THIN AIR Voices From Oodena

Sunday, September 23rd I read from Thunder Road at the Oodena Celebration Circle. This is one of my very favourite places in Manitoba, and it’s hard not to feel moved standing in this unique and magical space.

Enjoy a little taste of Thunder Road:

I was joined on stage by Sarah Klassen, France Adams, Rhea Tregebov and Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, and I hope you’ll give their readings a watch also.

Sunday Interview

The kind and generous Susan Rocan, author of Withershins, posted an interview with yours truly on her blog today.

Sunday Interview #17: Chadwick Ginther

Please leave your clicks and likes on Susan’s blog, if you’re so inclined.

Also, another reminder that I’ll be reading from Thunder Road at THIN AIR tonight. If you were at my launch, I will be reading a different passage. Feel free to come and find me after the event, I’d be happy to sign books, chat, and foist some (temporary) tattoos upon you (Development of Norse Powers Not Guaranteed).

Lurching Home From Brandon

Home from Brandon now, and I had a blast attending Corey Redekop’s reading of Husk at the Evans Theatre. I tagged along with Corey and THIN AIR GM, Perry Grosshans, for the drive out. It was cool to see a bunch of my Prairiecon gaming buddies come out for the event, and to see Brandon SF writer Patrick Johanneson on his home turf. A great (and also gross) reading from the book preceded a brief Q&A, and then Corey signed a bunch of books.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Husk, AKA the Great Canadian Gay Mennonite Zombie novel, here’s the book trailer:

After the signing, the Evans Theatre screened the new Canadian Zombie Comedy (don’t call it a Zomedy, PLEASE) A Little Bit Zombie. The movie was a riot, the cast was great, and the audience was laughing out loud. I’ll definitely watch the flick again, as there were a bunch of jokes I’m sure I missed in that laughter. Also, if I ever see a can of Tactical Bacon at Safeway, I’ll be buying it.

Check out the trailer for A Little Bit Zombie:

Thanks Perry and Corey, for letting me join you for the ride out, and thanks to writing chum, Shen Braun, for letting me crash at your house, without your generosity, I probably would have missed an awesome event.

THIN AIR Begins And Other News…

THIN AIR, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, starts today. I’ll be lurching my way to Brandon with the other zombies to take in Corey Redekop’s reading of Husk at the Evans Theatre prior to a screening of A Little Bit Zombie. Corey’s book looks great (read a bit at work yesterday…sssssh!) and the movie looks hilarious. Throw in a chance to hang out with some of my old Brandon chums, and my festival is already off to a great start.

Normally I’m the guy in the audience (when I’m not sitting behind the book table), but I’m not just attending THIN AIR this year, I get to participate. I’ll be reading from Thunder Road 7 pm Sunday, September 23rd at the Oodena Celebration Circle at the Forks. Hope to see you there! And, as an added bonus, my promotional temporary tattoos have arrived. Who wouldn’t want my name semi-permanently inscribed on their body? Track me down after the reading and I’ll happily sign books/hand out tattoos.

After two weeks at the top of the at #3 on the Winnipeg Free Press bestseller list. Pretty awesome result for the book’s third week of release. Huge congratulations to Katherena Vermette, her poetry collection North End Love Songs took the top spot. I attended her launch, and it was a blast. She’s a great poet and an awesome person. Congrats are also due to my fellow Turnstone Press authors, Kristian Enright and Katherine Bitney, who rounded out this week’s fiction list. My editor, Wayne Tefs, is also a very accomplished writer, and his new book, On the Fly hit #2 on the non-fiction list. Look for this book to have some serious legs through the fall and winter. The longer the NHL lockout lasts, the more Winnipeg Jets fans will reach out for any taste of hockey.

The latest issue of Prairie books NOW is kicking around. I interviewed David Annandale about his horror novel Gethsemane Hall for this issue. Next issue, THIN AIR GM Perry Grosshans will be interviewing me about Thunder Road–very cool.

Speaking of cool… another review rolled in today. This one is from blog Speculating Canada and it is amazing! I’ve reviewed a lot of books in my writing career thus far, and while I’m obviously pleased at how much reviewer Derek Newman-Stille loved the book, I also appreciate how well-crafted this review was. Speculating Canada has already been a huge supporter of my book, in addition to quoting lines from Thunder Road on the blog, I have an interview with Derek in the pipeline. Speculating Canada is definitely the Canadian SpecFic blog to watch.

That’s all for now, back to the salt mines of editing before I can let the fun start…

Write on!

First Review Is In!

Well that’s a bit of a load off.

