Tag Archives: Toronto

Report on my Ad Astra 2019

The Ad Astra brings together fans and authors of science fiction & fantastic, both literary and mediatic in the north of Toronto. It’s a very user-friendly conference, which has left me with good memories.

Échofictions at the Ad Astra 2019

My house Échofictions had its vending table, which was successful. When people stop by themselves to look at the books and ask me questions, once in three, they leave with a book. Much better than my score at the big book fairs, where, on average, only 1 in 20 stop by my signing , because few readers come for the SF!

Michèle Laframboise devant son kiosque Échofictions

Michèle poses proudly in front of her stand, full of butterflies!

I launched the English version of my first SF novel, Clouds of Phoenix. Yes, the cover has changed, and the story has gained consistency. It’s the same story, but a little more detailed at 46,000 words! It is also the first full-length novel printed by Echofictions, whose full graphic design I realized.


Clouds of Phoenix, a novel by SF YA, 214 p.

Activities at Ad Astra

The nice surprises of the Ad Astra congress are the meetings with SF amateurs who did not know my books, and who discovered them. And to find fellow science fiction writers like Robert J. Sawyer, Julie Czerneda and Tania Huff presenting their latest Sf novels.

I have come to love this event; the sale tables are not expensive and the audience generous! I’ve offered a good choice of books translated into English.

Un Cosplay typique du Ad Astra

A typical Cosplay. Don’t ya love’em! I admire the cosplayers’ time and effort to make their costumes. The craftswoman Squid Creations behind the band does not look too scared!

Table de bijoux artisanaux

A craft table.

Mon voisin de kiosque au Ad Astra Zachry Wheeler

My stand neighbor, an independent writer, Zachri Wheeler, very well organized! We exchanged books. Note the announcement of the film in development, it is always useful.

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith (a Toronto-area author) reading an excerpt from his novel The Wolf at the End of the World. I had already bought his book Playing the Short Game, at another Ad Astra

2019-07-13 20.58.26 Allan Weiss Michele

Allan Weiss and Michèle. It’s been 16 years that we know each other! Allan is a specialist and author of SF. Bow ties are cool!

Some Ad Astra panels I attended

My husband and son kept the table while I was there.

2019-07-13 18.29.43RomanPasCher
How to publish without spending too much!

How to publish for not too expensive, led by Beverly Bambury (center, black dress). The gentleman on the right, well organized, rolled his cupboard full of books!

2019-07-13 20.40.30AnimauxFantasy
The animals in fantasy with Avi Silver (left), Catherine Fitzsimmons and Eli Hirst. How to treat the Other, how to show the animal companions of heroes, or when animals are heroes.

How to make medieval stories fantasy or historical. The mistakes to avoid! With Cathy Hird and L. A. MacLachean.

Book Harvest

Mon mari achète des livres au Ad Astra 2019

My husband buys books, a lot of books. He hides his secret identity well under his glasses…

Two Dark Moons

Two Dark Moons

For my current reading, I discover a new author Avi Silver, who considers himself non-binary.

In Two Dark Moons, we follow a teenager of the Hmuns who live in caves in the altitudes of the Eiji world, because the soil of the jungle is traversed by disturbing reptilian predators. Sohmen falls by accident (his fall broken by many branches). About 200 pages is very short, and enjoyable reading, in addition to staging non-gendered characters.

The Wolf at the End of the World

The Wolf at the End of the World

My colleague Douglas Smith signed his first novel to me, The Wolf at the End of the World, which mixes Native American legends and espionage, not to mention the nature threatened by greed on the part of the rich. Among us are Herokas, magic humans who can change into animals. Obviously, the secret services consider them as threats … But a too-hungry Wendigo and lost loves of the past mix the cards.

Canadian Dreadful

Canadian Dreadful, Anthology by David Tocher

Canadian Dreadful is a fantasy horror anthology inspired by the dark aspects of our beautiful big Canada. Edited by David Tocher, it brings together Canadian authors including Nancy Kilpatrick. I would not have bought it, but two public readings by participating authors convinced me to taste it!

I have not read yet the other books bought by my husband, a staunch supporter of new indie authors!

2019-07-13 AdAstraTable650

The things I learned from Ad Astra:

1- Novels sell better than short books and comics. Clouds of Phoenix was my best seller, almost half of my sales!

2- Participate in the round tables next year. It allows a first contact with the public, rather than “cold calling” behind a sales table.

3- Bring a tablecloth! It was not supplied, so I used a big poster to hide the uneven wood.

4- The month of July was not ideal, with less attendance due to vacations. Daniel, one of the organizers, said that the Ad Astra 2020 would come back in mid-April, at the same time as the Quebec book fair, oops!

5- If you missed the Ad Astra, know that … I will return next year, with new books. In the meantime, have a look at Echofictions’ list of publications!

