A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Book Review: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

imageA Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick is a great novel. I read it in 2 days. The plot is a little bit dark, there’s a small mystery, an unanticipated twist and a satisfying ending.

Rural Wisconsin, 1909.

Successful iron and oil man Ralph Truitt has put out an advertisement for a reliable wife. He’s spent 20 years getting over his first wife, the death of his daughter and the estrangement of his son. Life is lonely and he has a glimmer of hope that a reliable wife will at least allow him some joy and a warm body to sleep beside.

Catherine Land arrives in the railcar that Truitt has sent to collect her. A tramp, a whore, a conniving wench. Catherine is not at all like the photo she sent (that’s because it’s not of her) nor is she all that Truitt expected. She is however more than he bargained for, and in a good way.

But he doesn’t realize that at first. The bitter cold of the Wisconsin winter means that he can’t leave her on the platform so he takes her home in order to figure out what to do. Catherine is playing her pious, reliable wife role really well but Truitt knows she’s a liar. He just doesn’t know to what extent.

A Reliable Wife is certainly a reliable read. There some gentle bodice ripping, betrayals and twists of fate and interlaced story lines. I think ultimately it’s a novel about love and forgiveness. Each character does some unforgiveable things only to realize in the end that they were loved despite their faults.

Oh and there’s a poisoning. But I don’t want to give too much away.

Browse Inside: A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.

Have a look at A Reliable Wife on Scribd.com.

BookingMama has a much better review than I’ve been able to throw down in 5 minutes so please read more about the book here.

A Pig Called Wanda: Butchers of Gastown

Saturday the Butchers of Gastown got together to take care of Wanda.

* Anthony
* Ben
* Boris
* Evan
* James
* Mark

Karen and I documented. Andrea and Rachael stopped by for a visit. And it was all good.


Full set is here.

Monique Goes for Breakfast

Wanda's Better Halves
Wanda arrives.

Butchering. Wanda’s cuts are done and then she’s put in the fridge.

Making Sausage
Hours of meat cutting and grinding in order to make sausage.

The Rub
Ribs with Ben’s Rub

Monique's Breakfast Wine. Also good in the late afternoon.
Breakfast Wine for Monique.

The Most Amazing Ribs
Ribs and sausage. Both are delicious.

Up close and personal with the sausage.

Close examination of the rub.

Skin Sausage Explosion
Skin sausage blow-out.

Boris makes bacon.

Anthony’s grub. I’d eat it any day.

Anthony makes salami.

Leah & Mark Manhandle the Sausage Maker
Leah makes sausage.

Monique & Boris
I was there.

Sausage ... Still Making Sausage
Mark receives.

Sausage ... Still Making Sausage
Anthony inspects the work.

The kitchen clean up.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Real Estate YouTube Examples

Presentation example.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day: Julie Wilson

Ada Lovelace Day is when we celebrate women in technology who inspire us. I am in awe that I made Kate’s list because Kate is truly inspirational to me.

My shout out, since I’ve been negative about the publishing industry, needs to go to Julie Wilson of SeenReading.com who continues to come up with phenomenal ways to capture the attention of book readers.

She’s promoting poets for Poetry Month:
30 in 30 video

She also has a kick-ass google mashup of bookstores across Canada and about a million great ideas for promoting books online.

I love you Julie. Thank you for rocking my world!

Monday, March 16, 2009

SXSW: Bruce Sterling

Bruce Sterling Session
Monday, March 16th at 05:00 PM

* Bruce Sterling - Wired.com


His state-of-the-cybersphere analyses are always a highlight of SXSW Interactive. Don’t miss what the veteran science fiction writer and industry pundit has to say about the wired world this year.


Let’s talk about our relationship. Yours and mine.

I’m an author. I’m a journalist.
There’s my business card.
With a phone and fax number.

Look. These artifacts are called books. I know you’re not used to seeing them.

Let me explain how they work.

I write a lot of words in a row. A whole lot of words. Not even character count. Then I go back and carefully restructure them and move them until they have a coherent storyline. Then I send them to my agent who sends them to a publisher who sends it to an editor and eventually it goes to a distributor who handled cult activities like author tours. And it goes to retailers who sell it to people and then return unsold copies.

This whole business has hit the skids.

Publishing has never been such a parless states. If you were an author in this system, you go 4-8% in a not really accurate royalty system. But that was ok because you, as an author, were likely to go screwy anyway.

As an author and journalist, I feel much more sorrow for the state of editors.

