Archives for the month of: June, 2012

Don’t get the idea that Wentworth Perk is the only cafe in town. There are others. By far the most popular is The Bean Bank on Charlotte Street. I stopped by for coffee – strong & smooth – the place was packed, busy – people on laptops enjoying the wireless. several different spaces for sitting, though all were taken when  I was there – a front patio, an inner patio, and at least two others room as well. I was there around 11:30 & no muffins left – opted for an oat cake. Tasty but, to be honest, I like Tim Ho’s oat cakes better :-)

Visited the Sydney Historical Society to enjoy an exhibit about the Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church and had a long talk with Megan, one of the guides, about my book. She’s creating a theatre project which, at the moment, has the working title “Steel and Coal: Work and Protest.” We researching similar territory.

so many saints

There was also some talk about the number of churches closing in the area – at least three in the past year and more to shut their doors over the next year. I thought why don’t they invest in wireless – congregations could meet to commune in a more spiritual atmosphere. Even the Tim Ho’s in Sydney has WiFi – time for the parishes to get with the program.

Was into the Bonnie Prince for the first time. It started out in the Isle Royal Hotel. Before I came out it had a reputation for having a ‘gay’ area – two stools at the back, I suppose – but then I was too fearful to go near it. The Isle Royal has since been torn torn. Now the Prince is a standard tavern/diner. Breakfast wraps were not in steelworkers lunch boxes.

For my birthday my sister found a spot for sea food chowder – Dock Y’ur Dory – about an hour’s drive along the coast. Tourist quaint that works – glass top tables with different displays under each table – toys in one, boats in another, dinner ware in another – the chowder was outstanding, the view was great, even picked up a few books in the gift shop. Worth the drive.

a real coke spoon

That was my last day there so didn’t get to do all I had planned – leaving something for my next visit. I won’t so long this time. Would have stayed longer but I had to get back to TO for my Pride gig & needed at least two days of rest to face that crowd. Population of Sydney maybe 32,000, number of people at Pride over 320,000 at any given hour.

July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada

October 11, Thursday – feature The Beautiful and The Damned


Here’s another of the Montaigne prompt pieces

Not to Communicate A Man’s Honour [41]

he did no wrong

what’s the news in that

he didn’t cheat on his wife

he didn’t hide his sex life

he was clear and direct

he got no secrets

no one cared what he thought

no one reported what he said

he did his job with no fanfare

called no attention to himself

was brave when needed

got things done with little or no fuss

so who cares

if only he had

gotten away with murder

or at least plotted one

never stole when he had the chance

never swore in public

always kept his hands clean

and now

we can’t even remember his name





my trusty travel mug

Travel often means eating in diners, cafes, restaurants & airports. Even staying, as I did, with my sister here in Sydney, I dined out more than usual. Usually for lunch.  With more Tim Ho’s per capita than doctors Cape Breton is right on the money for coffee and donuts. What I like about the Tim’s here is that the coffee is stronger than in Toronto and they offer a regional snack – oak cakes – that I love.

My airport dining experience was in Toronto – things done to chicken at a Swiss Chalet – their summer special Greek meal – the tzatziki make a good replacement for the sauce plus the veggies were not over cooked but a bit of feta would have completed the meal.

When we went to the Miners’ Museum we ate at the Miners’ Village Restaurant after we went through the exhibits. The menu was limited but hearty. I would have like to see a few more nods of what the miners would have eaten – I’m sure they didn’t have California veggie wraps. I went for the hot hamburger with gravy sandwich. the burger was excellent – the fries okay. The Museum itself is excellent for an introduction into the mines but merely hints at the daily life of the miners. A trip into the mine is the best way to get a feel for the conditions the miners worked in.

After the Miners I hit the Whitney Pier Museum – which I love – not much new has been donated since I was last there 5 years ago but I enjoyed going through the old high school year books and seeing the exhibits on the extensive and various ethnic communities that were isolated in the Pier. Many groups sought to stick together and never strayed far from their ‘stomping grounds.’ Even in Toronto is Little Italy, Little India etc. But there is an awareness of each other – when I grew up in Sydney I didn’t know there was black community till I was in my late teens.

