A Collection of Wonderful Things

Friday was a pretty awesome day for me.

The swag I ordered for C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) arrived days early.

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I bumped into Scott Henderson at Scott Ford’s Romulus + Remus launch and he showed me this Thunder Road inspired drawing that he did:

Thunder Road by Scott Henderson

I absolutely LOVE this. Do check out more of Scott’s art!

And then, when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I went to the final Mainstage night at THIN AIR and was unexpectedly presented with this:

Tombstone Blues Author Copies

Tombstone Blues is a real book! I wasn’t certain if I’d actually see a copy before I left for Can-Con in Ottawa. Turnstone did another beautiful job putting this one together. I can’t wait for you all to read it.

What a great way to start the weekend!

Write on!

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THIN AIR Anticipation Blog

THIN AIR, the Winnipeg International Writers Festival is fast approaching! It kicks off on Friday, in fact. I had a fantastic time as one of the festival’s guests last year, and am very much looking forward to taking in this year’s celebration of reading and writing as a member of the audience (If anyone out there wants to go into work for me, and take care of some of my deadlines so that I can see more of the festival, that would be lovely).

Here’s a few of the events that I’m particularly looking forward to:

A Pint of Bitter Murder: An excellent tradition at THIN AIR: readings and conversation featuring top mystery and crime fiction authors. This year, Winnipeg’s own C.C. Benison is joined by Gail Bowen at the Park Theatre.

Voices From Oodena: The Oodena story circle is my favourite place in Winnipeg. It’s an architectural wonder that doesn’t look like it belongs in this world (perfect for a fantasy writer!) and so this event has always held a special place in my heart. Oodena is a natural amphitheatre at The Forks, it really does lend itself to a magical night. Don’t miss Robert Malo, David McLeod, Colleen Nelson, John K. Samson, and John Weier.

Afternoon Book Chat With Andrew Kaufman & Lauren B. Davis: To be fair I probably won’t be able to make it to this one, I have to work, but I’d love to go. It looks like a great pairing and Charlene Diehl, Director of THIN AIR, is an insightful moderator.

Tuesday Mainstage: Changing the Family Channel: This evening features Lauren B. Davis, Andrew Kaufman, Ann Shin and Cassie Stocks. I’ve been hearing great things about Lauren B. Davis’ novel The Empty Room and I’ve recently heard that one of my very favourite publishers (the ever awesome and weird ChiZine Publications) has picked up the US rights to Lauren’s debut fantasy novel, Orphans! In Canada Orphans will be published by Harper Collins, and man… seventh-century Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, where Christianity clashes with the Old Religion and faith and magic are at war?

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

**Ahem**

I’m hoping to tease some more details from her after her reading.

Friday Mainstage: Revelations: This evening features Daniel Canty, Lauren Carter, Dennis Cooley, Andrew Pyper and Lucie Wilk. Lauren Carter’s Swarm jumped out at me immediately when I saw it in a catalogue. Looks beautiful, sounds cool and I’m always happy to see another Manitoban writing Spec Fic!

The Writing Craft: Andrew Pyper-Getting Started: The Six Ingredients You Need Before Writing Your Novel: As a committed pantser, I’m planning on checking this out to see if there’s anything that I can translate from Pyper’s “pre-writing” process to my own.

I’ve also enjoyed pretty much every one of the Big Ideas series I’ve ever attended, so do check those out too!

Write on!

When Words Collide 2013 Roundup (Finally)

I had an abbreviated, whirlwind When Words Collide weekend this year.

I arrived late on the Thursday before the convention, already running a sleep debt, and then promptly stayed up well into Friday morning catching up with my pal, tourguide and host, Kevin Madison. We left in the morning for Kananaskis so that I could do some location scouting for future stories (more on that later), and then I hit the con hotel in time to join Celeste Peters and Renee Bennett for supper.

