Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Recently I waxed excited about my story’s inclusion in Judy Penz Sheluk’s anthology from Superior Shores Press, The Best Laid Plans.

It’s here. It’s now. You can order it from a variety of online sources in paperback or e-copy.

Spirit River Dam” is a tale of potential art fraud with very high stakes.

The Drive, Tom Thomson 1916-17

Tom Thomson’s The Drive, Winter 1916-1917

Imogen runs a trendy art gallery in Toronto in the Sixties. She is surprised and delighted and wary in equal parts when her ex walks in with Spirit River Dam, a painting that could very well be a long lost work by Canadian artist, Tom Thomson.

The painting looks right; it feels right. It ticks all the right boxes. Except for one little detail.

Now, if they could just make that one little detail disappear…. And to what lengths will they go?

* * *

Does the mysterious painting, Spirit River Dam, look a little like The Drive, above?

Or maybe like this one?

Tea Lake Dam, Tom Thomson, 1915

Tom Thomson remains one of Canada’s best-loved and admired artists. His ground-breaking paintings of the early twentieth century, including depictions of Algonquin Park, became the the basis for a whole new school of Canadian art.

Tom, Fishing in Algonquin Park

You can explore Tom Thomson’s entire catalogue here, including all his painting of dams.

And you can order your copy of The Best Laid Plans here.

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I just got the good news.

My latest story, “Spirit River Dam”, has been selected for Judy Penz Sheluk’s upcoming anthology, The Best Laid Plans, coming in June from her imprint, Superior Shores Press.

I first met Judy, fellow Sister in Crime, when we were billed together in The Whole She-Bang 2, my first outing as a published crime writer. Judy’s the author of several crime novels and story collections, which you can read all about here.

Me and Judy at Sleuth of Baker Street, Toronto.

I tend to need a theme and a deadline before I can jump into a short crime story. So I was immediately taken by the reminder of Burns’s poem, “To a Mouse“, with its warning,

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley….”

(I don’t have to explain “agley” do I? Or Burns?) It goes on,

An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Yeah…. All that promis’d joy, all that grief an’ pain. Theme. Big time.

So let’s see….someone has an old painting in their house, going back generations. A painting of a dam on a river in what could be Algonquin Park. Kind of in the style of Tom Thomson. Kind of like this one.

Tea Lake Dam, Tom Thomson, 1915

Is it a Thomson? Isn’t it? Might it be? And if it isn’t, then what if….?

Yes, you’re right. It was inspired by a story in the news last year. With a joyful ($480,000) ending. My story, being fiction, might not go so well. Might go agley, in fact.

Or not.

I’ll keep you all posted, closer to launch day.

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There’s a new man in my life: Arthur Ellis.  He’s moved into my house and lives on my desk.

Last night, I received the 2017 Arthur Ellis Award for my short story, “A Death at the Parsonage“, from the Crime Writers of Canada.

I was in good company when I was shortlisted last month, along with fellow writers in The Whole She-Bang 3 anthology, Cathy Ace and Elizabeth Hosang.

And I’m in good company again with the other winners (below).  All the details about their winning books can be found at the CWC website.

It was an exciting night, meeting with other crime writers, and having Norman and my tablemates send good vibes my way.

Many, many thanks to the Crime Writers of Canada and their endless work in making the awards happen, and to their hard-reading judges.

I have to share here some of the commentary from the judges:

…Susan Daly combines all the familiar elements of Pride and Prejudice in a murder… following the conclusion of Jane Austen’s literary Classic.  Daly’s witty dialogue and sensitive attention to detail pull the reader back in the world of Elizabeth Darcy (née Bennet) and her hapless friend Charlotte, who now finds herself under suspcion after the violent and mysterious death of her husband. Daly’s characters all seem to have stepped gracefully out of the original novel as she seamlessly weaves old with new. …Most compelling is the author’s ability to make us believe in the world she has created.  Here is a well crafted story and a thoroughly entertaining reminder of what darkness human beings are capable of when they [dare to] read novels.

The winners: Donna Morrissey (not present), S.J. Jennings, Marie-Ève Bourassa, Elle Wild, Christina Jennings, Gordon Korman (not present), Jeremy Grimaldi, Rick Blechta and me.

And many more thanks to Toronto Sisters in Crime for pulling together the three Whole She-Bang anthologies.