On Monday I had lunch with an old friend at Centre 200 where I had forgettable bacon & eggs to the sound of clicking slot machines. An ideal place to get caught up with each other without the distraction of tasty food.

c200 hiding behind Tim’s

Tuesday was another lunch with another old friend – this time at an old haunt – The New Moon was the first Chinese restaurant to open in Sydney. I can sort of remember my first jumbo shrimp, definitely remember my first Singapore Sling. The menu remains pretty much unchanged, prices haven’t gone up that much either and the food was good.

the original sign


It was a short walk from the New Moon to hit Wentworth Perk again, had time to sit on the patio and enjoy the rather steady stream patrons. More attractive men who needed a shave that I would have expected. Coffee as good as on my first visit, great date square & my old friend gave me a section of her turtles cheese cake which was perfect. I did hear from one of the owners after my pervious post and they hoping to start a spoken-word night in the fall.

Perk view of Park

Travel also mean a change in routine for me. Not big changes but enough to make me appreciate getting back to those routines. Less reading, less writing too – this time – but I have been making notes & picking up books to fill in the context for my next novel. I’ve had a few chats about it with people I’ve met on my search for info & the reaction is positive. The time era – mid 1920’s – is one that hasn’t been look at too closely and certainly not in fiction.


here’s an old piece about growing up on the east coast -


it’s hard to tell

when he became the son

his dad didn’t expect

was it when he hit

that dangerous hormone rush

and couldn’t concentrate in school

didn’t know where to look

where his eyes were supposed to focus

what was the target -

long division or

longing to doodle scribbles

that might form words

but even spelling

was beyond his grasp

couldn’t slip into some easy identity

all he wanted was to be left alone

why bother asking him questions

he wasn’t one of those bright kids

who could memorize the times tables

a boy adrift in the hazy life

where roles were cut out for you

from the start he felt himself drift

through those holes

didn’t feel so easy at the time

the puzzlement

he knew those tight formations

weren’t for him

not that he was mr rebellious

merely mr a little off centre

moving in his own way

caught up in a culture that said

you can be what you want

as long as you keep it to yourself

the secret secret

that made it all right

and above all

don’t fail to appear apologetic

shame makes all the difference

to the different

it’s hard to tell

when I became the son

my dad didn’t expect

probably before I was born


July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 19, Thursday – attending: The Beautiful & The Damned’s Summer Luau edition

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada

October 11, Thursday – feature The Beautiful and The Damned

shelf life

shelf life

Sydney has lived up to my damp, cold memories with rain & clouds the past few days. But I have gotten out and about – took walks down the streets I used to walk to school – past houses that friends I remember lived in at that time. Changes have been minimal on those streets. The downtown main street – Charlotte Street – has suffered from various attempts to revive it – one plan resulted in, what I call, cartoon quaint – in which stores fronts were given this ‘down east’ treatment that reflects nothing of the city’s heritage – fake St. John’s.


Some have had a sad modernity forced on them – that looks clean but has even less character than the ‘cartoon quaint.’ Banalization.

a shred of dignity

A few buildings have managed to maintain their historic dignity.

another shred of dignity

The one shopping centre I enjoyed as been transformed into a strip mall. For years one could enter one end, walk the inside promenade and go into the shops, or sit in a food court or the Tim’s – these community spaces were always active with locals. Now the promenade is gone, you have to enter each store from the parking lot – no shared indoor space & frankly very uninviting. Not even worth taking a picture of. Clearly no market research went in to this pointless renovation.

One good addition, at least one that I like, is Wentworth Perk. The cafe has been renovated a great old house, added a large patio and serves great coffee. I see it has a line up of local musicians – no spoken word night though – if I was here long enough there would be one – maybe I’ll line one up for my next visit though – I’m sure Sydney is ready for a splash of my mildly erotic queerness.

drop in for a great coffee


I bought loads of books already: all for research – some from Reynolds Books

(n) = Nimbus Publishing Ltd.

