My VCon Schedule

I’m heading off to VCon this weekend. VCon is Vancouver’s premier science fiction, fantasy and games convention. I can’t wait for this. I’ve been meaning to get to VCon since my first convention (World Fantasy in Calgary) as I met a bunch of awesome B.C. folks there. I’ve met a few since, some of whom I only get to chat with on Twitter and Facebook, so I hope we’ll get to hang out a bit.
VCon will also be another reconvening of the Illuminaughty, albeit a small one. It’ll be great to see Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ann Aguirre again. Secret societies are the bomb. (Ssssh. SECRETS.)

Guests of Honour include author David Weber (Honor Harrington Series; Safehold Series, Dahak Series) http://www.davidweber.net/,  artist David Mattingly (Does Cover Art for David Weber’s Honor Harrington Books) http://www.davidmattingly.com/ and game designer Bruce Heard (Original TSR employee, responsible for the development of much of the BECMI D&D line and it’s campaign world Mystara) http://bruce-heard.blogspot.ca/.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty stoked about meeting Bruce Heard. Mystara was (and still is) my favourite D&D setting and I backed Bruce’s recent Kickstarter for Calidar in Stranger Skies. It’ll be an honour to share a panel with a game design legend.

This year VCon is also hosting Canvention (Canada’s national and traveling convention) and the Prix Aurora Awards. Me and my ChiSeries Winnipeg partner Samantha Beiko will be there representing Winnipeg (oh, and our books, and the ChiSeries and stuff).

VCon has brought in a few guests specifically for Canvention. Canvention, Tarol Hunt creator of the Goblins webcomic http://goblinscomic.com/ and artist Melissa Mary Duncan http://www.melissaduncan.ca/.

Here’s my schedule:
Friday, October 3
7 pm Selling Your Nonfiction to Subsidize Your Fiction? There’s an abundance of work out there when you’re a talented non-fiction writer. How does that translate into your speculative fiction? How do you balance writing both? Do anthology editors consider an author’s entire portfolio or just the fiction?
Sandra Wickham • Claire Eamer • Melanie Dixon • Chadwick Ginther • Mark Anthonry Brennan
8 pm Aurora Award Pin Ceremony: All attending Aurora award Nominees receive their Nominee Pins from members of the CSFFA (Aurora award admin people) Board of Directors.
Saturday, October 4
2 pm Game Master Tricks: Having problems with your game going off the rails? Time to break out the big guns! Panelists share their favourite tips for putting one over on players, devising devious schemes, or improvising when your carefully laid plans go all to hell.
Paula Johanson • Tarol Hunt • Chadwick Ginther • Bruce Heard • Jeremy Reimer
4 pm Aurora Award Afternoon Tea: This is a catered ticketed affair. Guests will savour finger sandwiches, light pastries, scones, fruit compote, Devonshire cream, etc.
During (or shortly after) the High Tea retired Movie Critic and Journalist Michael Walsh will present several ‘spoof’ Elron Awards in a tradition dating back to the first VCON in 1971. R. Graeme Cameron, presenter of the Elrons since 1989, will unveil the rest of the horrors at a later program event.
4:45 pm Aurora Award Ceremony: Master of Ceremonies Sandra Wickham (well-known author whose stories have appeared in “Evolve”, “Urban Green Man”, and numerous other anthologies and magazines) will preside over the awarding of the Auroras.This is the last year the current Aurora Award design will be handed out – Frank Johnson’s wonderful ‘Maple Leaf Aurora’ design has been used for the past 23 years, each award individually handcrafted by him in his workshop. To put it mildly, CSFFA certainly appreciates Frank’s dedication and hard work. CSFFA is glad to note that Frank will be present at the awards. As part of the ceremony CSFFA Canvention 34 Chair Clint Budd will announce the recipients of the newly created Hall of Fame Honours. This replaces the previous Lifetime Achievement awards, all previous winners of which will now be inducted into the CSFFA Hall of Fame.The past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award being “transferred” into the Hall of Fame are: A.E. Van Vogt, Susan Wood, Judith Merril, Phyllis Gotlieb, Dennis Mullen, and Robert J. Sawyer. This year’s winners are William Gibson, and Spider & Jeanne Robinson. Bill and Spider will be present to acknowledge their induction, the latter on behalf of and in memory of his co-author and beloved wife of many years, Jeanne Robinson. 

Sunday, October 5
10:00 am Reading with Ann Aguirre
Hope to see you there, and wish me luck at the Auroras.
Write on!

Some More Pics From My Alberta Research Trip Part Two: Edmonton

I love Edmonton.

