Monthly Archives: April 2012

20 years later

Last night I launched Western Taxidermy (my collection of short stories) at the Cantos Music Centre in Calgary. Even though I’ve launched books before, last night was a big deal for me. Here’s the history: 20 years ago, January 1992, I took a short writing course from a local college. From that course I developed two stories that I sent out. The first magazines I sent them to published them.  I thought, this is so totally easy! I am going to be a writer!  (I was undeterred by the payment I got for those stories.  One magazine paid me $10. One paid me with 5 brag copies.)  It was the early 1990s and everyone was “goal setting”. My goal, which unfortunately I told to many people, was to have a short story collection finished and on the bookstore shelves in 5 years.

Here I am.  20 years later, I just launched that collection.  Turns out writing isn’t that easy. Turns out life happens. Things distract.  Things derail. Turns out those first two stories were crap.

So last night at the launch I drank champagne served up by my sons, now of legal drinking age, who weren’t even born when I started writing. And I plan to continue soaking in the good feeling of a project finally finished, and celebrating at every future event involving this book. It’s been a long time coming. Readers and fellow Fictionistas – beware!


p.s. Could’ve sworn I was a past Fictionista but can’t find the proof. So probably wasn’t. I did, however, come across evidence of a 2005 “Take a Joy Read” where I read with Margaret MacPherson.  Joy Read? Meaning, like, joy ride? I can see why that name didn’t stick.


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Filed under Barb Howard

FICTIONista fun

FICTIONista alumnae Angie Abdou has been having some fun with spoof book trailers. Here’s her video on her first novel, The Bone Cage, with which Angie was part of the FICTIONista tour a couple of years ago.

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Filed under Angie Abdou, for fun


Pull on your boots, gals, less than two weeks and we’re off! It is a pleasure to be part of FICTIONistas. I am eager to meet the wonderful writers on our tour, and become better acquainted with a variety of new works. It’s going to be a peripatetic blast on the femmewagon (it’s not all on foot), and I am thankful for this experience. Forums like this one, which bring together creative women of all stripes in a spirit of collaboration, are badly needed. There, I said it. To that end, kudos to our fine houses and the talented Amber Goldie.

Like Margaret, I also love the idea of a panel discussion in Calgary. So much happens at the edges of writing that seldom gets voiced. We can talk about meaningful subjects, connect our themes, explore the funny bits, and extend the conversation beyond the page. I look forward to those unexpected questions or topics that really open up a room.

Our kick-off for the tour is in my hometown of Toronto. In spring, bursting bloom, the city comes alive. People leave their windworn caves and start strolling the streets again. It’s a happy way to start. Expect a warm, celebratory welcome.Each of the cities and events we’re attending has its own magic, and I will learn what I can from my localistas. Pace, Saskatchewan, where both Coteau Books and my stories are set.  You can read a bit more about the book, if you like, here. There is a short author bio included also.

While I admire the professional feat of this tour, I admit that when I heard we were carpooling to Edmonton, I instantly imagined a road trip film. What a treat to attend all these readings, as well as to participate.

Ride ‘em out!


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It’s not about the shoes, right?


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The Calgary dialogues

Love the idea of the Fictionistas in a panel discussion in Calgary. I was lucky enough to be included in a similar event  with Ami McKay (she of Virgin Cure and Birth House fame) and Frances Greenslade who had just published the wonderful novel Shelter last fall. The three of us had a blast and discussed some important things: mothering, abandonment, the deflowering experience. It was moderated by the amazing (dare I say iconic?) Sharon Butala and proved to be well attended and informative.

I think the more women can speak to themes in fiction, themes in the female experience, the more we will understand and honour each other and collectively move into places of power. Good on Simone Lee of Pages on Kensington for getting a conversation started. Join us.  Join in.

Let’s see, if it’s Calgary it must be May 6th.  Fictionistas crave controversial conversations in Cowtown! Yippee-yahoo

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From the Territories to TO: road trippin’ with Body Trade

Gearing up for the great Toronto to Vancouver book tour with Fictionistas…aka fun fun fun. I’m just getting familiar with WordPress but if anyone wants to get familiar with me (in a strictly professional sense, or course) check out this cool profile my publisher created at Macpherson-news. I’m terrible at updating blogs,  mostly because I can’t keep all those passwords in my head and remember the names of my children at the same time, but for this fabulous Fictionista site I’m certainly willing to try. Looking forward to reading about (and meeting) my feminista fellow writers.

It may not be about the shoes, but is it sandal weather in Ontario in early May? We’re still sloughing through snow here in Edmonton after a spring blizzard.

Ahh, forget the white stuff. Think white pines, maples, Kensington Market, Yonge Street, old friends, huge lakes to rival Great Slave, Harbourfront, The Park Plaza, the AGO, oh, oh Ontario, bring it on.  To say nothing of  Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver. Fictionistas, here we go!


Filed under Margaret MacPherson


FICTIONistas is a growing community of Canadian women authors, brought together for national tours by independent publishers. Our events match experienced and debut authors for fabulous evenings that celebrate the best of Canadian writing.

This is the online home for the FICTIONistas community. Here you’ll find the most up-to-date information on tour dates, news, reviews, blog posts and chat from the authors, and background information on this author reading series with a difference.

Why not start with this CBC Manitoba Scene profile of the FICTIONistas tour program?

Or a feature from our early years in Edmonton’s Vue Weekly?

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