Thunder Road has its first review in. And it’s a good one. Today the Winnipeg Free Press called the book “a creative fantasy” and “an excellent first novel” saying it “delivers fast-paced action and witty dialogue.” You can read the entire review here.

Another nice surprise was to see Thunder Road atop the local sales chart again. It was a good week for Manitoban writers, as Thunder Road was joined by Katherena Vermette’s North End Love Songs, David Annandale’s Gethsemane Hall, and Jeffrey John Eyamie’s Zombie Princess Apocalypse. David’s book is one of the spookiest reads I’ve had in a long time, and after attending Katherena’s launch, I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of her poetry.

So, I’m sorry lovers of bondage and Twilight fan-fic, you’ll have to wait at least one more week for 50 Shades of Grey to return to the top. But fair warning, I don’t plan on leaving quietly…

Holidays Are Over… So How’d I Do?

Let’s look back at my accountability checklist and see how successful I was:

So, here’s the list, if it’s crossed off, I got it done:

  • Choose the passage I’ll be reading for my Thunder Road launch.
  • Attend my own book launch.
  • Don’t screw up my own book launch.
  • Choose the passage I’ll be reading for my THIN AIR appearance.
  • Finish the current (3rd) draft of Tombstone Blues (four chapters and a short epilogue left to look at).
  • Walk the Winnipeg locations of Tombstone Blues for veracity & feeling (this will be repeated in the fall, as the novel is set in November).
  • Arrange research trip to the virus lab.
  • Actually go to the virus lab.
  • Start 4th draft of Tombstone Blues.
  • Finish 4th draft of Tombstone Blues.
  • Finish my story for submission to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Dead North anthology.
  • Go back to the drawing board (notebook?) and completely redraft my Urban Green Man short story so that I’m not embarrassed to have Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine read it.
  • Revise two short stories that On Spec offered to take a second look at in their next submissions period.
  • Write a guest blog for As You Were.
  • Write a new blog post every day.
  • Update a few things on my website.
  • Answer interview questions for my first confirmed interview.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a horror story for when John Joseph Adams’ Nightmare Magazine reopens to submissions.
  • Brainstorm ideas for the forthcoming Innsmouth Free Press anthology Swords and Mythos.
  • Dust off an old, too-long short story to see if I can resurrect it as a novelette or novella for Innsmouth’s new Jazz Age Cthulhu venture.
  • Dust off my 2nd draft of a Sword and Sorcery manuscript and give it a reread, as I’ve been itching to get back to it lately.
  • Look at the outline for the as-yet-untitled third book in the Thunder Road trilogy.
  • Most importantly, write new damn words, every damn day.

Blogging everyday. I did it, but this is something that is so not going to happen again for the foreseeable future. Maybe when Tombstone Blues is coming out and I’m doing the promotional stuff for it. It was cool to see all of the increased (and certainly more regular) traffic to the blog, though. September has already seen more website hits than my previous best month (which was August, when I started my crazy blogging pledge, and August was twice as busy as any other month). However, blogging time is also time I’d could be using drafting new stories and novels. So I’m going keep to my original pledge of one blog a week, and try to find a schedule for blogging that’ll be the best of both worlds.

As for updates to the website: I added a Facebook “like” button for the Thunder Road Trilogy page on the sidebar, as well as added links to click on archives. I love the user-friendly nature of WordPress and its widgets! My THIN AIR reading was added to the Appearances page. I also put up a Bibliography page (incomplete at the moment–haven’t tracked down links for all of my book reviews yet–but it hits most of the highlights) and added contact info to my About page.

As for what didn’t get done…

Short stories took the biggest hit. I didn’t revise those stories for On Spec (too many revisions going on with Tombstone Blues, I guess). I didn’t finish my Dead North story (I do have a new draft, but it’s nowhere near submission ready). I read over the story I thought would work for Jazz Age Cthulhu, forgot it was set post World War II, so that will have to change, but I also have some notes for a 1920s era story that I didn’t end up writing that can be sewn on Frankenstein-like to maybe make the other too long short story into a proper length novella.  It’s not crossed off the list, because I didn’t put any real consideration into how I was going to do that sewing.

I didn’t get to the Sword and Sorcery manuscript, but I did brainstorm ideas for my eventual submission to Innsmouth Free Press’s Sword and Mythos anthology. I think the story will be in the same world as the novel (and, incidentally, the same world as my story in Fungi), so I did a bit of extra noodling about with characters and worldbuilding of nations and culture, but not nearly enough to count it a win.

I did start that 4th draft of Tombstone Blues, but only barely, and hit none of my location research goals. Not the end of the world, and as I was planning on revisiting most of them again in the fall anyway…probably not surprising they got shunted aside. They were time away from the keyboard after all.

