Three Awesome Things To End The Year

There’s been lots of good news during the last week round Thunder Road Way. As excited as I am to get rolling with 2016’s projects, it’s still sweet to end this year with a high note. Or in this case: three of them.

Too Far Gone got a nod in the Winnipeg Free Press as one of their best books of 2015!

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I even had my cover on the front page alongside Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk and Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk.

Here’s the blurb. Thanks, Chris Rutkowski, for reading.

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The finale of the Thunder Road Trilogy also made McNally Robinson’s Manitoba Bestsellers of 2015 list, coming in at #3 in the fiction category. I’m very proud to be on that list with some excellent writers. Congratulations on a good year, everyone.

McNally Manitoba Bestsellers List 2015

Finally, I sold a new short story. More on that one later after all the Is and Ts are dotted and crossed, but I think you’ll like it.

Write on!

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Happy Holidays! Enjoy “Go Tell It On The Mountain” A Thunder Road Story

Well, 2015 was a great, but hectic year for me (more on that later). In the meantime, I hope you’ll all enjoy the continuing (mis)adventures of Yule Lad Sheep Cote Clod.

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“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” A Thunder Road Holiday Story

I posted this story last year as a holiday gift for my readers. I’m reposting today with the promise of a new Thunder Road holiday story tomorrow.

My readers have been very good to me. Some of you Thunder Road fans have had images from my work tattooed on your bodies, some of you have taken my work and made art of your own (Like Kevin Madison’s illustration below). You’ve also emailed or tweeted or messaged me to say you’ve enjoyed the stories I have to tell. This has meant the world to me.

So I hope you’ll enjoy “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks” a second time.

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Art by Kevin Madison

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Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe!

For me Wednesday is “New Comic Book Day.” Comics are a big reason why I am a reader, and so they’re a big reason why I’m a writer. That’s why I’m super-stoked to have a story in Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen.

At some point while I was away on book tour, the anthology got a cover. And it is a sweet cover–bristling with energy (and Kirby Krackle!) This is my second time ringing the Tesseracts bell, and second time I’ve landed in one of Claude Lalumière’s anthologies. Always nice to be welcomed back.

“Midnight Man versus Doctor Death,” an ode to pulp heroes like The Shadow, will be called into action Spring 2016. It’s great to share a TOC with Corey Redekop and Alex C. Renwick again. And particularly cool to join A.C. Wise and Michael Matheson, whose writing I admire, in a book at long last. Looking forward to reading everyone’s stories soon!

Write on!


From the Amazon.ca description:

Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen

Superheroes!
Supervillains!
Superpowered antiheroes.
Mad scientists.
Adventurers into the unknown.
Detectives of the dark night.
Costumed crimefighters.
Steampunk armoured avengers.
Brave and bold supergroups.
Crusading aliens in a strange land.
Secret histories.
Pulp action.

Tesseracts Nineteen features all of these permutations of the superhero genre and many others besides!

Featuring stories by: Patrick T. Goddard, D.K. Latta, Alex C. Renwick, Mary Pletsch & Dylan Blacquiere, Geoff Hart, Marcelle Dubé, Kevin Cockle, John Bell, Evelyn Deshane, A.C. Wise, Jennifer Rahn, Bevan Thoma, Bernard E. Mireault, Sacha A. Howells, Kim Goldberg, Luke Murphy, Corey Redekop, Brent Nichols, Jason Sharp, Arun Jiwa, Chadwick Ginther, Leigh Wallace, David Perlmutter, P.E. Bolivar, Michael Matheson.

The Tesseracts anthology series is Canada’s longest running anthology. It was first edited by the late Judith Merril in 1985, and has published more than 529 original Canadian speculative fiction (Science fiction, fantasy and horror) stories and poems by 315 Canadian authors, editors, translators and special guests. Some of Canada’s best known writers have been published within the pages of these volumes — including Margaret Atwood, William Gibson, Robert J. Sawyer, and Spider Robinson (to name a few).

Music Monday: “Last Leaf” By Tom Waits

I just realized that today is Tom Waits’ birthday.

Not that I need an excuse to listen to his music.

I’m the last leaf on the tree
The autumn took the rest but they won’t take me
I’m the last leaf on the tree

I fight off the snow
I fight off the hail
Nothing makes me go
I’m like some vestigial tail
I’ll be here through eternity
If you want to know how long
If they cut down this tree
I’ll show up in a song

Happy Birthday, Mr. Waits. Thank you for being an inspiration.

Write on.

December Goals

Another year come and (almost) gone, and that means it’s time for my last goals post of 2015!

First off, how’d I do in November?

  • Have fun on tour.
  • Finish the current draft of my novel work-in-progress (I am close, and this might be unrealistic with two weeks on the road, but I’m gonna try).
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.

The easy one wasn’t as easy as expected, as there are always things that come up when traveling, and this time around starting the tour exhausted after prepping for C4 and then working the con didn’t help. But despite a double dose of con crud from C4 and then World Fantasy Con trying to take me out, I did have a good time on tour.

