Tag Archives: fiction

Indie Author Day at the VPL & speaking from experience…


In 2012 I had finally acquired both an agent and a publisher. Woo hoo! Both shall remain nameless because both turned out to be pretty much useless. The agent seemed to think my novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter belonged in the young adult genre and spent a year barking up the wrong trees while the publisher, in the throes of much upheaval, jerked me around. Apparently they didn’t go under after all, but oh well. In frustration and desperate for deliverance-after many long years of writing the damn thing-I decided to take the dreaded Amazon/Kindle route and set up Howe Sound Publishing, with the guidance of dear friend, historical novelist Carol Cram.

As a single working mother I have precious little time for book promotion but my girl is doing okay, consistently awarded 5 star reviews and in the top 13% of the contemporary urban fiction category. Neither have I had time to calculate exactly how many copies have sold; several hundred at least. I’ve made a few bucks and the whole experience is pretty much what I expected. It is what it is, as they say. Despite the challenges I am relieved The Town Slut’s Daughter is no longer languishing on my hard drive, that she’s been launched into the world. Also, DIY is very fitting, having come up with punk rock, the original independents. Well, in recent times; Proust, Beatrix Potter and James Joyce were but a few of the authors who also did it their way.

I’m no expert in the vagaries of self-publishing, can only speak from my experience but on Saturday I will be participating in the inaugural Indie Author Day at the Vancouver Public Library, to hawk some wares and talk with readers. Perhaps I will see you there.

Free To Imagine


Writing is vexing, on so many levels. I don’t understand all this post modern fuss over genre and grow weary of explaining that I did indeed imagine the story in The Town Slut’s Daughter. Naturally it’s inspired by life experience. Write what you know. Right? Which is all I wrote, which is why it’s authentic. If what I wrote was published as memoir, or creative non-fiction-whatever the hell that is- I would have been crucified, because I made stuff up, yet people refuse to believe  my novel isn’t memoir. I can say unequivocally that I am not Fiona and Fiona is not I.

Our hunger for realism, hence the reality show phenomenon, and rise of the documentary fuel such expectations. Pressure. I say this because poet and writer Catherine Owen, whom I admire greatly, reviewed my book bemoaning in the main that I’d chosen to write fiction. Despite confusion over genre I never doubted my instincts, knew I was framing narrative within a novel. Works for me. I understand her yearning for just the facts but my life is not all that interesting, in reality. As Karl Ove Knausgård recently emphasized  about his autobiographical novel,  My Struggle,  “It’s fictional even if it’s nonfictional. It’s not as if I’m trying to document anything. I’m looking for something within that material.” Autobiographical novel also seems a contradiction in terms and I know truth is relative. Let the critics and pundits postulate ad nauseum, I need to focus on process. If you want reality, read my blog. I’m getting good at making my life sound exciting.

Perhaps I am a coward, for I can wear it like a veil, but it is also liberating and I maintain there is more truth in fiction.


THE LATEST from “The Town Slut’s Daughter” front

Obsessing over the novel, worrying about how it will be received. Or not. Naturally. Just keep reminding myself that it takes courage, and resolve to write a book, especially one so unruly, uncompromising. I have managed to resist removing the debauchery, the bits that made me squirm. Still do. My son interviewed me yesterday for a school assignment and asked an interesting question. Had I learned anything through the experience of writing this book? Certainly my writing muscle is pumped and I have learned a lot, about myself. ‘Tis quite the effective mirror, and I don’t flinch readily anymore. Whether that’s a good thing is another matter. I’m glad I watched the Wolf of Wall Street despite tiring of its unrelenting bacchanal. (DiCaprio is brilliant and the crawling-on-Ludes scene hilarious.) It put things in perspective. Fiona’s a Girl Scout compared to that dude.

Will go to Word on the Street on Sunday and talk her up. Oh right, it’s been dubbed  Word Vancouver. Whatever it’s called, this book fair is always fun and a great opportunity to catch up with friends and associates. This year several are launching their own new titles at the Poetry On The Bus stage: 12:30 pm Nilofar Shidmehr, Between Lives (Oolichan Books), 12:45 pm Catherine Owen, Designated Mourner (ECW Press) and at 1:00 pm Phinder Dulai, dream/arteries (Talonbooks).

Back to the grind. Formatting for Kindle and The Town Slut’s Daughter should be ready for downloading by Monday. Also, revamping this site with my dear friend Andy Flaster and will launch next week along with the book. And Megan Gray gave us a plug  at VanCity Buzz!