Editors/Publishers model is not working out. Now you have the cliched perfect storm of troubles.

Sterling on the book
I have them. I thought about spamming the audience with them. Or hiding them and geo-locating them ...

No this belongs to someone who is young. Under 20?

There is not a teen in the room? So much for this being a teenagers. Think. Just break times’ hourglass. Just take them away young people. I don’t expect you to read them. You txt.

How do we face this problem?

Twitter feed: media is dying

Print media spent 20 years making fun of a paperless society.

Could I put it on Kindle? Oh it’s there. Am I happy about that? No. Will anyone be reading a Kindle when one of them is my age? No. It’s like an atari.

Traditionally authors burn all their love letters on their death bed. Now we issue them under creative commons.

WIRED Italia. Look at the size of the ads in this baby.

[ ... monique distracted ... ]

What concerns me is the death of the audience. It doesn’t matter what happens to me. I’m better off than most authors I know, most journalists I know. There was a period of greater prosperity. I wonder why, why do I have a relationship to you. Why do you have a relationship to you?

My twitter group is bigger than you, more widely spread than you. They are probably a better audience than you. They can put up with more than you. They’ll RT me. I know some of you are gathering together in the back conspiring ... drifting ... you’re the people formerly known as the audience. And you’re forfeiting the benefits of the audience. Paying attention to the point of being able to discuss it.

[Bruce opens a drink. I used to have a great parties. It was my house. We were there to enjoy ourselves. Opens chips. You thought you were getting chips, but I was in control of the chips. The servers. They were in my corner.]

MT: Best laugh out loud.

Old social media (parties) were bring who you trusted.

The party audience was replace by social media influencers. Their capacities were built up. It was impossible to open up to this audience because they’d tweet their buddy list. It’s a technologically transformed situation and the loss is a social loss.

There’s a loss.

How do we restore those days? They aren’t coming back. Why do I keep up author appearances? Why do I have to keep up a level of respect? You’re not my friends. I’m not your host.

[cookie eating now]

Even if you’re broke, you will still be densely connected.

Connectivity is a symbol of poverty.

I might become boring enough that no one comes by anymore. You can lose your fame to the point that no one shows up.

I can’t throw a party and sit around and talk about vinyl and books. I feel the loss keenly. Playing lost vinyl for your friends. This has vanished.

I have little parties in those places with which I have similar relationships to this one. Lift Conference is getting bigger every year. Reboot in Denmark, great conference again. Amsterdam is on top of their game.

USA could be like Canada. We’re afraid of French, Germans. We’re liking Canadians: cute, cuddly. They’re afraid of being us.

Let me read this silly stuff to explain what’s happening:

“Melt down money-quake yuppy flu end of the world as we know it the long emergency bush’s legacy the great reset the inflection un-real estate communism 2.0 ... the long doom.”

This is what I think books will look like in the future. Austin is a bookish town. Book culture will mutate on the way down.

Austin bookstore I saw on the way into town. HP Lovecraft: greatest, most creative ... and when he wasn’t getting commercial work he basically started blogging. Here are his miscellaneous writings. A small fraction of his discourse and it’s bigger than his collective works. This non-fiction, community organization was more time than his stories.

Within his community, he was trusted. The American Amateur Press Association was his blog network. A lot of writers came out of this association. Robert Block. The Lovecraft circle who grew up from a B.

He perished.

What does the future look like?

Go to Brave New Books in Austin. Right-wing nutty.

This is a harbinger of something interesting. The tactics are more important here.

[ ... more to come ... 15 minutes of battery left ... ]

SXSW: No Think for Old Publishers

New Think for Old Publishers panel at SXSW drew a lot of frustration from the crowd of book lovers and supporters.

The official description of the session was:

This is not a discussion of whether ebooks are killing treebooks, or whether it’s possible to get cozy with an Amazon Kindle. It’s about how participatory culture and the online world interact with good olde book publishing.Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody, Deborah Schultz, and fellow panelists will share with the audience a variety of perspectives on what’s going right and what’s going wrong in publishing, assess success of recent forays into marketing digitally, digital publishing, and what books and blogs have to gain from one another. Penguin Group (USA), which houses some 40 plus imprints and publishes an extremely broad variety of physical and digital products everything from William Gibson’s first ebook in the 90’s to Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food to Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels (the source for HBO’s True Blood) is deeply involved in exploring ways that old and new media might better collaborate. Audience members are invited to speak up about what they think book publishers could/should be doing to better provide relevant information and content to blogs, websites, and online communities. Come tell old media what you want and how you want it.

