Plays, picture books, and pagodas with author Day’s Lee

Author Day’s Lee

Please give a warm welcome to Day’s Lee!

Help! Day’s Lee has been stabbed! Dr. Chryssi Paraskevopoulos to the rescue!

You don’t know who Day’s Lee is? Let’s correct that immediately.

I met her at Prose at the Park last summer, and this is the kind of generous person she is.

Not only did she buy my books and feature me on her blog here on May 1st to kick off Asian heritage month, but when I told her that I was worried no one would show up to my Librairie Bertrand Montreal book launch, she drove into Old Montreal to support me. All this after meeting me one time!
I asked attendees to pretend to be corpses (Human Remains, see). She was among the first to agree, and she asked staff for a weapon to make it even more dramatic.

When I meet someone like that—instant friend, ultra-supportive, and creatively nuts—I KNOW we’re going to have a good time.

And so will you!

Dr. Chryssi Paraskevopoulos with Day’s Lee, who interviewed me here; Dr. Ted Wein with author Su J. Sokol; me with artist Jessica Sarrazin. Not pictured: Dr. Rob Adams and reader Maria, and artist Jason de Graaf

Melissa Yi: You write a lot about your heritage. Is that a choice you’ve made artistically, a choice that’s influenced by market demand, or both?

Day’s Lee: It’s a bit of both. I started out by writing short stories about the immigrant experience of my parents’ generation. Then, one day, as I was flipping through some magazines, I wondered if they might be interested in some articles about the Chinese community. I sent in a couple of submissions, and when they were accepted, I realized that I had a point of view that would be of interest to publishers.

MY: You write short stories, picture books, and YA. What appeals to you about each of these genres?

DL: Actually, everything appeals to me: short stories, novels, plays, feature articles, and scripts.

MY: Me too! I don’t see the division between formats. It’s all storytelling. How do pick what you’re working on?

DL: I think of the story and then figure out which format it should take. For instance, I’m filming a documentary about my family’s restaurant now because it just feels right to do it that way.

MY: I would be into that. I love food, I respect the hard work that goes into the restaurant business, and I’d like to know the behind-the-scenes stories. So that’s taking up all of your time?

DL: I’m working on three projects: (1) the documentary about my family’s restaurant, Lee’s Garden, which my parents owned from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s, (2) the third draft of a play which is based on my short story The Red Pagoda, and (3) revising my next young adult novel which doesn’t have a title yet.

MY: Wow. Do you have a day job, too? Because that’s a lot of material to juggle.

DL: I work full-time as a legal assistant. The job has trained me to be organized, to pay attention to details, and how to read legal documents. All of that comes in handy as a writer.

MY: Yes! Business know-how makes the difference between writers who are one-hit wonders and writers who build a long term career. Do you find that your writing has changed over time?

DL: I hope I’m better at it.

MY: For sure. Any skill gets better with practice. I know I’ve enjoyed reading all your books. I’ve got to ask you, though, since you know contracts as well as the art of writing, what do you think of the changes in the publishing world?

DL: When I first decided to make a go at being a published writer, there were all kinds of warnings about how vanity press (that’s what self-publishing was called then) can ruin your chances with a publisher.

There were horror stories about writers who didn’t heed the warnings, had spent hundreds of dollars, and ended up with a garage full of books they couldn’t sell.

I think it’s great that writers can now choose their own path and find their readers. There aren’t any gatekeepers anymore, but the writer’s job has expanded as many publishers now expect writers to take part in marketing their books, and of course self-publishers have to wear all the hats.

MY: It’s worth it, though, right? I mean, why do you write?

DL: I love books. When I was in elementary school, the library was my favourite place and I never missed a chance to take out a book. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer.

MY: Me too. We’re totally twins. Do you have a secret dream book or project?

DL: I would love to write a Broadway musical.

MY: Whaaaaaat? I love the way you think! Looking forward to it.

Want to know more about Day’s? Yes, you do. Start at her website and fly from there. We love you, Day’s!

Ottawa Monster Launch. Montreal Yoga. And Joy From Malaysia.


First of all, I’m so honoured to take part in this Monster Book Launch with Renaissance Press on Saturday, October 29th at 5 p.m. at the 3 Brewers in Ottawa (240 Sparks Street).

