Three Great Events

I’ve definitely been a busy bee since Tombstone Blues escaped the printer. I had a few events in such short order (and I’m happy to say, I’ve more to come) that I just can’t give each their own roundup post.

Tombstone Blues Launch:

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It was another packed house at McNally, (thanks for coming back guys!) and while nothing can compare to the first launch, I have to say I might have enjoyed this one a little bit more. I’ve done several readings in the interim, talked to crowds that were not filled out with friends and family, and that definitely took some of the edge off the performance jitters.

Also, there was cake.

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Huge thanks to everyone who came out to support me!

The Ravenstone Monster Mash:

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On October 23rd, I was joined at McNally Robinson by my friends and fellow Ravenstone authors David Annandale, Karen Dudley, and (visiting from Edmonton) Janice MacDonald. We all got together to share spooky pieces from some of our latest works. If you were there, you got a tease from one of my forthcoming short stories, as I realized I read my favourite scary scene from Tombstone Blues a week early at the launch.

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David Annandale, Karen Dudley, Janice MacDonald, Chadwick Ginther

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Books! Karen Dudley’s Food for the Gods, David Annandale’s The Valedictorians and Gethsemane Hall, Janice MacDonald’s Condemned to Repeat, and from yours truly, Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues.

Word on the Water:

Kenora’s growing literary festival was a lot of fun. Guests included Robert J. Sawyer, Charles Wilkins, Gail Bowen, Duncan Weller, Mike Grandmaison, C.C. Benison, Catherine Hunter, Karen Dudley, Samantha Beiko, and Sherry Peters. Thank you to Elizabeth Campbell Books, who was on hand selling copies of the attending authors’ books.

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This was taken on the opening night of the festival. I had the pleasure of introducing my friend, Robert J. Sawyer, one of this year’s guests of honour. Rob delivered a fantastic keynote address and reading and then I had the pleasure of moderating the audience Q&A portion of the event. There were many great and thoughtful questions, you guys made my job easy!

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On the future of publishing panel with Duncan Weller and Samantha Beiko, moderated by Daniel Klein (who I know from Twitter, but finally had a chance to meet in person).

Next up was the Reality Made Fantastic or Fantasy Made Real, moderated by Kenora’s Rick Brignall. A spirited discussion on real places becoming fantastic and the creation of secondary worlds with Karen Dudley, Samantha Beiko, Robert J. Sawyer and myself.

Remember my “Grumpy Cat” photo from the Manitoba Book Awards? I think it’s been topped…

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Don’t blame me, I’ve got a condition. Seriously though, I hadn’t slept well, and had a fierce headache all day Saturday, but I did have fun on my programming, so I hope it wasn’t at least constantly obvious that I had a monkey trying to chisel out of my brain.

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Saturday night it was Charles Wilkins‘ time to shine. The Thunder Bay author introduced his latest work, Little Ship of Fools, did a short reading and then we had a screening of the film Big Blue (about Wilkins’ journey across the Atlantic chronicled in Little Ship of Fools) before the Page Turner gala dinner.

But this is not the end, more great events are coming up in short order!

C4 (Central Canada Comic Con): I’ll be selling copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, handing out swag, and staring at Ron Perlman. Come by Booth 140A and say “Hi.”

Tombstone Blues launching in Morden: Very happy to be giving book two a hometown kickoff. I wrote the first fifty pages of Thunder Road in Morden, and I discovered the Norse Myths in the very building where I’ll be doing my reading. Hoping for a very special night.

Eat, Drink, and Be Literary: I’ll be joined by David Bergen, Carolyn Gray and Kelly Hughes in this fundraiser for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

Reading and Signing in Saskatoon: I’ll be part of a multi-author book launch along with E.C. Blake, Sean Cummings, and Derryl Murphy at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Lots to do and hopefully more to come.

Write on!

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Loki’s Guide To Norse Mythology: Tilda Eilífsdóttir

Tilda

Similar to my protagonist, Ted Callan, Tilda doesn’t appear in the myths, not specifically, anyway. The fortune telling and fate spinning Norns, however, certainly do.

My fascination with fortune telling and precognition was always tempered by potential downsides, a feeling that probably came out of the various comics I read and RPGs I played. The X-Men definitely took a turn for the more fatalistic after “Days of Future Past” knowing what was in store for them (in at least one of their futures, I’ve read X-men for thirty years and even I can’t keep it all straight anymore). I also had a sadistic gamemaster who’d punish you for using those very helpful powers and spells because they required more planning on his part. You know who you are.