Clay Shirky ITP
John Fagan   Mktg Dir,  Penguin Group (USA)
Deborah Schultz   Founder/Chief Catalyst,  deborahschultz.com
Peter Miller   Dir of Publicity,  Bloomsbury USA
Ivan Held   Pres GP Putnam’s Sons,  Penguin Group (USA)

They certainly told publishers what they think. The summation was “you suck at this is the biggest way possible.”

I think it’s unfair to attack the folks on that panel but as representatives of the industry they do have to go back to their houses and understand that they need to convey, not that bloggers are an unruly bunch, but that publishers need to get off their asses and get involved with social media. Enough is enough.

BookSquare says
If you’re going to hold a session called “New Think for Old Publishers”, you gotta come with some new thinking. Either that or tell the audience that it’s a research session…and the audience is supposed to bring the new thinking. Good idea, needed better execution. Nobody read the panel description to mean “we want the audience to tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it”.


The publishing people on stage said, essentially, tell us what we’re doing wrong and how we can fix it. You have 300 people who give up an hour of their lives to hear the cool things the traditional publishing business is doing…and you can ask them to consult on your business?

Watch a video of the panel here.

Other links to conversation about this panel:
Medialoper has a fairly neutral assessment of what unfolded.

Twitter stream of comments on this panel #sxswbp

Monique’s summary
What went wrong is this:
* Publishers have not listened to the crowd for a long time.
* The crowd is restless.
* Publishers wring their hands about the web.
* The crowd offers options publishers don’t like.
* Publishers weep into their hands.
* The crowd wants to help and offers other suggestions.
* Publishers act like deer in headlights.
* The crowd plows down publishers and reinvents the industry without them.

What this panel really came down to is that the wisdom of the crowds is not being tapped. The crowd is now sick and tired of trying to help people who won’t help themselves.

Hold me to this: I’m going to organize a panel in Vancouver. We’re going to create a model for publishing and marketing books. We’re going to move forward as an industry. Leaders will be identified. Roles will be assigned. If you’re not open to totally change everything you’re doing, then you are not ready for this revolution. Don’t come.

Who’s in?


Peter Miller Glibness. “Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Tips from a panelist who barely survived” in Publishers Weekly.
Read the article.

Michael Tamblyn of BookNet Canada on 6 Things That Revolutionize Publishing

Saturday, March 14, 2009

SXSW: Kicking Ass With Controlled Metadata

Saturday, March 14th at 03:30 PM


  * Jenny Benevento - Bento Artisanal Metadata
  * Tom Conrad - Pandora Media Inc
  * Abby Blachly - Librarything


Web 2.0 is all about tagging, right? Many content types are not findable with user-generated metadata. More web projects are using controlled & expert created metadata to complement user tagging to enhance user experience, findability, social networking, & site popularity. We’ll show you how & why it can help you.


Why you should/could use normalized metadata?
Users want to get shit done.

LibraryThing started because I guy wanted to share his book list and pulled the info from the US Library of Congress. That became social as more people wanted to do this. The Dewey number, bisac, etc. are fields of metadata that are pulled into the site in order to take marked records and to make it into an understandable, searchable archive.

Tagging is also present on the site so there’s a good mix of user-generated metadata along with normalized metadata. In addition, users are able to add controlled metadata for things like series titles.

... lull in blood sugar ...

SXSW 09 Interactive

I’m really excited to be at SXSW this year. I have wanted to come every year and have always had some excuse. This year, I’m here!

Today is my second day and I’ve attended two sessions so far that are worth blogging about. Here are my notes on the Boxcar Marketing site:

Everything You Know About Web Design Is Wrong
This was a quick comparison of transcendental changes in the film industry and how those same types of changes need to occur in web design.

Curating the Crowd Sourced World
Nice panel discussion from people who are currently letting the crowd do the driving (but, of course, the wheel is only controlled at any one time but one person). Perhaps the panelists are more interesting individually.

Fun Facts

SXSW Bag Pickup

There are 6500 registrants for the interactive portion. These are the participant bags.

The speakers’ name signs are last name only. This is so that the cards can be reused by all speakers with the same last name. Now that’s a cool planet-saving measure.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Photographers’ Night at the Opera: Blogging Rigoletto

Blogger Night at the Opera included a lot of photo taking by those much better equipped than I. Here are a few of my favourite picks from my fellow opera bloggers:

Rigoletto as seen by Tris Hussey




See more photos by Tris ...

