about it until you see something similar on the shelf in a bookstore and you think hang on a moment, that was my idea!

I had one such an idea and I am happy to say that the gods and goddesses of good fortune smiled upon me and the doors did not slam in my face and because of that, I can now, with great joy, announce the publication of Bake Your Way to Happiness, a self-help cookbook with recipes and strategies that will help you cope with the stresses and challenges that we all encounter in everyday life.

The story behind the book begins, of course, with a novel! I was working on a novel (which will hopefully be coming to you in 2018) and in it, my protagonist is an author. To which I asked the question: an author of what? She’s the author of self-help cookbooks, Bake Your Way to Happiness, Bake Your Way to Mr. Right, Bake Your Way to a Happy Family and Bake Your Way to a Great Career.

And that was when I realized that this could (and should!) be a real book!

As good fortune would have it, I was working at Canadian Living magazine at the time which is where I met Gilean Watts, one of the food editors and creator of mouth-watering delicacies and I approached her with the idea and she was immediately enthusiastic. She had a box with her Granny’s old recipe cards and she said they would be perfect for the book and that she would retest all the recipes to make sure they were still as fail-safe and delicious.

What good fortune! A food editor from Canadian Living magazine was in! That was huge!

Next up, I contacted Marilyn Riesz, an extremely talented therapist I had met when I launched my first book, The Hungry Mirror. Like Gilean, Marilyn was extremely enthusiastic and within an hour she had sent me an outline for a chapter which had me jumping for joy — what she had written was exactly what I had had in mind!

We started working on the project in October 2015, with me, self-appointed project manager, design director and layout and production artist (wearing my designer hat this time, instead of my writer’s hat).

I gave a lot of thought about how and where to publish it. I didn’t want to wait the eons of time it would take to find an agent or publisher, so I decided to self-publish it, using the Amazon forum, CreateSpace.

I set about learning how to use CreateSpace and I must admit that producing a coffee-table book is a bit different to designing a magazine but it wasn’t too tricky and the folks at CreateSpace were really wonderful (and very patient!) with my many questions.

I had eight proof copies done before I pressed the ‘print’ button because I wanted to make sure the colour was good and that the positioning and size of the typography was exactly as I wanted it to be (I designed the book in InDesign and made pdfs from there), and I hope there won’t be any unpleasant surprises down the line with things shifting or the colour variance occurences (since this is a print-on-demand book) but I was very pleased with the fresh whiteness and nice heft of the paper stock as well as the overall quality of the book.

I’m not sure why it was, but it felt very important for me to get this book out into the world. I guess I truly do believe that you can bake your way to happiness and I feel that this is a book that can make a difference to people’s lives, and that’s why I doggedly kept at it, even when I utterly tired out from a long day at work and from my other author commitments and projects.

In Bake Your Way to Happiness, you will find fifteen recipes along with fifteen strategies to nourish your body and spirit, and which will help you heal from all kinds of modern-day stresses and ails: sadness, body image issues, low self-worth, negative thinking, fear, insomnia, mood swings, anger, inner child issues, self sabotage, anxiety and more.

Please visit for more information and a link to order the book.

The mouthwatering recipes and associated chapters are:
1. How To Find Happiness (Melt Your Heart Blueberry Scones)
2. Nurture Your Body and Soul (Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies)
3. Being Present and Grounded (Apple Pie Muffins)
4. Shower Yourself With Love (Coconut Whipped Cream Cake With Fluffy Icing)
5. You Deserve Goodness (Rhubarb Pudding Cake)
6. Achieve The Success You Want (Never-Fail Fudge)
7. Love Your Body (Orange Cranberry Loaf)
8. Your Thoughts Are Your Friends (Butter Tart Squares)
9. Balance Your Moods (Almond Scotch Cookies)
10. Communicate Effectively (Best-Ever Lemon Pie) 11. Love Your Inner Child (Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes)
12. Enjoy Happy Relationships (Date Squares)
13. How To Manage Stress (Blueberry Coffee Cake) 14. Find Your Passion (Cranberry Pie With Orange Custard)
15. Get A Good Night’s Sleep (Classic Biscuits)

We will be doing a blog tour with Women On Writing in early June and I will keep the tweets flowing about that, as well as announcing the tour on Facebook.

The hashtag is #BakeYourWayToHappiness and I hope you will join in the discussions and follow the threads.