Tilda showed up out of the blue in Ted Callan’s life and world. She popped up just as suddenly in my writing, there was no short story antecedent. One moment there was a dark highway, and then there was Tilda. She didn’t live in Gimli until that popped out of her mouth. I sort of knew I wanted a fortune teller of some kind to be a part of the book eventually, but just as the dwarves weren’t dvergar yet, that seer wasn’t necessarily going to be one of the “capital-N” Norns either.

I had a friend who used to hitchhike all over the place. She scared the bejesus out of me at times, but she was fun, and she had some great stories. She had seen some amazing things in her travels, and while Tilda is not her, there is definitely something of that friend in the young Norn’s literary DNA. I wanted Tilda to have a wealth of stories in her past, and to be more knowledgeable about not only the magical world, but the real world than Ted. Her broader life experience also helped close the age gap between them.

Spoiler alert for those who haven’t read book one:

Tilda gets all of the powers of the Norns, visions of not just the future, but the past and the present as well. I did this because Ted gets a lot of power in Thunder Road, and I wanted Tilda to be Ted’s match both physically and magically. Even though the book is about Ted, Tilda needed to undergo a journey of her own. And just as I wanted to write a post-Ragnarök story, I liked the idea of playing with the maiden-mother-crone concept. Mixing the magical and the mundane is one of things I love most about writing Urban Fantasy. Ted and Tilda fell together very quickly, fueled in part by the Norn’s belief that they are fated to be a couple, so in Tombstone Blues I wanted to examine how much “destined for one another” means when you move in together for the first time.

Can-Con 2013 Roundup

My trip to Ottawa and Can-Con 2013 got off to a rocky start. I rushed home from work to change clothes, grab my bags and take a cab to the airport–only the cab that I called never showed. “Soon” according to their dispatcher does not mean the under fifteen minutes that I’d expected. Call me wacky, but I like to arrive early for flights. I like having a chance to read a chapter or so in a book. Pick up a snack, or in Friday’s case, actually have some supper. So with my plane boarding in twenty minutes and me still at home, my skin was turning greener, and my purple pants were a-tearin’. Fortunately, one of my pals saw my Twitter fury, and zoomed to the rescue and got me to the airport three minutes prior to boarding saving an entire cab company from my Gamma-powered vengeance.

By the time I rolled into Ottawa it was after midnight and the ChiZine room party had been shut down by security (in flak jackets, no less, well done, my friends!) so I wandered up to the convention’s Hospitality Suite, but I didn’t recognize anyone. As I had been feeling run down all week, and the stress of almost missing my flight made me just want to collapse, that was what I did.

I didn’t sleep well, I rarely do the first night in a new place, but I also really need to stop starting a convention weekend already feeling run down and exhausted! Saturday morning I woke up feeling hungover. I hadn’t even had a drink, which is wholly damned unfair, but maybe you can get a rage hangover? Not sure. Headache aside, I wanted to have fun, and needed to feel human before my first panel (luckily not until noon). Derek Newman-Stille of Speculating Canada asked me to join him for breakfast and we had a great conversation. This was my first time meeting Derek in person, but he’s interviewed me before on his Aurora nominated (and now Aurora winning) blog. I have to give credit to Derek for that interview, because his questions really forced me to interrogate my own writing (his words) and in thinking of the answers to his questions, and thinking about my writing, it became easier for me to discuss my work.

Shortly after breakfast, I bumped into my good friend (and Guest of Honour at Can-Con this year), Robert J. Sawyer, who presented me with my Aurora Award nominee pin!

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My Saturday panels included the Business of Writing, where I was joined by moderator Suzanne Church, Karen Dudley, and Jean-Louis Trudel. I had a lot of fun on this one, Suzanne is dynamic and energetic and kept the energy level up. I think we had good conversation, and good questions.

After the Business panel, I met up with my fellow panelists for the National Novel Writing Month! Aspiring Writers: Do it! Commit! Commit! Nicole Lavigne, Geoff Gander, and Maaja Wentz, we were joined by Barry King, and Rebecca Simkin, and hashed out how we wanted the panel to go and I think it went well. I’m planning on doing NaNoWriMo again this year, so hopefully we’ll all buddy up in November and keep each other motivated (and honest).

It was a small dealer’s room at Can-Con, but it was full of books. I left with Joey Comeau’s The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved, because it looks awesome (and because it came with a free barf bag–that’s some good marketing, ChiZine Publications!) I also had this button made by one half of the Victoria Dunn writing duo who authored Alice Hearts Welsh Zombies.

Enjoy Zombie Chadwick!

Zombie Chadwick

After the NaNoWriMo panel, it was time for supper with Team CZP, and we had a great meal at a Som Tom Thai. Fantastic food. Fantastic company. Also, hijinks ensued (as they usually do with CZP) thanks to Brett Savory and Matt “Photobomb” Moore.

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And this was not photoshopped, it happened live, I assure you. Photo credit: Brett “Authentic” Savory.