I’ve been there quite a few times in recent years, and it feels a lot like home. Maybe because, like Winnipeg, it’s a river city. Maybe because it still has some old architecture. I can’t explain it.

I took the Red Arrow bus line from Calgary to Edmonton, which is a really nice way to travel. Comfortable seats. WiFi. It’s also not much slower than flying when you factor in time to get through security and the fact that the Edmonton airport may as well be on the moon. The bus station was only a couple blocks from the LRT line. Rapid transit has become a big part of Winnipeg’s current mayoral debate, and every time I go to Alberta, I come back thinking: “The precious. I wantsssss it.”

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Bay/Enterprise Square Station.

It’s so shiny.

In non-book research related research, I tried cedar smoked salmon for the first time my first night in Edmonton. Normally, I hate the sea and everything in it. This meal however, was amazing. It was grilled up with marinade of maple syrup and apples. Big thanks to my Edmonton host, and old bud, Brad Neufeld for the kick ass food, and the place to hang my hat.

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When I travel, I will now be forever reminded of the title of Robert Shearman’s new story collection from ChiZine, They Do the Same Things Different There. Case in point: one can buy bourbon at the Costco in Alberta. This was a very tasty whiskey. A little bird told me that Costco gets their vodka from Grey Goose, so I wonder who supplies their bourbon…

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The exterior of the Edmonton Archives. I spent a few afternoons here, digging through photos and old articles.

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Microfiche!

I haven’t used one of these in years. I may or may not have pretended to be a spy while I loaded the microfilm. Also, I must be cursed, because most of the machines were down, or stopped working shortly after I got started. The archivists were great though.

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Author Billie Milholland snapped this photo of me at the Stanley A. Milner Library while I was rooting through their Heritage Room.

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One of the things I’ve been meaning to see for ages was Fort Edmonton. It’s an interpretive park, with lots of costumed workers explaining the history of the area. There’s a similar place outside of Winnipeg, Lower Fort Garry–which is still on my list of places to go. (I really need an out of town guest to show up doing research for their book, so I can take them to all the local attractions I never get around to seeing!)

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Survival tips for the northern explorer: rum. (Why is the rum gone?)

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An old York Boat.

The thing that is neat about Fort Edmonton is that it isn’t just one time period. You take a train from the gift shop out to the fort and then walk through three different time periods, 1885 street, 1905 street, and 1920 street.

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1885 street!

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It was crazy hot the entire time I was in Edmonton, and sadly, Kelly’s Saloon was not serving beverages.

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A Gatling Gun stashed behind the RCMP (North-West Mounted Police at the time) barracks

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In case of emergency.

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1905 street!

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There was a street car you could hop on! (Street car not shown) I love street cars.

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Unlike Kelly’s Saloon pictured earlier, the Hotel Selkirk on 1920 street does have a working bar.

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The Capitol Theatre. I didn’t have time to catch a movie, as I had to prepare for a reading.

First, though, there was an author dinner with Edmonton friends Janice MacDonald, Randy Willliams, Eileen Bell and new to Edmonton by way of New York ex-pat Winnipegger (and amazing author), the divine Susie Moloney. We went to Edmonton staple Doan’s, which has some great Vietnamese food.

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Randy Williams snapped this shot during my reading at Audreys Books.

I haven’t been back to Audreys since Thunder Road launched, so it was fun to be there again, and read from Tombstone Blues. We had a good turnout. I met a couple Facebook friends for the first time, which I always enjoy. I also found out the section I chose for my reading (The Night Mara’s attack) gave someone in the audience a nightmare. I felt a bit bad about that, but I’m not going to lie, I was also pleased that one of my favourite scary scenes genuinely scared someone.

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I love this view, with Grant MacEwan in the distance. It seems like a great place for some kind of showdown…

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COMICS!

My trip happened to fall so that I missed two New Comic Book Days. (Seriously, who planned this thing. Oh…wait.) What is a visit to another city without a stop at their best known comic store? While I was in Calgary I made another visit to Comic-Kazi (my friend Kevin’s local), the staff and owner there are amazing. Also, Fiona Staples of Saga fame apparently used to work there.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Happy Harbor, and some of my friends have done events with them. It was a very cool store. Larger and more spread out than my local (Mighty Comics, represent!) but it was easy to find what I was looking for.

Between the two stops I found a few issues I’d missed of a couple series I wanted to collect, and had the bonus of two weeks worth of my regular comics waiting for me when I got home!

