Sojourns in Publishing

Writing. Editing. Designing. Producing. Printing. Reading.

A good book at the right time.

When I was twenty, I had a frothy dream that I’d discarded right when I was on the cusp of acting upon it. This dream haunted me over the ensuing years as I struggled within an unhappy, ill-advised marriage and the exhaustion of parenthood. What was the dream? Well, I’d wanted to move from Toronto to Montréal, live in an apartment that had a wrought-iron balcony, learn French, and live a fabulous Montréal life. Instead, I’d married too young and ended up in BC. I’d think of my old dream sometimes whilst drinking a glass of red wine, feeling maudlin and listening to Blue Rodeo’s Casino album as the rain pelted the windows.

Disoriented from the eventual death of my fourteen-year-old marriage, I journeyed from rural Vancouver Island to Toronto as I stumbled back to my hometown, seeking the impetuous version of myself that I’d left behind in 1990. The autumn of 2005 found me back in the city, but the young waif I’d been was nowhere to be found. She was gone for good.

My new friend Warren (a writer and bookseller in Ottawa whom I’d met in an online writer’s forum in the summer of 2006) listened patiently as I waxed poetic about my old dream of cobblestone streets and the inherent sexiness that permeated all things Montréal. He was such a good friend, in fact, that he took the train from Ottawa to Toronto one day and helped me load up my U-Haul for the drive east, only two days after Christmas. I was finally moving to Montréal, albeit sixteen years late.

Once in la belle province, I crashed temporarily in a cramped, roach-infested bachelor suite in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce. It was so cold that my face hurt. My honeymoon with Montréal was turbulent, but I was in love with the city despite being broke, frozen, and clumsy at communicating in French.

Soon it was spring, and Warren attended an author’s brunch at the Black Tomato in Ottawa where he met Montréal writer Yves Beauchemin, author of Charles the Bold. He described how I’d finally followed my dream of moving to Montréal and had him sign a hardcover copy of this book—specifically for me—which he surprised me with shortly after. Suffice it to say that Warren found Montréal exceptionally sexy during that visit.

I devoured Beauchemin’s book and identified with the protagonist, Charles, who was born in 1966, just three years before me. Through the story, I saw Montréal in a new light, one that made more sense than my soft-focus, music video fantasies of old. It was then that I first learned what “two solitudes” meant, and it defined the next few years of my life.

A month after reading Charles the Bold, I moved out of anglophone Notre-Dame-de-Grâce to francophone Villeray, where I finally had my wrought-iron balcony. My French improved, and I walked to and from the Marché Jean-Talon on a daily basis. Four months later, Warren relocated from Ottawa to Montréal; by then we’d fallen in love and moved in together, exploring the city and loving it all exactly as it was. We froze together; we took the Métro together; we bought baguettes and fromage from the marché together; we took French classes at an employment centre in Little Burgundy together—though, admittedly, he alone was the one who shovelled the snow from our wrought-iron balcony and winding staircase.

A year later, we were engaged to be married; two years after that, we exchanged vows on a beach on Vancouver Island, where we now live relatively snow-free.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: RSVP: Rice and Stew Very Plenty

Congratulations to my author Nazlin Rahemtulla on the release of her beautiful book! This autobiography expanded my world, and I loved working with this ambitious and driven author. Handling her artwork and family photos was engrossing, and I am happy to see such high-quality self-publishing be part of the local (Vancouver) literary scene.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: Mr. Otagiri's Promise

Continuing with highlights from my time with FriesenPress, I had to share another beautiful Canadian author. Deborah Roberts commissioned artists to produce some of the most breathtaking art that our design team has handled. My coworkers gathered around my computer when I first received these high-resolution illustrations. This project was very close to Deborah’s heart and it was an important milestone for her to see this book in print.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: Itsy Bitsy Stories for Itsy Bitsy Tigers

This children’s book about how to communicate with emotional intelligence with your friends featured exceptional and vivid illustrations by my author Jacqueline Newton-Kowalsky. That she both wrote and illustrated this book was exceptional, and being exposed to such creativity was an enriching experience. I have to admit that I loved referring to her title on a daily basis. To have a good reason to say “Itsy Bitsy” over and over in a business setting was one of those quirks of the publishing industry that I simply adore.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: Patience - A Gay Man's Virtue

A retrospective on the highlights of my work as a producer of self-published books with FriesenPress would not be complete without Jed La Lumiere’s book “Patience”. This man writes like he speaks, and he speaks from the heart. I was honored to have him come out to Victoria (with his dashing fiance) all the way from his home in New Brunswick, just to celebrate the release of his book and his first Pride parade. His message of equality is timely, and I expect lots more from him in the future. I am honestly jealous of the lucky Author Account Manager that gets him after I start editing full-time. He just better not love anyone more than he loved me! ♥

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: True Calling by P.R. Slimko.

One of my all-time favorite authors and projects. How could I be anything less than excited to produce a book by a kick-ass bodybuilder? Working with her while she was encouraged by her husband, a NASA engineer, was wild. Her book was released at around the same time that Curiosity landed on Mars, so you can imagine that it was wild times for the two of them. Producing this book was a family affair all the way, because her son (yes, she has a grown son in his twenties, though you’d never know it from looking at this gorgeous woman!) did a professional and thorough editing of the manuscript.

To sweeten the deal, P.R. and her mother and husband took a cross-country train trip from Toronto to Victoria and came into the office to meet us before returning to their home in California. Seriously…one of the major highlights of my time with FriesenPress.

P.R. Slimko knew what she wanted right from the start, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all if this book became a blockbuster movie. Authors like this are what make me feel amazing about the self-publishing business. I’m thrilled to call P.R. Slimko a soul sister and friend.

pam and her book photo

Author receiving freshly-printed books!

I absolutely love it when my authors get their books, especially when they send a picture of them holding it! I have touched absolutely every aspect of this project from cover to cover. To see this in her hands is so, so rewarding.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: Rise of the Purple Orchid

Continuing on with the highlights of my self-publishing career: I really enjoyed publishing this book. The author was impeccable and had a strong vision for what her bookblock and cover should look like. The illustrations within are compelling, and the story is exceptional. I felt proud to put this together with her, researching cover photography and fine-tuning the typography.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: The Bloodline Chronicles Vol. I

Joe Sherman’s book “The Bloodline Chronicles” comes from a man who has a vast imagination and wants to own every aspect of his book, from designing the cover to the editing. He has more stories in him and is tapped into the fantasy genre.

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Books I've Published in the Last Year: St. Joseph The Virginal Father of Jesus

What an honour it was to produce this book. This was the work of a lifetime for J. Ivan Prcela. He has seen much in this world, as he is from Croatia. He has even had an audience with the Pope, many years ago. Creating this book with Mr. Prcela and his family was an example of the diverse lives that I come into contact with through self-publishing, and it pleased me greatly to see this released in time for his 90th birthday.

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