Music and Readings for the Afflicted

Photo prise hier soir par Mathieu Allard, ICI Ontario

When a dramatic event dripping with human stupidity happens, like the people killed in Toronto, the medias will take days to repeat the same words.

To help each other, here are some personal choices of readings and music to appease the sorrow mounting inside us and alleviate those moments when we doubt humanity.

IMG_0451 ClematysWeb

For those of you who stand near a empty room, my heart goes to you. May you live through this mourning knowing that you are not alone. May life bring to you hope and compassion.


My music and reading list to appease and heal those who are grieving :


Albinoni Concerto, Adagio in G Minor (Albinoni) (Youtube here, still landscapes pictures)

The Foor Seasons by Vivaldi (Autumn)

Borodine – Prince Igor, polovtsian dances, (Youtube version with a female conductor, Sylwia Anna Janiak  Poland Symphony Orchestra of the Felix Nowowiejski Music School in Gdańsk, Poland; Note: very dynamic!

Glazunov, The Seasons, op. 67 – Autumn : Petit adagio played by the Philarmonie jeunesse de Montréal. (A little StarWars theme part near the end!)

Ave Maria by Schubert, interpreted by Andrea Bocelli and by Luciano Pavarotti (for the nostalgics, year not mentioned)

La Moldeau by Smetana (moody and beautiful, orchestra on Youtube, directed by Nejc Becan)


More modern:

Pierre Lapointe, Sais-tu qui tu es? Heard this morning (Video Youtube)

Enya (The Kelts) ballads

Soundtrack from the movie « Out of Africa », du grand déploiement – 14 minutes. Composé et dirigé par John Barry.

Any musical theme from a movies you liked.
(Wonderful movies Soundtracks – Youtube, still pictures, 1h23min)

Music of celtic inspiration (Youtube, images fixes, 2 heures!)

A musical application, including a « safety plan » for people dealing with depression and sorrow. http://www.moodtools.org/   (I do not guarantee results, but it looks interesting!)



Reflexions and contemplation

Hubert Reeves/ La Plus Belle Histoire du Monde

Ursula K. LeGuin No time to Spare (réflexions)


Inspirational novels

Flight Behavior, par Barbara Kingsolver.  The Great American Novel has been written. A story beginning with a butterfly… 464 pages.

Ronnie Roberts, her Poet, Oregon series: four short romance novels featuring endearing, modern characters.
The author doesn’t refrain from tackling social issues like homelessness in Fixer Upper, handicap and mental health in  Carolyn Explains, familial violence and cancer in Nailed it, which I am reading. Despite trials and disagreable opposants, her stories give back hope in the human gentleness.
Page de Ronnie Roberts


Rebellious Mourning: Wait three month before reading this collection of hard accounts. This intimate, moving, and timely collection of essays points the way to a world in which the burden of grief is shared.  This collective sharing helps to walk towards a liberation.

Inspirational blogss

Maria Popova, Brain Pickings . This blogger collects reflexions from a variety of works. http://brainpickings.org

The blog of Ursula K. Leguin, still present. The annals of Pard, the domestic universe seen through a cat’s eyes.  http://ursulakleguin.com – go to « Blog »

Zen Pencils is an illustrated blog, featuring philosophical reflexions put in pictures.


At last, this fog bow (a white bow), a special encounter at dawn …


Some TCAF pics

The TCAF is an annual event in Toronto for all Comics lovers. I went from the opening until 13h, sorry for all of you I missed!

Ambiance at 9hAM

Continue reading

The Invisible Hand

The Invisible Hand

(The story of the market, told by itself)


Trade was my father
private property my mother
I am their blind offspring

my invisible hand
weaves the net
where the strong struggles
where the weak sinks
I am my own law
above all laws
the harsh and lush jungle
where offer and demand
copulate in total freedom

I am the market

In my veins flow
gold and silver
myrrh and incense
a river of desire flooding
the Stock Exchanges
I crown ephemeral kings
crashing on the morrow

TSX 300
Standard&Poor’s  500
New-York Montréal
London Tokyo Toronto

I relish the panic
shaking the floor
under the sheep
running for their Freedom 55
all selling at the same time
then jumping off the cliff

Black Tuesday
Ash Wednesday
Techno bubble collapse

I am the funnel
of frantic day trade
the competition black hole
the goodwill abyss
the glue binding
always bigger mergers
blessed by the Minister
catalysts of a wealth
more and more concentrated

capitalism is dead
long live monopolism!


