Mystery Mondays: Author Garry Ryan on Keeping A Novel Relevant

I know a secret! Today on Mystery Mondays, Garry Ryan, best-selling author of the Detective Lane Mysteries, is here to talk about keeping a novel relevant. But that’s not the secret.

Do you want to know the secret? Of course you do.

The next novel in the Detective Lane series will be published by NeWest Press this year! The title:  MATANZAS.

The blurb is below…Maybe if we’re lucky, Garry will give us more details on the release.

And now over to Garry.

Keeping a Novel Relevant by Garry Ryan 

How do you make a book relevant at release? A few years can pass after the process of writing, submitting and editing is completed. It can become a bit of a challenge to remain current.

As a result, I look for plausible predictions of what’s likely to happen. I also watch trends and think about outcomes.

Matanzas might work as an example here. It’s set in Cuba and Calgary. Before writing the novel there had been whisperings about Cuba and the US normalizing relations. After the book was written and accepted by the publisher, the US reopened its embassy in Havana. It was necessary to keep this likely scenario in mind while developing characters and plot so as not to make any obvious errors.


I’ve also been watching the changes happening in Latin America while working on novels exploring the relationship between Canada and Mexico. It’s really about seeing how the old, the new and our cultures interact during difficult times. Carrying a camera documents these changes, which comes in handy when writing scenes.


Predicting the future is a fool’s game, but considering a variety of outcomes and how they might legitimize or compromise a novel is worth considering.



Matanzas Cover copyHis psyche still reeling from having to kill a criminal in the line of duty, Calgary’s Detective Lane flies to Cuba to celebrate the wedding of his beloved niece. While there, though, he finds himself drafted by the local police into investigating the murder of a Canadian tourist.

Upon his return to Calgary, links between this incident and the deaths of local elderly pensioners start to make themselves known, drawing Lane and his partner Nigel Li further into a web of conspiracy, politics and big money.

Garry Ryan’s award-winning, best-selling mystery series continues with all the intrigue, good humour and mochaccinos that fans have come to expect.

Who is Garry Ryan?



Since 2004 Garry Ryan has published nine novels with NeWest Press. The second, The Lucky Elephant Restaurant, won a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. In 2009, Ryan was awarded Calgary’s Freedom of Expression Award.


Mystery Mondays: Garry Ryan on Being There

Today on Mystery Mondays we welcome award-winning author Garry Ryan of the Detective Lane Mysteries and Blackbird Trilogy. This is Garry’s second time on Mystery Mondays sharing advice.

Being There by Garry Ryan

Nearly everything we experience can become research. This July we drove just over two thousand kilometres to a wedding in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. The driving time became a luxury of boredom. After a while, the imagination gets starved, begins scanning for stimulation.

It gave me time to think about this character (Lauren) I’ve been working on. What makes her tick? As I was driving to ­– then walking around – Yorkton, it got me wondering where Lauren comes from, seeing the world through her eyes.

I found the house she grew up in.


There were the railway tracks running through town. The sound of the train horn, the pounding of the locomotives rumbled through her life.


I sat in a park out back of the RCMP detachment …



… and was able to see the place through her eyes.



In the alley, behind a brick building, I spotted chrome exhaust pipes. A quick walk revealed this barbecue/smoker. Lauren’s character began to form. In some inexplicable way I understood why she is tied to this place, and why she leaves.

When we stopped for gas at the Co-Op on a Friday evening, a young man pulled up in a green Dodge diesel pickup. He revved the engine, creating a noxious black cloud of smoke. Lauren had a strong reaction to his rolling coal. Now I think it might be possible to get back to the novel and react to events as she would.

Over and over again, travel becomes a rich environment for ideas.


It provides opportunities to breathe life into characters and settings. If you’re sensitive to that kind of thing, Saskatchewan has a definite `feel’. That fact became obvious when I saw these clouds gathering into a storm, it created a real sense for the way the air cools just before, and the way it smells just after. You can only write a scene like that when you’ve been there.

WHO IS Garry Ryan?

Garry  PhotooSince 2004 Garry Ryan has published nine novels with NeWest Press. The second, The Lucky Elephant Restaurant, won a 2007 Lambda Literary Award. In 2009, Ryan was awarded Calgary’s Freedom of Expression Award.

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Announcing Mystery Mondays

Promoting Reading – Promoting Authors

It is my pleasure to announce I will be hosting a series called Mystery Mondays.  Authors from many genres who write with a hint of mystery will tell you about their books, answer your questions about writing and share their thoughts with you. Every Monday, you’ll be introduced to another author and maybe discover someone you’re not familiar with.

