Western Canadian Tour Roundup

Alberta was a blast, as always.

Edmonton was my first stop on the western leg of my Too Far Gone book tour. I love Edmonton, it feels a lot like Winnipeg to me, which is sort of like saying it feels like home.

My first night in Edmonton I had an event at Audreys Books.

Audreys 1 BGS

(Photo courtesy of Barb Galler-Smith)

Fuck. I look exhausted. Which…I guess I was. Alberta followed on the heels of C4, an event in Toronto, and World Fantasy Con. I also had one of my worst flights in recent memory: surrounded by screaming toddlers, someone tried to steal my seat, and a flight attendant accidentally (I presume) spat in my eye.

If you weren’t able to make it to my launch at Audreys Books, here’s a bit of my preamble to my reading.

I love coming to Edmonton! One of the things that I always try to do while I’m here is walk across the High Level Bridge—which, Eileen Bell warned me, was the only thing I wasn’t allowed to destroy in Too Far Gone.

You have no idea how nervous it made me to bring the book—and Ted Callan—back to Edmonton. I half wanted to kick off the book here, so I could escape before anyone had read the book, in case I got your city all wrong.

But Edmonton has always been very welcoming to me, and in a way, feels more like home to me than any other city in Canada other than Winnipeg. I loved prowling your streets, and writing in, and about Edmonton.

I read one of my favourite bits of Too Far Gone, which is early in the book, and sets the tone well, I think without spoiling much of the book, or needing to over-explain the previous two novels; the scene where Ted takes in a black metal concert outside of Saskatoon.

Thanks though, to everyone who came out and and asked questions, and joined me for a bite to eat and few drinks afterward. And big thanks to everyone who picked up a book, because you got Too Far Gone to #3 on the Edmonton Journal bestseller list!

Edmonton Journal Bestseller

I unfortunately don’t have any photos of Eileen Bell’s launch of Drowning in Amber at Variant Edition. Eileen was gracious enough to ask me along to do a reading with her. It was a blast! Definitely Eileen’s crowd, there was only a handful of mutual acquaintances, but I still sold lots of books. Thanks, Eileen’s friends and family! And thanks, Variant Edition! What a cool comic book store. Danica LeBlanc and Brandon Schatz have created something special there, and I’m really looking forward to visiting them again.

One of the things I was told early on in my writing career was not to read the same passage twice in the same city. I usually adhere to this and prepare a couple readings, so that I can also potentially play to the crowd I’ve drawn. I like to have a spooky reading and a funny reading. At Variant Edition, I went with the funny reading, a bit of Ted and Loki banter, as I I didn’t know many people, and figured “if you can make ’em laugh, at least they’ll remember you fondly.”

I also customize my preamble a bit for each event. It keeps things fresh for me, as much as anything, but it also helps when you have multiple events in the same city to keep people who attend each from zoning out before you get to that second reading.

It’s fitting that the end of the Thunder Road trip makes a stop here, in a comic book shop, because without comics, I highly doubt I would’ve become a reader—or at least, not as voracious a reader as I am. Comics were my gateway, not just to reading, but to the fantastic. To tales of high adventure. And they’ve been an influence on everything I’ve created. Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, later Mike Mignola’s Hellboy…I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m still a comic reader, and Wednesday isn’t hump day for me, it’s New Comic Book Day.

Wednesday was actually a travel day, and I was keenly feeling the fact that I hadn’t picked up my comics back home for two weeks, but it was also Remembrance Day. I’m glad my host required little prodding to bring me to one of the services in Edmonton. It took place in a place nicknamed “The Butterdome” and it was very reminiscent of the services I’ve attended in Winnipeg at the Minto Armory. I was also cautioned to avoid mocking the Butterdome until after I’d left Edmonton.

After a minor scare due to getting caught up in Whyte Avenue, I made it to my bus with minutes to spare, and headed south to Calgary.

My launch at Owl’s Nest Books was a blast. Great crowd. Great questions. Great store.


(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

In a huge surprise, Professor Michael Cichon who’d invited me to speak to his class in 2013 (and introduced me to Loki beer from Paddock Wood) at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan happened to be in Calgary, so I was glad we had a chance to catch up a bit. It was great to see so many of my friends from When Words Collide as well. Owl’s Nest is a great store, and I’m looking forward to going back some day with another book.