You could come in wolf ice POD cover.inddcostume! You could win a prize, including an author date with moi! You could hear me read from my werewolf thriller, Wolf Ice!

Authors include Jen DesmaraisEvan MayCait GordonKevin JohnsCaroline FréchetteS. M. CarriereÉric Desmarais, and me.

After that much awesomeness, you’ll want to decompress with some yoga, amirite?


Luna Yoga:


I brought my friend Genevieve here for our birthdays. She liked it so much that she yelled, “I love you, Melissa!” during class. True story.

I first met Frances at Yocomo, the annual yoga festival in Montreal. I was early to an 8:30 class on teaching yoga and adjusting students, and Frances walked up to me and said, “Would you mind if I gave you a massage?” As long as the volunteer is not a psychopath, the correct answer is always YES. Frances gave me a quick, firm massage, and I was hooked, especially since she was an excellent instructor. Last month, I made it to a Frances’s class at Luna Yoga,  I like the fact that she uses her whole body to adjust you. I like the fact that she lays her hands on every single person during classat least once, at least for a few seconds. Drop-in class: $19; introductory month: $49.

Shri YogaI did such a good yoga workshop with Todd Norian at Shri Yoga. Mona is a gifted teacher. She can tell at a glance if you’re off, and how to correct it. It seems like a cool community, too. After one class, we were wishing each other Shanah Tovah after a class on Rosh Hashanah; after another, a man was convinced that he’d met me before, even though I no longer live in Montreal. Drop-in class: $22; introductory week: $30

Montreal cheap & lovely DOLLWhy am I talking about prices? ‘Cause I like value and beauty at the same time. I even wrote a guide: The Cheap and Lovely Guide to Montreal: Food, Fun, Fashion, and Ze French.


When you migrate to downtown Montreal, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Stockholm Syndrome

at the one, the only Paragraphe Books! (It’s very exciting that they’re carrying my book, as I described here.)

And, if you can’t make it to Ottawa or Montreal, I’ve got two suggestions. One, my romance THE LIST is on sale for only $3.99 until Hallowe’en.

And–shh–The Emergency Doctor’s Guide to a Pain-Free Back e-book is on super-sale for $3.99 for the next 72 hours.

One last story…


Last month, my hospital called me to tell me that I had a registered letter. I was exhausted between hospitalist/shift work and didn’t want to drive in. “Could you sign for it?”Dr. back POD front cover 5x8 72

“No, you have to sign for it, but I’ll tell them to hold it for you at the post office.”

the list cover 2014 interracial YI-200It’s never a good sign when a doctor gets registered mail at the post office. You could be getting sued. Quebec used to send me registered letters telling me that I would lose 30 percent of my clinic billing if I didn’t do enough hours in the emergency department, obstetrics, or geriatrics (they have draconian rules for new doctors where they will just pull money out of your wages).

However, I was so tired that I forgot about the registered letter.

Yesterday, R&L’s Book Nook in Alexandria e-mailed me to say, “We’re sold out of your back pain book. You also have a letter at the post office.”

Holy crap! That letter! I drove in today to see what horror awaited.

I was astonished to receive this instead:
2016-10-26-19-14-48 2016-10-26-19-14-31 2016-10-26-11-56-29I ran into Steve Warburton on the way out. He said, “Hey, you have a real letter.”

“Yes, from Malaysia!”

“I thought it was from a fan.”

“I guess she is a fan, because she read my book and that’s how we got to know each other. But I just think of her as my friend. She’s a doctor now, too.”


I drove away thinking how incredible it is that I have a fan/friend/fellow doctor on the other side of the world.

I may not sell as many books as my friend Lynda sells nut cheeses. But I am now on Athira’s bucket list! Awesome!!!!!!!!!

Stockholm Syndrome debuts in Montreal! (CBC’s Homerun & Paragraphe Books)!

Yo yo yo!

The first four Hope Sze books take place in this creative, crazy, multicultural bouillabaisse known as Montreal. I’d really love to get the word out in Hope’s hometown. But how does one accomplish this? 