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Thanks to fellow Ravenstone author, Janice MacDonald, for pointing this place out to me. The Valhalla. Perfect. How can that not turn up in book three?

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I love the High Level Bridge. One of my favourite things to do in Edmonton is walk across that bad boy.

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I took a drive out refinery way, by Fort Saskatchewan, not too far outside of Edmonton. These plants are huge. And from what I’m told, are completely dwarfed by the sites up north near Fort MacMurray.

It was a great trip. I love my visits to Alberta and can’t wait to get back there.

Write on!

Join Me For Novel Writing Club At The Millennium Library!

With thanks to the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for asking me, and the Winnipeg Public Library for hosting, I’m very excited to say I’ll be chairing a novel writing club starting in November!

From the Manitoba Writers’ Guild newsletter:

NOVEL WRITING CLUB: CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS
In collaboration with the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, Winnipeg Public Library will be hosting a novel writing club to offer emerging novelists the opportunity to work with a mentor for a seven month period. At monthly meetings, a facilitator will meet with participants to address their concerns, provide inspiration and advice, and offer ideas and suggestions. The objective is for all participants to complete the first draft of a novel by the last meeting in June.

The program is intended as an opportunity for writers who are prepared to commit to monthly meetings. Applications are open to those who have not participated in WPL’s critique circles during the past year. There is no charge to participants.
The Novel Writing Club will be facilitated by Chadwick Ginther.

Chadwick Ginther is the author of Thunder Road (Ravenstone Books), a fantasy in which the larger-than-life personalities and monsters of Norse mythology lurk hidden in Manitoba. His short stories have appeared in On Spec, Tesseracts and the Fungi anthology from Innsmouth Free Press. His reviews and interviews have appeared in Quill and Quire, The Winnipeg Review, and Prairie Books NOW.
Meetings will take place at Millennium Library, Carol Shields Auditorium on Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m.

November 25, December 16, 2014 and January 13, February 10, March 10, April 7, May 5, and June 9, 2015. A wrap-up event presenting an opportunity for writers to read aloud from their work will be scheduled for June.

Interested writers are encouraged to complete the application and submit it via email to critiquecircle.wpl@gmail.com starting November 1, 2014. Applications will be accepted until November 14, 2014.

*Applicants must be available for all scheduled meetings.
Participants will be selected based on factors including:

  • strength of the submission

  • a two sentence idea pitch

  • timeliness of the application

Questions? Please call Millennium Library Reader Services at 204-986-6779.

Some Pics From My Alberta Research Trip Part One: Badlands and Stephansson House

So, it was no secret that I was going to Alberta for research for Too Far Gone (the Winnipeg Free Press reported on it before my third book even had a name). These pictures are from the first part of my trip. Also, I will take any excuse to hike through the Alberta Badlands.

I regret that my photographs aren’t as good as Paul Weimer’s (seriously, check out his stuff. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful photos), I’d blame it on the fact I didn’t bring a proper camera and was taking pictures with my phone, but that would be a lie. I’m just not a skilled photographer.

These are from my hike in Horseshoe Canyon.

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Unlike my last trip to the Badlands, I actually had proper hiking shoes instead of on-their-last-laces tennis shoes. I also went hiking before I’d spent an entire weekend dehydrating myself with hotel air and Irish whiskey.

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It involved a bit of doing to stay dry in some parts of the canyon. Which I didn’t manage. Not that I was going to return those new hiking shoes.

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There were a couple scrambles that reminded me that I was out of shape. And that I was one good tumble away from feeding the coyotes.

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There is an “inuksuk graveyard” in Horseshoe Canyon, where hikers build cairns of stone.

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This one was one of my favourites.

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Seriously, how can you not love this place?

Heading further north, and near to Red Deer, and down an assortment of back roads, I found Stephansson House. (Thanks to Johanna Brierley’s mother Marcia for the suggestion–and for the loan of one of Stephansson’s books of poetry!). Stephansson was an early settler in the area, and a noted poet.

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One of the things, besides scenery, that I was looking for on this trip was Icelandic ties to Alberta. Those ties paid off creatively for me in writing Thunder Road and there was some neat stuff to be found here. You’ll have to read and find out about that, I think.

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But I did meet this awesome dog.

The staff at the museum didn’t know the dog. She must’ve just wandered into area looking for shade. She was quite friendly.

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Stephansson House is a beautiful house. I also felt like a giant inside it. Which was good to know. Also interesting to learn, Stephansson’s son was struck by lightning. The boy died, but afterwards, the house’s roof sported numerous lightning rods.

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Some of which you can see in the photo above.

