Saturday, November 21, 2015

This weekend’s guest blogger, RJ Harlick

I’d like to welcome RJ Harlick as our guest blogger. RJ writes the popular wilderness-based Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of Quebec. With an underlying Native theme, each book explores not only the motives behind murder, but also issues facing Natives today and their traditional ways. Like her heroine Meg Harris, RJ loves nothing better than to roam the forests surrounding her wilderness cabin or paddle the endless lakes and rivers. The 4th book, Arctic Blue Death was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel. A Cold White Fear, the seventh in the series, has just been released. RJ is a past president of Crime Writers of Canada.

Launching into the great unknown

I’m thrilled to be making another appearance on Type M for Murder. Thanks, Rick, for inviting me.

I celebrated the launch of my latest book, A Cold White Fear, this week at a local pub in Ottawa with good friend and Type M blogger Vicki Delany, who was launching her latest, Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen. Even though this was the seventh book in my Meg Harris series, I still found it as thrilling as the launch of my very first book, Death’s Golden Whisper.

I know some authors don’t believe in official launches, but I’ve done it for every book and wouldn’t think of tossing it into the great unknown of discerning readers without a party. I love being able to celebrate my latest achievement with friends, family and fans. My sister even gave me a gorgeous orchid to mark its birth. For a few hours I am able to bask in their excitement at the prospect of reading a new book. For me it is a fitting end after months spent alone in front of my computer bringing my treasured words into fruition. I would feel cheated, if I only relied on my publisher’s press releases and ads to get the word out there. Sure I post numerous announcements of its pending release on Facebook and various blogs, but there isn’t the same feeling of celebration as there is with a gathering of excited readers.

For my earlier books I used the lobby of a nearby library for the venue, but I found it cold and uninviting despite being packed with gregarious readers. Three books ago I switched to a local pub and liked the warmth it exudes much better. A tipple or two doesn’t hurt either, on the part of the readers that is. I wait until after my reading to have my celebratory glass of wine or two, otherwise who knows what I would end up reading.

The pub I use has a room that is separate from the rest of the establishment, so I don’t have to contend with noisy chatter from regular pub goers, plus I can get the manager to turn off the Muzak. You want people focused on your reading and not on the conversation going on at the next table.

A pub location does however restrict the timing of the launch. Needless to say Thursday through to Saturday evenings are a non-starter. I usually chose Tuesdays, a quiet night for a pub and a night most people are likely to have free. Some of my fellow writers chose Sunday afternoons, another quiet time for a pub. But I prefer evenings, which gives the launch a more party-like atmosphere. To handle book sales, I bring in my favourite independent bookseller, rather than trying to manage that aspect myself.

Since people are there to chat with you and each other and to get a glimpse of what the book is about, buy it and get it signed, I like to keep my words to a minimum. I do a short five to seven minute introduction to the book along with appropriate thank you’s, followed by a short five-minute reading.

I always start with the first chapter. I figure if my first chapter can’t spark interest at the launch how can I expect it to draw in readers who pick it off an anonymous bookshelf. But I do some editing. I know, you’re probably suppose to read every word, but I don’t. I usually leave out the text that provides situational information that a reader reading the entire book would need. And I always end it on a cliff hanger. Usually this is the end of the first chapter, but sometimes it isn’t. I want my listeners to be hanging on every word, dying to know what will happen and when I don’t reveal it, having them rush over to the bookseller to buy the book to find out. I follow the same practice with any public reading.

After that the fun begins, chatting with everyone and signing their books, though I do find it a challenge to come up with appropriate and unique inscriptions. After all, you don’t want people comparing books and discovering that they all have exactly the same inscription.  And oh yes, now I get to enjoy a glass of wine.

In closing, I’d like to introduce you to A Cold White Fear, now available in a store near you or any online bookseller and in all ebook formats. This seventh Meg Harris mystery is a thriller, a departure from the crime-solving story lines of my other books, though they all have a thriller aspect to them. It’s an action packed read. One reviewer said she started reading it when she went to bed, couldn’t put it down and ended up staying up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it.

It’s the week before Christmas and Meg is alone with her young friend Adjidamo in her isolated Victorian cottage.  Outside a blizzard rages, closing off all road access. A knock suddenly echoes through the house. She discovers two men at the front door, one of them bleeding. And so begins a terrifying night that has Meg summoning up a courage she didn’t know existed to get her and Adjidamo out of it alive.
Visit RJ Harlick’s website,, for more information. 

1 comment:

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

Your book sounds intriguing, RJ. And that cover is to-die-for.