It’s surprisingly difficult to take a cool selfie with Stockholm Syndrome and Paragraph Books. I had to take a dozen to be sure.

<cue the fanfare of trumpets> Richard King of CBC Radio’s Homerun will review Stockholm Syndrome tomorrow, October 19th!


In honour of this monumental occasion, Librairie Paragraphe Books is now carrying Stockholm Syndrome for the next three months. Please run over and snag a copy!

In honour of this, I’ll be celebrating Montreal throughout the next quarter. Stay tuned for inside tips where to eat, hang out, and do yoga in la belle province!

While I was at Librairie Paragraphe Books, I bought a copy of Jessica Hagy’s book, How to Be Interesting (preview here).


Even if you don’t read, you need Empower-mints or Manly Mints, right?

It feels fantastic to support an indie bookstore in the heart of Montreal. They’ve got kid books, travel books, gift books, literature, Louise Penny’s latest novel, pre-orders for other people that you’ll want to touch but have to be instructed to leave alone (oh, maybe that’s just me)…

I could’ve stayed there all day, except my parking meter was about to expire. Support your bookstores!

Just don’t buy the Jessica Hagy book for Alexandra Beauregard–it’s my gift to her. 😉

When you come, here are some Montreal travel tips.

Construction is terrible. Use your phone or GPS. Get a parking space and walk if you have decent legs. As I strolled down Sherbrooke, I spotted not one, not two, but four police cars crowding down the single remaining lane of traffic. You can update your parking slip through an app, and be vigilant: they love to give parking tickets.


Finally, I checked his screen. It says “Steve Jobs is dead.” Sobering reminder.


I met a fellow writer, even if he was a statue.

So why show up, aside from hitting up the bookstores? Well, I love the incidental art.


Everyone wanted a picture with this guy.




Restaurant Park’s bar









Restaurant Park (in Westmount). Just look at those orchids. I chose the bento surprise lunch to go. I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy tempura vegetables, including a piece of squash that showed they were using seasonal vegetables; maki sushi; a refreshing beet salad; and tofu with ground pork, all fresh and delicious, for about $20. Wow!

The chef, Antonio Park, has a Korean background, but grew up in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Montreal before he trained formally in Japan.

I look forward to going back. Honestly, I felt like the beet salad spoke to me. It was so simple and so good. I tried to get my kids to eat it, but they’re scared of anything unusual. I was selfishly glad to polish off every bite. I’m not generally a tempura fan (is the frying worth the calories?), but this tempura was light and intelligent, if that makes sense.2016-10-05-14-22-07

2016-10-05-14-00-54 Momesso (NDG area): I used to bring my parents here. We’d descend into the basement, stuff ourselves with 14 inch subs, and feel good about the world afterwards. Check out the decor: old-style NHL hockey pucks. That’s what I’m talking ’bout.

This time, I was working a bunch of shifts, so I bought three subs. The best was the steak and sausage ($15.25 for a 14 inch sub before tax or tip).

Cash only & closed on Sundays.


I didn’t buy any clothes that day, but Paragraph Books is the Golden Square Mile, so enjoy:


2016-10-05-13-26-13 This one is from Westmount, but I was like, who decides which Canadian art is important?

2016-10-05-13-28-18 2016-10-05-13-29-38 2016-10-05-13-28-07


Before I bid you adieu, remember that your Thanksgiving/Christmas shopping can include Stockholm Syndrome at Paragraphe Books! In case you’re wondering, this is a slightly different picture that I like better (looks like a sky-scraper in the background, slightly reddish hair my hair in the face). I fit right in on the Golden Square Mile.

And tune in tomorrow to CBC Radio One’s 88.5 for Homerun with Richard King‘s review of Stockholm Syndrome. I’m working, so please let me know if you hear it!  Thank ye kindly.

Terminally Illicit (book trailer for Terminally Ill)

This is my first book trailer incorporating a video. And not just any video, Pierre Carrillo portraying Elvis Serratore!

Who is Pierre Carrillo? He’s a Montreal balance artist who’s performed for Cirque du Soleil, now based in L.A. We ran into him during a street performance in August 2013.

I was struck by not only the jaw-dropping sight of him jumping, twisting, falling, leaping, and re-balancing, but the fact that he smiled genuinely the entire time.

