My Preliminary Keycon 32 Schedule

I just received my schedule for Keycon 32. Obviously, it’s early days and the con is a few weeks out, so this is subject to change, but here is where you will find me if you’re attending:

  • Friday, 9 pm – Reading
  • Saturday, 2 pm – Blue Pencil Sessions
  • Saturday, 3 pm – Autograph Session 2
  • Saturday, 4 pm – Establishing Setting

Keycon will be held May 15-17. Hope to see you there!

Write on!

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Ad Astra 2015 Roundup

This was my second year in a row attending Ad Astra. It’s neat to get to do multiple runs at a convention. Not only do I get to hang out with my writer pals, and meet some new folks, going back to a con means you get to chat with some of the fans who checked out your panels the year before and came back for more. That’s pretty sweet.

What wasn’t sweet was my landing at Pearson. Most of my flight into Toronto felt like the plane was getting slapped around like a hockey puck (when it didn’t feel as if it was plummeting out of the sky). Fun stuff. I didn’t know my aislemate well enough to make any Buddy Holly references though.

After arriving at the hotel (thanks Ryan McFadden for meeting me at the airport!), I had a quick and spicy dinner and then prepped for my shared reading slot with Arlene F. Marks. Arlene read from her humourous fantasy novel, The Accidental God, and I read an excerpt from “The Last Good Look” (The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir), “A Taste of the Other Side” (Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls), and “A Simple Twist of Fate”, my illustrated Thunder Road short story that I had printed for C4.

Despite arriving pre-exhausted and recovering for a seemingly endless cold, I made it through. Our reading slot was sparsely attended, but attendees outnumbered readers, so that is always good, even better, it was an interested crowd.

This is the sort of Champion Author breakfast that allowed me to face the public:

Ad Astra Breakfast

Photo by Leah Bobet.

I also want to thank Leah for this amazing coupon, which I am hanging onto, and will be willing to drop on someone at a moment’s notice.

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I met a bunch of new folks this year. Some completely new, and others that I only knew from Twitter or Facebook, or because we’d shared an anthology ToC. Seeing these people in person is always one of my favourite parts of going to cons, and so I was happy to meet Kelly Robson and Dale L. Sproule for the first time, both fellow contributors to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (Dale is the author of “Nunavut Thunderfuck”, great title, or best title ever? I loved Kelly’s “Good for Grapes” story also.) as well as Amal El-Mohtar. I’ve read and enjoyed a bunch of her blog posts, but haven’t read much of her other writing, I’ll have to remedy that.

I didn’t take in a lot of programming or readings, and I did a limited amount of programming myself–only two panels besides my reading. I was mostly trying to catch up with friends. I got to have great conversations with Alyx Dellamonica and Annette Mocek, who I don’t see nearly enough of. I do think both of my panels went well, good turnouts, and lively Q&A. Thanks fellow panelists Amanda Sun, Karina Sumner-Smith, Robert Boyczuk, and Sandra Kasturi on the Grant writing panel and Doug Smith, Kelley Armstrong, and Marie Bilodeau on the Gods Run Amok, Mythology and Urban Fantasy panel.

I spent a lot of time browsing at the Bakka-Phoenix table in the dealer’s room looking for a new read for my flight home. Bakka is one of the best places for book lovers on the planet. And Chris Szego and all the staff at Bakka have been pretty good to me, so it’s nice to have a chance to say hi, and to buy some books from their table (and they have some signed copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, just sayin’).

I missed some of the mass signing as it coincided with one of my panels, I sat with Suzanne Church for the last hour, and talked up “A Simple Twist of Fate” and wonderful artists, Kevin Madison and Scott Henderson whose work graces much of my promotional material.

In what is becoming a Saturday night Ad Astra tradition, I went out for Indian food on Saturday, with Derek Newman-Stille, Angela Keely and whoever is available to join us.