The opening line-up of Mystery Mondays authors:

Character Driven THRILLERS: Luke Murphy, July 20th

Psychological HORROR and YA THRILLERS: Michael Conn, July 27th

Adventurous Women SLEUTHS: Catherine Astolfo, August 3rd

THRILLERS for Adult and Children: Donna Galanti, August 10th

A Formidable Calgary DETECTIVE: Garry Ryan, August 17th.

Dangerous Amateur SLEUTH: Debra Purdy Kong, August 24th

MYSTERIES with a Hugely Successful Sleuth: Rosemary McCracken, August 31st

Mystery, History and Romantic SUSPENSE: Alison Bruce, Sept 7th

Screwball COMEDY Capers: Melodie Campbell, Sept 14th

Amateur SLEUTH with an Edge: Judy Penz Sheluk, September 21st

Exciting Police THRILLERS: Brenda Chapman, Sept 28th

Gritty and Psychological THRILLERS: Barbara Fradkin, Oct 5th

Sassy yet Vulnerable SLEUTH: Phyllis Smallman, Oct 19th

International best-selling author Cheryl Kaye Tardif will be posting…the mystery is on what date. She’s booked. We have her. So stay tuned to find out.

Click on the blue-green-ish highlighted author names above and you’ll be taken to their page to find out more about them, or even better, order their books and experience a fantastic read.

If you’d like to be hosted on Mystery Mondays, come back here next Wednesday and I’ll tell you how.

Thanks for reading… And please share to help spread the word.

Unveiling of DESCENT…A little more…

You’ve probably noticed I’m having fun with the upcoming release of DESCENT. So here’s a big piece of the fun. Award winning author of the Inspector Green mysteries, Barbara Fradkin, provided a quote for the cover of DESCENT. I can hardly contain my excitement.

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If you haven’t read Barbara, now’s your chance! Here is where you can find her first Inspector Green novel, DO OR DIE.

For the inside cover, I was very lucky to receive quotes from Brenda Chapman and Garry Ryan. Check out Cold Mourning by Brenda and Queen’s Park by Garry. These are the debut novels in their series.

In case you haven’t seen their quote, I just have to share them again.

“Murder rocks the competitive ski world in Stanley’s layered tale with enough suspects to keep readers guessing until the last chilling chapter.” –Brenda Chapman: Award winning author of the Stonechild and Rouleau Mysteries.

“From the first line, you’re strapped into a Stanley novel. Just turn the page, hang on, and enjoy the ride.” –Garry Ryan: Award-winning author of the Detective Lane mysteries and Blackbird trilogy.

Full cover coming soon…

If you haven’t read my blog before, I’ve signed on with Imajin Books and will blog about my publishing adventure. I’ll share what I learn and hope it helps someone out there get their novel published.

Thanks for reading.


Early Praise For Descent: A Stone Mountain Mystery #1

On the twisted and bumpy trail of getting published, I’ve sent out my advanced reader copy of DESCENT for review by other authors. The idea is to get a blurb for DESCENT that can be published with the novel and used for marketing in the early days of release.

As difficult as it was to ask others to read and create a one to two-line sentence about DESCENT, I’m glad I did. Three talented Canadian mystery authors took time out their busy schedules to help me out. I’ve read every book by each of the authors and have been a long time fan of all three. Imagine how great I felt have them not only read DESCENT  but then to write  such wonderful reviews for me.

Here is what I received (in alphabetical order)  from Brenda Chapman, Barbara Fradkin,  and Garry Ryan::

Brenda Chapman: Award winning author of the Stonechild and Rouleau Mysteries.

“Murder rocks the competitive ski world in Stanley’s layered tale with enough suspects to keep readers guessing until the last chilling chapter.”

Barbara Fradkin: Author of the Inspector Green Mysteries and two-time winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel.

“In this impressive debut, Kristina Stanley weaves a vivid, chilling tale of jealousy, secrets, and betrayal in a close-knit mountain ski village. Like its likeable young heroine, Kalin Thompson, DESCENT is both tender and tough.”

Garry Ryan: Award-winning author of the Detective Lane mysteries and Blackbird trilogy.

“From the first line, you’re strapped into a Stanley novel. Just turn the page, hang on, and enjoy the ride.”