I also realize I should’ve added “clean my office” to that list, as it needed to be done, and it’s one of the go-to procrastination items on every writer’s list. At least I would’ve been able to say “at least it’s on the accountability checklist” this time around. Because it wasn’t on the list, I think I only succeeded in moving some piles around while I was hiding from work.

A few other things came up: I booked an interview on CJOB’s The Book Club and another with blogger and fellow author Susan Rocan over on mywithershins.

All in all, I got quite a bit of work done, although I was surprised by how much time preparations for the launch required. Probably due to it being a new experience. Hopefully future launches won’t require the same amount of nail biting or detail-oriented worrying. In case they do, however, I don’t think I’ll plan a writing “holiday” around the same time as an event. While it was nice to have the time free to blog, to prepare, the immediacy of promotion definitely ate into the drafting of new words. I’m glad I put the list up for public consumption though. I know I accomplished more because of it. Maybe I should should post a monthly accountability checklist…

So, how do you think I did?

Review Anxiety

The launch is over. I’ve done my reading. I’ve signed a bunch of books. That means one thing:

Thunder Road doesn’t belong to me anymore.

The book is in the hands of readers (and so I’ve been told, reviewers), and once published, books really do belong to the reader not the writer. I had things I wanted to accomplish in writing this novel, and I think I accomplished those things, but it’s impossible to really say. Until the reviews roll in.

And so I sit, and wait, and hope. Wait for my first formal review. Hope that the Winnipeg Free Press reviews the book and that is a positive one (ten years of bookselling has shown me that a good Freep review will do more for a book locally than pretty much any other review). Will Quill and Quire or the Globe and Mail choose to review the book, so that it gets attention on a national, rather than only a provincial scale? When will word on Twitter and Facebook, or comments on this site and notices from other bloggers start to roll in? What willl they say?

I’m trying not to obsess about it. It will happen when and if it happens, and those reviews will say what they say. If following publishing and authors behaving badly over a negative review has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no money in responding to negative review. Or a bad review for that matter. And while I don’t think the two are the same thing, it’s best to keep your nose out of either hornet’s nest.

Telling the reviewer they’re wrong, or trying to explain what they missed, or sending your friends and family to gang up on them proves one thing, and it’s not that you were right and they were wrong. It proves you’re unprofessional. I don’t want to be that guy, and the solution is simple. Just don’t be that guy. I’m sure my resolve will be tested. I’m sure I will want to respond to a review at some point in my career.

But I won’t.

And so, while I wait to see how the book is received it’s hard not to wonder, and worry, about what might be said; what might be inferred that I didn’t say and never intended. The more I consider it, the more I feel it’s not unlike submitting the book to a publisher in the first place; It’s just a level up in the game of waiting and hoping. I weathered the previous one, I’l make it through this too.

Write on.

Thunder Road Launch Roundup, Part The Second

I’ve mostly recovered from my first book launch. Thanks again to everyone who came out on Thursday. I was so wired afterward that I don’t think I slept a wink.

As problems go, I’ll take it.

Knowing that space as I do, my best booksellerly (it’s a perfectly cromulent word)

estimate of attendance would be around 250 people.  Wendy even overheard a customer who saw the crowd say: “who the hell is reading tonight, James Patterson?”

I’ll take that too.

McNally events maestro, John Toews, gave me a lovely and professional introduction, hitting all the highlights of my writing career thus far, and I’m sure that Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, my editors for the Fungi anthology will appreciate that John (who is a huge fan of things eldritch and Lovecraftian) also singled out Innsmouth Free Press and my story “First They Came for the Pigs” in front of the crowd. Even sweeter than the professional introduction, was the very personal one that my dear Wendy offered up. She likes public speaking even less than I do, but she stood up there, and she fucking rocked it. My Grinch heart grew three more sizes in that moment.



I told the crowd that while I was preparing I felt that I was writing a toast for a wedding. I was surrounded by family, friends, acquaintances, and yes, even some strangers (in some ways, that was the most thrilling thing, that someone had seen the poster and thought that looks cool and decided to attend). I’m also sure a few people were drunk when I hit the podium (and certainly were by the end of the night, judging by how much wine Turnstone put out. I know I had a couple or three by the time the line was done. Woo!).

People seemed to like my intro, and laughed where I hoped they would, which was a relief. I’m not a natural public speaker. I can’t hop up to a podium and extemporize and have it go well. The most stressful part of a reading for me is what to say before  I start reading. Once the book comes out, I’m on script and feel fine.