Afterward, I asked him about using a picture for a book cover. But then I thought the video would be even cooler for the Terminally Ill trailer, and he kindly gave permission.

See, that’s what I love about Montreal. Creative randomness and generosity between artists. So no matter how much the hospitals crumble and streets shatter (remember the backhoe falling in a sinkhole?), I keep coming back.

Next date: Nuit Blanche Feb 28th. A Tribe Called Red is having a free all-ages show. Anyone want to join me? You can even win tickets to the whole event.

Book trailers, freaks, and bears, oh my

I now have a silent partner who asked me for a book trailer. I never got into those, but NOW I HAVE.

All I can say is, Thank God for iMovie. And the Freak Fandango Orchestra. Any thumbs up appreciated.

Denise Nielsen said their music warmed her up on this cold January day. They’re a Barcelona-based group that tours the world.

I’m also hard at work on Stockholm Syndrome, the fourth Hope Sze novel, where Hope gets taken hostage on the obstetric ward.

stockholm syndrome pregnant-200

Dr. Severine Laplante gave me a tour of St. Mary’s Hospital, updated my obstetric knowledge, and introduced me to a new Russian restaurant, La Caverne. We started off with a light carrot salad, then borscht served in wooden bowls with wooden spoons, and finished off with Pelmenis (pierogi things). Yum!

Also, my lovelies, I’m finally raising my cheap e-book prices shortly, so consider yourselves forewarned.

Come say hi at the  University of Ottawa Healthcare Symposium (UOHS) on January 24th and the Canadian Federation of University Women on the 27th. I don’t bite. Much.

bear severine WP_20150114_001

My new profile pic?

breaking bones cover

Will rise from $2.99 to $3.99

yoga cover NEW octavia ganesha 6x9 with SKULL

Will leap from $2.99 to $5.99

Student body POD cover.indd

Will scale from 99 cents to $2.99

Warning: Contains Me. In the Flesh.

Saturday, March 22nd, at 10:30 a.m. at the Alexandria Public Library

2 p.m. at the Cornwall Public Library

Jump to event page

terminally ill book launch poster with SDG & cornwall logos & kobo

I wasn’t going to do a book launch. It just seems to invite humiliation. I’m asking people to give up their precious time (on a Saturday!) to move their physical bodies (not just press Like!) to come see me, because I’ve done this archaic thing: write a book.

Brené Brown has written a lot about vulnerability, and I never understood why people got so excited about it, although this Zen Pencils cartoon kicks flying donkey eggs. I mean that as a compliment. Pow!

Then I realized that every time I write a book and publish it, every time I submit a story for publication, heck, every time I sit down at the computer to write, I risk failure and mortification. But I’m used to it. Each time I pick up a patient’s chart in the ER, I might screw the pooch.

I basically never wear white coats, except for author photos. And for this book launch!

I basically never wear white coats, except for author photos. And for this book launch! Photo by Jordan Matter

Raising kids? Ample opportunity for failure. (Side note: Anastasia broke our upstairs toilet by falling off of it while I was on the phone with the auto insurance agent. A. tells this story quite proudly. “I wanted to. I want to break the toilet!”)

melissayi_terminallyill_eBook_final with bleed and curlies

So if we’re “actually in the arena,…face…marred by dust and sweat and blood,” celebrating Terminally Ill, we are doing it balls out. Ovaries proudly on display. (That expression doesn’t work so well. But “ovaries lovingly nestled in our abdominal cavities” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. And this is more than any ol’ book launch.)

Mark Leslie Lefebvre will rock the casbah. Not only is he an author who has outsold Stephen King, the editor of Tesseracts 16, and the Director Self-Publishing & Author Relations at Kobo Inc., but he is a hilarious speaker and a genuinely nice guy driving all the way from Hamilton to attend. Mark flies around the world to speak and was just a guest instructor at the Superstars Writing Seminar, which costs up to $1499 in tuition. So if you have a novel tucked into your hard drive—or just in your brain, or your heart—please, please come and learn for free. I know that if no one shows up, I’m going to pick Mark’s brain mercilessly. So come on down and save his neurons.

