Tell Anna She's Safe is a literary thriller that tells the tale of two women, one missing, the other searching for her. The novel is inspired by and based on the life of my friend and colleague, Louise Ellis, a freelance writer who disappeared from her Ottawa home in 1995. I knew I was going to write her story almost from the moment I discovered her abandoned car. It took 10 years to to complete the work.

Have a look around the website to find out the story, and the story behind the story. Find out how the story behind the story made it onto TV in 2010 (twice). And find out what the reviewers and readers are saying about Tell Anna and where it has appeared in the news. Click here to find out where you can buy the book, including the e-book. There's also a photo gallery of past events, and a special tribute to Louise.

Summer 2013

Definitely no snow now! Sorry I've been remiss in keeping my home page current. This is a sign of Great Productivity. These past few months I've continued working on the rewrites of my canoeing memoir—even while juggling paying work, glory be! (Usually I need to take a substantial block of time off to get my head into my creative work.) I have now completed the rewrites of five chapters, and my goal is to finish the other four (or five) chapters by the late fall—hopefully during a substantial block of time off paying work.

Kevin Burns of Seven Stories continues to be an amazing editor and encourager of my work. For any writer who is as great a procrastinator as I am, I highly recommend working with an editor—he or she is always expecting the next installment. I would also advise choosing someone who knows how to praise as well as give constructive comments. Here is part of what Kevin had to say about revised Chapter 4. As with the other chapters, I intersperse the canoe trip narrative with flashbacks to my spiritual journey, in this case focusing on a joyous but poignant unconventional relationship:

I think you've really found the complete work in this chapter. It's really strong and shows how effective this completed work will be—this hums: The voice is clear, the control over information is determined, the narrative is film-like (scene to scene to scene as location and time values shift) and the integration of "value/meaning" content is very well handled and does not draw attention to itself as it moves from the natural world to the world of spirituality and other meanings.

It's comments like these that spur me on. Hopefully it will also act as a teaser for you.

Of course if it's summer there must be canoe trips into Algonquin Park. I went on a little teaser of a trip (three days) at the end of June with two friends, visited a friend's cottage in the park in July, and in August have a nine-day trip planned with my 14-year-old nephew – our third together and longest yet! I also hope to do a solo trip or two in September. I often write on my solo trips and of course they generate material for memoir sequels so they really count as "business trips."

• • •

Winter 2013

I'm pleased to report I'm living in the land of snow and great cross-country skiing – and, even better, Tell Anna She's Safe has been released as an e-book. For links, click here.

After all my Tell Anna travels in early fall (see Fall 2012 entry below), I hunkered down to work on my canoeing memoir. I thought this manuscript was finished, but after a very helpful professional evaluation last spring by Ottawa freelance editor Kevin Burns. I realized I still had a lot of work to do. A LOT. So I spent the last few months being a writer hermit – emerging only to do author events and socialize a bit to assure my family and friends I was still alive. It was wonderful to stay immersed in my creative writing for such an extended period of time. I composed and edited on my walks and in my sleep, too, I think. I often woke up realizing I needed to change that word in that sentence – or get rid of that other sentence altogether. I'm now back to paying work to refill the coffers but managing to keep on with the memoir in my "spare" time.

I'm continuing to work with Kevin Burns, who has considerable experience in manuscript development and excellent instincts when it comes to spiritual material. I send him each chapter as it's done, to make sure I'm on the right track now, and lo and behold, he keeps confirming I am – as well as providing more guidance. It's a new experience for me to work with an editor in the developmental phases. I'm finding it a hugely helpful and gratifying process. A big thank you to Kevin for his continued insightful assistance. Another big thank you to all the publishers who turned the manuscript down in the past five years – you must have known it wasn't ready for you.

As we slide oh so fast into 2013, my plan is to plug away at the revisions and make visits to any book clubs that are reading Tell Anna She's Safe. For more information on how to arrange for an author visit, click here. I will also be skiing as much as possible on the beautifully groomed trails of our local new Opeongo Hills Nordic Ski Club. With all this inspiration of snow and skiing, I have no doubt the memoir will be in good shape by spring.

• • •

Brenda Missen and MaddyFall 2012

First of all, a very important announcement: Tell Anna She's Safe made a bestseller list this summer! Check out the number 3 spot on the Calgary Herald bestseller list for the week of June 24, 2012.

I found out this awesome bit of news when I visited Calgary in early September. I was there to tell the story behind the story of Tell Anna and answer questions at three book club meetings. Amid the delicious offerings of food and wine that pair so perfectly with lively book club discussions, Tell Anna's bestseller status was mentioned by one of the book club members. It was also during the meetings that I learned that a couple of the members have posted reviews on goodreads, where it has an overall rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Wonderful!

