Something Fierce – by Carmen Aguirre

This coming Friday at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (and livestreamed at will be a combination of the things FacingOut is about – art and activism.

Join us as Carmen Aguirre launches her book Something Fierce about her life, and what a life it has been so far!

Today, Carmen Aguirre lives in Vancouver and is writer and theatre-based artist.  But when she was 11 her family packed up and moved back to the South America they had fled, so that her parents could join the underground resistance. When Carmen was 18 she joined the underground resistance against the Pinochet regime herself.

This book is Something Fierce, as it chronicles Carmen Aguirre’s teenage life amid terror.

Join us on Friday June 3rd from 6:30 – 8:30pm EST (7pm for the livestream) as we help her launch the book. She will be reading and taking questions, and of course, celebrating!

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Did you miss the Revolution?

Did you miss the launch of The Revolution Starts at Home last week at the Gladstone?

It was a great night, but if you missed it, you can watch the video!

Not quite the same as taking in the drumming, hearing the readings, being able to ask questions and dance the night away, but almost as good!


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The Revolution Starts at Home

Tonight (Thursday May 26th) at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto an important anthology 7 years in the making will be launched.

The Revolution Starts at Home is a collection of work that explores a topic that needs to be talked about, but often isn’t. The book’s subtitle says it all: “Confronting Violence Within Activist Communities.”

Edited by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, the collection explores issues such as abusive high-profile activist partners, abuse within groups designed to support and protect against it, the often isolating results of speaking out, the often not-so-helpful ways we try to heal and support each other, among others.

You can read more at their blog:

Want be part of the launch celebration tonight?
Come to the Gladstone Hotel!
The doors open at 7pm and Syrus will spinning.
At about 7:30 the launch will officially begin with drumming, followed by an introduction to the collection, readings of excerpts from contributors to the anthology, and a Q&A. There will be an ASL interpreter for the duration of this portion of the evening!
Following this, there will be more awesome DJing by Syrus, as well as a book signing and of course the opportunity to buy books!

Can’t make it, but wish you could?
Watch online at 7:30pm EST through the FacingOut Livestream.
And you can pick up a copy of the book at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.

Spread the Word!
Hope you can make it, either way.


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In Conversation with Michelle St. John

It’s always such a pleasure to chat with someone who is passionate about what they do. Michelle St. John is no exception. Acting since the age so 11, Michelle told me on Thursday during our In Conversation at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, that she can’t imagine doing anything else but being creative. Not just an actor, her repertoire includes singing, playwrighting and producing.

We spoke about two of her latest projects in which she is an actor and a producer at the same time – a multitasking feat!  Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a play written by Marie Clements about the relocation of Native peoples from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, the community they found in the underground water system, and the forced sterilization of Indigenous women that took place in the 1970s. It was co-produced by Red Diva Projects, and ran at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto from March 9-27. It is a powerful, deeply moving play about identity and loss.

Michelle’s latest creative foray is into film. Frog Girl Films has produced a DVD of the 9 minute performance that Marie Clements was commissioned to create for the 2010 Winter Olympic closing at the Aboriginal pavilion. It examines the Road of Tears and the Native Brotherhood of BC. Six performances were delivered, and one was filmed. This film is now touring North America and gathering awards. Even more exciting, the sales of the DVD and the song go towards a scholarship fund for the children of missing and murdered Aboriginal women. A 43 second trailer of this hauntingly beautiful 9 minute performance is available on YouTube.

Social Change, social justice and the telling of the stories of Aboriginal people weave through the mandates of both of these companies, which Michelle reminded us is an unfortunate match, given the history of colonization on this continent.

Missed the conversation, but wish you could see it? Watch it on Vimeo!

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In Conversation with Michelle St. John

I’m so excited!

I have just had a chat with Michelle St. John who will be my guest next Thursday, May 5th for an In Conversation session at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.

Michelle is First Nations, and is a talented actor, singer and producer. We will be talking about a few of the amazing and touching projects she is (and has been) working on including the recent run of Tombs of the Vanishing Indians at Buddies in Bad Times theatre here in Toronto this past March.

Stay tuned for more blogs as I prepare for our interview!

And come and join us next Thursday night, May 5th, at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore (6:30pm – 8:00pm) or watch the livestream at starting at 7pm.


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Changing the Face of Publishing II

I’m still reeling  (in a good way) from the Changing the Face of Publishing event!

It was so great to hear from experienced writers about publishing as well as creating communities through social media and marketing their work.

And suddenly, I don’t feel so alone….

Still, less than 1% of the 500 published Canadian children’s book authors last year were Black?! Come on people! We have to change that!


panelists Zetta Elliott, Neesha Meminger, Vivek Shraya and host, Annemarie Shrouder

Panelist Zetta Elliott, Neesha Meminger, Vivek Shraya & host Annemarie Shrouder

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Changing the Face of Publishing

What a night at TWB!

Zetta Elliott, Neesha Meminger and Vivek Shraya were our panel tonight to talk about publishing – how it’s changed, how it hasn’t, and how it’s affecting particularly under-represented readers and authors.

What an honour to host such a great panel and such a rich discussion!

All authors have self-published (Neesha has also been published “traditionally”), so the conversation focused on the path to publication, the considerations, the pros and cons. Each of them read from their work.

What struck me most was the fact that the leg-work is about the same for traditional or self publishing! For me, this has been the one perceived drawback to self-publishing, but now that veil is lifted. Onwards and upwards!

For the small percentage that authors get in the machine that is the publishing industry, for a book they have laboured over, I’d rather put out the money myself, have control over the process and then see that returned through my efforts.

Another sad fact? Of the 500 or so children’s books published last year in Canada, less than 1% were by black authors (3 to be exact). Sad, sad, sad. So the face of the published isn’t changing…

With so many options for publishing now (ebooks, other digital options, self publishing) as well as the amazing vehicle of social media to get the word out, book events, and sell, well…we COULD change the face of the published, and of publishing!

Thank you Zetta, Neesha and Vivek, for your insights, your candour and for sharing your journey and what you have learned with a full house at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore. It was my pleasure to host.

Stay tuned for clips from the event!


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Up Up Up – part III

Julie Booker continues to amaze me.

Every story in this collection is unique, content, motivation, context and the breadth of background information catching me by surprise: a girl with an eating disorder, a teenager in an abusive relationship, a professional clown.
It’s an eclectic compilation…I’m looking forward to meeting the author at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore this Saturday afternoon!

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Julie Booker’s Up Up Up

I’ve started reading Up Up Up.

What captivates me most, so far (in the 3 stories I have read) is how Julie Booker can write from completely different perspectives. So far, the main characters have been 2 overweight women, a child and a travelling young adult. It’s amazing how, in a few pages of a story, a whole persona is crafted so well, behind the scenes allowing their story to peek out between the events shared.

Looking forward to the rest!

Join us on Saturday at the Women’s Bookstore or online at for the book launch.



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Coming UP UP UP

Join us at the Bookstore this coming Saturday April 16th at 3pm for the launch of Julie Booker’s collection of stories – UP UP UP.

Check back to hear a little about what you’re in for as I start to read the book!

Can’t wait!


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