Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Simple Writer's Life by Vicki Delany

Vicki Delany writes everything from standalone novels of suspense (Burden of Memory, Scare the Light Away) to the Constable Molly Smith series, a traditional village/police procedural series set in the B.C. Interior (In the Shadow of the Glacier, Valley of the Lost), to a light-hearted historical series (Gold Fever, Gold Digger) set in the raucous heyday of the Klondike Gold Rush. Winter of Secrets, published by Poisoned Pen Press in November of 2009, received a starred review
from Publishers Weekly, which said, “She uses a bare-bones style, without literary flash, to achieve artistry as sturdy and restrained as a Shaker chair. Warmth and menace, past and present, are nicely balanced, with a denouement that’s equally plausible and startling.  This confident performance is sure to win new fans to the series.” Vicki lives in rural Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she rarely wears a watch. She blogs with five other mystery writers about the craft and business of writing at Type M for Murder (, about mysteries and food at Fatal Foodies ( Follow Vicki on Twitter @vickidelany. The first chapters of several of her books are posted on her web page so you can get a taste at

The Simple Writer’s Life
By Vicki Delany

I used to be what I called a Sunday Writer. I was a single mother of three kids with a full time job as a computer programmer. I wanted to be a writer, but about the only time I had to myself to write was the occasional Sunday afternoon.

Time passed, as it does, and the children grew up. And then they moved out of the house. Yippee! I was still working, but now I was able to write every evening when I got home from the office.

In 2007 I was lucky enough to be able to take early retirement. I sold my house in the suburbs of a big city and followed my dream to a small rural property in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

And now I can write whenever I like!

I am living the writer’s life because I am content with the simple life. I don’t make much money at this – not many people do.

I don’t have fancy electronics – my TV gets one channel and I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad. I drive a five year old Corolla. I don’t eat out much or buy fast food, and do all my own cooking. I don’t need clothes any fancier than for appearances at bookstores and libraries. I keep my house at a temperature my children call bone-chilling, and rarely go to movies, preferring to read. Reading is still the best value for money you’ll get anywhere in terms of entertainment.

My writing income mostly pays for my writing out-go. Conferences (I was so pleased to meet
Kaye last year at Bouchercon in Indianapolis) and book tours, such as last year’s wonderful tour with Deborah Turrell Atkinson to Hawaii, California, Arizona, and Washington. I go on research trips – a couple of weeks ago I went to New York City to do some location research for an upcoming book - you probably don’t need me to tell you that Manhattan isn’t cheap. I’ve been to Whitehorse and Dawson City, Yukon digging up historical facts for the Gold Rush books.

When I’m at home, I write every day. Seven days a week. Usually for about three to four hours in the morning. In the summer, I then work in the garden and in the winter, don’t do much now that I think of it.

I’m enjoying life in the country. I started a vegetable patch last year, and this year I’m planning to double the size. The tomatoes on the kitchen counter in the picture were all from my garden. There is absolutely nothing in the world that tastes as good as a cherry tomatoes picked and eaten on the spot. And lettuce you’ve grown yourself? You’ll wonder what that stuff they sell in the supermarket really is. I filled the freezer with pasta sauce and soup and frozen berries I picked myself, and this year I plan to enlarge the size of my freezer.

Living in the country occasionally has its drawbacks.

There have been some surprises. Like when I came home from my vacation with my family after New Years last year to find three feet of water in the basement. Literally. The sump pump had failed and it had turned warm and all the snow had melted. My house is well over one hundred years old (the fulfillment of another dream) so the basement is just a cellar, with nothing much in it to be destroyed. Except the furnace, which was.

Furnace replaced.

A few days later the brand-new furnace stopped working. I’d run out of propane. How should I know you’re supposed to order propane? In the city this sort of stuff just arrives all by itself.

Fortunately the house has a wood burning stove as well as the furnace so I was able to use it to heat the house while waiting for propane delivery.

Get the propane tank filled and gag at the expense. Wow.

The wood burning stove worked so well, I decided to start using it more to save on propane, so I ordered more wood as the stuff the previous owners left was running out. I phoned the supplier and asked for a cord. I had absolutely no idea how much that is. He suggested that as the delivery charge was the same, I should get two cords. Okay, two cords it is.

When he pulled up with a trailer piled high with wood, I thought, “I guess he has several other deliveries to make.” He backed the trailer up in front of the garage and dumped all that wood on the driveway.

Oh dear.

I spent three days moving and stacking wood.

Life has its ups and downs, as always. But I am living my dream.

The simple writer’s life.


Donis Casey said...

So beautiful, Vicki, it sounds idyllic. However, I also know very well that living out in the country isn't easy, especially when you have to have something repaired or delivered. Are you on a well?

Anonymous said...

Kaye, thanks for having Vicki visit you. I am one of her biggest fans! Haven't read the Gold Rush books yet, but I've read and loved each and every other one. Those veggies looked wonderful. And the heating stories are priceless. Live and learn I guess. Good luck, Vicki, on your writing this year. I'll be looking for what is to come!

And, I love Donis' books too (earlier comment)! When is the next Alafair book coming????

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, my, how familiar this all sounds! Tomatoes, cold house, low income -- but aren't we lucky!

Lesa said...

Hate to say it, but I enjoy the comforts of life, so, other than the tomatoes, your life isn't for me, Vicki. But, just because your lifestyle isn't my choice doesn't mean you don't write some of my favorite mysteries. Keep them coming. If isolating yourself out in the country is the best way to do it, I'm all for it!

Vicki Delany said...

Thanks for the comments everyone. I am on a well, Donis. No problems to report there. I do have several large bottles of water in the garage just in case.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

I "used" to be a city girl. We now live 12 miles outside the small town of Boone, NC in the mountains and couldn't be happier. We are on a well which is SO much better tasting than the water we were drinking when we lived in Atlanta that there is no way to describe the difference. When we lose our power we do lose our water, but we just know to keep some bottled water on hand. Not a biggie. I love that there are no lights around us so we can actually see the stars. Millions of them. It is not always easy - this winter was a prime example of how hard it can be. But I just know I'll never ever be able to go back to city living.
Low income? Pft! Our financial situation went to hell in a handbasket when we made this move. Would be do it again?! You bet.
We sure don't get tomatoes like this though! the last time we tried, (after years of first one tomatoe disaster and then a different tomatoe disaster), we had a hard freeze JUST as they were getting ripe enough for a BLT.