If you just want to discover fresh new writing (readers! We love you!), Williamstown writer L.K. Below will read from one of her latest books. Lindsay writes everything from YA to romance and beyond. I once heard her sing a song she’d written for a musical about the Sirens. So I can’t wait to see what she’s up to.

Plus: door prizes! And music!

Even I’m getting excited!

One more exclamation mark: Publishers Weekly calls Terminally Ill “entertaining and insightful”! (

Montreal physician Hope Sze is looking for simple entertainment when she attends escape artist Elvis Serratore’s show, but when Elvis nearly dies in mid-act, Hope’s medical skills are available to save his life. She is less enthusiastic about his plea for her to use her detective skills to find out who tried to kill him by sabotaging his equipment. The subject of unwanted fame as a sleuth, Hope struggles with a too-complex love life, is faced with an ominous death at the hospital at which she works and becomes concerned about a young patient whose requests have deeply disturbing implications. She soon learns that if she does not seek out mysteries, the mysteries will seek her. The most recent installment in a series comprised thus far of three novels and a radio play, this novel demonstrates familiarity with the conventions of mysteries without being constrained by them and with the realities of Canada’s medical world. Although the tone is light, the author is not afraid to introduce darker themes. The three intertwining mysteries and Hope herself provide a narrative by turns entertaining and insightful. (Feb.)


    Goodreads Book Giveaway

        Terminally Ill by Melissa Yi

          Terminally Ill

          by Melissa Yi

            Giveaway ends March 06, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

For anyone who can’t make it to our launch in the flesh (what, you don’t want to drive for six hours each way, like Mark? What’s wrong with you?), the Terminally Ill Goodreads Giveaway ends March 6th. Free, free, free!


I’ll give the last words to Elizabeth Gilbert, who speaks out on vulnerability:

“I live a creative life, and you can’t be creative without being vulnerable.  I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins; they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both. And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear!  You must accept that Creativity cannot walk even one step forward except by marching side-by-side with its attached sibling of Fear.

So here’s my magical thinking — I decide every day that I love Creativity enough to accept that Fear will always come with it. And I talk to Fear all the time, speaking to it with love and respect, saying to it: “I know that you are Fear, and that your job is to be afraid. And you do your job really well! I will never ask you to leave me alone or to be silent, because you have a right to speak your own voice, and I know that you will never leave me alone or be silent, anyhow.  But I need you to understand that I will always choose Creativity over you.”

Braderie II: The Red Dress


I like Rien se perd, tout se crée. I’d seen them at the Salon des métiers d’arts (high end art & crafts exhibition) for the past two Decembers. They use organic cotton. They WEAVE THEIR OWN CLOTH (there’s a picture of a loom on the tag).


I loved this dress on the mannequin.

I love red.

I loved the diagonal skirt pattern. They had lots of vertical, but I prefer this.

Machine washable.

$74 instead of $149.


Note: they only had XS left for that dress. If you want the best selection, shop the Braderie early (opens Thursdays, with a VIP night on the Wed). If you want the best price, shop on Sunday at closing. Bring cash.

Also note that Matt has no eye for photography, and our house is full of junk, so I’m just going to crop these photos, despite the bad feng shui, and you’ll have to imagine how beautiful the clothes are. Sorry! Or just pop over here for better pics.

P.S. This is all fodder for my upcoming Cheap and Lovely Guide to Montreal, which at least my friend Julia is looking forward to. Yay, Julia!



My Year of Yes: It’s spring, therefore I Braderie

I was chatting with author Marie Bilodeau at the Sweet & Spicy convention in 2006, and she said something like, I buy at least one new piece a year to rejeuvenate my wardrobe.

This is a very French thing. She’s not buying all sorts of garbage just because it’s on sale. She’s not kicking her entire wardrobe to the curb, which is wasteful. She has a wardrobe she likes, that she refreshes periodically with the intelligent addition of a few pieces.

Now I am that French (or at least Montreal) thing. Every April and October, I buy directly from the designers at la Braderie de mode québecoise. Cheaper for me, but I also love meeting the actual designers and people who love fashion.