Unfortunately, I missed the Patricia Briggs workshop on Character and Voice, it took place before the conference, and I wasn’t able to get the extra days off of work. I still submitted my sample though, and both she and the critique group had some great things to say about my non-Thunder Road-related work in progess.

Because I wasn’t entirely certain I’d be able to make it to Calgary at all, I didn’t sign up for any programming this year, not even a reading. But my publisher, Jamis Paulson from Turnstone Press, was one of the Guests of Honour, so I crashed the hour with Jamis panel that fellow Turnstone author, Edmonton’s mystery queen (and all around awesome human being) Janice MacDonald was also guesting on.

When Words Collide Janis & Jamis

Hilarity ensued.

WWCwithJanis&Jamis

(Last two photos courtesy of Randy Williams)

Some of my favourite folks are Alberta folks. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’ve met so many amazing people at the Calgary conferences I’ve attended. WWC feels like my home con even though its over 1300 KM away. I got to meet a bunch of my fellow critiquers for the first time. There were some great stories in that batch of first chapters and I think you’ll be seeing more than a few on the shelves sooner rather than later. It was lovely to hang out with Sandra Wickham, Ella Beaumont, and Jill Flanagan from the critique group, who missed no opportunity to remind me that I wasn’t there. They also made sure to drag me off to meet Patty before the con was over though, so there’s definitely no hard feelings!

One of the other great things about going to cons is finally getting to talk in person with people you’ve only interacted with on Twitter or Facebook. I enjoyed sharing a drink with JW Schnarr, Charles Propelec and Jeff Campbell even if the service and decor of the sports bar were lacking. They were also kind enough to offer their sympathies about the Blue Bombers woes to me when they saw I was from Winnipeg.

There were many launches taking place at WWC this year, but I was only able to take in one, due to my schedule, and that was the Urban Greenman launch. I’m so happy for Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine. They’ve put together a beautiful book and I can’t wait to dig into the stories inside. I have so many friends who made it into Urban Greenman, and I’m not going to lie, I REALLY wanted to get a story in this collection. Alas, not to be, but I did write a story that I love, and I’m sure it will find a home eventually.

I always tend to spend a lot of time in the Dealer’s Room at any convention I attend, if you can’t find someone in the bar, they’re probably looking at books and swag. And I brought too many (and yet not nearly enough) books home this year, including Urban Greenman, The Puzzle Box by the Apocalyptic Four (aka Eileen Bell, Randy McCharles, Ryan McFadden, Billie Milholland), The Tattooed Witch by Susan MacGregor, and Warriors by Barb Galler-Smith and Josh Langston. Also big thanks to Owl’s Nest Books for stocking Thunder Road at their table this year!

Owl's Nest Books

(Photo courtesy of Randy Williams)

When Words Collide is also the host conference for the In Places In Between short story contest. I have fond memories of this contest. Learning about it was a big kicker to get me submitting my fiction. The first short story I every finished and submitted to strangers went to In Places in Between. I didn’t win. I didn’t place. I didn’t have a hot clue what I was doing then, but having my work critiqued by strangers was an eyeopener. A member of my writing group has placed in it, the extremely talented Chris Smith (“Crow-Maiden”), and this year, I was surprised to see my copy editor, David Jón Fuller had a story inside (not surprised he made it in, David’s a great writer, but I had no idea he’d entered) and now I see that he took second place. Congrats, David (and you’d better come to Calgary next year)!

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A note on the parties (because there are always parties): Whether it’s bubble-blowing gauntlet or a bowl of punch so heavily spiked that allows you to see through time, romance writers know how to have fun. To Tim Reynolds, for the Irish Whiskey (Mmm Writers Tears), and the generous soul (I never caught your name, I’m sorry!) with that fine, fine, bottle of Kentucky Bourbon (Blanton’s, I believe), thank you for roaming the halls with your libations, gentlemen. I took things easy this year, knowing I’d be hiking through the Badlands the next day, and somehow I felt being dehydrated, hungover, and scrambling up and down coulees was a remarkably bad idea (it was, evidently, I didn’t take things quite as easy as I thought).

