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Indie Author Day at the VPL & speaking from experience…

indieauthorday

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.

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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.

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

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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

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Bad girls flip the the bird at grease balls

And Jesus loves them. I haven’t been blogging. I haven’t been journaling. I’m pissed off. I have been sick. Sick and tired, of the rain and cold. It’s going to be one of those non-summers we British Columbians suffer now and then. Fuck it. I’m turning this year around. 2011 is the year  I complete my novel. Despite everything. Everyone. I have been caught up in the daunting task of cutting and revising, 150 pages slashed; didn’t think I could do it, so glad I did. When that’s complete I’ll restructure if need be. Here’s a segment of The Town Slut’s Daughter, partially set in Vancouver’s punk rock scene. You’ll have to excuse the wacky formatting, WordPress sucks. I’m afraid there’s no excuse for lapsed Catholic protagonist Fiona Larouchelle. She is not a nice girl.

“Look who’s on TV!” Rita pointed to Joey Shithead on The Vancouver Show with Pia Shandel.
“Ha!” hooted Fiona. “She looks like a Pia Shandel.”
Joey handled bubbly Pia with aplomb. Fiona threw down three tickets to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre emblazoned with Hit Someone You Love.
“Great!” said Rita. “What’s with all the misogyny? I thought the scene was so equalitarian.” Rita grabbed the kettle, turned on the tap. “Well, I suppose it is if you happen to be young, white and male.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t go.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t. Who is Transformer Productions, anyway?”
“I don’t know. Never heard of them. But it’s a great bill! Rabid, Pointed Sticks, SubHumans, K-Tels.” Angus was a hero for digging up a new venue, O’Hara’s, a derelict nightclub on the pier at the foot of Main. Her father remembered it from when he was a young buck roaming the streets. “I wanna go. We gotta see the K-Tels.”
“Okay. We’re doing our bit to fight sexism, right? We play electric guitars!”

The next night Fiona, Shannon and Rita drove down to the show, a near riot on by the time they arrived.
BAM!     THUD!     WHAM!
“Hey,” said Fiona, “it’s like Batman.”
Entering cautiously, they noticed a riser to their right and looked up into the scowling faces of thirty or so longhaired bikers and fat, bearded yahoos greeting them with upraised chairs and benches. A table whizzed past their heads, crashing against the wall, but when the girls advanced, like a sea parting, the bikers moved aside to let them pass.
“I guess we don’t pose a threat,” said Fiona, “or maybe they’re sparing the girls.”
Shannon laughed. “As if they have policy.”
They found the K-Tels soldiering through Automan, bassist Jim Bescott and green-haired Art so on the beam, they deftly dodged an assortment of projectiles. Fuming, Rita sidled up to a big greaser just as he was about to launch a Labatt’s can and grabbed him by the arm.
“Hey asshole! Those are my friends.”
He nearly choked on his tongue. Rita stood guard until the frustrated hit man left.
Like hyenas tracking a herd of wildebeest, their tormenters plucked the youngest, sickest, stupidest kids from the crowd, methodically pummeling all attitude out of them. The Bowery Boys were on rodeo clown duty, goading the creeps, pulling them off their friends, getting in a few punches of their own.
“This is nuts!” shouted Fiona. She waved at Oona and Spooner across the room. They dashed over. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” sputtered Oona. “What the fuck is going on?”
“I dunno, it’s bizarre,” said Spooner, glancing nervously about the room, “every biker and grease-ball in the Lower Mainland must be here. I heard they’re even coming up from Bellingham.”
Is a mob the sum of its parts? Fiona could see no eye contact, with each other or their prey. No motive, no reason. No head. No heart.
Shannon surveyed the pandemonium. “Well, if this is Valentine’s Day, it must be hell.”
“Where’s security?”
“Maybe this is security,” Rita said grimly. “I’m having visions of Altamont.”
They exited at the first opportunity. Fiona saw Dennis wrestling a Continue reading

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A la vida! Happy Mother’s Day

Two mother themed excerpts from The Town Slut’s Daughter, oddly, or not, both involving horses, gelding and foaling specifically.

