New Year, New Goals 2015 Edition

This is coming a bit late isn’t it? It’s still January, so it still counts.

Here were my goals from last year:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Not going to lie. This wasn’t the best year for hitting goals. It wasn’t that I didn’t accomplish anything, but opportunities kept coming up that weren’t a part of my goals list. They were pretty cool though. I won a Manitoba Arts Council writing grant, and applied for my first Canada Arts Council Grant (still waiting to hear back on that one). I was invited to teach a couple of workshops (which also meant I had to design a couple of workshops): the ACI Teen Writing Workshop at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library, and a Writing Dark Fantasy and Horror workshop for the Thompson Writing Guild (Thanks ACI for having me, and thanks to the city of Thompson and the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for sending me north!). As a part of the teen writing workshop I also edited an anthology of my students’ work (Shine a Light and it’s available at Millennium Library if you want to check it out), there’s some excellent young writers coming up in this province, I assure you.

Okay, so, how bad was last year for actually making my goals:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Pretty bad (this is probably why I never do New Year’s resolutions).

I finally finished a draft of Too Far Gone, and have done a couple revision passes, but it’s not handed in yet. It will be by month’s end, but it’s no longer 2014, is it?

Conventions fared better, I went to more conventions this year than any year prior. In fact, I doubled down on the convention in a new city goal by attending World Horror Con in Portland, Oregan, and World Fantasy Con in Washington, D.C. What I’ve realized for a long time, and still need to find a better way to implement, is how to be more productive while I’m on the road.

Most of my revision energy went into Too Far Gone this year, I made some progress on the first book in a potential new series, but it’s not ready for submission yet. Which is why I bowed out of committing to NaNoWrimo early this year, I’d hoped to have Too Far Gone off to first readers by end of October so that I could NaNo guilt-free, but that didn’t work out, and so I didn’t see the point in dodging one deadline, while adding another first draft to the pile.

I was more diligent with submitting my short fiction at the beginning of the year, I also identified some new markets, and did some research into reprint markets and audio markets, but as the deadline loomed for Too Far Gone that discipline fell away. Which is why I also didn’t finish up a lot of those short story drafts.

On the plus, side, a drafted a bunch of new stories. “New Year’s Eve,” a Thunder Road vignette, was published on the Ravenstone website in January. I sold “The Last Good Look” to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (releasing March 1st, 2015!), another has been accepted pending revisions/contract signing (so I won’t say any more for now) and I self-published two stories. The first self-published story “A Simple Twist of Fate” was an experiment. I didn’t have anything new for the Winnipeg Comic Con (C4) this year, so wrote a  new Thunder Road story, hired an illustrator for the cover and interior illustrations and had it printed to look like a comic book. That was a rousing success. I’ll definitely do more of those (thanks Kevin Madison for the art, Samantha Beiko for the book design, and GMB Chomichuk for the idea). The second story I self-published, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks,” also a Thunder Road story, was published on my website, as a thank you to my readers (because you’ve been awesome to me). I’ve also got two other stories that I drafted that have to be polished for submission, and the first 10000 words of a novella in the can.

Those comic scripts are almost there…One has finished art, and me and the artist just need to get together and sign off that we’re both happy and we can send it to the editor. The other script just needs one or two more passes, and I’ll send it in to the editor so he can find me an artist.

And for this year:

  • Finish Too Far Gone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • Get those old stories polished and out the door (which I think will also help the goal above from getting lost in the shuffle)
  • Write and submit at least two new short stories.
  • Write a script for a secret comic project with Samantha Beiko.
  • Say no to more “author” stuff and yes to more “writing” stuff.
  • Keep better track of my daily word count output.

I’m not planning to make a run at NaNo this year. If Too Far Gone releases when I think it will in the fall, then I’ll probably be touring in November. I played that game in 2013 and it was a wee bit stressful. I’ve been keeping track of my daily word count since I saw this post by Jamie Todd Rubin, and it’s definitely helping to motivate me. At times it didn’t feel like I was writing very much, since a lot of my time was spent revising, but after only twelve days, I see that all the those new words I sneak in while I rewrite are adding up to a page or two of new material a day. Seeing that I’ve got a few hundred words down, makes me want to add to them. I’ve never actually tracked my words for a full year, so I’m curious how it’ll shake down.

Finally, my goals for the month of January:

  • Finish Too Far Gone  (I have to, that’s my deadline)
  • Turn in a review of Owl and the Japanese Circus for The Winnipeg Review
  • Submit a story to Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe

Write on!

Happy Holidays! Have a Thunder Road Short Story!

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own. You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

As a thank you, I wrote you this story for the holidays.

I considered calling it “Merry Christmas, I Don’t Want to Fight” but decided to go with something more traditional. I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” with my compliments.

Continue reading

December Goals

For the last couple months, I only had one thing on my to do list.

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

Well? How’d I do?

The End of Too Far Gone

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

YEAH. That finally happened.

Finally.