I remember
the merchant fleets
sailing to new worlds
intrepid soldiers sparing no foe
northern spruces cut for timber
tropical forests burned to the ground
tribes decimated by small pox
fur trade  slave trafficking

anemic African colonies
drained to the last drop

vampire derricks are sucking up
Earth’s rich dark blood
spilling it over the oceans
so many Exxon Valdez capsizing
on the beaches
where goo-covered gulls
totter on soiled sands

still I hunger

tomorrow I will bite
into the tender flesh
of the planet
eating my way
to its liquid iron-nickel core

that I will drink
with a long straw


I am the joyful dance
of the sales not to miss
Halloween Christmas
Boxing Day Easter
Mother’s Day Father’s Day
summer sales
back-to-school sales
giant warehouses selling adjusted fares
look at the price wars

my grocery manager is now
a humble cashier at Mega Mart

I am the peddler
of staggering mortgages rates
accordion indexes
volatile currencies
lost homes
ordered bankruptcy
consumers chained
to their credit cards
it’s like the Titanic

the rich in their safe boats
the poor drowning in their debts

I am the supplier
of private prisons
filled to the brim
with bodies fallen
between the cracks
of a social net
cast without conviction
by tamed governments
following a hard right diet
their deficit girdled
by savvy promoters

safe behind their gated communities
watched over by their praetorian guard

I am the call-girl
catering to the cartels
of organized cupidity
sitting on the pyramid’s summit
not seeing the children
at the pyramid’s foot
running from the death squads

I speak trough the mouth
of your machine guns

I am the market
of import-export
made in China
self-made men
who never smell
the decrepit shops
delocalized in Asia
close to the slums

where workers and rats
compete for scraps

I am the Free Trade
built on slavery
and inherited servitudes
of the cane workers
tax-free zones
maquiladoras eating
fifteen-year old
peasant girls worn out
by fifteen-hour days
like their shoes
then consumed
and forgotten

like the eight hundred roses
crushed in Ciudad Juarez

I am the market
of civil wars
in my Name
democracies fall
I freed you
proclaims the Titan
setting up a Tyrant
please taste the freedom
of buying my goods
at the price I ordered

(suspension points)

I am the race
for the nuclear mushroom
to put fear into thy neighbor
and steal his place
on the checkerboard
I am the race to arms
filling bags of munitions
to better kill your fellow citizens
I am the race
for outer space

quick, quick, let’s find
a virgin world to bleed dry


I am the market
of good conscience
of charity well ordered
beginning at home
wealthy foundations
dainty patrons
aristocrats and oil kings
nabobs and starlets
all shining glittering
in those charity balls
listen to those fiscal escapees
singing hand over their heart

we are the world
we are the people

while their right hand
doles out drops of manna
to the poor
their left hand
scatters their savings
speculates on their rents
hides a treasure in the Bahamas
destroys their unions
negotiates with sub-contractors
in order to keep

a steady reserve of indigents
in dire need of their charity

I am the market
of preachers
selling eternity with a rebate
under a red and white striped tent
condemning flesh sins
forgiving venial sins
against hard currency
of born-again Christians
who forgot the Christ
but not the cash
praise the Lord !

all the faithful will ascend
to the fiscal paradise

I am the media’s Big Brother
putting fear in you
with scandal sheets
incendiary headlines
stirring hatred
towards the Other
the shabby
the scruffy
the dirty
the downtrodden
with their proffered hand
but what is the police doing
lock your door at night
and don’t forget

to give generously
to charities

I am the Leviathan
of agrobusiness
patenting Nature
cloning and copying
in the name of freedom
forcing its genetically
marvelous seeds

on workers’ families
doused with pesticides


I am blind
still I can hear

the shop hand whimpering
under the foreman’s weight
children soldiers trashing in their sleep
dreaming of their dead parents
muffled cries of the carpet-girl
nursing her bleeding fingers
shouts of the protesters
defying the tear gas
dry laugh of the machine guns
the last breath of the labor defender
murdered in my name still
as disappeared

Chico Mendes
Iqbal Masih
Digna Ochoa y Plácido
and countless others

I am the theater
of opposing wills
from quarrel to clash
see my hand becoming more visible
see the wool shorn from your backs
that you buy later at a dear price
see the dirty clothes on the shop girl
and the spider web linking her
to your signature dress

I am the mirror of your desires
the infinite sum of
your small gestures
your decisions
your demonstrations
your Porto Allegres

your imagination unhinged
to build something new
I hear billions of voices

otro mundo es posible


I am the market
with my eyes opened
I see
looming over the horizon
a strange New Deal

countries celebrating
their fair prosperity
neighbors buying selling giving
helping around
taming abuses
green houses
healing nature
the Earth at peace
all fears vanquished

callousness running away
dignity coming home


how strange
I never knew
I had a soul

and eight billion bodies


We are the market
present and future man-woman-kind
creative force

a galaxy of exponential freedoms
mixed fragrances
of spices and fruits
gossamer fabrics fluttering
in the winds of change
fireworks without pain

children of the global village
laughing running jumping singing
under their elder’s eyes
holding passionate debates
in a hundred dialects


We are the market

and from now on
we walk together


(cc) Michèle Laframboise 2011

A first version in French of this poem has been read aloud at the Théâtre Nouvelle-Scène of Ottawa, on September 30th 2010.