From my Calgary preamble:

I love coming to Calgary. I’ve made some great friends here, and your conference When Words Collide is one of the highlights of my year every August. Calgary also hosted the first SF&F convention I ever attended, and if it wasn’t for the great friends I’ve made along the way since, I probably wouldn’t have thought to make Ted Albertan. Now I just hope you’ll forgive me for making him from Edmonton.

I snuck in a signing at Indigo Signal Hill on Friday thanks to Stacey Kondla (another great WWC person) and it went well. Signal Hill is a huge store with a great SF&F and Graphic Novel collection.

Indigo Signal Hill SK

(Photo courtesy of Stacey Kondla)

I’ve admired the work Kevin Madison has done for his Prix Aurora nominated “Thunder Road Trip” art blog of his reading of my trilogy for ages. It’s one of the reasons I specifically commissioned art from him for “A Simple Twist of Fate” and while I was in Calgary, I got to witness him starting up the next leg of the blog after the launch:

Ted's Back KBM

So cool.

Canmore! I’ve never been to Canmore, or right in the mountains like this.

Mountains and Snow

Too bad it was cloudy and snowy so that I couldn’t see to the tops of those mountains, but it was still amazing. After a lunch at a Mexican restaurant, I headed down to Cafe Books to do my thing.

Cafe Books 2 JC

(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

Cafe Books is a wonderful store. I talked to lots of people, and signed a bunch of books. Cafe Books is labyrinthine, and seems to keep going and going. It feels like you could find anything there. I hope to return someday.

That was my tour! Thanks to Ravenstone for putting me out on the road, and the folks who put me up (and put up with me) along the way.

Write on!

Music Monday: “Optimistic” By Radiohead

It’s kind of weird getting to work on the next thing when the last thing has consumed so much of your brain space for so long. I’ve been living in the Thunder Road Trilogy for so long and everything else I’ve worked on has been cobbled together in still moments between drafts or between rounds of editorial.

The current work in progress has been in progress for a long time (it started as my NaNoWriMo novel in 2009!) but it was always the first thing I came back to when I had a chance. It was only after I’d signed off on the Too Far Gone page proofs that I really built up a head of steam on my revisions. Hitting a section of the book requiring a lot of new drafting might’ve helped, or maybe it was changing up my writing routine and writing every day before work instead of stealing time on my breaks or in the evenings, but regardless, the work in progress is almost done too. I have no idea if this next book will sell, or to who. It’s not under contract. Maybe it’ll be the one to land me an agent. Maybe it won’t. But I’ve almost got it ready for eyes other than mine.

And I’m feeling good about its chances.

Flies are buzzing around my head
Vultures circling the dead
Picking up every last crumb
The big fish eat the little ones
The big fish eat the little ones
Not my problem give me some

You can try the best you can
If you try the best you can
The best you can is good enough

Write on!

C4 Roundup

Once again, C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) proved a blast! I would’ve had this up sooner, but C4 was immediately followed by my book tour, including stops in Toronto, Saratoga Springs, NY (World Fantasy Con, woo!) and Alberta; Edmonton, Calgary, and Canmore (I already talked about WFC, but more on the western tour later).

C4 is fast becoming one of my favourite times of year (coinciding with Halloween sure doesn’t hurt). It was great to hang with my friends, and have a chance to talk with some creators that I’ve previously only known via Facebook and Twitter. I love being in Artist’s Alley surrounded by other creators. It has a great vibe. I may have even found a new local tattoo artist!

Here’s my table:


For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the finished version of Scott Henderson’s Too Far Gone art, here you go:


Needless to say, I fucking love it.

Here’s Valkyrie Books:

Valkyrie Books C4 2015

I’m so damn proud of all that Samantha Beiko accomplished with her pop-up store (even though I had nothing to do with it other than cheering her on). If her C4 booth looked this amazing, imagine what the real store will look like (someday soon, right, Sam?). Also, big thanks to her for selling copies of my books there too!

Other fun stuff this year: GMB Chomichuk and I made a book! We had lots of help from James Gillespie (one of the fine folks I got to meet this year) who co-wrote a story with Gregory, Silvia Moreno-Garcia who wrote us a kickass introduction, and Samantha Beiko who edited and designed the book, and made sure we got it printed in time for C4.