Next year’s fantasy author guest of honour at When Words Collide is Brandon Sanderson! Which reminds me that I really have to finish writing my review/roundup for the Wheel of Time, now that its all done. But hey, that series was supposed to be a trilogy and it lasted decades and fourteen books, so if my review is a few months tardy, who’s going to complain? Brandon will be joined by Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction), Jacqueline Guest (YA, Historical), D.J. McIntosh (Mystery), and my Tesseracts 16 editor, Mark Leslie (as Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations for Kobo).

Thank you Randy McCharles and all of the WWC organizers, volunteers, members, and guests for another great year!

Write on!

September Goals

This post is a little late, I realize. But then I’ve also noticed these posts have been getting progressively later. Have I started dreading them as more and more goals pile up, unfulfilled?

So here’s my goals for August, how’d I do?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal, this time afraid. I need a win.
  • Catch up transcribing my handwritten notes.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Polish the short story formerly meant for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • Write my Loki’s Guide to Ymir blog post.
  • Write up a blog post or two about my time at the Icelandic Festival in Gimli.

Not too bad, not as good as I’d hoped. But all things considered, with all the travel I did in August, I’m okay with that.

So, what’s up for September?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal again. Any forward progress while I’m prepping for the launch and tour of Tombstone Blues is going to be considered a win.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Start pre-writing blog posts for my website and guest blogs for during the Tombstone Blues tour.
  • Submit a review to The Winnipeg Review.
  • Actually get my next goals post up a little earlier than middle of October.

I’ve decided to drop the second short story from the list until I finally put that first one to bed. If all goes well, it’ll make a triumphant return to my October Goals post. Oh, and in the goals for the year category, another one bites the dust!

  • Finish Tombstone Blues
  • Start writing the as-yet nebulously titled book 3 in the Thunder Road Trilogy (I’m thinking this will be a good year to return to NaNoWriMo).
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Start a new writing project, just for the fun of it.

The pages have been proofed, the dedication and acknowledgements have been written, and I have put in the last words on Tombstone Blues. For good or ill, it’s off to the printer. I hope you’ll all love it.

Write on!

Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Ymir

Every mythology and religion, even those whose believers exist only in fantasy novels, have their own story about the origins of their world. These stories all a little weird when you think about them. Norse mythology is no different, and Ymir is at the heart of that weirdness.

Out of the primordial chaos was formed a primordial giant, Ymir. When he wasn’t feeding from the primeval cow, Auðumbla, he spawned children from his armpits and a six-headed jötunn from his feet. After Odin and his brothers killed Ymir, they fashioned entire worlds and oceans from the dead giant’s bones and blood. Odin even built a fence from those bones to keep the more monstrous denizens of the Nine Worlds from attacking the Earth (Midgard).

One of the common features of Urban Fantasy novels is a “Secret History” to explain why humanity doesn’t know recognize the existence of magic. The Thunder Road trilogy does have its own secret history, I know what the dvergar, the Norns, and Loki (and others) have been up to in between the days following Ragnarök and the events of Thunder Road, and I might even write some of those stories, if readers are interested. 

In Thunder Road, it is the fence built from Ymir’s bones that keeps magic from being seen by the majority of humanity. Fences do make for good neighbours, as the old saying goes, but as every homeowner also knows, no fence is perfect (or as Ted Callan would put it, “Shit happens.”). Things can slip through, once they do, and you are exposed to a world of magic, you’re in, and you’re in for life.

It’s a life sentence that doesn’t take very long to commute.

Another important feature in Urban Fantasy is the setting. The city is often as much a character as the protagonist. Winnipeg’s downtown has a bit of a tough reputation. While I’d rather my home city be known for something other than violent crime, missing persons, and murder, reading about these events definitely influenced me into choosing to make joining the magical world a death sentence.

Tombstone Blues releases October 15th, how much longer can the bones of Ymir hold?