Opening Night from Tanya’s Point of View

[photos to come]

Tanya’s photostream is here ...

Kimli of Delicious Juice



Look at more photos from Kimli ...

Miss604 was also in the house



More photos from Rebecca ...

Vancouver Opera Performs Verdi’s Rigoletto
March 7 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 17, 2009

Buy Tickets

Blogger Night at the Opera

Did you attend last night’s performance of Rigoletto, performed by the Vancouver Opera? Share your thoughts. Did you like it? What was your favourite opera this season? Are you a regular opera goer? Ladies, did you have a great dress? Gentlemen, best part of the evening?

Backstage Tour

Theatre As Seen From Stage

There are a series of lights below the raised stage-cage where most of the performance takes place. We got to climb up to the stage from the lower deck.

Walking the Stage in Advance of the Show

On stage, we had a close look at the rigging for the cage doors that open and how the placements are marked out on the flooring.

Props Table. Everything Has Its Place.

Prop management is terribly important. Each thing is in its place and easy to grab as the performers go on stage. And it is returned to its place after use.

In for Repairs

Downstairs in the bowels of the theatre are the props room, wigs and makeup and the repairs department. This dress is next up for a fix.

Live Blogging the Opera

Live blogging the opera.


We were a small curiosity, sitting out in the lobby, tapping away on computers. It gave us a chance to talk about opera and here people’s stories about why they were there and what they like best about Vancouver Opera.

Vancouver Opera Guild

This is Rose of the Vancouver Opera Guild, which helps fuel appreciation and support for opera in BC.

Backstage Party on Opening Night

Post-performance, we were invited backstage for the after party, where there was some delicious food and general milling about and hobnobbing.

Backstage Party on Opening Night

And the singers were applauded and much merriment took place. So much so that I couldn’t get a sharp photo. This could also have been because I had a glass of wine in hand.

I enjoyed the opera very much, especially getting the chance to go backstage and understand the behind-the-scenes workings.

Backstage at Vancouver Opera: Rigoletto

Just before I lost the wifi connection, I was trying to post this ...

Last minute preparation is in full swing. We just came from backstage where a couple of performers are walking the stage. We had a peak into the wigs and wardrobe room. Great set of red heels was in there.

Now we’re in the lobby drawing curious glances from the swish and swanky.

Lots of lovely beaded bags, cute shoes and every now and then a bit of sparkle, feathers and fur.

Favourite conversation thread:

Guest: What are you doing?

Us: Blogging the opera.

Guest: Oh, blogging.

Walk away.

Us: Giggle and tweet (ok, maybe that’s just me)

Ladies and Gentlemen the auditorium will be opening shortly. We hope you enjoy the performance.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

It’s Not Over Until ... Rigoletto Cries Out

Vancouver Opera Performs Verdi’s Rigoletto
March 7 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 17, 2009

All performances 7:30 pm
In Italian with English translations projected above the stage

The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.

Conducted by Leslie Dala
Directed by Glynis Leyshon

Buy Tickets

Act 3 of Rigoletto

Rigoletto, who is now obsessed with seeking revenge, has plotted with the assassin Sparafucile to kill the Duke. Gilda, who despite everything is still in love with the Duke, pleads with her father for his life. Rigoletto takes her to Sparafucile’s inn and forces her to watch as the Duke, again dressed as a student, seduces Maddalena, Sparafucile’s sister. Gilda is devastated and Rigoletto sends her away while he and Sparafucile finalize their plan to murder the Duke.

Meanwhile, Maddalena pleads with her brother to spare the handsome young student and to murder the hunchback instead. Sparafucile refuses to kill Rigoletto but agrees on a compromise: he will kill the next stranger who comes through the door so as to be able to produce a dead body. Gilda, who has returned, overhears the plan and she decides to sacrifice herself. She enters and is stabbed.

Rigoletto returns to the inn to claim the duke’s body. Sparafucile produces a heavy sack, which Rigoletto begins to drag away. As he does so, he hears the Duke singing in the distance. Frantic, he tears the sack open to find his dying daughter inside. As she dies, Rigoletto cries out, remembering Monterone’s curse.

Act Two of Rigoletto Begins

Vancouver Opera Performs Verdi’s Rigoletto
March 7 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 17, 2009

All performances 7:30 pm
In Italian with English translations projected above the stage

The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.