And while I currently feel like this:

Walrus-o

and this:

Loki Yeah

I also know there is a ton of work left to do before deadline. I made some rather major changes in what I thought the narrative would be in this draft–ended up cutting over 30000 words in addition to the 15000 or so I added to the manuscript. It was a hard cut, but I think the book will be better for it. And… for the first time since I started working on Too Far Gone, it actually feels like a book and not a loose collection of scenes. I almost didn’t make the deadline. It was down to the last day, but I wrote about 4000 words on the 30th to finish off the last two chapters and type “THE END”.

New month, new goals:

  • Clean my office.
  • Finish another draft of Too Far Gone.
  • Write something for the fun of it over my Christmas holidays (Not sure if this will be my superhero story for Tesseracts 19, or my sekkrit project for the Illuminaughty, or both).
  • Maybe take a run at a couple of those yearly goals that can still feasibly be reached.

Write on!

November Goals

I’d meant to get this post live well before I left for the World Fantasy Convention, but with preparation, and a ticket snafu, and getting ready for C4 the week earlier, it just didn’t happen. So a bit late, but here we are.

Last month, I only had one thing on my to do list.

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

Well? How’d I do?

Not great. Too Far Gone isn’t done. I am closer to the end of this draft, and I made it through some chapters that were giving me a hard time, so it should be smoother sailing from here on out (at least until I start editing this draft). As it turns out, a month where I had two conventions and an out of province wedding to attend was not the best time to make this goal.

I still have a hard time with working on the road. I managed some, but obviously not enough. I’m just glad for the write-off I attended with some friends near the end of October. That weekend saw 7000 new words of connective tissue added, 2000 superfluous words cut, and three chapters completed or I’d be a lot further behind. There is still time, but my window is closing. Every day it feels like my time to write is getting shorter (because it is) and that I’m trapped in this draft the way Indiana Jones was trapped in the Temple of Doom.

Indiana Jones We are going to die.

No, not really.

(But maybe?)

Last week I made another play at working while traveling, while en route to the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, D.C. This time things went significantly better than they did on my previous two trips. I listened to some advice from Ottawa writer Derek

Okay, November Goals…second verse, same as the first.

  • Finish current draft of Too Far Gone.

Now that I’m home, and there’s no more travel on the horizon predicted until April 2015, I should be able to concentrate a lot harder on this draft (and the next–and probably the one after that, too). Hope everyone else’s goals are being met! I’ll try to have a roundup of my time at WFC posted soon too.

Write on!

Central Canada Comic Con 2014 Roundup

Well…that went well.

Another C4 is in the bag, and I feel like it was an unqualified success. Artist’s Alley was moved away from the main exhibition hall this year. I was worried that being away from the bigger vendors and the celebrity guests would hurt the artists, a worry made more serious by a slow Friday, but it really didn’t. I’ll admit to being concerned about that, given that I’d printed up a book just for the con, but Saturday and Sunday more than made up for that. Artist’s Alley was packed most of the weekend. We also had better lighting, a brighter, more cheerful space, and (and I can’t stress this enough) carpeted floor. That carpet made a huge difference with all the standing I had to do over the weekend.

I’d brought my tablet to do some writing, as there had been slow times last year where I could really dive in and get some words, but that wasn’t the case this year. There was always someone to talk to so not a lot of writing got done, other than a few messily scrawled notes to self in my notebook.

I shared a booth with Samantha Beiko, GMB Chomichuk, Ryan Roth Bartel, and Jeff Martin and had a blast. There were a bunch of other awesome folks in Artist’s Alley this year, Lovern Kindzierski, Scott Henderson, Nyco Rudolph, Scott A. Ford, Sierra Dean, and the Burst Books crew (Ron Hore and Leia Getty).

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Sam ended up doing a Tilda sketch in her Valkyrie Books Dream Book. Which was pretty awesome.

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Okay, this couple was just to perfect not to take a picture. I was wearing a Thor shirt of my own, and Sam is a huge She-Hulk fan. They were kind enough to pose with our books.

I talked to lots of folks, and it was surprising how many people stopped by who had actually read my books. Sales aside, the convention was totally worth it for the young man who stopped dead when he saw Thunder Road and realized that I was the author. His enthusiasm for my work certainly helped keep me energized over the 13 hours I was in Artist’s Alley on Saturday.

My limited print run Thunder Road short story “A Simple Twist of Fate” was a success also. I didn’t sell out, but I sold a lot of copies. It was also great to have something new for the people who bought Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues last year. Credit where credit is due, I got the idea from GMB Chomichuk and his Raygun Gothic limited print runs and Kevin Madison knocked it out of the park with the art, as did Samantha Beiko with the book’s design.

A Simple Twist of Fate

Too Far Gone releases next fall, so there will be a new novel in time for next year’s Central Canada Comic Con, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of having another new convention exclusive short to debut at C4 2015. We’ll see, no promises on that front yet. Too Far Gone needs to come first.

Kevin Madison, the artist of “A Simple Twist of Fate” was in town to surprise his mother with a visit, and he had time to run by the con, which was awesome. He even happened to be there when someone was buying the story, and got to do a signing and sketchfor her.

