Portia’s green-eyed lady

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Green-Eyed Lady.”

Beware the green-eyed monster!

I think anyone who has read Thrice Burned by now knows that even our favourite detective gets jealous.

The truth is that despite her attempts to embrace her introverted nature, Portia manages to surround herself with people worthy of being jealous of.

Annie Coleson for example is a petite gorgeous fashionable blonde who has capture the attention of Brian … Portia’s best friend. Not only that but Annie seems to have this innate quality of making everyone who meets her LOVE her. Who wouldn’t be jealous of such a bundle of happy?

And then there’s Gavin Whitaker, a brilliant medical examiner who has worked his entire life to raise himself up from his poor orphan beginnings with none of the help that Portia has benefited from in her life. Neither the loving mother nor the rich grandmother were in his corner. No, Whitaker is a self-made man who on several occasions will show-up the young detective with his superior skills around death.

Even Portia must beware the green-eyed monster!

Daily Prompt: Dictionary, Shmictionary (it’s time to ‘fess up)

Two daily posts in a row? Wow, that’s a whole new thing here on the Portia Adams Blog!

“Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).”


This is a sad story: I wrote a lovely book in 2012, it went on to get published and then a few of my readers

1) noticed there were errors in the published book, and
2) gave me bad reviews as a result.

Actually, I should put in here that at least three of these lovely fans identified the errors in their reviews and gave me four-star reviews DESPITE that, so a special thank-you to them!

Regardless, I am here to admit that YES I have used words incorrectly in my novels. One of my kinder detractors was clever enough to include in her review this gif image from The Princess Bride so I’m stealing it for emphasis.

THIS is an armoire
THIS is an armoire

One of the mistakes in Jewel of the Thames (if you haven’t caught it) was that I used the word ‘reticule’ incorrectly. For some reason in my head it meant an armoire – the kind with glass doors where you might store chachkas or medicines (see right image).

Yeah, I have no idea why that was what I thought it was, but it got all the way past my fabulous editor and into the book.

Suffice to say we have since corrected it in the newest print run AND the digital copies of Jewel, but it continues to haunt me and cause some upsetting reviews.

All I can say (fans and not-so-fans) is that I’m sorry; mistakes happen and this was one of mine.

I have found errors in books I have read and never really thought too hard about it, nor have I posted about the errors in my reviews. I guess as a fellow-human I can understand how mistakes can happen, and usually the mistakes don’t stop me from enjoying the book.

How about you guys? Do you get distracted by errors and review the books poorly as a result?

Daily Post: Big Day Ahead for Portia Adams

Pensive, looking out the window.

As followers of this blog know, I only do the Daily Post when I can relate it back to my writing, and today is one of those days:

“It’s the night before an important event: a big exam, a major presentation, your wedding. How do you calm your nerves in preparation for the big day?”

This immediately made me think about my detective’s ‘Big Day’ – namely coming out to all of London as the newest consulting detective to hail from Baker Street.

Portia has spent a lot of very comfortable time in the shadows – both growing up in Toronto and walking the streets of London. She doesn’t seek the spotlight, preferring to be watchful and observant in the background. This is true socially and professionally, so the day before her press conference I imagine this scene in the upper apartments of 221 Baker Street:

The sun is setting over London and Nerissa is watching me pace back and forth in front of my window.

Tomorrow everyone will know that the detective who has been aiding Scotland Yard for the past year is me. Tomorrow I will no longer be anonymous.

For the third time in the last hour I walk to my bed where I an outfit lays ready for me. My grandmother and my best friend battled over this look for the better part of the afternoon, my opinion neither asked for nor anticipated. All I asked from them was that the Portia Adams who walked out in front of all those reporters tomorrow be memorable and the opposite of my natural state.

They had looked me up and down, looked at each other, and then thrown themselves into the bags of clothes they had brought with them on this mission, my own closet dismissed entirely.

I looked back into the living room where Nerissa had finally given up trying to figure out what ailed me and settled in front of the unlit fireplace. She was right. I needed to relax. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and worrying about it would not make it easier to confront.

I took a deep breath and walked back over to the window between my bookshelves to watch the last rays of the sun light up the buildings of my new home. Tomorrow was the big day.

Daily Prompt: Game of Groans

Grumpy. Grumpy. Grumpy.
Grumpy. Grumpy. Grumpy.

Another Daily Prompt that lines up with my life:  ” Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever. ”

Two words for you guys: Writing Synopses

I’m writing a synopsis for Principessa and UGH. I hate it. Just hate it.

Writing the book? AWESOME. Rewrites? Slightly AWESOME. Synopsis? BAH!

Hey, let me take my 80k well-told story and somehow make it just as readable in 200 words. Oh, I will remove all the great dialogue and most of the fun scenes, but somehow I plan to retain your interest! I promise! Clues will be three words in a sentence and there can be almost no surprise in 200 words, but I’m really really excited!

Daily Prompt: Pick Your Gadget (1930s please!)

Get in the Delorian! We're going to 1930!
Get in the Delorian! We’re going to 1930!

Well, this is an easy daily prompt!

First stop Portia Adam‘s first scene in Jewel of the Thames – January 20, 1930 in Toronto.

Next stop – 1930 – London when Portia and Mrs. Jones pull up to 221 Baker Street.

