When Words Collide 2015 Roundup

When Words Collide is the only convention that I can say I have attended every year. And I certainly have no intention of breaking that streak. Having been there since the beginning, it’s been cool to watch it grow. The organizers have a great record of bringing in top notch guests and 2015 was no different. This was the first year I think WWC has grown to the size where I’m no longer guaranteed I’ll get to see everyone I want to, or at least not for as long as I’d like. So if we missed a chance to chat, hey, I’ll be back next year!

Day one of When Words Collide was mostly a wash, no fault of the convention though. I arrived in Calgary on Thursday, as is my custom, so that I could hang out with old chum, and Aurora-nominated Thunder Road Trip artist, Kevin Madison. We had a great time catching up, but a change in the local air pressure gave me a headache that absolutely floored me.

I was in too much pain to manage to caffeinate Friday morning, which didn’t help matters either. My headache made me nauseous much of the day. Still, I rallied enough to make it to the con hotel and register (this happened largely because my shared room was in my name, and I didn’t want to leave my roommate in the lurch).

By supper time I’d eaten roughly five spoonfuls of soup and three pieces of cheese–which I knew given the Absinthe and Whisky tasting social that Tyche Books was hosting, wasn’t going to do the job of keeping me upright.

The other big downside to feeling crappy on Friday was it meant no Sentry Box visit! Granted, Sentry Box has a table at When Words Collide every year, (and they were kind enough to stock my books. W00T!), but it’s not the same as being able to bask in all the gaming book glory. I usually leave with some out of print treasure from days past when I get to Calgary, and was disappointed not to have a chance to browse this time around. I’ll have to make time when Too Far Gone book tour takes me back in November.

Winnipeg comics author Andrew Lorenz introduced me to Joshua Pantalleresco over Twitter and then I met Joshua pretty much the moment I walked into the Dealer’s Room. I love the first tour through the Dealer’s Room, because it’s my first concentrated dose of all my con friends. Everyone at a con eventually passes through the Dealer’s Room. Clare C. Marshall had a table there, as did ChiZine Publications, which was great, because Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi are always fun to hang with. Sadly their managing editor, and my glamourous ChiSeries Winnipeg co-chair, Samantha Beiko wasn’t able to make the trip due to illness. I also caught up with On Spec, and Bundoran Press.

I grabbed supper with Renee Bennet and Celeste and Bill Peters. It’s not quite a WWC tradition to dine with Renee and Celeste, but I think we’re at either 2 for 5 or 3 for 5 when it comes to sharing a meal while I’m in Calgary, so it may as well be. Celeste and Bill used to live in Winnipeg, so I got to catch them up on some of our new stuff.

Recently I learned that one of my Calgary writing pals is moving home to Winnipeg, and so I had to try not to gloat that we’ll be stealing Dave Fortier away from Cowtown. It sounds like the Calgary crew is definitely going to miss him. They did extort a promise from me to take good care of him, and I have no doubt there will be stories shared, dice rolled, and whiskey poured in the near future.

I couldn’t bear the idea of attending the Guest of Honour Keynote Speeches–nothing against any of the speakers, but the idea of being in a large gathering was just too much with my lingering headache. Fortunately, I felt better as the evening went on (big thanks to the expertise of Jill Flanagan!) and had a great time chatting with Jill, Brett, Sandra, Gregory, and Clare, but I called it an early night after the whiskey social.

Saturday: Up and at them! What a world of difference the day made. No lingering effects of my Friday headache, and enjoyed breakfast with roomie, and fellow Manitoba author Craig Russell.

One of the big things on the agenda for Saturday was to meet up with Sandra Wickham because we’re co-writing a novel together. It’s totally a thing. We’ve been talking about it for months, and When Words Collide was our chance to pull all of our ideas together and break the plot. And it’ll be awesome. Or at the very least, since she’s a total plotter and I’m a total pantser, an excuse for whiskey. I went to her panel on health and fitness for creative people, because I blurbed her book on the topic and I’ve been her audience participation dummy before. SHE MADE ME EXERCISE. I think getting beat up last year was more fun, to be honest.

I talked to some other fine Calgary booksellers in attendance, and got to know some folks from Owl’s Nest (who will be hosting me for a reading in November) and Indigo Signal Hill (who will be having me in for a signing) a little better.

The mass autographing was on Saturday night. I actually signed a few books too, which is always nice, but I think I signed more books just happening upon people throughout the conference. Still, it’s always nice to hear a reader is excited for the next book, or excited to start the series and watching people queue up for Diana Gabaldon does give one something to aspire to, doesn’t it?

Sunday was my only panel of the weekend. It was on setting. A topic I do enjoy. I shared the panel with Calvin Jim, Sarah Kades, and Al Onia, and I think we had a good discussion. We all approach writing setting slightly differently, and so I think everyone had at least one observation that got the others thinking.

After the panel, it was basically time for me to go home. I did a quick stop in the dealer’s room to grab a bite to eat, and say my goodbyes. I also finally got to meet Kristi Charish. We’ve chatted on Twitter and Facebook, and I loved her story in Masked Mosaic, as well as her debut novel, Owl & the Japanese Circus. You should really check out both.

It’s never easy, and I hate leaving a con early. Normally I stay an extra day–especially at When Words Collide–so that I can attend its Dead Dog party, but that wasn’t in the cards this year, unfortunately. By the time I was done saying goodbye, I realized I was getting to the airport later than I’d have liked. Nearly missed my flight home as a result. The line to get through security was INSANE. Just when I thought I was safe, I got pulled over for the extra rummage through your bag in public check. Still, I got home, another great WWC in the books, and I’m already excited for next year.

Write on!


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