The late night Bad Slash/Fiction Readings returned, this time spread out over two nights. Skin Head Hamlet was performed by several attending authors. Michael Matheson read a unique noir take on Pacman/Ms. Pacman. David L. Blackwood’s Alien romances Predator story was the perfect mix of appealing and appalling (his accent maybe? I’m not sure. My ears are still bleeding). And as is tradition, Angela Keely read from My Immortal-the best/worst Harry Potter fan-fic out there.

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Saturday night was also the ChiZine Publications room party! If you ever have a chance to go, do it. It was loud and hot (as always) but lots of fun (as always). It was shut down too early, this year (evidently having fun is loud) but thems the breaks. Also, if you happen to turn up at a ChiZine party, buy a book while you’re there, yeah?

On Sunday I attended Geoff Gander and Marie Bilodeau’s shared readings which was a good time. Since my WiP is starting to amount to something, I also took in the panel on finding an agent. It’s been a while since I’ve sent out a query for a new project, and it was informative. After that, it was pretty much time for me to head home. Big thanks to Annette Mocek for getting me to the airport on time for my flight!

And I’ll end off the roundup with one of my favourite sights of Ad Astra, the Lego Room! Thanks ToroLUG (Toronto Lego User Group)!

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See you again next year, Ad Astra.

Write on!

Music Monday: “Fashion” By David Bowie

I attended the Manitoba Book Awards Gala on Saturday. This year the festivities were held in the Skyview Ballroom of the historic Marlborough Hotel. I usually dress up for these sorts of affairs, anything to get to play the dandy, but this year the awards had a theme: Roar Back to the 20s. So folks were a little fancier than normal. Which suited me just fine.

Most of my outfit was cobbled together from things I already own, but I did purchase a new hat just for the evening (the ascot I found at Ad Astra, but it was earmarked for the book awards), and spent much of the week trying to decide how costume-y I wanted to take my outfit. I even sat through some of The Great Gatsby (more shocking, I managed not to call everybody “old sport” all night).

Dandy Chad

Photo by Samantha Beiko (shitty processing via me and Instagram).

Anyway, Congratulations to all the award recipients and nominees. It was a fun (if oppressively hot–why, oh why did I choose to wear a vest with my suit?) evening.

So, where else would my mind go after a week of sartorial thoughts but to David Bowie?

Fashion isn’t my favourite David Bowie song, but hey, pretty much any Bowie is better than no Bowie, amiright?

Listen to me – don’t listen to me
Talk to me – don’t talk to me
Dance with me – don’t dance with me, no
Beep-beep
Beep-beep

Write on!

Pulp Fiction Thunder Road Covers!

Thunder Road Trip artist, Kevin Madison is back at it. This time he’s created two versions of a variant pulp-influenced Thunder Road cover.

First up is Ted with his dwarf-inscribed tattoos:

Pulp Ted with Tattoos

Second, is Ted without the tattoos:

Pulp Ted no tattoos

Everything about these feels right to me. From the tag line to the faux-distressed cover treatment, and especially how thuggish Ted looks. I also really want to climb into that GTO and hit the highway.

With Too Far Gone a light out there on the horizon, and burning closer every day, I for one cannot wait to see what Kevin cooks up next! Check out more of Kevin’s work here:

Write on!

Music Monday: “Everything Is Awesome” By Tegan And Sara (Featuring The Lonely Island)

This song was not what I was expecting to post earlier last week, and maybe not the best choice for a dreary Monday in Winnipeg featuring the return of goddamned snow, but as the week went on, I found myself getting more and more excited about a family get together involving some childhood Lego…so you can see how we ended up here.

Embarrassing as it may be to admit, the Lego movie really worked on me. It worked on several levels. Certainly the nostalgia factor was at play, Lego was one of my favourite childhood toys. My old Lego (especially my Legoland Space sets) is the only toy I regret not still having in my possession.