Archie Neil Chisholm: As True As I’m Sittin’ Here

Clary Croft: A Maritimer’s Miscellany (n)

Brian C. Cuthbertson: The Loyalist Governor – Sir John Wentworth

David Doucette: North of Smokey

Dawn Fraser: Echoes From Labor’s War

Rannie Gillis: Historic Sydney (n)

Historic North Sydney (n)

Monica Graham: Historic New Glasgow + (n)

Laurie Lacy: Mi’Kmaq Medicines (n)

Carole MacDonald: Historic Glace Bay (n)

Garfield MacDonald: A Morien Memoir

Alistair Macleod: Island – his short stories are stunning

Richard P. McBrien: Catholicism (one of characters is the parish priest’s niece so I need to know a bit about the religion)

Joe macPherson: In The Shadow of the Shafts (not a porn novel)

David Newton: Where Coal Is King


July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 19, Thursday – attending: The Beautiful & The Damned’s Summer Luau edition

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada

October 11, Thursday – feature The Beautiful and The Damned


here’s a very rough draft from my miner novel – which I’m thinking of calling The Priest’s Niece -

Birk could hear singing. It wasn’t far from him on the coal face. He hesitated a moment before pushing the loose rock, duff, behind him, for Swede, his duff-raker, to shift away. It was Swede singing.

“This is the dark. This is the work”

There wasn’t room for Birk to turn around. He wanted to ask Swede how he could keep singing when breathing was difficult enough. Birk snorted some of the coal dust out his nose as he took a shallow breath though the rag over his mouth and shoved more of the debris back towards Swede.

“This is the dark. This is the work. The dark we live in. The work we do.”

As he chipped into the coal face Birk drifted in and out of listening. All there was to think about was his arms  flex  strike  flex  chip  slag crumble  push behind. Flex  strike  flex  chip  slag crumble  push behind. He no longer felt his sweat, felt his hands as rock broke, fell to his feet. His back and calves numbed from the constant crouch.

Flex  strike  flex  chip  slag crumble  push behind.

When he stopped he could hear. “This is the dark. This is the work”

Swede tugged at Birk’s elbow. “C’mon lad. Time for a slurp a’tea.”

Birk listened for Swede to scuttle away so there room for him to inch out.

He barely backed out when he heard a dry crack over the sound of the other picks, over the sound of coal falling, over his own breathing. He heard it because it wasn’t a sound that fit into the sounds he usually heard.

Instinctively he nudged Swede. He nodded that he had heard it too. After working together in the mine for several months as a team they didn’t need words. Miners’ eyes talk when words couldn’t be heard anyway.

They crawled backwards on their stomach out of the edge in the coal face they had been working. They were at the point where they could half stand under the ceiling when there was louder crack. Then silence.

All the other miners had stopped.

“Struts,” Birk muttered.

“Yeap.” Swede replied.

They scuttled up the low, narrow passage. Other miners shimmying out from the ledges they had been working. All shuffled hunched and silent to hear.

A brief thump was followed by a low shudder under foot.

“Ceiling in level five.”

They were three level below that on level eight.

“Keep your arses movin’!” A harsh shout from behind and the line of miners moved slowly forward. hunching up and down to avoid the ceiling supports. The tunnel going from five foot to four foot high every six feet.

Birk felt a drip on his face.

“Leak.” he shouted. “Fookin’ leak.”

Another shudder and dust flakes began to fall on them. He grabbed Swede by the arm to pull him along as fast as he was moving.

The air already thick with coal dust became thicker with their fear. They almost fell out of the vein into the shaft where the carts were. They kept moving so the other miners could get out too.

There was already water in the shaft. How long would the stavings hold?


The hardest part of any trip for me is packing – what to bring – even two days away is a bit of a chore – but 7 is worse. Thanks to the Kindle I don’t have to take heavy, space consuming books with me but the communications revolution means I have to pack cables for keeping things charged: Kindle, iPod, cellphone, & laptop – there isn’t a single cable that’ll do the job, each has to have its own. Not to omit the digital camera upload cable. Forget one cable & you’re screwed.

shelf life

Flight out to Cape Breton was heck – delayed two hours by thunderstorm – means I got to Sydney around 1:30 – but my sister Eileen was waiting for me – thanks to wireless we were able to Facebook chat while I was in Toronto – spent my first night in the ‘gift shop’ I call home – my Dad was a collector of ‘stuff’ and much of it still remains.