I even wear a certain outfit for the Braderie, so I can try things on and off easily, without lining up for a change room:

Not this exact outfit, but same idea. These are the Fete de Montreal leggings.

Not this exact outfit, but same idea. These are the Fete de Montreal leggings. Don’t know what that means? Read on.


Boots I can walk in and shuck on and off (NOT fashionable zip boots—I can take the hit now for the glory later)

A fitted black dress

Layers on top

It gets meta. As soon as I stepped into the melow corner at the Braderie, a salesperson welcomed me and said, “Are your leggings from La Fete?” She did a project on La Fete at fashion school. And yes, these are Fete de Montreal leggings that I got for $15—my favourite leggings in the entire world.

Here are pics of me wearing melow from a previous Braderie. I bought this when I was 8 months pregnant with Anastasia. I delivered her three days after this yoga class.


I’m still wearing it. Does it get any more fabulous? The designer, Melissa Bolduc, was a figure skater, so she really understands fabric’s stretch and lines.



Stay tuned for pics of what I bought at the April 2013 Braderie!

Also, one of my many to-do projects is The Cheap and Lovely Guide to Montreal, so like this or comment if you want to hear more about it.

Born This Way: Doin’ Lady Gaga in Montreal

So. Lady Gaga touched down in Montreal last night.


I like her music. I like that she seems genuinely bizarre and finds beauty in the grotesque. I don’t dig some of her outfits, but I’d rather she wore a meat dress than just showed off her T&A 24/7 like every other female pop star. I also figured that the fans would be my tribe: people who are bored by Barbies, basically.

When I heard she was coming for her Born That Way Ball 2013, I posted on Facebook, Who’s in? and my friend Dorin waved his virtual hand. I haven’t seen him since high school, and he was willing to drive from Ottawa through what turned out to be freezing rain.

Once we met up, Dorin was brilliant at cutting through the crowd, and I just followed in his taller, broad-shouldered wake. Of course, I couldn’t see anything, even though luckily, a lot of Gaga fans seem to be short. At one point, Dorin hunched down to see what I could see. Here’s a pic:



He was the one who pointed out the girl who’d rolled her hair around beer cans (nice. Like rollers, only previously alcoholic).


Dorin took this pic–see the improved perspective?

I admired the guys in sequins and skirts and the female Gaga lookalikes. The real Gaga was over an hour late opening the show, but it gave us a chance to catch up.

I hadn’t realized how hot I’d be on the floor. First I shed my down parka, then my gold acetate jacket. Good-bye, funkiness. Preventing heat exhaustion is more important.

When the curtains finally opened, I was astonished by an enormous castle that filled the stage. A door opened, and dancers stepped out. We weren’t next to the main stage, but we were maybe 12 feet away from a ring that cut through the floor section, so when the dancers pranced close to us, I was astonished to see one of them leading a black horse. The bass was throbbing through my chest, so I was a bit concerned about the horse’s reaction to all the screaming and music and mayhem, but I know horses have been through war, so a two-minute circuit walk at a Lady Gaga concert is probably easier than being steered through slashing swords. [Through Google, I now see that this seems to be a mechanical horse. Ohhhhh. But you never know what to expect from Lady Gaga.]

I didn’t know the first few songs, but a woman behind me droned along to every word. Then Lady Gaga launched into “Bad Romance,” which made us all scream, sing, film, and make clawed fingers in the air. While she sashayed toward my corner, she tossed out “Nice tits, b–.” Of course, I was too short to see anything, but I assume that someone was moved to flash her. Later in the song, she yelled at the rest of the audience, “Stand up! I’m f—ing singing ‘Bad Romance’!” And they did.

She had a rich, gorgeous voice. Dorin said that during her last concert in Ottawa, the sound cut out for 45 minutes, so she just sang a capella and said, “So you can see I don’t f—ing lip synch.” No tech troubles like that tonight, but she dropped it down for a quick version of “Wilkommen,” “Born This Way” and “Edge of Glory,” and I was impressed.

Mostly, the feeling I got was that she wanted to give us a great show, that she wanted to connect with us, and that she hadn’t forgotten what it was like to be in the trenches.

“Five years ago, I was a waitress in New York.” That was cool. I didn’t realize how recently she’d become a superstar.