How well did the Lego movie work on me? On the day the movie released on DVD, I ran out and bought some Lego to play with while I watched it again.

I love that there are Lego versions of movie trailers. I love that there is Lego for whatever my nerdy obsession might be (Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Ghostbusters…everything gets the Lego treatment these days). I love that there are tons of Lego videos floating around on Youtube. I wish I had the patience (and enough Lego, to make one myself).

There has been some talk (instigated mostly by me) of getting Wendy and her sister to divvy up their childhood Lego. I joked that I should be entitled to a third of it, no such luck. Anyway, I got to sit in while the two of them dumped this box out on the floor in order to begin the division of New Bricksburg.

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It didn’t look like that much, heaped in this box–until we dumped it out and started to separate the pieces.

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Everybody sorted into their own bins by colour and weirdness.

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Even the old catalogue hit me right in the nostalgia feels. I could point out exactly which sets I’d had. Damn, I miss Legoland Space. Have I mentioned that I miss Legoland Space?

SPACESHIP!

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Which brings us to the real point of the post: this week’s earworm!

Everything is Awesome might not be my favourite song, but it is fun and catchy, and I was definitely caught humming it to myself a time or two, as anticipation grew for Lego night. So this was what was stuck in my head. How about you?

Build high!

Write on!

 

Flick Attack Friday: Tango & Cash!

Every now and again, I end up with no pressing deadlines and the house to myself, and even more rarely, those two things coincide on a Friday. I’ve been trying to decide all day which “classic” action movie I would rewatch tonight to scratch the nostalgia itch, so I posed the question in a Twitter/Facebook poll.

The options:

  • The Last Boy Scout
  • Harley Davidson & the Marlboro Man
  • Tango & Cash

Tango & Cash won in a landslide. A distant second was all three movies. There was one write-in vote for Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

So Tango & Cash it is. Join me on the twitters tonight, 7:30pm Central to love and mock. If we have fun maybe this will become a more regular thing.

Music Monday: “Vagabond” By Wolfmother

Australia’s sent a lot of music my way, AC/DC, Jet, and somewhat more recently, Wolfmother.

I got into Wolfmother in a round about way because of Guitar Hero. I don’t play a lot of video games, but after a long day of Dungeons and Dragons, the gaming group guilted me into giving Guitar Hero a try, with the promise that we’d all look like idiots, not just me.

Grimace Musically

Bloom County has a pretty good artistic rendition of how that might’ve looked…

Wolfmother’s song “Woman” was the first one I remember really nailing, and it was fun to play (and it gave me a chance to grimace musically) even if I was pressing buttons instead of strumming chords.

Anyway, I love Wolfmother. They are fucking fun. They sing songs about wizards and witches, thieves, and jokers, dimensions, and look at the cover to their debut:

wolfmother cover

This is Frank Frazetta’s piece “The Sea Witch”. I love how she is totally in control, and dominating the frame. You just know she is totally trashing an armada all on her lonesome. Frazetta’s art was also a staple of all those Conan the Barbarian books I checked out of the library as a kid, and giving their album an immediate fantasy feel was a great way for Wolfmother to convince me to pick it up.

Check out singer/guitarist Andrew Stockdale’s hair. Seriously, how much fun could be hiding in there? Lots.

wolfmother

The last track on the international version of the album, “Vagabond”, was on my mind over the weekend because I was travelling. It was Ad Astra weekend in Toronto, which is fast becoming one of my favourite Canadian SF&F conventions. This was the second year I’ve gone, and I’m definitely going back (but more on that later).

I’ve got a good day job, and I love living in Winnipeg, and I miss Manitoba friends and family while I’m gone, but when I’m on the road, and pursuing the writing dream, and doing the writing work, I feel incredibly free.

On that note, the notable lyrics:

You don’t need to know what I do all day,
It’s as much as I know watch it waste away,
Cause I’ll tell you everything about living free,

Live free.

Write on.