Wednesday 9 October 2013

Welcome Pat Amsden

I am very pleased to welcome Pat to my blog. Not only is she a fellow member of my RWA chapter, she's also a good friend, and former critique partner.

Hi, Anna. Great to be here.

I'm a writer of romance and mystery who lives on the West Coast of Canada. I'm older than I care to admit and live with my son who's currently working on a two year college program in computers. Thank goodness because while I use computers constantly, both in my day job and for writing, I'm not a high tech person!

In my day job I work at our local hospital as a clerk. Many would think a position as clerk boring but on my 'Friday' this week I was in the middle of asking someone their address and accident details when a helicopter landed with a trauma patient, the printer wasn't printing where it was supposed to and someone interrupted to say he was having chest pain, could someone please help him. We did! The truth is I work with a team of health professionals who are highly trained, and do, on a regular basis, save lives. I'm lucky to be a part of it.

Currently I have two books out on Amazon. One is a romantic suspense with a twist of humor and is set in Vegas. The other is a cozy mystery set in Victoria, Canada with a heroine who is the owner of a chocolate shop and catering business. When someone dies holding one of her chocolates she has to solve the mystery.

Both have been well received going to the top 100 in their categories multiple times. Chocolate Worth Dying For has been in the top 100 for cozy mysteries and culinary cozies more often than out of it when I check. I'll admit that's been fairly often!

I'm working hard on a Christmas chocolate mystery and planning to do another romantic suspense with my Lost In Vegas characters. But releasing the first book has given me invaluable feed-back from customers who like my book. Particularly JT, the hero! He'll be back along with Kate. In fact I'm thinking of making them the 'Hart to Hart' of our generation solving crimes while living a glamorous live in Las Vegas and having an ongoing romance with each other!

I’d love to say I have a steady routine and stick to it. But the truth is I work a job that has shifts that start at six in the morning for the earliest while the latest starts at eleven in the evening and ends at seven in the morning. It’s also a department that goes twenty-four seven so Monday to Friday just doesn't exist in my world. I aim for an average of five hundred words a day but I’ll admit I don’t always reach it.

And then there’s the wonderful world of marketing. I’d love to think I could just put my book out there and have hundreds and thousands of avid fans just waiting to devour it. Such is not the case. I've arranged book blasts and one of my son's friends did a book trailer for Lost In Vegas. I thought it was great and I’m sure all of this has helped. I've also done Free Par-tay which for me has resulted in a lot of people downloading my books and trying them out. They don’t all love them but a lot do and I think something that gets books into readers’ hands is the best type of publicity there is.

I love five star reviews but not everyone is going to love your work. I've had reviews saying ‘why would a chocolate shop owner try to solve a murder.’ The person made good points and truthfully I don’t think she’s going to enjoy culinary cozies. Fortunately other people do.

I've also made mistakes. I had Lost In Vegas beta read and proofed as well as doing it myself. Critique partners gave feedback and writing instructors gave advice. Then when it was put up something happened in the formatting and from Chapter Five on it was showing commas every time there was an apostrophe. Down it came and changes were made but why it did that I don’t know. I changed a character’s name and missed it when it went through edits. Readers didn't. I took it down and fixed it quickly. In a fifty thousand word manuscript there were exactly three instances. Would it bother me? Yes. Did I change it? Yes.

Will I ever make another mistake? I’d almost guarantee it. It’s part of being human. It sometimes makes one long to be traditionally published with a huge marketing department behind you and large advances. It should be noted, however, that most of these books contains mistakes as well if you look for them. And even traditionally published authors are expected to maintain a web presence and market themselves these days.

There are good parts to that. There’s more contact and feedback than ever before between author and reader. As a writer having the opportunity to connect with readers who have read your work is priceless. Unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day and finding time to do it all can be – a challenge.

I love telling stories. Whether as an indie or traditionally published I consider myself fortunate to be part of this world.