This version has been rewritten for the day of Occupy Wall Street, happening on the same day as the Toronto Spec Fic Colloquium, on October 15th 2011.

Random pics from the last Spec Fic colloquium

The format of the Toronto Spec Fic colloquium, (one day, one track of presentations, then one evening of readings) was perfect for my busy schedule. The setting was very Gothic, at the Hart House, in the center of Toronto.

Inner Court of the Hart house

There, I finally met Peter Watts. I read his fiction via Nimbus, a story he published in a Solaris (issue 143), then later came in contact with his online fiction, which prompted me to buy the books!

Sunday artist with Peter Watts

The Sunday artist meets Peter Watts.
Nooo, don’t look below!


I used a prop for the photo, but reaching his level of SF writing will take a lot more time and efforts! Peter Watts is a specialist in marine biology, and is not afraid to consult and do extensive research for his novels. And he is also a proud squid overlord! (The squid term now refer to us SF writers, from a rather disparaging comment made about Science Fiction by Margaret Atwood. And I was in the room in 2003 when she uttered a similar comment!)

Julie Czerneda and Michele

Julie Czerneda, another Science-fiction writer who does not forget the science in Science-fiction. We look so nice from my arm’s length (and it did not need  climbing on a chair) !  I came back from the Spec Fic with her cool Trade Pact Universe trilogy.

Tony Burgess and Brett Savory at the Chizine table

Tony Burgess (He gave an ominous talk about raising young children while writing horrible things. We were treated to his recent horror novel trailer ) and to the right, Brett Savory, at the Chizine table. I also met David Nickle, whose dark fiction I discovered this year.

Karl Schroeder, Brett Savory and friends

Karl Schroeder with Brett Savory and friends.

Claude Lalumière gave a challenging speech, on when too much researching and science conformity can deter the creative sparks. Ahem. I myself tend to sink in the research for my SF novels… so as a budding writer, I was sensible to the arguments. But, as a former mad scientist, I like my science to be as up to date as possible in my novels

I bought his Object of Worship collection, and discovered a new and rich voice in the weird and fantastic. (More on my Goodread thread later!)


I took a few hours to walk at the Tightrope books office to assist to a very useful workshop on writing for children (and young adults), given by Marina Cohen. Her last novel, Ghost ride, is on the shortlist for the Red Maple Award given by the Ontario Library Association. She gave us tips on the craft, and also the business aspects of writing for a younger audience.

Tightrope Books office

Then, I walked back to the Hart House, on this fine autumn afternoon.

Election Boards

Or did I mention “on this fine municipal election day”?


A nice mural on the way.

Weeping willow

A weeping willow…

cats in their vantage  look out

And cute cats in a window, yaay!! Spying on the passer-by…

The nice hostel where I took the dozen or books from the Spec Fic for the night (as the event lasted until around midnight)! I began reading Maelstrom, by Peter Watts, then Object of Worship.

Pembroke Hostel

A worker-at-home’s move…

A useful remainder

I don’t know if you are a worker-at-home like me, but getting to answer to all the gas-marketers, electricity-marketers, after-life marketers… knocking at your door is time and energy-consuming.

Here is a nice thing I drew on a whiteboard with markers. I can enjoy tranquillity at last!

Now, to tackle those pesky telemarketers… and their elusive bosses!

My first English SF workshop

Last Saturday, I took the bus and subway to go to a workshop.

The wookshop took place in the Tightrope books office, with a river of coffee with biscuits and strawberries. It was a very convivial setting, near a subway (excellent for me transiting from Mississauga).  Author and poet Sandra Kasturi was our host.

Sandra took the time to explore the preoccupations and favourite topics of each participant beforehand, so the workshop was well attuned. For me, it was my first English-language workshop (all my published books are in French), and I found out that I like to write in English!

Sandra’s sharing of her writing was deep felt. The writing exercises were short but intense, with the added incentive of submitting what we produced to various venues. Each of us, from first time writers to published ones, or hoping to, was well received. Francine is working on her novel, Johanne, an engineer like I was, is negotiating the hurdles of a first hard-SF novel , I had already read some of Kate Riedel’s texts in ON SPEC

I hope to see them again soon.

Sandra’s vision is that there shouldn’t be hard “rules” in writing, because each of us has a different lifestyle or occupation. She provided us with a lot of practical resource informations, plus a taste to continue to create and share our stories with the rest of the world.

Now, I must work on my flash-fiction…