So a big shout out to Calgary—to the 30 fabulous women who made the three book club meetings such fun; to Mike, Susan and Judith at Owl's Nest Books & Gifts, who are still recommending Tell Anna to customers and who always make me feel incredibly welcome when I visit. And to all those book buyers who pushed Tell Anna onto the Calgary Herald bestseller list (I suspect that was the week all the book club members were buying up Tell Anna—too funny). All in all, I had an amazing visit, and as a spin-off, there may be an upcoming feature on the author in another Calgary publication—will keep you posted. Calgary, I love you!

Everyone says it, I know, but it's true: the summer flew by. In my part of Ontario I think it just melted away in the ongoing heatwave and drought. My plans to take a "writing vacation" during July and August didn't pan out due to ongoing work (for which I'm grateful), so I'm having my writing vacation this fall. My plan was to work on the new novel but it turns out my canoeing memoir is not quite ready for publication. I found this out from an excellent professional evaluation I had done on the manuscript in the spring. I now have my work cut out for me. As a result I've temporarily removed the excerpt I had posted—it needs some work!

Not all my recent events have been in Calgary. After two enjoyable readings, in Ottawa and Stittsville, I spent a day in the Inanna Publications booth at the Toronto edition of The Word on the Street. This is a national book and magazine festival that celebrates literacy and the written word in half a dozen cities across the country every fall. I've never been before. It was fabulous to see the steady crowds of people visiting publishers' booths stretching from College Street to Bloor in Queen's Park and listening to author readings—and not being deterred by a couple of shortlived rainshowers. I met a wonderful range of readers and am happy to report: books live!

I'm very pleased that another article has been published about Tell Anna. John Curry from the Stittsville/Richmond EMC was a surprise member of the audience for my presentation at the Stittsville branch of the Ottawa Public Library on September 20. He subsequently wrote up this wonderful article about the evening and Tell Anna. Click here to read.

• • •

Happy summer!

Tell Anna She's Safe and I have come out of hibernation, beginning with three very enjoyable book club meetings in Carleton Place, Beamsville and Vancouver, in February and April. And I'm pleased that there are more coming up, including one in Calgary (and possibly two or more) in September and one in Ottawa in October. I really appreciate that people have deemed Tell Anna book-club worthy. The meetings are particularly enjoyable for me because everyone has read the book and we can talk about everything without worrying about giving anything away. I'm learning a lot about the novel!

News and Events Page link AuthorsIf your book club would like to read Tell Anna She's Safe too and you'd like to find out how to arrange for a visit from the author, click here. I would be happy to add more book clubs to my Calgary visit in early September. And I'd love an excuse to visit any other part of the country (or beyond). If I can't get there in person, I've discovered that Skype is a darned good second best. I "attended" the Vancouver book club in early April via Skype, and had a blast. Many thanks to Julia and her fellow flight attendant book club members for inviting me to join in their meeting via the wonders of modern technology. Now, if someone could just invent a high-tech way to share the food and wine...

I had a wonderful time at the 35th annual Nova House Book Riot on May 12, where Tell Anna sales made a very very small but happy contribution to the more than $55,000 raised during this incredible four-day book sale.

• • •

February 2012

Greetings from the land of snow and ice. Winter has, I think, finally arrived, at least in my part of the world. No more of those wishy washy "it feels like spring" days we had in December and January. Though I guess I shouldn't speak too soon. This seems to be a winter where anything can happen. But for now—beautiful big-flake snow and a river solid and snowy enough for skiing and snowshoeing. That's all I need for perfect happiness.

Well, that and prolific creativity… I'd like to be able to tell you I'm spending my winter in my cozy cottage writing up a storm, but the reality is I'm spending it refilling the coffers after all the wonderful months of launching and touring my first novel, Tell Anna She's Safe. But that doesn't mean there's nothing in the works.

My canoeing memoir is finished and on a mission to find a publisher. And if I'm not actually writing, I'm at least mulling (I tell myself this is a crucial part of the creative process; it eases the guilt). I'm mulling both the sequel to the canoeing memoir and my next novel, Charley Pierce's Angels—parts of which are actually written!

I'm also beginning to plan a reprise of my fall western tour for Tell Anna She's Safe, beginning with an engagement to speak to a book club in Vancouver in April. If your group would like to read Tell Anna She's Safe too, click here to find out about how to arrange for a presentation by the real live author.