C4 was my first chance to hold the finished book in my hand. I always love getting new author copies!


GMB Chomichuk’s title page art for my Lovecraftian sword and sorcery story, “When the Gods Send You Rats.” Shared World was a blast to put together, so here’s hoping we keep the tradition going, and keep creating fun things together.

I also printed out some of my flash fiction this year. Design and illustrations by Samantha Beiko:


Some of my swag:


All art and comics this year. On the comic side, Greg Waller’s Magnitude, Donovan Yaciuk’s Spacepig Hamadeus, and some new to me September 17 books (the fine folks who did Canadian Corps). As for art, I got my signed print of Too Far Gone, and the original art from Scott Henderson, a Doctor Fate sketch by Justin Schauf, and a valkyrie print by Carly Montgomery.


Justin’s colour paper sketches are such a cool idea. I wonder who I’ll get next year…

It was a good con. In terms of sales, roughly equivalent to last year, maybe a bit better. I sold lots of books, talked to lots of people, and applied some of the lessons learned from the first two years. I still have a ways to go when it comes to being at ease with selling my work directly like this, but progress is being made. Every year, I add new display items to the arsenal, and new work to the table, so I’m really looking forward to next year. I even put my name on the waitlist for a table at the monstrosity that is the Calgary Expo.

And of course, the real reason you’re likely here: some of my favourite costumes from the weekend:




A sweet Loki cosplay. Even better, he’s a Thunder Road reader!


There was lots of unexpected, but cool cosplay. This Ugly Betty was pretty sweet. I wish I would’ve got pictures of the teen gender-swapped Columbo, and the teen Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. Someone is raising their kids right.


Wasn’t surprising to see Fury Road costumes, but this one was awesome.


Another unexpected, but awesome costume! Barf from Spaceballs! Maybe all of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens excitement is bringing attention back to that sweet parody. I’m secretly hoping Mel Brooks brings out Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money the weekend before the new Star Wars film.


Princess Mononoke!


This was one of the better Mr. Freeze costumes I’ve ever seen.


Rock and Roll all night, and every day.


Zero’s nose lit up!


More people living (dying?) right.


So. Good.


“I am not fast.”


And now it’s back to the real world, where R2-D2 almost never shows up to say hello.

Write on!

Music Monday: “Everybody Wants The Same Thing” By Scissor Sisters

Home again after a whirlwind two weeks on the road. My first week back to normality as I caught up on everything I’d missed was about as far from normal as possible.

Table Flip (Thor edition)

(Artistic representation of last week)

But…made it through. Here’s one of the songs that helped.

If you’re waiting for your wings but you just got legs
And you’re feeding all your chickens but they won’t lay eggs
When you open up your drawers and see your janky clothes
Just remember life’s in love with you but let’s suppose
That God ain’t gonna drop you no hundred dollar bill
You’re got to question your intentions
‘Cause the bad ones kill

Everybody wants the same thing
Everybody wants the same thing
No trading places on the chain gang
It doesn’t matter how you swing it
Everybody wants the same thing

Write on!

World Fantasy Convention and Bakka Phoenix Launch Roundup

I love going to World Fantasy Con. I made a stop in Saratoga Springs, New York as a part of my book tour. The 2008 WFC in Calgary was my first real convention, and it set a pretty damned high bar. This year’s WFC was fun, but different.

My plan was to drive down from Toronto with friends as the convention hotel was hell and gone away from an airport (The ChiZine folks make excellent road trip buddies).

And since I had to go through Toronto to get to Saratoga Springs, I thought why not have a book launch for Too Far Gone there too? I finally got to see Bakka Phoenix’s new store (not new to pretty much everybody but me, by this time) and it’s a great space. Thanks so much Chris Szego and everyone at Bakka for hosting me, and thanks to all the readers who showed up and asked questions and bought books.

I didn’t take in any panels at WFC this year, instead concentrating on catching up with friends and colleagues that I only get to see at WFC or other non-western Canada cons. The only programming I took in other than the book launch parties and awards banquet were a couple of readings. Marie Bilodeau was fun as always. And there was a trio of former Winnipeggers all reading from their fantasies, so as a current ‘Peg fantasy writer, I had to show up and support them (not that they needed it). Great readings by Steve Erikson, David Keck, and Ian C. Esslemont.