Chad & Kev ASTOF

Just when I thought I was about to lose my voice, it was time to sit down with Dan Vadeboncouer and Kenton Larsen for the Media Nerds Podcast. We talked a bit about my books and writing, but dove quickly into geeking out about movies and television, and discussing Star Wars (as happens from time to time). At the end, I gave a big shoutout to Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.

Met Edmonton artist and writer Jeff Martin. Jeff’s done lots of cons and had some cool tips that I’ll try to incorporate into future ventures. There’s still a few things I need to take care of if I want to start doing more of these types of cons. Better signage for one. Maybe some ancillary things like buttons or magnets for sale. Again, we’ll see. I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact I’m there to sell books.

I usually end up leaving C4 with all kinds of swag and 2014 was no different.  I thought I wasn’t going to buy any more art, as I still haven’t hung up everything from last year, but the heart wants what it wants. I got it in my head to get a Dr. Fate and Zatanna original sketch, but I couldn’t find the artist I was hoping to do it, so instead I may have commissioned a (modified) Dr. Fate helmet from Rampant Design. Clearly I cannot be left alone at my own table. I will turn all of my profits into swag.

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Picked up a copy of Scott Henderson’s new graphic novel, Chronicles of Era.

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And got a pretty sweet sketch inside too.

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Jeff Martin and I traded books. I sent him home with a copy of Thunder Road and now I’ve got a book about Space Wrestlers to read.

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In a happy surprise, I found that I’m an entry in the Manitoba Authors colouring book fundraiser being done by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

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My book came with Black, Grey, and Orange crayons. I might also draw some hair sticking out the sides of that hat…

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I didn’t find the entire Beau Smith/Mitch Byrd Guy Gardner Warrior run, but this was a good start. One of my favourite issues, illustrated by Phil Jimenez, and Supermullet Superman? Gold.

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Nyco Rudolph bills his work as “Art for people who are classy as fuck” so I’m pretty chuffed to be putting this “Viking as Fuck” print up on my wall.

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Fantastic old school print by Donovan Yaciuk, creator of Spacepig Hamadeus.

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Talked to Hope Nicholson, who Kickstarted the return of Canada’s first superheroine, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, and scored a couple of sweet prints. Wished I would have remembered to bring my Nelvana collection with me though, it would be nice to have it signed.

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A while back I commissioned an original Tilda drawing from Scott Henderson that was inspired by Tombstone Blues. Man did he deliver. Pictured here are a signed print, and the original inked page. You can still see the pencil marks in places. I love it.

TILDA_VALKYRIE_C copy

Just look at it. God. I can’t wait to see what he cooks up for Too Far Gone.

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STAY VIGILANT!

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Finally got my hands on volume 2 of Raygun Gothic!

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And a sketch of Ghost Doctor 13 (And his sidekick, the brain of Neils Bohr)!

Who is Ghost Doctor 13?

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Time to read and find out.

COSTUMES!

I’m not much of a cosplayer myself. I can barely find the energy to dress up for Halloween these days (I went as Darkest Timeline Chadwick this year). But I love seeing the folks who go all out. And comic conventions are full of the highest concentration of balls out great costumes you’re likely to find anywhere.

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These vikings were awesome.

There were a lot of Poison Ivys this year (I suppose as costumes go, that one is evergreen. Bah dum bum), and lots of Harley Quinns. There always are. Fewer Adventure Time costumes than last year, to my disappointment. Newly popular were the Winter Soldiers, Quicksilvers, and Rocket Raccoons and Groots–not surprised by that at all given how sweet they were in their various movies.

Jessica Quicksilver

My favourite Quicksilver of the weekend.

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I’m always on the lookout for good Thor and Loki cosplay, and these were two of my favourites of the weekend.

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YES.

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Sweet Baroness.

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One of my favourite clever costumes. Not picture: Bat Sandals and Spider Sandals.

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Props to this guy, who needed two helpers to maneuver him through the crowd.

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“Pizza for I.C. Weiner? Awww, crud.”

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If I could’ve found a knit brain slug to stick on my head, I totally would’ve bought one.

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Boba Fett sucks, but this costume does not.

Another great year!

Write on!

A Simple Twist of Fate–A Central Canada Comic Con Exclusive Thunder Road Short Story

Central Canada Comic Con is this weekend and I’ve been cooking up something special to debut for my readers: an original Thunder Road story!

Comics are a huge reason why I’m a reader and I’ve always kind of wanted to see my name on a comic book. So I made one.

Sort of.

“A Simple Twist of Fate” is a short adventure starring the hero of Thunder Road, Ted Callan. It’s an illustrated story that I had printed to look like a comic. The printer just dropped my copies off and they look gorgeous! This project came out of talks with GMB Chomichuk, and the coolness of the limited print editions of his Raygun Gothic comic (seriously, check it out). “A Simple Twist of Fate” takes place after the events of Tombstone Blues for the continuity nerds out there. Cover and interior illustrations are by Kevin Madison, and book design is by Samantha Beiko.

Here’s a peek at the cover image:

TR ASTOF Cover Finished

There will only ever be 200 of these. Come by Booth 328 to find these signed and numbered bad boys (and me!).

Write on.