Bellies full of spicy goodness we rambled up to the Bundoran Press room party–which was also promptly shut down by security in flak jackets. Are creative types really that dangerous to Ottawa? No, wait, don’t answer that. Not to worry though, we found our own fun. I cut out (relatively) early, knowing I had a 10:00 am panel on Creativity in Fandom. Still woke up with a headache, but I mostly managed to chase it away with judicious applications of fresh fruit and Gatorade before me and my blue tongue were joined by Errol Elumir and Debs Linden (AKA Filk duo, Debs & Errol, Aurora nominated for their CD, Songs in the Key of Geek).

So, the Aurora Awards…

I did not win the Aurora for Best Novel, but I’m over the moon for Tanya Huff, who truly deserves this recognition for her excellent book, The Silvered. I was also incredibly happy for Robert Sawyer, who received a Lifetime Achievement Award this year at the Auroras (he’s put his acceptance speech up on his website, and it’s good one). This year’s ballot in all categories was packed with friends and people whose work I love and admire, so I am honoured to have been counted among them this year.

Here’s all the winners:

Novel: The SilveredTanya Huff

YA Fiction: Under my Skin, The WildlingsCharles de Lint

Short Fiction: The Walker of the Shifting Borderland – Douglas Smith

Poem / Song: A Sea Monster Tells His Story – David Clink

Graphic Novel: WeregeekAlina Pete

Related Work: Hayden TrenholmBlood and Water

Artist: Erik Mohr – Cover Art for ChiZine Publications

Fan Publication: Speculating Canada Blog – Derek Newman-Stille

Fan Filk: Kari MaarenBody of Work

Fan Organizational: Randy McCharlesWhen Worlds Collide

Fan Related Work: Ron Friedman – Aurora Awards Voter Package

It was also announced that Canvention, the Canadian national SF&F convention (which presents the Prix Aurora Awards) will be hosted in 2014 by V-Con in Vancouver! This is really exciting news, as I was already planning to attend V-Con next year. Double the pleasure!

Tonight I launch Tombstone Blues at Books on Beechwood, 6pm, then Wednesday I’m in Toronto reading for ChiSeries with Chantal Guertin and Evan Munday! We’ll be joined by Aurora winner Kari Maaren and her ukulele.

Big thanks to my friends and family in Ottawa and Toronto for chauffeuring me around and putting me up after the conference, and to Ravenstone Books for sending me out here!

Write on!

Loki’s Guide To Norse Mythology: Ted Callan

Ted Callan

Who?

Ted Callan doesn’t appear in any of the Sagas. But my protagonist certainly has roots there. One of my favourite stories growing up was the Story of Sigurd; a hero who became invulnerable–except for a spot where a leaf had landed against his body-when he bathed in dragon’s blood. I was checking this out of the library in between my obsessive readings of D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths.

Sigurd obviously isn’t the only influence on Ted. He carries Mjölnir; he can control the weather, so obviously Thor was also in the mix. The earliest origins of Thunder Road are in an abandoned short story–the first thing I ever set out to write when I decided I wanted to be a writer–a story about Thor and Sif living in suburban Winnipeg and Sif deciding to divorce Thor. The seeds of Ted exist in that first version of the Thunder God (there’s a very different aspect to Thor showing up in Tombstone Blues): a blue collar job, the dissolution of a long relationship, the GTO–although it was not called The Goat yet.

I always knew I’d write something influenced by Norse myth, the stories have been a part of my life for too long not to creep into my work. I didn’t have a plan for it to necessarily be Thunder Road, I just wanted to write a story about a blue collar guy who got thrust into a weird and terrible world. The first scene I wrote for Thunder Road, was where the dwarves attacked and tattooed Ted, and at the end of that scene, I wondered: “who is this guy?” and “How did he up in that hotel room?” And so I went back and wrote that. Once I put him in a GTO, it was all over, and I was hooked. Ted voice showed up almost fully formed and steamrolled his way through the rest of the book.

I didn’t just read mythology as a kid. I also grew up reading comic books. In fact, they were the first things I read on my own. Looking back, I can see echoes of DC’s Viking Prince or Marvel’s Mighty Thor and Uncanny X-Men. Thor has faced Ragnarök  several times in the comics, which was one of the reasons I decided to set Thunder Road after The Fate of the Gods, because I found what the Thor writers did when they ended the cycle to be fresh and new. X-men probably gave me a taste of the dysfunctional family dynamic that exists between Ted, Tilda and Loki. Chris Claremont’s epic run on the book was also my introduction to long-form storytelling, which is why I’m hoping that even when the Thunder Road Trilogy is done, that I can keep telling stories in this world. And besides, super powers are cool!