“Thank you for spending your hard-earned money.” So true. I know people who make a lot less money but give a lot more attitude, like You’re my peon instead of Thank you.

Then I was curious how she’d sprung up to stardom. “Do you remember the first time you heard this song on the radio?” she asked, during the opening of “Just Dance.” “Me too. Because it brought me to you.” So yes, I realize that was her breakout song. But she also dropped a clue later: “I’ve been wearing this leather since I was 16. I’ve been writing songs since I was 11. I was singing since I came out of my mother’s birth canal.” Lady Gaga put in her 10,000 hours of practice, and it really worked out for her. I did feel a moment of “Hey, I’ve put in my time in medicine and writing, but chances are, I’ll never be rich and famous like this,” but it passed. I don’t need to be rich and famous like that. I have enough money. I save lives. I write stories. I found true love and had fantastic kids make their way out of my birth canal (not singing, though). I’m lucky.

Back to the Gagster. She also said that she used to tell herself to keep working, to keep practicing the piano and keep writing her songs, that she would make it someday. So yep, Lady Gaga used to give herself pep talks.

I think she really cares about her fans, and that part of the reason she tours is so that we can see and listen to her with our own eyes instead of whatever the media says. At one point, she called a random audience member and invited him to share a whisky with her after the show. She said that because he answered, she donated $5000 to a local GLBT shelter, and that we could know that our money had done some good in our city. And yeah, I do feel a bit better knowing that my $150 went to something more lasting.

At the end of the show, she shook hands with fans and sang “Marry the Night.” I guess one of the girls at the front was sobbing so hard that Lady Gaga whispered, “Is she okay?” and ended up pulling her and her friends up on stage, and then they all disappeared down a trap door at the end of the show. So you know, real people got to join in the after party. Again, I respect that she’s not just into VIP’s and armadillo shoes, that she knows who’s really paying her bills.

Not that she didn’t have enough attitude, too: “How many of you have to work in the morning?…Well, so do I. I earn my bread, too. So I don’t give a f—.”

Later, she said, “Are you having fun?” Cheers. “Well, if you’re not having fun…” She bent over and pulled her bodysuit up inside what doctors call the gluteal cleft. “I don’t give a f—” I had to laugh at that.

The dancers really amped up the show. One of the women kinda bared her teeth and hissed at one point, and I thought that the edgier and weirder you are, the more Gaga will be Gaga for you. One of the black male dancers queened around (“Mm mmm!”) and Lady Gaga said, “Looks like someone was born this gay.” It belatedly occurred to me that a lot of gay dancers must pose as straight for their entire career, but again, Lady Gaga embraces them for who they are. I also appreciated that there were two black male dancers. Even in 2013, if you look, too often it seems like, “Oh, we already have a black man, so we can’t have two.” I’d like even more diversity, though.

The castle set was amazing. Not only was it built three stories tall, but the sides opened and closed to reveal inner chambers. Three guitarists posed in the windows at various times. The top floor had a black and white striped dressing room with a rotating clothes rack. Dancers cavorted. Lady G played a portable keyboard built to look like a guitar (she had two, one pink and one black with black claw-like keys).

The costumes were impressive. I’m not sure how she managed such lightning-quick changes, but I liked the range from classy vintage outfits to more alien, helmet-like outfits, and I liked the dancers’ outfits with the criss-crosses, and how they contorted around and on each other during “Bad Romance.”

The only minuses? I wasn’t crazy about the holographic head that says “Kill the Bitch.” (It seemed like the story of the show was Lady Gaga escaping from the prison/castle and the head was leading the team hunting her down.) I realize that the head allowed time for costume and set changes, but it looked bizarrely not-quite-human, and at one point, it was spouting some philosophy that probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The downtime for all the talking got a bit long, which dribbles away the energy of the show, and the wait time for her encore was interminable. “She likes to make you wait,” observed a girl next to me. “I need a shower,” said her friend, and another one said, “Come on, Gaga, I’ve got school tomorrow.” And these are her core fans, the ones who’ve paid big bucks for the floor section. Since I was overdressed, carrying my down parka, and had just finished a monstrous number of shifts and come down with the flu, I actually thought I might pass out. So I was not amused by the blackout, followed by the lights blinking in the castle for what seemed like 15 minutes before she came back.