Bake Your Way to Happiness is available on and

Here is more information about the authors of Bake Your Way to Happiness:

MARILYN RIESZ, MA, RP is a registered psychotherapist with over 16 years private practice experience treating eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD and relationship issues. Marilyn has published numerous academic articles, led workshops, seminars and conferences. In addition to supervising and training graduate psychology students, she has enjoyed making guest television appearances, and presenting inspiring lectures in the mental health community. For more information about Marilyn and her therapeutic techniques, please visit

GILEAN WATTS is a recipe developer, food editor and writer with over six years of experience in food media. She is currently a food editor for Canadian Living, and has previously worked for brands such as Clean Eating magazine and Yahoo Canada. Gilean is a graduate of George Brown College’s prestigious Chef School, and the founder of the food blog Stuck in Thyme. For more of her work, visit

LISA DE NIKOLITS has art directed and worked on international magazine titles including marie claire (South Africa), Vogue (Australia), Vogue Living (Australia), Cosmopolitan (Australia), SHE (Australia), Canadian Health & Lifestyle, Cosmetics, and Canadian Living. She is the acclaimed author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, The Witchdoctor’s Bones and Between The Cracks She Fell (all Inanna Publications). For more information about Lisa, please visit and

And one last thank you to all the wonderful endorsers:

– Mariellen Ward is a Canadian travel writer who loves to spend as much time wandering in India as possible. She blogs about her adventures at

– Christal Earle, co-found of Live Different and

– Sheryl Gordon, Curator and Writer of A Rewording Life:

– Annabelle Waugh, food editor and recipe developer.

– Amelia Perri, Registered Psychotherapist,

– Janice Morgante, Executive Director
Riverwalk Eating Disorders and Wellness Centres.
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December 29, 2015

Setting Writing Goals for 2016

My husband vanished off a boat in Sydney. I looked up and he was gone. The horrible knowledge hit my gut with certainty, even although I had not yet searched the boat from stern to prow. But I just knew he was gone.
I ran to the front of the boat where I had last seen him, he had been leaning into the waves, half bent out of the boat, taking photographs and he turned to me, laughing, windswept, alive with happiness.

And now, there was no one there. The sun had just set and the waves had turned from gold to black and there was a whipping wind that stung my eyes.

I ran the full way around the ferry, twice, searching, not caring who saw me, and I caught glimpses of faces, wide-eyed and slack jawed, people safe and warm inside, looking at me as if I were a madwoman.

“My husband isn't on the boat, he has vanished,” I told the deckhand, and I was hysterical inside but I tried to sound calm. My breath was strangled in my chest and my words were sputters but I tried to make sense.

“He was there,” I pointed, “and now he's gone. He's fallen overboard. He's somewhere in the Sydney harbour, he is drowning, or he'll get hit by a boat, we have to turn around and find him.”

“We can't turn the ferry around, miss,” the man said. “Look, this happens a lot, couples getting lost, one losing the other. Don't worry, I am sure he got off at the Cremorne stop and you just didn't see him.”

“What stop? When did we stop? And I thought the Cremorne Point stop was the last one?”

“No, that's Mosman. Cremorne Point is the first one. Does your husband have a phone?”
“Yes, he does.”

“I'll go and get mine and we can call him. Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s fine.”

I stood there as the ferry made its way to the second stop and the deckhand reappeared but he had to offload passengers before he could make the call and I wanted to scream at him to hurry up as every passing minute saw my husband alone in the black water, alone and freezing.

I stammered out my husband's number and I got things mixed up, and I still couldn't breathe, I was trying to breathe, I was trying not to cry but he was gone, my big warm wonderful husband was out there in the black sea, I just knew it, I knew he had fallen overboard taking pictures and that he was all alone, trying to stay alive.
The call would not go through.

“Right, I'm not set up for international numbers,” the deckhand was apologetic. “But listen, your husband, he's a big guy, had a big camera? The guys upstairs said they saw him getting off the boat, one of them said they wished they had a camera like that.”

“He got off?”

“They say he got off. He looked around, like he was looking for someone, he was probably looking for you.”

I tried to calm my heart down, stop its unbearable racing but the pounding in my ears was so strong I could hardly hear the man and I wanted to hurry the ferry along, urge them to make it go faster.

“Just two more stops then we head back to where your husband got off,” the deckhand said. “You're lucky, we double back. Don't worry, I am telling you, the guys saw him.”

The fifteen minutes that it took to get to the Cremorne Point stop was a lifetime of hell.
Black water churned, the boat bumped along, people stared at me, and I stood there gulping, trying to stay dignified. I couldn't help it, tears ran down my face, and I brushed them away.
The boat was so empty, so big, so ominous without him. Everything was wrong, I felt like I was caught in a horrible dream, only I knew I was awake. And it was my fault. I should have kept a better eye on him, I should have watched him more carefully. Instead, I had been crouched in the back of the boat, taking photographs of my own, of graffiti in the window and so I missed seeing what happened to him, I missed everything.