October Goals

September has come and gone. I made some promises, but did I keep them?

  • 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.

Why yes, yes I did–mostly. Nice to see for a change. September was a busy month for me at the dayjob and with back to school and fuller buses means it’s a little harder to get work done on my to and from work. At times I could have spent my entire lunch break just trying to find space to write, let alone actually putting words down. I may have to reevaluate my writing routine again. I’ll wait out October and see how I feel once things have settled down.

I didn’t do any writing sprints on my lunch in September with the pals that normally play along but I did get some writing done. I wrote a second epilogue for the final book in the Thunder Road Trilogy (No, both won’t appear in the final book). I’ve been waffling on the final grace note of the series (although I know what the last two words have to be (and no, not: “The End”, thank you very much)), and I think I might release the unused one as an e-short after the series is done if anyone is interested in reading it.

The long-suffering short story now has a name: “A Door in the Rock”. I really wanted this story done, but while it went through a few more polishes, I just don’t feel it’s ready for readers yet. Just because I want to give it away at Comic Con, doesn’t mean I want to give away something half-baked. I’ll still try to have it ready for C4, but if it’s not done, maybe I’ll do something with it for Christmas instead. You’ll read it eventually, never fear.

I’ve written up the first few “Loki’s Guide to Mythology” posts from Tombstone Blues and outlined a few other posts, that might end up on this site or as guest posts elsewhere. I turned in my review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s This Strange Way of Dying (short version, awesome and you have to read it!) long version coming soon from The Winnipeg Review.

And here we are in a new month, and not already halfway through it. So what’s up for October?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal again. Any forward progress while I’m on tour for Tombstone Blues is going to be considered a win.
  • Finish “A Door in the Rock” and rewrite it based on editorial advice.
  • Try to get “A Door in the Rock” typeset and printed in time to hand out at C4.
  • Post at least one blog per week. (I’d like to do more, but in the pursuance of realism have to be honest).
  • Turn in my story about The Puzzle Box by The Apocalyptic Four for Prairie Books Now.

Not enough? I’ll be doing events in Ottawa, Toronto, Kenora, and yes, even a couple in Winnipeg, so I’m trying to be realistic (and I’m probably not being realistic). Also? I’ve had an idea. Actually a collision of a couple of ideas that I think together have the legs to be not just a book, but a new series. Which means I’ll be diving into National Novel Writing Month again to try to get it drafted. Plotting has begun, much to my surprise. I’m not normally an advance plotter, but the last time I tried pantsing my way through NaNoWriMo I almost lost my mind and three years on I’m STILL trying to fix that manuscript.

So. Yearly goals. What do you know?

  • 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.

Another one bites the dust.

Write on!

Bad(lands) To The Bone

Get ready for roughly 400 random pictures of coulees and hoodoos!

Kidding.

Mostly.

I took a lot of pictures while I was in Alberta. And while I hope to get back at least twice more in the next year or so, who can say what’ll happen? So I tried to cram as much sightseeing into one weekend as I could.

First up: Kananaskis and Elbow Falls.

My buddy Kevin was playing tour guide for the weekend and as he drove past a washed out bridge I saw a small portion of the destruction that the recent flooding left behind.

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The area was still beautiful though. And all I could think when I saw this, was “here there be monsters.”

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I suppose it’s a poorly kept secret that I’m planning on setting the third book in the Thunder Road trilogy in Alberta (especially since the Winnipeg Free Press mentioned it in a recent Paper Chase column!)

I’ve already written about what happened after Kananaskis, my trip to When Words Collide. Next up was a camping trip at Dinosaur Provincial Park and a trip into the Badlands.

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There were some bugs, obviously, but this was my first glimpse of the Badlands!

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Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?

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At the Hoodoos, which are like visiting an alien world. I kept expecting to meet Tars Tarkas.

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While I unfotunately did not meet any Tharks (or Martians of any kind), at least I did not encounter a rattlesnake, or a scorpion, or a black widow spider.

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Me & Kev

Me and Kevin, in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

Chad & Dave

Me and my high school buddy Dave who was in Alberta for work and joined Kevin and I on our trip to the Badlands.

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The Hoodoos near sunset. There is all kinds of magic in this place.

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The one thing that really struck me about about the Badlands was how green they were. I was expecting desert; rock and dust. Not these lush grasses and wildflowers.

Hoodoos

Miner Chad

Coal Miner’s Son?

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A map of the Atlas Coal Mine, which I’m totally stealing to use for Dungeons & Dragons.

Into the Mine

On my way into the mine!

Two Man Tent

Home for the camping trip. I assure you that whoever named this a “two man tent” has never met two actual men.

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It’s not home, but I do love those big, damn Alberta skies.

Hope to see them again soon!