I got about five hours sleep in my old bedroom – using my Dad’s old office desk – glad to see that everything had recharged, except me, overnight. It was actually chilly on the deck in the morning. I did feel up to some ‘research’ – so Eileen & I took in the Glace Bay Miner’s Museum – I didn’t go down in the mine this time – once was enough – but I took more photos & got some of the info I wanted & picked up a few locally published books. Sadly the miner’s houses weren’t open to the public yet – still waiting for gov funds. Lunch at the restaurant there.

big wheel – no longer turning

Next some driving around to see the steel plant reclamation work, dropped into the Whitney Pier Museum – a small sort of local spot where everything on display has been donated – old high school year books – an extensive look at the life of the rather large black community in Sydney – fascinating.

only in the Pier dear

Then back to my sister’s place – she’s living in the family home – much changed but still the same – most recent addition is a great deck.

view of a deck


June 21-29  – visiting Cape Breton

July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 12, Thursday – attending: The Beautiful & The Damned’s Summer Luau edition

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada

October 11, Thursday – feature The Beautiful and The Damned


here’s one of the Brown Betty pieces that deals a bit with my growing up on the east coast: (wordpress did weird things to the line breaks that I can’t figure out how to fix)

Man With A Past

I am from a cup of King Cole black tea

steeping in a brown betty pot

flat fried scones
burned pancakes on Sunday mornings

born in Manitoba
moved to Cape Breton before I was ten
the Cape is an island of cousins aunts uncles I had none
only good parents who couldn’t protect me

from a context they wanted to fit

I am from the rusted rain
seeded by steel plant exhaust
black pearl gritted snow
that fell in layers of grey white grey white

my mother a Welsh war bride
a family of eleven brothers and sisters

lots of cousins aunts uncles in-laws oceans

too far away
to coax me into this island world

told that not fitting in was my fault
why didn’t I try harder be more like other kids

so I hid but that’s not the point
because we all hide

I am from an east coast pollution pulsation

still call home
where paying the rent and feeding the kids

was worth the cold damp steel poison price

while the blast furnace
spewed the air
to pepper the food we ate
at night no one saw it
flood our dreams
I am from Swedes who changed
the last name of their first born to Armstrong

a name I could never live up to
never defend in school yard brawls
would come home
with a bloodied nose bruises
that disappointed my dad
who didn’t understand
why I couldn’t stand up for myself

stranded on the molehill of growing up queer
no role models to offer hope
in a culture of judgement and fear

so I hid but that’s not the point because we all hide

I am diverted from the history I have

by a history that is denied to me when researchers into
the lives of gay men and women

in WWII fighting forces
are asked why sully the memory

of our brave men and women

I am from an unrecorded past

where there was no name
till what I am became labelled

by incomprehensible fear

the point is – I survived what past I had
by creating a self out of the fear and shame hidden in my past
but today no longer hiding from it

The Beautiful and The Damned’s (BuDa) night of Queer Dissident Voices sponsored by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, was a Pride Toronto Affiliated Event. That gets the official nods out of the way.

To be honest I wasn’t looking forward to a night of strident, cry-baby activists and was very surprised to get swept up in a night of energetic, passionate and articulate writers hosted by DM Moore.

no need for Gas Masks at BuDa

Ghadeer Malek was a bit caught up in classic political syntax but was personally & emotionally invested in it which gave it great power that transcended, for me, the stridency of images such as ‘pillars of democracy built on exploitation and land grabs’ – images such as ‘parents create children with death in their eyes’ allowed me to share the family tragedy of war. The memory of once listening to the Beatles with her grandmother but ‘it hasn’t been quiet enough to hear the Beatles sing’ was/is for me a dynamic expression of what we lose as our personal context is destroyed by war.

Second feature Hamid Parnian, was in some ways hampered by his limited English – he read his pieces first in Farsi then in English. There was great charm and emotion in his native language – his English translations made it clear his political drive was more personal – being queer was political enough – “we morphed into that which has no names in social morality” - the pieces were sensual and touched with longing, ‘… your bed sheets, the smell of your bed sheets.’

He mentioned that the Quran was an erotic text. I offered to help him with his English so perhaps he can explain that to me more fully.