I’d love to do some real fact-checking with a friendly time machine.

Answer the Daily Prompt question yourself:

Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?


Daily Prompt: Walking on the Moon

You’re gonna make it!

When I read this morning’s prompt from WordPress, I smiled because that’s an easy one: “What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?”

Last summer, when I was close to finishing book three in the Portia Adams Adventures, I quit my full-time job of 14 years to focus on writing instead. I left everything I knew, and a place I love (the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and jumped into the ether.


I can’t underline that enough. I know I have a husband who was behind me 100% and I will admit that made it a tiny bit easier. But leaping into a world that had been entirely a hobby, and now was going to be my ‘job?’ YIKES.

Happy to say that eight months later, my first of those three books is about to be published by an amazing Canadian publisher (Fierce Ink Press) I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time, I’ve made incredible new friends in this field and all my friends from CBC are so proud of me.

Jump. Be scared. Just Jump.

Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love
Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

Portia is about to have her first crush in ‘Jewel of the Thames.’
This is for the Daily Prompt for today! Happy Valentine’s day blogosphere!

Daily Post: Nice is as Nice Does

It’s a choice…

Oooh, this is a good daily prompt because I’ve been thinking about this a lot. As I get into my final edits with Jewel of the Thames, one of the scenes that became a sticking point between my editor and I brought up the startling idea in my mind: do they know that Portia is not ‘nice?’

The scene (without giving too much away) was meant to show how Portia figures out the methodology used by the jewel thief in her first case. It requires that she do some research on death and dead bodies.

When my editor pointed out that the scene was needed, I agreed right away, and I even had an idea in my head as to what I wanted to happen.

Problem is that when I delivered the scene, everyone, from my editor to my publishers, felt it was too macabre. Yes, some mice got killed, but it was off-camera and I swear, in the name of science!

This brings me back to the point of the daily post: Portia is NOT nice. She is actually far too analytical to be considered nice, and will often do and say things that are seen by the general public as cruel or unemotional.

That is who she is, and I had to call my publisher in a bit of a panic to make sure that they KNEW that. Because if they didn’t… whoo boy were they in for a surprise in book 2!

Turns out they were aware of it, loved Portia for that facet of her personality, but encouraged me to find a less-PETA-opposing way of demonstrating her science over sentiment personality.

Phew! Someday, after publication in March I think, I will post the original scene and see what you guys think (and hope that PETA doesn’t notice).

Daily Prompt: Standing Out and then Fading into the Background

Stand-out in a crowd

As always, I only take on a Daily Prompt for this blog when I think it pertains to my characters, and in this case, it very much does.

“When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?”

In my most recent casebook, I decided to take away one of Portia’s abilities. I couldn’t decide which would make a better story, so I posed the question to the readers in this blog and their votes resulted in a tie!

This meant that poor Portia lost her hearing and her ability to speak in an explosion (wrote that scene last week – very fun to write!).

What this also means is that Portia no longer stands out in a crowd… or at least not the way she likes to.

Growing up, my protagonist was an introvert; a girl who preferred reading a book in a corner to socializing with friends. Upon arriving in London and taking up the mantle of Consulting Detective from her grandparents, she begins to step out from the crowd and discovers she likes being seen as special. She develops relationships and starts up a business based on her special abilities that do set her apart from the crowd.

But in this latest casebook, I have taken away two of the abilities that (obviously) contribute to her detective skills, and she is struggling to compensate for them. In the meantime, her business is falling down around her ears, she has withdrawn from College and she is again retreating into herself and trying to back away from people and society.

It’s going to be a fight (my detective is stubborn, much like me) but I am going to find a way to bring her back out in front.

Daily Prompt: Portia’s Flip Flop

The best 180 turn I’ve seen in a long time!

So as you might know, I only take on a Daily Prompt for this blog when I think it pertains to my characters and because of the last casebook I just finished writing, and am now transcribing, I can participate in this one!

The Prompt: Think of a topic or issue about which you’ve switched your opinion. Why the change?

In ‘No Matter how Improbable‘ I introduced a new character named Dr. Heather Olsen — she will turn out to be significant to the case Portia is struggling through, and not to spoil anything, but to Portia’s life.

But the reason I want to talk about her for this daily prompt is that Portia does a complete 180 in her opinion of the woman. Our detective starts from a place of suspicion and curiosity, moves quickly to resentment and anger and finally, to understanding and appreciation.

How does Portia change her mind so dramatically?

I would hope in the same way most of us do when we start a relationship on the wrong foot, or by elevating  first impressions and sometimes misconceptions above experience with the person. I have always been a person who believed in first impressions, but only in the most positive sense.

I like it when I ‘hit it off’ with someone right away, I do take that to mean we have a connection that can grow into a friendship. But as we all know, the opposite can happen – you can meet someone and something about them that first time just rubs you the wrong way. Or you hear people talking about that person before you even meet them and that sours your first actual chat with them.

It is only in getting to know the doctor, in seeing her in action, and in finally admitting the value she brings to the investigation that Portia changes her mind. Portia is a stubborn character, who relies so much on her logic and inductive skills that she doesn’t easily move past them or change her mind about the first data she is presented. It is a testament to Olsen as a character (and I better make sure it’s written that way) that she is able to move Portia and become an ally.

Back to transcribing friends!