Sisters in Crime: Janet Costello, me, Helen Nelson. With Arthur

Thanks also to Jane Austen for creating my characters.

Where to buy The Whole She-Bang 3

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A Death at the Parsonage – exciting news.

I’m having a great time with my short stories this year. And now, can you believe it, “A Death at the Parsonage“, has been shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Award for best short story.

The story, included in The Whole She-Bang 3 Anthology, is based on characters from Pride and Prejudice characters (as if no one has done that before) because I feel that Charlotte deserves better in life than to be stuck with Mr. Collins forever, though she explains her low expectations to Elizabeth:

I am not romantic, you know; I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connection, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state. (P&P, Chapter 22)

The Collinses in Happier Times

It was inevitable, perhaps, that someday someone would get fed up with the “conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly man” (as Elizabeth so roundly describes him) and take a swing at him.

When the finger of guilt points to Mrs. Collins, it’s fortunate that her dearest friend is on hand to set matters straight.


The Whole She-Bang 3 is the collaborative work of members of Toronto Sisters in Crime, co-ordinated by Helen Nelson, edited by Janet Costello and brought to life by a tireless team of volunteers. The anthology features works by 20 Canadian crime writers, and is (can you tell by the title?) the third in the Whole She-Bang Series. All are available from your favourite on-line booktores.

The Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Crime Writing are held every year by the Crime Writers of Canada. The shortlists were announced April 20, and include, as always, a glorious array of talented Canadian crime writers in a variety of categories.

The award gets its name from the Nom de Noose of Canada’s Official Hangmen, who were never known by their real names. The charming wooden statuette (to quote the CWC website) represents a “condemned man on a gibbet whose arms and legs flail when you pull a string – considered by some to be in execrable taste.”

Capital punishment was abolished in Canada in 1976; the last official hanging took place in 1962.

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Busy month.  The Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime is about to release their 4th fishy anthology, Fish Out of Water.

All of the talented writers in this collection have started with the title theme, focussing on a character who is swimming outside their comfort zone and getting in deeper.

I’m so pleased my own story “Gossip” is part of this collection.

Amy, a successful artist, returns to the small town she left behind her nearly twenty years ago, having heard a surprising revelation about her reputation.

She’s back to set the story straight, but soon finds it’s not easy to root out what really happened.

Especially when the Church Bazaar Ladies get down and dirty with the gossip.

Amy Hartmann parked on the main street near the Co-op and lit a cigarette and waited. How stupid was it to come back? What could she achieve? Although no one had said anything to her face, she knew half the town—the half over forty—remembered her as the girl who stole Louise Mathieson’s husband.

She’d felt like a fish out of water in this hole since the moment she was born. Too smart, too ambitious, too full of ideas. Eighteen years ago, she’d vowed never to return. Carpathia wasn’t Vancouver. Hell, it wasn’t even Vernon. It was the dreariest dump in Canada, and she’d seen a lot of dreary dumps in her hungry years.

Damn the luck anyway, running into Leon Briggs last month. If only she’d looked through him, instead of letting herself wonder where she knew him from. Leon, in no way memorable except for how he would hang around outside the high school, eyeing the girls. They’d all made fun of him. Creepy old Leon.

Though no creepier than a lot of the men in the town. Her father included.

Leon had remembered her, all right. Along with the unknown history she’d left behind. That had been the shocker.

There she was. Louise Mathieson hadn’t changed in all these years, except to look even more dowdy and plain. Jesus, was that the same coat she’d worn eighteen years ago? Amy stubbed out her cigarette and got out of the car.

Louise knew her immediately. She didn’t appear surprised. Just angry.

Fish Out of Water, edited by Ramona Defilice Long, is published by Wildside Press, and is available there in paperback.

Where else to buy Fish Out of Water.

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Another exciting publication date is coming up for me at the end of April. My short mystery “The Lady’s Maid Vanishes” will be part of Malice Domestic’s latest anthology, Mystery Most Historical.

The 29th annual Malice Domestic Conference is being held April 28-30 in Maryland. This year’s theme is historical mystery, and I’m in good company with 29 other mystery writers, including Catriona McPherson, Marcia Talley and Martin Edwards.

“The Lady’s Maid Vanishes” takes place in 1931, when Lady Byng, wife of the former Governor General of Canada, and her entourage are staying at a rustic lodge in the Rockies. Her maid, Vaughan, goes for a walk in the woods, and vanishes.