With QAIA once again getting press we were expecting some picketers, which has happened at past QAIA events – but, hardly a surprise, poetry readings are so below the radar there was nothing beyond our own spoken-word smokers blocking the sidewalk on Yonge street.

come lie with me beneath the lilacs

come bed with me beneath the lilacs

I left before the music act, too pooped to listen and absorb anymore. Talked with some old friends, new friends (hi Hamid), had yet another long talk about ePub, plus one of my Art Bar fans was there to encourage me to expand Brown Betty into a full volume of verse -

Host DM Moore ran a tight ship, had great trivia questions, slaved to get this BuDa show an official Pride affiliated event and should get some sleep soon.

my high-school

writing sample

writing sample


Here’s are the pieces I read -

More or Less

heavy print said

gay accountant killed by straight steelworker

efficiently establishing

accountant = less of a man

steelworker = more of a man

both blind drunk

less of a man brings more of a man

back to his place

more of a man comes out of a blackout

in the midst of oral sex

experiences homosexual panic reflex

flings off less of a man

less of a man hits his head bleeds a lot


bi-curious turned into straight furious

doesn’t deny what happened

but has no cogent memory

thanks to the blessed absolution of blackout

less of a man had a bad heart

coroner can’t specify an exact cause

too much booze    heart    head trauma


more of a man goes free

due to lack of conclusive evidence

his shame and disgust are deemed

punishment enough

the embarrassment to his wife and child

is paid in full by the life of less of a man

less of a man apparently

having no one of note in his life to embarrass

the death of this predatory queer

being more or less the fair price

for daring to give a blow job

for the stunning audacity of touching

and innocent heterosexual’s sacred dick



he is a man without a context

Brampton landed stranded

with the family of a sister-in-law

a brother in one nation a sister in another

home a room in a basement

learning English

to give him the structure of classes

companionship with others     lost

looking to anchor

skin   dark brown black smooth

arms eager to hold

hungry for more than mere contact

needing the relief of physical acceptance

shy yet fierce

kissing as if he’d been drowning

he tells me of growing up in war

brothers     uncles slaughtered

before his very eyes

I’m not sure if it is genocide

or merely being the losing minority

the politics of killing

for property    religion escapes me

its hard to understand straights killing queers

and still getting away with it

because proving the crime

might embarrass someone’s wife

that’s the closest to war I ever want to be

and he   this stranded man

is looking for a solid ground under his feet

as he seeks a new life here

a man in an already suppressed tribe

where liking men is even more suppressed

I take him in my arms

let him hold on as tight as he needs

I’m learning what it’s like

to sleep with someone’s enemy



Lauren Carter opened the Art Bar show with new pieces about ‘a family uprooted’ more than once, full of details from her family tree research and strong visuals “buds like tight white purses” – “a wing written into the rock” – she read from her new book ‘Lichen Bright.’ Her work has a strong sense of family, history and rural life. I especially liked “their smiles spread like suspicious curtains” – from Witches.

I miss the miracle

I was up second and the feature went very well, if I do say so myself, though people were a little disappointed that it wasn’t a set of my funny, over-sexed pieces – but every now and then it’s good to change things up. As I always do for a feature, I put together a set with a sense of flow – one that covers a bit of history as well – in this case east-coast life from moving there, local industry in motion, some growing up stuff, touch down in high school, early 70’s sexual fumblings, a quick trip underground & finally an echo of the first piece. Sold lots of chapette books & even a few PDF’s.

During the break I was approached by one local small press to get in touch. Another small press asked if I was ready to do a full length book of poetry. Plus one of my Bloody Words pals talked about a consortium of several writers pooling to create an ePub venture. On top of which I did a little pitch to do a feature in the new year at one of the shows I haven’t performed at for some year. So a better experience for publishing opportunities than Bloody Words & I even got  paid quite well for being there.

floating alley art

Final feature was Ian Hanna whom I met Hot-Sauced a few years ago during the pre-show writing. He almost had to be forced to read a bit of what he had written but now look at him! His set was funny, tender, comfortable and even romantic. Many of his pieces were short, almost punch line – “in the past they used antiques for everything.” “I wandered forth days and nights and came home lost”

Alana Cook hosted with warmth and efficiently so the evening moved along pretty quickly. The open stagers were a great mix – with as many woman as men. Pauper’s  a/c was working a bit too well – if I had know I would have worn a sweater and not just a t-shirt. So I hope those you took notice of my perky nips realized it was the chill and nothing else.