Yikes! Book launch party next Thursday, Oct. 2 at 7:30 pm at Slickity Jim’s, 3469 Main St, Vancouver. Though financially challenged, I was hoping to buy a new dress for the occasion. Oh well, it’s moot as I’m running out of time.


FIONA DOES THE DESERT-“The Town Slut’s Daughter” novel excerpt



Dennis convinced Fiona they had to visit Joshua Tree on their way to Los Angeles.

“I want you to see the real desert. This is the best time to go. Early spring. Everything’s in bloom.”

They stopped for gas, kitty corner to the Oasis of Love Wedding Chapel. Dennis pointed to an uneasy and checkered queue of couples clad in black and white lining the block.

“Let’s get married!”

“Are you crazy?”

“You still need a green card, don’t you? Isn’t that the best way? Marry a citizen?”

“You mean you?”

“Why not?”

“Because, green card marriage or not, you’ll take it seriously. Besides, I’m too young to get married. You’re too young to get married.”

“What am I to you?”

Fiona groaned. “You’re a friend, Dennis. One of my dearest friends. A friend with privileges. Take it or leave it.”

I’m such a bitch. A mile down the road, she slid her hand between his legs, stroking the denim taut over his balls. Moaning, Dennis pulled the van over. They did it in a plume of red road dust.

The lovers gradually eased into au naturale mode, more serene with each mile of desert highway kaleidoscoping past. They motored through gorges and coulees vaguely familiar, like a Roadrunner cartoon, SIDEWINDER CAFE, BORAX, LOST HORSE MINE road signs riddled with bullet holes. The Mohave was a shock of alien beauty, teeming with life. In bloom, indeed. They stopped, got out, waded through bellflowers, asters and fuchsia sand verbena, beavertail cactus sporting coral red blossoms like hats. Dune primroses reminded Fiona of the Alberta wild rose. Dennis laughed at her wide-eyed, gaping mouth astonishment.

Finally they reached Joshua Tree National Monument. She’d been expecting a phallic wonder rising off the desert floor but realized the Americans used ‘monument’ to mean ‘park.’ Dennis photographed her in relief against a horizon of softly sloping stone hills, sporting her new, fifties-circa straw flying saucer hat. She struck a Bono pose under a Joshua tree, which was not a tree at all. Lightheaded and languorous in the balmy air, Fiona stretched out movie star-style, hands on her hips, looking directly into the lens, studly paramour documenting their euphoria for all posterity.

They came upon a thick stand of Bigelow chollo cactus harbouring nests of Sage sparrows.

“The balls of their spines break off and stick to your skin like magnets,” warned Dennis. “Don’t get too close.”

The Yucca plant produced strange fruit, clusters of pale blossoms exuding a warm, waxy scent, but the most sublime desert plant must be the ocotillo, she thought, a tangle of towering, quivering green stalks like tentacles, gilded with scales and topped with scarlet arrow tips.

Dennis’s sharp eye spotted all manner of lizard; banded geckos, iguanas, chuckwallas. They saw silver spotted grasshoppers and a Walking Stick suspended from a Mormon Tea branch. Down the road, they were forced to stop the van, agog at the sight of kamikaze caterpillars crossing the asphalt in a shuddering river. Dennis bent down to examine the freaky, fetid stew of yellow, black and lime.

“Man! This was a wet winter. This only happens every seven years or so.”

They climbed Jumbo Rocks, huge boulders suggesting rising dough or the granite buttocks of sleeping elephants. At the crest, the rock face resembled skin, lined and pockmarked. In close, the surface was pebbled, filled with cracks and crevices. Elated, Fiona photographed Dennis beneath a large, round boulder miming Atlas supporting the earth. He snapped her standing inside the huge eye socket of a rock skull. They nearly fell into sinkholes, perfectly rounded basins carved into rock by water. Dennis invited her to sit.

“What about scorpions?”

“Nocturnal. We probably have more to fear from rattlesnakes. Just don’t put your hands on any ledges you can’t see.”

They sat, nestled, gazing down the valley of saltbush and smoke trees. Dennis pointed to a jet etching contrails upon a gradient blue sky. Cap Rock jutted out, a visor of stone.

“You can see all the way to Mexico from here.”

It’s easy to see why this place became sacred.” A breeze cooled her skin, prickly from too much sun. Fiona turned. “And the air up here is making me randy.”

“It is?” Dennis was hard in an instant. Panting.

“Yeah.” She avoided his eyes, resting her chin on his shoulder as if studying the lengthening shadows. Fiona allowed a few seconds to pass, then Continue reading