As many of you know already, I've been overwhelmed by all the response to and support I've received for my first novel, but one thank you I forgot to post last fall was to everyone who visited the CBC website to write why they thought Tell Anna should be nominated as the "people's choice" nomination for the Giller Prize. I appreciate the effort everyone went to and the wonderful reviews you gave Tell Anna. Your belief in the book means more to me than a Giller (honestly!).

• • •

December 2011

Can it be Christmas already? I'm not sure where this year went—except into a wonderful whirlwind of launches and book events for my firstborn, Tell Anna She's Safe. It's been an incredible experience for me as a new author, connecting with readers, librarians and booksellers from around Ontario and even out west. I'm grateful to all the public libraries, bookstores and even individuals in their own homes who hosted events for Tell Anna—and to all the people who came out to them.

This fall I took the novel on a little western tour to introduce it to readers at book events in Calgary, Okotoks, Vancouver, Langley and Cloverdale. It was an amazing trip. Mike and Susan at Owl's Nest Books & Gifts in Calgary put Tell Anna on the "Staff Picks" shelf and report that it's selling well. Mike also included Tell Anna on his list of reading recommendations for the CBC Calgary program alberta@noon on December 14. Click here to see Mike's full list of recommendations (Tell Anna got put under non-fiction, but that's okay—it's half true!) A big thank you to Mike and Susan!

I'm thrilled that Tell Anna made the Number 3 spot in the "LPG Top Five for September" in the Literary Press Group (LPG)'s new monthly newsletter. Check it out by clicking here and scroll down the right-hand column. NY Times, here we come…

I've been overwhelmed by all the thoughtful emails I've received from readers, who have been connecting with Tell Anna in different ways. See the Reviews page to read the growing list of comments, and see the Contacts page to send me an email to have your own added—or just to say hello.

My fall tour also included events hosted by two women's shelters in Kitchener/Cambridge and Owen Sound. I had no idea Tell Anna would resonate with shelters as a story of domestic abuse, but I'm honoured that it has and that it is educating readers about this important issue.

My 2011 tour has now wound down but there will be more events to come in the new year. Visit the News and Events page to see where Tell Anna visited this summer and fall and check back in the new year to find out where and when the next events will be. It looks like I might be able to make a return trip out west in the spring to speak to book clubs and other groups.

Speaking of book clubs, I will be speaking to clubs in Carleton Place and Ottawa in January and April. If your book club would like to read Tell Anna She's Safe, click here to find out about how to arrange for a presentation by the real live author.

• • •

September 2011

It's several months now since Tell Anna She's Safe, my first published novel, got launched with great fanfare and great numbers of fans in the three big metropolises of Toronto, Ottawa and Combermere. And several months since I threw open these website doors. In that time, the response and feedback from readers both in person and via email has been overwhelming! And not just "I loved your book" (which would have been just fine with the author), but carefully thought-out and thought-full comments that reveal just how much and in how many different ways Tell Anna is touching a chord with readers. Some comments have moved me to tears. See the Reviews page to read the growing list of comments, and see the Contacts page to send me an email to have your own added—or just to say hello.

I'm thrilled that Tell Anna has made the Number 3 spot in the "LPG Top Five for September" in the Literary Press Group's new monthly newsletter. Check it out by clicking here and scroll down the right-hand column. NY Times, here we come…

I had a fabulous time meeting new Tell Anna readers at all my summer readings and book signings, and was thrilled to proverbially share the stage with Nino Ricci at the Bancroft Literary Festival on September 17. (We were actually on stage one at a time but I did get to sit beside him; be still my beating heart…) And on a beautiful late September day, I may have made history with the first-ever "make book sales while paddling a canoe" event, when I was out canoeing on my river with Maddy and we ran into neighbours who were out boating with friends who wanted to buy copies of Tell Anna—and then held the first-ever "book signing on a dock" event.

And there's more to come. Visit the News and Events page to see if I'm coming to a bookstore or library near you this fall. And if I'm not but you'd like me to, send me an email! I'm still working on getting out to Calgary, Vancouver and hopefully Whitehorse later in the year.

• • •

May 2011

At last, a reason to throw open the doors of my new home on the Web: the publication of my first novel, Tell Anna She's Safe.

It's been a long time coming—16 years since the subject of the novel came to me (in the most dramatic and traumatic of ways) and nearly a lifetime since the notion of publishing novels entered my head and wouldn't go away. So there is definitely lots to celebrate!

So come on in and have a look around. Tell Anna is based on a true story—the true story of a murder. Find out what the story is about. Find out the story behind the story. Find out how the story behind the story made it onto TV last fall (twice). And find out what the critics are saying about Tell Anna and where you can buy the book. There's also a special tribute to Louise Ellis, the woman who is the reason Tell Anna She's Safe came to be and to whom the novel is dedicated.