I do have a few chapette books left – $3.00. Also a PDF version suitable for eReaders for a buck. For Pride I’ll be doing a couple of dance pieces. My Plasticine set will be totally different from my Art Bar set – possibly giving the people what they want – hot, sexy & funny.

a place to see delight

a place to see delight

Here’s one of the pieces from my set -

Dad’s Pockets

as a kid

I would go through the pockets

of my Dad’s suit coats sport jackets

as they hung in the closet

I would find quarters which I’d take

sometimes fifty-cent pieces which I’d leave

I’d slip the over-sized jackets

off their hangers

wear them in the dark of the closet

in the smell of his things

his shoes miles too big for me

trying to steal into adulthood

I’d skulk out

from my secret foray

a little daring thief

sneaky   guilty

fearful of being found out

when he’d miss the pocket change

I’d be confronted

say too quick I don’t know what he meant

blurt out I didn’t do that

which he never believed

if only I’d hung those coats back the right way

he’d let me go with warning

that I never heeded

I’d be back there in a week or so

go through those pockets

try on those sport jackets

grow much too slow into adulthood

much too quick into guilt



Another great part of Bloody Words (BW) was meeting up with other writers. Over the years I’ve managed some solid friendships through BW & the Aubert Workshop. Even a couple of authors there who’ve I met through my spoken-word – who didn’t know I dabbled in mystery. Plus one writer who I knew when I was artistic director of Bushwack Theatre and ran the Lab on Britain Street. Reconnecting is a great way to balance off being an unknown in a sea of hundreds.

Betty Grable graces this poster

I had opportunity to talk with several people about what I call ‘the wave of the present’ – the rapid growth of ePub. I recently read where qualified voters for the Hugo awards would be given all the nominated materials in e format. No paper. It would be super if BW could manage to do that with the books that stuff the gift bags – imagine a flash drive with ten to twelve books on it. We could save an inch of the rain forest.

Betty Page graces this shirt

It came up that it should be easier to get ebooks for cash. Unless someone gives you a gift card you need a credit card to make online purchases. I could not have brought my Kindle to BW – paid a writer $4.99 cash & downloaded the book right then and there. If indie book stores want to survive they have to figure out a way to do this – even as Amazon affiliates, if that’s what it takes – mind you, no one is thrilled by the choke hold Amazon, Indigo & Apple have on e-product. I’m sure the technology exists for a point of purchase cash process.

A tip of the hat to the organizers of BW – Caro Soles & Cheryl Freedman – who ran a great conference – with some able help from ‘the bloody gang’ – I enjoyed chatting with Peggy Perdue, who herded volunteers & thanks also to Susanna Kearsley for organizing the agent pitches.

Great workshops. A couple I wouldn’t mind seeing in 2014 – “That’s Gotta Hurt” – I read too many books, see too many movies, where characters get punched, slapped, beaten up, fall down etc and yet moments later they are fine and the next day not even a bruise – none one seems to have sore ribs for weeks after getting punched in the gut, or even sore hands from pummeling the other guy. The other workshop would be a more detailed look at making eBooks.

Ride’m Cowboy


Here’s another of the Montaigne prompt pieces

Mystery Meat [30]

It was what my sister called a mystery meat.

The sort that she would say reminded her of the worst pies or was it the best pies in london. For years I didn’t know what she was talking about till I saw that movie where Johnny Depp cuts Borat’s throat, something someone should have done a long time ago, as far as I was concerned. He’s hairy self-consumed, arrogant jerk. Yeah, I know that was just a persona used to garner some sort of notice, to get him better parts in movies, make him famous like some reality star. You know those reality stars who say they’ve learned so much in the journey this show has allowed to take. They are so grateful for this opportunity to learn who behave in front of cameras with a smidgen of sincerity and good lighting, editing & music at the those tender moments to hammer the message in that ‘hey you are watching me and not the other way around.’

I told my sister that it was elk.