Thanks for being my guest, Pat.
Pat's website
That didn't mean she didn't notice city counselor, Keith, with his seeing eye dog, Murray, or Nikki Benshaw, columnist for the local gossip paper. Jewellery designer Sanje Gupte was posing for a picture, when photographer Will Reimer, got the shot of a life-time.
At that precise moment, developer, Ron Vandemeer, crashed through the upper balcony of an Olde Towne storefront onto the cobble stoned street in front of her, clutching his throat with one hand while foaming at the mouth. The other hand had a half-eaten chocolate. One of hers!
She let go of Tanya who reeled out of the way saying, “He doesn't look so good,” while Maxine loosened his shirt in a desperate attempt to make him feel better. But even as 911 was called and Dr. Matthews knelt down beside her, to help in any way he could, it was all too obvious Ron Vandemeer was on his last legs. Within minutes he was dead.
Watching as officers clad in white suits complete with white head gear that completely covered their head to avoid any possible contamination and clear plastic masks, inspired fear in the party guests who’d been told to remain in the small waiting area just before Olde Towne. They murmured amongst themselves.
Maxine stood to one side her arms crossed as her fingers dug into them shivering in horror at what had just happened. She watched as Ron’s body was put into a body bag and zipped up, the ambulance drivers wheeling it out on the stretcher.
Tracey Vandemeer’s high pitched wail filled the building and tore at her soul. A family friend led her to a side-room with the help of a police officer as the wails turned into sobbing. How could an evening that had started with such promise have gone so terribly wrong?
Party guests pointed in Maxine’s direction. People she’d grown up with, known her entire life, even if only by sight, now pointed at her and whispered. She heard the words poison and murder. It wasn't possible. She knew that.
She felt as if she was shrinking down, her heart collapsing in on itself as she watched all the food she’d made bagged up and taken away. As police officers dressed in HazMat suits carried out all her cooking supplies.
Heath joined her. “He probably died of a heart attack. Or maybe a brain aneurysm,” he said, giving her a weak smile. Six feet two, with spiked brown hair and a tattoo on his arm, he was fresh out of cooking school, full of enthusiasm and a zest for life.
She gave him a stricken look. “That’s still horrible.”
He sighed, looking her straight in the eyes. “You didn't cause this. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it.”
“I know,” she whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. “But I can’t help feeling awful about…about,” she gestured towards Olde Towne, to all the party guests, “this!”
Before she had a chance to say anything more her sometimes boyfriend , detective Patrick Shannon from Victoria PD arrived with his partner.
“I know you’re not responsible for this,” he said, looking at her with those blue, blue eyes that had once so charmed her. “But we have to cover all our bases, dot all our T’s. We’re questioning everyone.”
“I understand,” she said bravely. She just wished it didn't feel as the eyes of everyone in the room followed her as he led her into a small room to interview her.
“We’ll be testing the chocolates and wine,” he said. “No choice really. And we've advised everyone that if they have any concerns about their health they need to get it checked out.”
She gave a small cry.
“It’s just precautionary,” he said, clearly uncomfortable. “I mean I know you would never,” His words were cut off as she gave a strangled cry.
“You know I wouldn't.” Just the thought she might have contributed in any way to the death of another made her sick to her stomach. She looked at him in horror.
He sighed. “Is there anything you did differently tonight? Did you have anything out on the counter while you were making the chocolates, something that might have…”
“You know I wouldn't be that careless,” she said angrily."My kitchen and equipment are spotless. And we all follow Food Safe precautions!”
“We have to examine all the possibilities,” he said evenly.
“I know,” she said brokenly.


  1. I loved Hart to Hart... they were fun and adventurous. Sounds like your job is as well! I would love how everything was different but I'm sure that there are days when you don't get a break!

    All the best!!

  2. Hi Melissa

    Yes, I loved Hart to Hart as well! My own job definitely has it's moments but the truth I think most people have jobs and lives that are interesting. Some
    More so than others but often times people are more interesting than they think they are!

  3. You have an admirable work ethic Pat. Balancing shift work and working nights etc can be stressful so no wonder it's hard work to fit in a regular writing time.

    All the best with your new adventure.

  4. True! But then again I can shop when it's quieter (big bonus during Christmas shopping season) and if days off are mid-week there are less distractions to tempt me.

  5. We all make mistakes in our books...even publishers sometimes miss them in their final edits! I just had a book re-edited (one of my early books), and didn't know it until they told me they found some punctuation mistakes! It's been on the market for years, and I never heard anything.
    Mistakes will happen!

    1. I appreciate your understanding. That doesn't mean I won't try to make my books error free ! Fortunately people do seem to enjoy them

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your interview, Pat. Imagine someone asking why a chocolate shop owner would try to solve a murder. That's all part of the delight of reading cozies.

    Your schedule sounds grueling at the best of times, but there are advantages to everything.

    Sounds like there's a fine group of romance writers in the Vancouver/Victoria area.

    1. We have a great group of romance writers here. And you're right, that's part of a cozy mysteries appeal. But you can't please everyone. At least people who enjoy cozy mysteries seem to enjoy it.

  7. Enjoyed the window into your life, Pat. And totally understand how one feels when a mistake has been discovered. Thankfully, we learn from our mistakes.
    I also enjoyed your books. The best of luck in the future!

  8. Hi Mimi

    Too true. We do learn by our mistakes - Einstein here I come.

    Not quite but hopefully I'm a little wiser. I'm glad you enjoy my books.

    Thanks Mimi

  9. Pat
    I love this post. It really captures a slice of your life. And of course I love the chocolate angle. Best of luck with your new work.

  10. Speaking of errors, I recently discovered I had spelled the word accompany with one c in a book I published two years ago. That book has been edited multiple times and no one caught it.

    1. Anna

      Thanks so much for having me on. I've really enjoyed it.

      And speaking of that sneaky c I know when I've gone through a book for you don't miss much.So glad that sneaky c was caught!

  11. Great post, Pat. Enjoyed the behind the scenes peek into your life. Amazing how you can do a day job like yours and still find time (and energy) to write a single word. But here you are a multi-published author enjoying great success. Getting into the top 100 on Amazon is no easy task. Congrats!

  12. Thanks Jacqui - coming from you that's a huge compliment since I know you get up at 5:00 every morning or some such ungodly hour and write before going to work FT every day. And of course you're no stranger to the top 100 yourself.

    1. But I only work Monday to Thursday, and the exact same hours every day. I think having the same hours makes it much, much easier -- or at least it does for me. These days I crave a bit of routine in what otherwise feels like an chaotic life :)