No matter how many times they moved, Bill and Jeanette managed to find another shack, the latest a long, low rancher in Langley.

Jeanette was homesick, longing to return to Quebec, despite how wretched life had been. Would she ever be free of the past, the fear that at Sister Ann Marie might come along and yank her pigtails or rap her on the knuckles with a wooden ruler?

She didn’t see too many empties but worried Jeanette might hurt herself again, relieved to hear she’d had taken up crochet, though all the crappy old furniture was covered in ugly, acrylic afghans. Why can’t she use real wool? Bill had gotten her a pet, a little wiener dog she dubbed Schultz, after the character in Hogan’s Heroes.

“Why couldn’t you get a real dog?”

“He’s a Daschund. Hey, he’s a tough little bugger! Full of piss and vinegar. Just watch him.”

The little bugger dragged in a giant field rat. Jeanette cheerfully tossed the carcass into the garbage, explaining the godamned things liked to chew through her telephone cables. She mopped up the blood as Fiona watched Schultz chase down more vermin, sturdy little body parting a sea of tall grass.

“They were bred to go down badger holes.” Jeanette deftly shuffled a deck of cards, machine-rolled cigarette dangling from her lips. “You know how mean a badger is?” She dealt out a hand of Solitaire, Fiona relieved she wasn’t badgering her into Gin Rummy.“Shultz doesn’t know how little he is.” Jeanette gloated. “He’ll take on any dog that crosses his path. He wriggles under, goes right for the jugular.”

“Well, they say pets resemble their owners. Or is it the owners that resemble their pets?”

Jeanette laughed. “Yeah, so we’re tough.”

Fiona once saw her mother evict a drunk twice her size and half her age by the seat of his pants. She was earning a reduction in rent for lifting bales of hay, feeding and watering the landlord’s horses. Fiona sat on the fence as Jeanette admired the animals through the slats. Fiona could feel the thoroughbreds’ hot breath on her collarbone as they ambled up, snuffling, nudging her arm for carrots. I’m not scared when I know what they want.

Jeanette pointed at the pinto. “Indian Joe. They just gelded him.”

What was left trotted round the periphery, stallions shadowing him, nipping his neck and flanks. He snorted and kicked wildly but the stallions were ruthless, tormenting him until he ran under an old hemlock, cowering, stranded in his altered state. Fiona clambered down. Jeanette grabbed her by the arm before she could enter the paddock.

“Fiona. No! What do you think you’re doing?”

“He needs help! Why don’t they leave him alone?”

“You’re too young to understand.”

“I am not!”

“All right.” Jeanette ground her cigarette butt into the fence post. “Do you understand he’s a eunuch? A freak? Spooking the studs.”

Fiona stared at her mother’s forehead. Jeanette sighed. They headed back to the house. Fiona told her she was moving to LA.

“Aw, no!” gasped Jeanette. “Don’t tell me that!”

“Sorry. I have to go. There’s nothin’ happening here. We have to go where the music business is. We wanna get signed. All the major labels are down there.”

“But, I’ll miss you!” Looking to the ground, Jeanette began to cry. Go for the jugular.

“You can come visit,” said Fiona, both knowing it was a fiction.

“Why won’t you let me be your mother? You’re just a baby! My baby.”

Fiona vehemently shook her head No. Jeanette winced. Fiona watched Schultz, wonder wiener, yipping and dogging horses, inches from hooves the size of his head. She nudged her mother, pointed. Jeanette’s eyes rounded at the dog’s antics.

“No badgers, but happy as a pig in shit, isn’t he?”

Laughing, she whacked Fiona across the shoulder blades, nearly knocking her into the knee-high muck. Two days later, the Virgin Marries moved to Los Angeles.

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They collected the Virgins and headed up to his folks’ place near Santa Barbara, Fiona excited, insisting on a visit to the Mission. The weather was glorious, world a blue sphere; sky of sapphire, ocean of turquoise. She noticed a fantastic tree hanging off the cliffs, pistachio wood peeking out from peeling cinnamon bark.

“Madrona,” said Rita, planting her big feet on the dash. “They’re called arbutus in B.C.”

Jackie and Dolores skulked and Continue reading

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