That’s part one! Big thanks to Kevin Madison for driving me around Calgary and environs.

Write on!

 

 

When Words Collide 2014 Roundup

Another When Words Collide Festival has come and gone. I’m a little bit late getting to this roundup (although not nearly so late as I was with World Horror Con and Keycon!). This year my WWC festival was wrapped up in a research trip to Alberta for Too Far Gone, so I hope you’ll forgive the delay. I’ll try to document the research side of the trip (and my reading at Audreys Books in Edmonton) soon. (Yeah, right.)

This Calgary festival for readers and writers has in its four years of existence become one of my favourite events of the year. It’s always well run, the programming excellent, and the guests of honour are top notch. This year’s guests included Jacqueline Guest, Mark Leslie (director of Publishing Services at Kobo–and my editor for “Back in Black” in Tesseracts Sixteen), D.J. McIntosh, Brandon Sanderson, and Jack Whyte (filling in for Diana Gabaldon, who unfortunately had to cancel).

I did a bit more programming this year than last, no readings though. Unfortunately, readings (except for the guests of honour) have gone by the wayside for programming which will actually fill up the rooms. I understand this, and fair enough, even if it is a little disappointing. I love doing readings, and like to attend them. WWC offered folks the opportunity to book one of the social rooms to host launch parties, etc. but with no new book out, or on the horizon, it didn’t seem worth the expense for me this year. Maybe next year, although it’s doubtful Too Far Gone will be out by August, I might have some advance reading copies, or do a teaser reading.

My programming included:

  • Saturday 1 PM RPG Storytelling: [panel discussion with Brandon Sanderson, Chadwick Ginther, Ron Bender, Dave Gross] RPGs or Role-Playing Games make up a huge chunk of the gaming industry. Part of what makes them so popular is the rich storytelling that players experience as they solve problems and learn secrets through the game. Our panel of RPG storytellers and players discuss what draws them to the gaming life.
  • Saturday 2 PM Why Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Is So Popular: [panel discussion with Margarita Gakis, Melodie Campbell, Aspen deLainey, Sandra Wickham, Chadwick Ginther] Urban Fantasy has grown large enough to be its own major genre. Indeed, many publishers have created imprints just for Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. What is it about these subgenres that are so attractive to today’s psyche?
  • Saturday 8 PM Autographs: Festival Guests are joined by 50+ authors
    Drop by between 8 PM – 9 PM to meet the authors and get your books signed. This session is open to the public, so tell your friends.
  • Sunday 4 PM On (Writing) Vacation [panel discussion with Randy McCharlesPatrick Swenson, James Van Pelt, Chadwick Ginther] Writing retreats, with their focused time and space, can inspire and rejuvenate authors and are as accessible as you want them to be. Panelists discuss their experiences and the rewards reaped from attending writing retreats.

I thought the RPG Storytelling panel was excellent. Brandon Sanderson moderated and did a great job. It was clear that the packed room was primarily there to see him (except for the one person who asked him who he was, drawing a good laugh from the audience–Brandon had been making notes on his name card, like a good moderator) but he was very generous with sharing the panel and including everyone. There were some great points from my fellow panelists Dave Gross and Ron Bender and I had a lot of fun.

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The Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance panel went well. The only person I knew on it was Sandra Wickham, and I think she did a great job of moderating. I won points from someone in the audience for giving a shoutout to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series (which is a blast, check it out).

I had a lot of fun with the autograph session. I hung out with Edmonton friends, Janice MacDonald, Randy Williams, and S.G. Wong, and we were joined by the force behind Faery Ink Press, Clare C. Marshall. I stamped a few people with my new “Loki Approved” stamp.

Oh, and Brandon Sanderson’s signing line was ridiculously long.

My last panel was about writing vacations. I haven’t been on a focused group retreat, like the Rainforest Writers, that Patrick Swenson hosts, but I did start writing Thunder Road while I was housesitting for my parents which was a sort of writing retreat. I also go to a lot of local “write ins” at friends’ houses, (Gerald Brandt and Sherry Peters, thanks for hosting!) so I talked a bit about that, and using microfocus Twitter sprints as my contributions to the discussion. Everyone else on the panel is a regular at Rainforest so there was a bit of a dynamic that I wasn’t a part of, but rather than making me feel alienated, it made me really want to sign up for the retreat (next year’s already full, but I’m going to put my name on the waiting list).

There was also a lot of unscheduled fun (there always is) that took place.

This year was my pal Laurel’s very first convention. I’m so proud of her for heading out to Calgary and pitching her work and I hope she had a lot of fun and will be back again next year.