I almost mustered the will to try Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon, being sold for the modest price of $55 an ounce (USD), but my Winnipeg cheapskate nature kicked in at the last second, and I tried a lesser, but less expensive, bourbon for the first time.

I haven’t been to the WFC banquet in a while, but I was glad I took in this year’s. It was amazing to be there for my friends Brett Savory and Sandra Kastury winning an award for their work with ChiZine Publications. Excelsior, Brett and Sandra. Excelsior. I was also very happy that I could be there to see Helen Marshall pick up her World Fantasy Award. It was also cool to get to travel back to Toronto in the winning car.

What a blast, what a blast. Of the business-related conversations I had at WFC, it’s too early to say if anything will come of them, but there could be many exciting opportunities in the next couple of years. If you want to know more than that, sorry, nothing I can report yet. WFC 2015 had lots of great conversations, meeting lots new folks who seemed fun. I hope we’ll stay in touch, or see each other next year, or in the future. Not sure I can make next year. It’s scheduled for the same weekend as C4 here in Winnipeg, and WFC 2016 is in Columbus (not a direct flight from Winnipeg, and I was there in 2010) I’m leaning towards staying home. World Fantasy 2017 is in San Antonio. Texas! Everything’s bigger in Texas, right? Might be a fun year to return.

Write on!

November Goals

November will be busy. I’m on the road for almost half the month, so things’ll be light around here in the goal department, other than having fun on tour.

  • Have fun on tour. World Fantasy Con is on deck and I always have a blast there, but first I’m doing a reading at Bakka Phoenix! I haven’t seen the new (to me, not so new to everyone else) location yet, and I can’t wait. I’m reading at some other venues for the first time this tour too, so thanks, Bakka Phoenix, Owl’s Nest, and Variant Edition for welcoming me, and thanks as always, Audreys, for your continued support.
  • Finish the current draft of my novel work-in-progress (I am close, and this might be unrealistic with two weeks on the road, but I’m gonna try).
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

And what about October, you ask?

Here’s how it went:

  • Two more chapters locked on the WiP
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.
  • More blogs to write!
  • Get that unsubmitted short story I’ve been plugging away at out the door.
  • My annual reread of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, one chapter a night, for the thirty-one nights of October. I started this personal tradition last year, and it’s a great excuse to revisit an old favourite.

Nice. Glad I got everything done.

October was pretty intense, but my new writing routine of words before work seems to be working. It was my best month for new words since May. In addition to new words, I managed to lock four chapters, rather than two, in the WiP, which is why I’ve made the big November goal of finishing the current draft of the book. Really starting to get a head of steam up on this one near the end of the draft, so I hope I can maintain that, despite being on the road for two weeks.

It’s a lot easier to keep the short fiction on submission when make it a routine. All my stories that were available to submit in October are back out in the world. AND: I finally added another story to the pile. Godspeed you weird little Mennonite Magical Realism yarn! I also got another short story revised in time to make an anthology deadline. It’s another Thunder Road yarn, pretty much all new characters, but a familiar venue, and a couple nods to book one. I really like the heroine, so I hope readers will too.

I wrote some blogs. I would’ve liked to blog more, but with the fence done various other things around the house chimed in saying: Fix me. Replace me. So…I’m just gonna cross this one off the list, and back away slowly.

Every time I reread A Night in the Lonesome October (pretty much every time I read any Zelazny, really), I find something new, or something I’ve forgotten. I wonder if that’s a nature of taking a leisurely month to reread what is otherwise a short novel. Maybe next year, I’ll glut myself on the book in one day (Halloween, natch) and see how that changes the experience.

Write on!


Music Monday: “Fett’s Vette” By MC Chris

So… I was at C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) this weekend…and I’m getting a wee bit excited for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and a little disappointed to be back in the real world where R2-D2 won’t swing by to visit, so here you go:

My backpack’s got jets. Well I’m Boba the Fett.
Well I bounty hunt for Jabba Hutt to finance my ‘Vette.
Well I chill in deep space, a mask is over my face.
Well I deliver the prize but I still narrow my eyes
Coz my time I don’t like to waste. Get down!

Write on.