Brenda has authored:

  •  Cold Mourning,
  • My Sister’s Keeper,
  • Second Chances,
  • The Second Wife,
  • The Winter’s Grip,
  • Trail of Secrets,
  • Where the Trouble Leads,,
  • Hiding in Hawk’s Creeks,
  • Running Scared and
  • When Boomers Go Bad.  

For more about Brenda and her books click  here.

Barbara’s novels include:

The Inspector Green Series: 

 The Cedric O’Toole Series:
For more about Barbara and her books click  here.
Garry’s works include:
The Detective Lane Series:

Garry has written the first two of the Blackbirds Trilogy:

For more about Garry and his books click here.

If you haven’t read my blog before, I’ve signed on with Imajin Books and will blog about my publishing adventure. I’ll share what I learn and hope it helps someone out there get their novel published.

Thanks for reading…

The Writing Process Blog Hop

Calgarian Garry Ryan, author of the Detective Lane mystery series and the Blackbirds Trilogy, asked me to be part of the blog hop. Of course I said yes to Garry. You may have heard of the Crime Writers of Canada. When Garry was the president, I was lucky enough to have him as my mentor as part of the CWC mentorship program. Garry worked by my on my Manuscript, Burnt, which has since been nominated for the Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers Association in the UK. How could I not be excited to follow Garry in the blog hop?

This is your chance to get a looking inside a writer’s  mind, or in this case many minds if you follow the blog hop.

I have tagged two author friends to take part in the blog hop. The bio’s are listed below. Please check out their blogs too 🙂

Now to the reason for the blog hop:

What Am I Working On?

I read somewhere that life as a writer means having homework for the rest of your life. There is aways something to work on, whether it is writing, researching, social networking, learning, editing or proofreading. Then there is the query letter, blurb or synopsis to be written. Now add in my blog. All are part of being a writer and all can be very engaging tasks.

On the writing scene, I currently drafting the fourth novel in the Stone Mountain mystery series. The series takes place in a fictitious ski resort located in the depth of the Purcell Mountain Range in British Columbia, Canada.  The protagonist, Kalin Thompson, is the director of security and human resources at the resort in continually finds herself torn between running investigations and her friends who live in the small community. She can’t look for suspects without looking at one of her friends.

For editing, I am working on Look the Other Way. The novel takes place in the Bahamas and is a spin off from the Stone Mountain mystery series.

How Does My Work Differ From Others in It’s Genre?

Drugs and the drug industry gets a lot of focus in the BC press. i try to stay away from the topic. There are many great books by BC novelists that delve into this area. I’ve chosen other crimes, typically the type committed by an every day individual who has been pushed beyond their limits. I try to make wilderness living and wildlife interaction a character within my books.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

One night, while I was living in Germany, I tried to go to bed early. A company driver was to pick me up at 4 a.m. to take me to the airport. I was nervous about a presentation I was to make in London, England and wanted a good night sleep. Here’s where a small decision I made changed my future path. I picked up a novel, Moonlight Becomes You, by Marry Higgins Clark. It starts out with a woman trapped in a coffin. Now how could I put that down before finding out how she got out of the coffin. I read through the night until my car arrived. Exhausted, but excited, I knew I wanted to write something that would keep a person from going to sleep, even when they knew they needed to be their best for the coming day.

I write about the Purcell Mountain range because it’s a magical place. I write about human resources and security at a ski resort because I have experience in the field. My job at a ski resort was the best job of my life and writing about the industry is a way for me to keep it with me.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

Variety. That’s the key for me. Morning’s are usually better for me if I want to get more words on the page. By the end of the day, I’m better at researching or working on my online platform. I like to write without interruption, as I’m sure most of us do, but I’m pretty good a tuning out the world around me if I can’t find a quiet place. Mostly I write on a computer, but sometimes a pen a paper get my creativity moving.

To create a first draft, I decide on a crime and start writing. I develop my characters as I go. By the end of the first draft, I usually know who committed the crime, but that might change in a later draft. Once the draft is done, I create a spreadsheet and start a detailed analysis of each scene. This is where I look for the empty stage, errors in timing, too much or too little of something and so on. Once I’ve written several, okay many, drafts, I send the manuscript to my favourite readers. At this stage I ask for them for notes on when they think they know who committed the crime, if they skim any sections, if something is unclear, and if they feel connected to the characters. i don’t ask for proofreading at this stage. That comes later before I’m about to submit to my agent.