Again, because I’m not a natural performer, I rehearse my readings to ensure good pacing and change of inflection. I’ve been to at least three hundred readings over the last ten years, and so I like to think I’ve absorbed a bit about what works and doesn’t. I chose a passage from the beginning of Thunder Road so that I didn’t have to spend five minutes explaining backstory, and read for about ten minutes, trying to leave the story on a tense moment, hoping the audience will need to know what happens next. Judging by the Winnipeg Free Press Bestseller list, it worked.

Because of the size of the audience and the fact that I knew there were a number of out of Winnipeg guests (hello, Morden, Darlingford, Miami, and Brandon!) who still had to drive home on a work night, I decided against doing a question and answer period. If any of you were in the audience and had a question you wanted to ask me, drop me a line in the comments, and I’ll be happy to chime in with my two cents.

The Thunder Road launch was also a reunion of sorts. My teachers from the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th grade were in the audience, as was my junior high principal. I’m sure every time I said “fuck” it brought back old times for him (I was an early adopter of profanity, even I mostly kept it hidden from authority figures). There were tons of local writers in the crowd, and Robert J. Sawyer, who provided the cover blurb for my book) flew in from Toronto to attend.

After the reading, I was presented with a block mounted, enlarged version of my author photo. I had absolutely no idea that McNally Robinson planned to enshrine me on their wall of writers, so surprise well-kept folks. This is a store where the staff go above and beyond every damn day–I also joked that I liked to think that maybe they gave me just a little bit extra above and beyond, and boy did they ever deliver. So thank you, once again, to my fellow booksellers, here in Winnipeg, and to booksellers every where else.

I was also surprised with gifts of whiskey (Irish and Kentucky), Odin Stones hand picked from Gimli’s beach, a beautiful photo album (which will become my record of the evening) and a very cool caricature card drawn by my friend and former co-worker Phil Hayes. John Toews also arranged to have a soundtrack of sorts playing for the evening with the songs I used as chapter titles. For those of you who know my taste in music hearing this in the store was totally worth the labour of writing a book.


This isn’t the first time I’ve scrawled my name and defaced a book or magazine. When I sold “First Light” to On Spec, I signed copies for friends and family. At Edmonton’s Pure Speculation festival in November 2011 I signed my first signature for a stranger (though Cath Jackal isn’t a stranger any longer!). Recently at When Words Collide in Calgary, after the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy fall launch I signed my name over my story “Back in Black” in a bunch of copies of Tesseracts 16. This was very different however. With the pressure to move a long line efficiently, and wanting each of the signatures to be heartfelt and unique, I often found myself scrambling for something to write. My publisher warned me to come up with a few stock taglines to sign with, and I did, but let me tell you, in the moment, it’s a lot harder than it sounds to remember them. Sometimes, you go to sign a book and you just have nothing. One more thing to work on. You learn more about this business of being and author every day.

You also learn to watch what you say on Facebook. I made a professional wrestling reference and thanks to David Nowacki of Cult Couch infamy, this was happened:



Thunder Road Winnipeg Launch Roundup, Part The First…

I have no brain remaining after last night’s launch. I am still processing the astounding response. Truly humbling. I’ll try to post with more detail (and coherence) tomorrow. To tide you over, here’s a few photos:


If I’d known they were going to warn people, I might have read a different passage…


So that giant photo of me on the easel is going to be up on the wall at McNally Robinson next to folks such as Robert J. Sawyer, Guy Gavriel Kay and Steven Erikson. No pressure. Nope. None at all.


A photo to try and capture the crowd.


A book in the hand, I’m told I even managed to bump Fifty Shades of Grey off the top spot on Winnipeg’s Bestseller list.


And an action shot of the author in his natural (unnatural?) habitat.

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Valhalla


I think my first exposure to Valhalla was hearing Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song on the radio (yes, radio, I’m old). You know the one, it starts with Robert Plant doing this: “Ahhhhahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahhhhhhhhh!”

Of course, growing up near the U.S. border, I thought they were saying “Walhalla“, and wondered why they were screaming about North Dakota.

What they actually meant, was the enormous hall where Odin housed the souls of those who died in combat. These souls, gathered by the All-Father’s Valkyrie–his Choosers of the Slain–awaited Ragnarök and another battle. The last battle. They would fight jötnar and the forces of Hel herself.

It’s a weird coincidence that Valhalla is today’s post. Originally, it wasn’t meant to be. But I like that things turned out this way. Serendipity. Tonight is the launch of Thunder Road. Tonight I take my book out in search of glory. Immortality. Or, at the very least, one hell of a good time.

Valhalla, I am coming.