The story was inspired by an incident I read in the memoirs of Evelyn, Lady Byng, Up The Stream of Time. In real life, Vaughan was found safe, though terrified, long after nightfall.

Evelyn Byng, Viscountess Byng of Vimy

My story, however, takes quite a different turn.

The collection is published by Wildside Press and will be available at the conference (at the end of April) and afterwards at their website.

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I suppose my youthful enthusiasm is showing…. January 14’s Toronto Star had a great review for The Whole She-Bang 3. And somehow, Jack Batten put little glitter lights all over my story.

The antholowsb3-jack-battens-review-dategy is a huge collaborative effort by a lot of Sisters in Crime, expecially Helen Nelson, co-ordinator in chief, and editor Janet Costello. We had volunteers dealing with receiving and juggling all the submissions and judges and proof-readers and a crackerjack cover artist.  And 17 other terrific writers.

And the column was picked up by the Waterloo Region Record too, so my cousin John emailed me to tell me I’m famous. (Well, in a few households anyway.)

I have to say I’m feeling pretty chuffed over Jack’s singling me out.

Where to buy a copy







Read about my earlier story in The Whole She-Bang 2

where Jack Batten also gave me a mention: “Susan Daly presents a juicy story of confrontations between characters based on Rob Ford and Margaret Atwood.”

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It’s here. Now.  The Whole She-Bang 3

shebang3We’ve had our Toronto Sisters in Crime  launch, with amazing author readings and masses of chocolate.  After listening to enticing samples read by some of the 18 authors I’m keen to sit down with my own copy and find out where all these intriguing set-ups are headed.

The public launch is Sunday, November 27th at 2:00 pm, at the fantastic Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore at 907 Millwood Rd, Toronto

More readings, more authors, more chocolate.  And wine.

And of course, you can buy the hard copy there.

You can buy your e-copy right now, at an attractive introductory price. Click here to learn where. (Hard copies will be available online soon).

I hope you enjoy my two crime stories, “A Death at the Parsonage” and “Family Traditions“.

Find out more at Sisters in Crime – Toronto

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It’s coming soon….The Whole She-Bang 3


Love this cover art by Chris Lang

November 2016 will see two of my stories appearing, along with those of 17 other Canadian crime writers, in the new anthology from Canadian Sisters in Crime.

A Death at the Parsonage

1823 England: When a not-very-well-liked clergyman dies a suspicious death while preparing his Sunday sermon, a quick-witted lady turns detective to come to the aid of her friend.

Family Traditions

Stuck in the kitchen on the biggest turkey-and-football day of the year, a long-suffering housewife takes a new look at sacred family traditions.


The launch….

Our big launch is on Sunday, November 27th at 2:00PM, at the fantastic Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore at 907 Millwood Rd, Toronto

Wine, readings, author signings and nibblies will all be happening. And of course, you can buy the hard copy there.

Find out more at Sisters in Crime – Toronto

I’ll be letting you know the moment e-copies and hard copies are available on line.

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After a busy and exciting spring, having three new short stories accepted for crime anthologies, I got word in September that a FOURTH story has been added to the mix.

Historically Speaking: I’m thrilled to learn my story “The Lady’s Maid Vanishes” has been accepted for inclusion in the anthology, Mystery Most Historical , to be published in time for the 2017 Malice Domestic mystery conference.

More She-Bang: November 2016 will see two of my stories appearing, along with those of 17 other Canadian crime writers, in the new anthology, The Whole She-Bang 3

Swimming with the Guppies: My short story “Gossip” will be included in the next Guppy crime anthology, Fish Out of Water.

The Guppies are a Sisters in Crime group of writers whose first three anthologies all have a distinctly fishy flavour.

 The Lady’s Maid Vanishes

1931 in the Canadian Rockies. When her maid goes missing from the viceregal entourage while travelling through the Rockies, Lady Byng, wife of the Governor General, is determined to find out the truth.

 A Death at the Parsonage

1823 England: When a not-very-well-liked clergyman dies a suspicious death while preparing his Sunday sermon, a quick-witted lady turns detective to come to the aid of her friend.

Family Traditions

Stuck in the kitchen on the biggest turkey-and-football day of the year, a long-suffering housewife takes a new look at sacred family traditions.


A successful artist returns to the small town she left behind nearly twenty years ago, and discovers her reputation is not what she thought it was.

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