As soon as I submit to my agent, I start on my next novel. The writing business is slow, and this is a good time to focus on new work and not agonize about the words I’ve sent out.


Fellow author friends are:

Charlotte Morganti will post on July 28th:

Charlotte Morganti has been a burger flipper, beer slinger, lawyer, and seasonal chef de tourtière. And, always, a stringer-together-of-words. Her first novel, The Snow Job, was a finalist for Crime Writers of Canada’s Unhanged Arthur award in 2014 for the best unpublished crime novel. You can find out more about Charlotte’s fiction at

Brenda Chapman will post on August 11th.

Brenda Chapman began her writing career with the Jennifer Bannon mysteries for young adults. More recently, she writes the Stonechild and Rouleau police procedural series – Cold Mourning was released from Dundurn in 2014 and Butterfly Kills will be on the shelves in early 2015. Brenda also writes the Anna Sweet mystery novellas for Grass Roots Press, with My Sister’s Keeper shortlisted for a 2014 Arthur Ellis Award. Brenda is a former teacher and currently works as a senior communciations advisor in Ottawa.
Brenda’s blog link:

Thanks for reading . . .



Early Drafts: Having Your Novel Reviewed

Last year at this time I was working with Garry Ryan (2011 CWC President) through the CWC mentorship program on my 3rd novel Burnt. Burnt is now with my literary agent, Margaret Hart, awaiting comment.

I sent Garry about 10 pages at a time, he commented, I updated and sent the next 10 pages. I learned something new with each section. If you get the chance to be part of this program, it’s certainly worth it.

Many of you know my brother, Michael Conn, is also an author. I’ve convinced him that the process I went through with Garry improved my novel and that he, Michael, should do this with me for my next novel.

I’ve finished the first draft of my fourth novel, Look the Other Way, and Michael is reviewing it chapter by chapter. I send him one chapter, he comments, I update and on it goes.

At this early stage, Michael gives me his thoughts on story line, whether he likes a character or not, whether he thinks a sentence is foreshadowing something, and if the writing is good enough.

This helps me see the novel through his eyes and understand what impression I’m giving a reader.

It takes time and effort, but if you can find someone willing to do this for you, I recommend it. My only caution is that you must find someone you trust. It’s hard to put writing out there when it’s not in its most polished state.

Thanks for reading . . .


Don’t Rush The Ending

#writetip This week has been a big week for me. I’ m still basking in the joy of completing my novel, Burnt.

If you’ve been reading my blog this week, you know I recently completed the CWC mentorship program, and I want to share one thing I learned from Garry Ryan.

Don’t Rush the Ending.

He told me the reader has been waiting for the final scene so let them savour it.

I think I shorted my ending to get the book finished and not let it drag. I missed the importance of satisfying the reader with a deep and thoughtful final scene.

I’ve now re-written it, and thanks the mentorship program, I think (as usual – in my biased opinion) that it’s much better.

It seems like there is always something to learn when it comes to writing a novel. I guess that’s why people spend a lifetime writing.

First Draft: Then What?

#writetip Do you get to relax and celebrate when you finish a manuscript and are getting ready to send it to your agent or publisher? You probably deserve it, but if you’re anything like me, it’s time to get to the next activity.

Yesterday, I finished updating my 3rd novel, Burnt, based on comments from Garry Ryan. I’ve sent it off to be proofread, and now, I’m not going to look at it for a couple of weeks.

What am I going to do with my time?  Well . . .

  • Write a blurb
  • Write a synopsis
  • Figure out if Burnt is the best title for the novel
  • Update my website
  • Update the CWC website
  • Update my agent’s website (Margaret Hart at HSW Literary Agency)

And on and on it goes . . .

There is so much more to writing a novel than actually writing the novel.


#writetip As a member of the Crime Writers of Canada, I am entitled to participate in the mentorship program.  Garry Ryan, president of the Crime Writers of Canada and Author of the Detective Lane Mysteries, was my mentor.

Garry is the Winner of a 2007 LAMBDA Award and the Calgary Freedom of Expression Award 2009.

So how lucky was I feeling, when the CWC notified me that Garry would be working with me on my manuscript. Garry provided me with broad scoped and detailed feedback. He told me where I was doing things well and where I needed to work on things. He called it tweaking. I’ve saved all of his comments and will use them on future manuscripts.

If you write crime stories and are trying to get published, the CWC offers a way to get your manuscript ready.

Check out Garry’s website. He has a page that lists where you can buy his novels.

Thank you , Garry!