As the Cremorne Point spot came into view, I saw the shadow of a lone figure moving in the brightly lit dock and I prayed it was him. I couldn't see for sure, only the shadowy movement of a single person. Was it him? Were they right? Had he gotten off? That was our stop, we were supposed to get off here but he surely wouldn't have gotten off without me? We always stayed together, we always knew where the other was, only in this instance, we had let go of our tie.

The figure finally came into view and it was him, big and wonderful him, and I rushed off the boat and grabbed him.

“I thought you were dead,” I said. “I thought you were lost in the Sydney harbour. I thought you fell overboard, taking pictures.”

“Oh, you!” he said, and he was amused although nothing felt funny to me, “you always go for the worst case scenario. Why don’t you try for something less dramatic?”

“I got such a fright,” I said, hugging him. “Why did you leave the boat without me?”

“I thought you had got off, I looked around and I couldn’t see you and the boat was about to leave, so I jumped off, thinking you would be waiting for me on the dock. That’s what you usually do, lead the way and wait for me. We missed the bus,” he said. “We’ll have to walk back to your sister’s house.”

“How can you be so jaunty?” I asked and he shrugged.

“Because everything was fine,” he said and he put his arm around me.

Of course, for me, nothing is ever fine! A writer’s mind always snaps to the worst case scenario – that’s just what we do.

And in this instant, as horribly unpleasant as the experience had been, it was also a gift from the writing gods because I now had a new twist for a novel I am working on.

I know that vanished spouses and missing family members are pretty standard fare for crime and mystery novels and I do plan to do something a bit different for this one and of course, my novel won’t have my happy ending.

While on this trip to Australia, I also found a title for my novel: The Occult Persuasion.
Consider the word occult:

oc·cult – əˈkəlt/
It has all the usual definitions: supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena, a secret society to study alchemy and the occult”

But then, I found this:
äˈkʌlt/ (of a disease or process) not accompanied by readily discernible signs or symptoms.
cut off from view by interposing something. “a wooden screen designed to occult the competitors”

And that is what my novel, The Occult Persuasion, will be about; that which cannot be seen, but behind which, evil exists.

I ‘only’ have 89 900 words left to write, the entire plot to construct, and a new crew of characters that needs developing.

This novel will be set in Sydney but it will open in Granada, Spain. There will be two Canadian protagonists and a single disturbed individual engaged in “supernatural, mystical, or magical beliefs, practices, or phenomena.”

Take that, add a missing husband who vanished off a boat, the ghost of an unhappy inmate of an insane asylum, drugs and human trafficking in Europe, young punk anarchists in Australia, and you have all the ingredients for The Occult Persuasion.

So that is one of my goals for 2016, to write the first draft of that book.

Submissions are open for The Whole She-Bang 3, an anthology published by the Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter, and I am writing a new story for this that I really hope the judges will like. Submissions are open to writers who reside in Canada and who are members of the International Sisters In Crime (but you don’t have to be a member of the Toronto chapter.) All guidelines can be found on

And let us not forget PAC’N HEAT, a chapbook of noir stories inspired by Ms. Pac-Man, which will be launching sometime in Spring. I am tremendously happy to have a small piece of flash fiction in this chapbook. You can check out more about it, and the contributors at:

I am also working on a secret project with two collaborators and I cannot say more than that, except that we hope the book will be available on Goodreads towards the Fall of 2016!

I am wearing my art director’s hat on that project though; I came up with the concept and the idea but I didn't the skillset to provide the specialized content, so I am working with two very talented women and this time, I am creating the design of the book which is what the other half of my Gemini self loves to do, design books and magazines.

Most importantly however, there will be the Fall 2016 launch of Novel #6, The Nearly Girl, and I want to do a very thorough self-edit of that before sending it to my Publisher, and that will take a good few months.

And of course, I must not neglect Between The Cracks She Fell, and there will be lots of readings and events for that book which is still fresh off the press. Between The Cracks She Fell is garnering a lot of wonderful reviews and was called 'a must-read' by Canadian Living magazine!and you can get your copy here: (, print and kindle) (, print and kindle)
Or order directly from Inanna:

Below are links to all the active sites, I hope you will stop by!

Best Wishes to everyone for 2016 – may it be the Best Bookish Year yet!
twitter: @lisadenikolits
Instagram: @lisadenikolits
The Mesdames of Mayhem:
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Published on December 29, 2015 09:34 Tags: goals, lists, new-year-resolutions, novel, short-story

Lisa writes, reads and blogs from time to time...

Lisa de Nikolits
My goodness... we are already well into 2018! Where does the time go?
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