But overall, I always go out for adventures and for stories, and I got plenty of those last night. Kudos, Gaga.


Montreal Fringe Review: If Looks Can Kill…They Will! (Burlesque, Lady Gaga Style)

Have you ever popped a balloon covering up a woman’s breasts?

I have.

Just one of the perks of sitting front row of If Looks Can Kill…They Will!

I wanted to see this show ever since the Fringe-for-All, when the lounge singer’s preview made me sit up in my chair.

First of all, she sang “Fever,” a song that I love, to live music.

Secondly, she could sing.

And thirdly, just the way she winked at the audience from under her hat and tugged at each finger of her glove—well, she had me even before she even revealed her wrists.

I didn’t care for the trailer on the website (, but I liked the lounge singer so much, I plunked down $24, hired a babysitter, and dragged my husband to the 10 p.m. show, a time when I usually try to go to bed.

I wasn’t sure about entering a place advertising “strip-teaseuses,” but we climbed the stairs. BTW, I was wearing a purple backless tank top by Trendi, a tightly fitted, ruched, floor-length asymmetrical burgundy skirt by Rusch Couture, and a white cape by Dino Gaspari. I’d forgotten my peacock fascinator in the car, but rest assured, I’d dressed according to the glamorous, sexy vibe. That’s one of the things I love about Montreal, you can dress the hell up and nobody cares.

The upstairs was a spacious bar with a stage. On the left, a bare-chested man played the sax while the more-dressed band played guitar, cello, drums (a woman wearing a bustier), and tam tam.

The show was raunchier than I expected. If I had to pick a few words, I’d say: raw, funny, a little gross, and more live nudity than I’d ever seen in my sheltered life.

It’s supposed to be a murder mystery, but there weren’t any really good clues or red herrings—mostly random characters would keel over and then there’d be $2 shots at the bar.

Most sexy to me: full marks for the lounge singer; Cherry (the character who spoke terrible French); the black butler; Sherlock Homo at the end. Even the maid was better than I expected for a minor character (she turned out to be the director as well).

Amazing acting award: a woman named Cam filled in for Sherlock Homo at the last minute, learning her lines just one day before and performing her first striptease ever (and very well, too). I liked the incompetent Sherlock and smart Hotson characters. About time Dr. Watson took the lead. Who’s the doctor, eh? 😉

Most naked: the guy who sang the line “Am I exhibitionist?” during the first song, ripped off his pants, and basically stayed pants-free the entire time.

Most surprising to me: not only did the Jizzica character let me pop one of her balloons, spraying glitter everywhere, including under my contact lens, but she also surprised me later (I won’t say more, because it’s a spoiler, but it’s something I basically would never do).

Most surprisingly dignified while wearing assless chaps: the white butler

Too gross for me: the diarrhea plotline and the whole Booze Crotch character.

Musical note: the lounge singer and the black butler could sing, but most of the other numbers were pre-recorded and people either lip-synched or sang along with them while they danced or did burlesque-style striptease or both.

My husband Matt’s synopsis: “I liked the shadows.” (Woman behind a screen while Harlem Nocturne oozed in the background.) “Too much male nudity, not enough female nudity, too much…amateurish theatrics.” (Most of the women wore pasties. I think what he called amateurish theatrics, the appreciative audience would’ve called campy fun.)

Overall, I’d say that it was a big, bold, and deliberately sloppy show (fake vomit, stool, and blood, I’m looking at you). If you’re not offended by that or naked naughty bits, slap down your money and get over there for the next five shows.

Super Deluxe: My New Story Up at Buzzy Mag!

Hello, my fans (all two of you):

My latest short story, Super Deluxe, has just been published by the brand spanking new sf magazine, Buzzy Mag ( We are lusting for readers.

One woman. One buried treasure. Three wishes.

What would you do?


P.S. I was astonished to receive 6 “likes” yesterday. Generally, no one reads my blog. I have decided that people like to read about Africa and travelling more than they like to read about writing. Who’d a thunk?

Thanks. Now I know to post more Africa stuff!