June 12, Tuesday – feature: The Art Bar

June 14, Thursday – attending: Queer Dissident Voices

June 21-29  – visiting Cape Breton

July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada

October 11, Thursday – feature The Beautiful and The Damned

Savoring that sweet exhausted sensation after the intensive weekend at Bloody Words (BW). First was really grateful that my decision to stay at Wildside for the weekend spared me transit nightmare and second: happy that I managed not to get caught in the rain. The rain stopped pretty much as I was stepping out to go to either the hotel or back to my bedsit.

bedsit still life

BW as held at the Toronto Hilton – just south of Nathan Phillips Square. All events on the same floor made this simple. My manuscript evaluation with Lou Allin was excellent. She suggested a solution to one of my sticky style points plus turned into a comma blood-hound. I followed that with a a shift on registration till 7. Doing registration is an excellent way to meet people at the conference. I handed out the loot bags – each of which had at least 8 paperbacks plus other goodies: magazines, bookmarks, pens & the like.

I did my pitch at 7:15 and as expected Lazarus Kiss wasn’t for her list. It would have been great if she want to see more of it but after my meeting with Lou I knew I’d need time for serious edits. I really want to workshop a few more of the scenes at the Aubert Workshop too. I dashed from the pitch to the panel on ebooks – sort of a brief ‘how to’ – now that I find more appealing. I followed that up with ‘Finally A Bride’ the first novel panel.

The next morning, after a stop at Tim Ho’s for coffee & a lump they call a egg & cheese breakfast sandwich, I got back to BW around 8:30. Socialized a bit, got my paddles to be time-keeper for the ‘A’ is for Agent’ panel. Needless to say there was an endless repeat of the same ‘paddle’ joke. Who knew that spanking was so mainstream?  Next I sat in on ‘Nine Secrets to Writing Thrillers’ presented by Gayle Lynds. I followed that up with another hour on registration.

paddles for fun

Got out of the hotel for lunch and came back for ‘Short & Deadly’ rapid/quick reads. The crime novella market is growing. Last panel I took in was ‘The Historical Mindset’ about research. The book I’m working on now involves lots of period research.

I went back to my bedsit to relax a bit, shower & change for the banquet. Good food, good company at my table too. Even manage to get some sleep that night so I was sort of fresh for the final workshop on Sunday morning: Social Media Workshop Donna & Alex Carrick. A how to look at blogs, twitter, linked in etc. Currently many publishers include social media as part of the contract – authors must have an internet presence.

One thing that became clear over the weekend is the balance between agented & self-published is changing. Once it was a great boost to your work that an agent would represent you and to self-publish meant you weren’t quite up to scratch. This is shifting to where if you need an agent it means your work isn’t strong enough for self-publishing.


June 12, Tuesday – feature: The Art Bar

June 14, Thursday – attending: Queer Dissident Voices

June 21-29  – visiting Cape Breton

July 1, Sunday – feature: Pride 2012

July 22-27, Sunday-Friday – attending: Aubert Workshop

August 19, Sunday – feature: Plasticine Poetry

August 23-26 – attending: Fan Expo Canada


Here’s the short story I included in my elaborate business card:

The Petition

We had driven through Haysville many times on our way to Stratford. It was one of those small towns with little for tourists to do except maybe stop at the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. There wasn’t even a service-station with a Tim Horton’s.

The village became a bit of a joke because of the sign on the edge of town:

In the years we’ve driven through we’d never seen a child, or an adult for that matter. Never seen anyone go in or out of the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant. The only car we ever saw in either direction was our own. Once I did notice some clothes drying on the line. All white, gently undulating in the afternoon sun.

We joked that if we stopped we’d never leave. We always stuck to the child-suggested speed limit then floored it when we got past the village limits.

This time there were yellow plastic streamers wrapped around the trees on either side of the road. We drove slower than usual. Stapled to a plywood board tied to one of the trees by the Happy Pie Shop and Family Restaurant was a large piece of paper.

We stopped and got out of the car to see what it was.

It was a petition to halt an expansion of the highway to allow for larger trucks. A widening to extend the road on either side that would result in destroying the many hundred-year-old trees which had been marked with yellow.

We signed the petition. The Happy Pie Shop was closed for the day, so we got back in our car.

The car wouldn’t start.


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