When the official party rooms, didn’t suffice, a new space was created (thanks to one David J. “Fort” Fortier.

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It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there were at least sixteen folks in there. Also: whiskey (and whisky).

Here’s something you don’t get to do every convention: Get beat up by a pregnant Ninja:

When Sandra Wickham was worried about whether someone would come to her writing about fighting presentation, I made a joke suggesting she’d be less nervous if I was there to heckle her. This led to me volunteering to be her test dummy for a few moves.

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For the record: Arm bars hurt.

I also spent a lot of Friday telling people they had to be at the panel if they wanted to see me get up by a pregnant woman. And evidently they did. Sandra had a packed house!

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Seriously though, she gave a great presentation, so if you have a chance to check out one of her panels (whether I’m getting beat up or not), do so. She’s a great writer too. You’ll be seeing a lot more of her.

I also got to hang out with a couple other alums from Patricia Briggs’ character workshop last year (I wasn’t actually able to go, but I still made some cool friends because of being signed up and doing the critiques). Kate Larking and Jill C. Flanagan, it was a pleasure.

When I wasn’t doing my own programming, I hung out with Clare at the Faery Ink Press table, because Clare is awesome, and I don’t get to see her nearly enough. I even managed to get some writing done

Somewhere along the way, On Spec editor and unofficial Sheriff of Edmonton, Cat McDonald declared we were rivals and needed to have a Read Off. Our goal is to end up in the same anthology so that we can make this happen (I WILL DESTROY YOU. Ahem.). Cat is also doing a Kickstarter for a new RPG, which you should check out and back.

Sentry Box was also in the Dealer’s Room selling books, and they sold out of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues! That was great news! I also spent some of those future royalties at their table.

One of the cool things WWC did this year was have an evening where people could play Magic the Gathering with Brandon (who is an avid gamer, and has had a roleplaying game created from the world of his Mistborn novels) Sanderson. I didn’t play. It’s been forever since I’ve played Magic, but listening to Brandon explain the rules to the folks who’d signed up made me very glad I didn’t have to play him for money.

I stayed an extra night so that I could attend the Dead Dog Party. It’s always fun, and even though everyone is exhausted, it’s a good chance to catch up with folks (like the con organizers) who are way too busy during the convention proper.

I’ve already purchased my membership for When Words Collide 2015. Check out the guests!

Daniel Abraham Fantasy
C.J. Carmichael Romance
James S.A. Corey Science Fiction
M.L.N. Hanover Urban Fantasy
Sally Harding Literary Agent
Faith Hunter Urban Fantasy
Gwen Hunter Thriller
Brandon Mull Young Adult

I know I’ll have a blast. Hope to see you there!

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from Jack Whyte, who when he was asked in his writing about battles workshop: “How much fighting is too much? How much whisky is too much? There are signs.

Write on.

 

Alberta Mini Tour!

I’m heading back to Alberta to do another round of research for Too Far Gone and I thought I’d tack a couple events on, since I was already around. Hope to see you either in Calgary or Edmonton!

Here’s where I’ll be:

Friday August 8th – Sunday August 11th: When Words Collide.

  • Saturday 1 PM RPG Storytelling: [panel discussion with Brandon Sanderson, Chadwick Ginther, Ron Bender, Dave Gross] RPGs or Role-Playing Games make up a huge chunk of the gaming industry. Part of what makes them so popular is the rich storytelling that players experience as they solve problems and learn secrets through the game. Our panel of RPG storytellers and players discuss what draws them to the gaming life.
  • Saturday 2 PM Why Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Is So Popular: [panel discussion with Margarita Gakis, Melodie Campbell, Aspen deLainey, Sandra Wickham, Chadwick Ginther] Urban Fantasy has grown large enough to be its own major genre. Indeed, many publishers have created imprints just for Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. What is it about these subgenres that are so attractive to today’s psyche?
  • Saturday 8 PM Autographs: Festival Guests are joined by 50+ authors
    Drop by between 8 PM – 9 PM to meet the authors and get your books signed. This session is open to the public, so tell your friends.
  • Sunday 4 PM On (Writing) Vacation [panel discussion with Randy McCharles, Patrick Swenson, James Van Pelt, Chadwick Ginther] Writing retreats, with their focused time and space, can inspire and rejuvenate authors and are as accessible as you want them to be. Panelists discuss their experiences and the rewards reaped from attending writing retreats.

Check out all of the programming being offered here:

Thursday August 14th at 7pm: Reading and Signing Tombstone Blues at Audreys Books in Edmonton. 

Write on!