Conducted by Leslie Dala
Directed by Glynis Leyshon

Buy Tickets

Act 2 of Rigoletto by Vancouver Opera

Alone in his palace, the Duke is upset: when he returned to Gilda’s house he found it deserted. His courtiers enter and tell him how they have tricked Rigoletto, abducted Gilda and left her in the Duke’s chamber. Overjoyed that Gilda is now his, the Duke hurries off to meet her.

Rigoletto enters, desperately searching for Gilda. The courtiers are astounded to learn that she is his daughter, but refuse to take him to her. A Page reports that Gilda is alone with the Duke. Mad with rage, Rigoletto tries unsuccessfully to rescue her and is finally reduced to begging for her release. When a distraught Gilda rushes in, Rigoletto embraces her and orders the others to leave them alone.

Gilda then tells of her abduction and seduction at the hands of the Duke. Monterone is led through the room on his way to execution. Rigoletto swears both he and the elderly Count will be avenged, while Gilda, who loves her betrayer, begs her father to forgive the Duke.

Verdi’s Rigoletto Performed by the Vancouver Opera

Vancouver Opera Performs Verdi’s Rigoletto
March 7 • 10 • 12 • 14 • 17, 2009

All performances 7:30 pm
In Italian with English translations projected above the stage

The performance will last approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.

Conducted by Leslie Dala
Directed by Glynis Leyshon

Buy Tickets

Act 1

At a riotous gathering, the Duke of Mantua boasts to his guests about his talent with women and especially his excitement over his latest amorous adventure. For the past three months he has been secretly pursuing a young woman he first saw in church.

Seeing the Count and Countess Ceprano, the Duke boldly seduces the Countess while his hunchbacked jester Rigoletto mocks her enraged but helpless husband. The courtier Marullo bursts into the gathering to share the latest gossip: Rigoletto has a mistress! The other courtiers, who all hate Rigoletto, discuss the news while Rigoletto continues to taunt an enraged Ceprano.

The debauchery of the evening is interrupted by the sudden appearance of the honourable Count Monterone, who denounces the Duke for seducing his daughter. Rigoletto delights in ridiculing Monterone as the Duke has him arrested. Turning on the jester, Monterone curses him, leaving him terrified.

Later that night, on the way home, Rigoletto runs into Sparafucile, an assassin. Sparafucile offers his services should Rigoletto ever need them and continues on his way. Forlornly, Rigoletto reflects on the parallels between Sparafucile and himself: one kills with his sword, the other uses his sharp tongue as his weapon.

His mood is lifted as he reaches his home and greets his beloved daughter, Gilda, a convent-raised young girl whom he tries to shield from the ugliness and danger of the outside world. Gilda asks for stories about her long-dead mother and Rigoletto describes her as an angel. He adds that Gilda is all he has left, so he fears for her safety. Gilda reassures him that, while she aches for more freedom, she ventures out only to go to church.

Hearing someone in the courtyard below, Rigoletto warns Gilda’s nurse, Giovanna, not to let anyone enter. As he leaves to investigate the noise, the Duke slips in and bribes Giovanna to leave him alone with Gilda. The Duke, disguised as a poor student, declares his love for Gilda, who has also noticed him at church. Giovanna comes in, warning of footsteps outside. The Duke leaves and an entranced Gilda relives the beauty of their romantic encounter.

Outside, the courtiers have gathered in the street intending to abduct Gilda, whom they believe to be Rigoletto’s mistress. Rigoletto appears, interrupting their plans, so they tell him they are going to abduct Count Ceprano’s wife, who lives nearby. Rigoletto agrees to help and is duped into wearing a blindfold and unknowingly helps them with the abduction of his own daughter. Laughing, the courtiers break into the house and carry Gilda away. Realizing he has been tricked, Rigoletto removes the blindfold and rushes into the house. He discovers Gilda is gone and collapses as he remembers Monterone’s curse.

Vancouver Opera: Tris Hearts Sheila

My fellow blogger/tweeter at the Vancouver Opera tonight is Tris who’s sweetie is soprano Sheila Christie. Sheila is performing in Verdi’s Rigoletto.

Tris says:

Tomorrow night I’ll be joining my fellow bloggers for Verdi’s Rigoletto which is done in a new way with a punk-goth-mediaeval feel to it. In fact Sheila had some pink and purple highlight in her hair at the start of rehearsals (which could have been problematic) and they asked her to punch them up a notch for the performance! How rockin’ is that!?!

I’m excited!