• Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal

  • YWCA Woman of Distinction for the Arts
  • Award of Merit from the Alberta Teachers’ Association Safe and Caring Schools Project

  • Larry Sand Business Award for significant contributions to Edmonton’s LGBTQ2S
  • Maureen Irwin Award for contributions to Edmonton’s Lesbian community

I was born on a Good Friday in Castor, Alberta, a small town about 2 ½ hours southeast of Edmonton. My mother said she could hear the church bells ringing for the 3 PM service. I grew up mostly in Jasper Place, which is now part of west Edmonton, and attended the University of Alberta for a year or two before moving to Montreal in 1967.


In Montreal, I got my start in books working for Esther Handel at Everyman Books on St. Catherine’s. When Everyman’s closed, Esther secured a job for me at one of her brother Louis Melzack’s Classic Bookstores. I married Joe Vannelli in 1971, and in 1972 we set off for a hitchhiking trip across the continent and into South America. He drowned in Tramandai, Brazil, and I moved back to Alberta.


I worked for Classic Books in Calgary and Edmonton, and in 1977 partnered with Jill McIvor to open our own bookstore,                       , on Whyte Avenue. We sold the shop in 1984. After we sold Aspen Books, Annick Press published my children’s picture book, And I’m Never Coming Back*. I subsequently wrote two adult novels that were published by Fifth House Publishers: Madeleine & the Angel* and The Last Sigh*.


In 1993, I opened my second bookstore,                         , also on Whyte Avenue. Orlando was a progressive, feminist bookstore that specialized in post-colonial issues, cultural studies, queer studies, and literature from small presses.


When Orlando Books closed, I went back to school and obtained a Master of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Alberta. I subsequently taught English at Grant MacEwan University, the University of Alberta, and Dalhousie University. I also wrote a series of intercultural communication video scripts for NorQuest College in Edmonton, an English for Academic Purposes workbook* for Oxford University Press, and I served as the first coordinator of Borderlines, the Writer-in-Exile program in the City of Edmonton.


Over the years I have lived in various places, including a year in Paris, France and a year in Granada, Spain. In 2013 I moved with my partner, Mary, to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. That same year my one-act play, Secrets, was produced at the 2013 Edmonton International Fringe Festival.


The Heart Begins Here*, my third novel, is now available from Inanna Publications.