My novel-in-progress has a newly finished draft! It’s an actual book now, no more chapters that read “Chapter X: Shit Happens.” The book came in a shade over 110,000 words, which was longer than I’d expected when I started working on it, but I figure I can get it under 100K for sure, and maybe even close to the 90K target I had when I started writing it. Might not happen in the next draft, but the one after.

I sent out a couple short stories in November, which filled the technical requirement for this goal, but mostly when rejections came in, I didn’t resubmit the stories. The end of the WiP in sight ate up most of my writing focus and that’s okay.

Here’s what’s on deck for December:

  • Finish another draft on my WiP and send it to my first readers.
  • Draft a new chapter for my collaboration with Sandra Wickham.
  • Revise a short story.
  • Get those fallow short stories back out the door.
  • Outline the next novel I want to write (that’s right. I’m going to try outlining, folks).
  • Organize a bunch of story links I’ve saved in my email on to Pinterest boards.
  • Clean/reorganize my office.

It’s a lot, December always disappears faster than I think it will, what with gatherings and such, but I think I can do it. If there’s one thing these goal posts have taught me, it’s that even if I don’t hit every goal I set for myself, it’s that I end up further along than if I just did whatever.

I can’t believe another year is almost over! But hey, that’ll mean another round of big yearly goals to decide on soon.

Write on!

Western Canadian Tour Roundup

Alberta was a blast, as always.

Edmonton was my first stop on the western leg of my Too Far Gone book tour. I love Edmonton, it feels a lot like Winnipeg to me, which is sort of like saying it feels like home.

My first night in Edmonton I had an event at Audreys Books.

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(Photo courtesy of Barb Galler-Smith)

Fuck. I look exhausted. Which…I guess I was. Alberta followed on the heels of C4, an event in Toronto, and World Fantasy Con. I also had one of my worst flights in recent memory: surrounded by screaming toddlers, someone tried to steal my seat, and a flight attendant accidentally (I presume) spat in my eye.

If you weren’t able to make it to my launch at Audreys Books, here’s a bit of my preamble to my reading.

I love coming to Edmonton! One of the things that I always try to do while I’m here is walk across the High Level Bridge—which, Eileen Bell warned me, was the only thing I wasn’t allowed to destroy in Too Far Gone.

You have no idea how nervous it made me to bring the book—and Ted Callan—back to Edmonton. I half wanted to kick off the book here, so I could escape before anyone had read the book, in case I got your city all wrong.

But Edmonton has always been very welcoming to me, and in a way, feels more like home to me than any other city in Canada other than Winnipeg. I loved prowling your streets, and writing in, and about Edmonton.

I read one of my favourite bits of Too Far Gone, which is early in the book, and sets the tone well, I think without spoiling much of the book, or needing to over-explain the previous two novels; the scene where Ted takes in a black metal concert outside of Saskatoon.

Thanks though, to everyone who came out and and asked questions, and joined me for a bite to eat and few drinks afterward. And big thanks to everyone who picked up a book, because you got Too Far Gone to #3 on the Edmonton Journal bestseller list!

Edmonton Journal Bestseller

I unfortunately don’t have any photos of Eileen Bell’s launch of Drowning in Amber at Variant Edition. Eileen was gracious enough to ask me along to do a reading with her. It was a blast! Definitely Eileen’s crowd, there was only a handful of mutual acquaintances, but I still sold lots of books. Thanks, Eileen’s friends and family! And thanks, Variant Edition! What a cool comic book store. Danica LeBlanc and Brandon Schatz have created something special there, and I’m really looking forward to visiting them again.

One of the things I was told early on in my writing career was not to read the same passage twice in the same city. I usually adhere to this and prepare a couple readings, so that I can also potentially play to the crowd I’ve drawn. I like to have a spooky reading and a funny reading. At Variant Edition, I went with the funny reading, a bit of Ted and Loki banter, as I I didn’t know many people, and figured “if you can make ’em laugh, at least they’ll remember you fondly.”

I also customize my preamble a bit for each event. It keeps things fresh for me, as much as anything, but it also helps when you have multiple events in the same city to keep people who attend each from zoning out before you get to that second reading.

It’s fitting that the end of the Thunder Road trip makes a stop here, in a comic book shop, because without comics, I highly doubt I would’ve become a reader—or at least, not as voracious a reader as I am. Comics were my gateway, not just to reading, but to the fantastic. To tales of high adventure. And they’ve been an influence on everything I’ve created. Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, John Byrne’s Alpha Flight, later Mike Mignola’s Hellboy…I wouldn’t be here without them. I’m still a comic reader, and Wednesday isn’t hump day for me, it’s New Comic Book Day.

Wednesday was actually a travel day, and I was keenly feeling the fact that I hadn’t picked up my comics back home for two weeks, but it was also Remembrance Day. I’m glad my host required little prodding to bring me to one of the services in Edmonton. It took place in a place nicknamed “The Butterdome” and it was very reminiscent of the services I’ve attended in Winnipeg at the Minto Armory. I was also cautioned to avoid mocking the Butterdome until after I’d left Edmonton.

After a minor scare due to getting caught up in Whyte Avenue, I made it to my bus with minutes to spare, and headed south to Calgary.

My launch at Owl’s Nest Books was a blast. Great crowd. Great questions. Great store.

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(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

In a huge surprise, Professor Michael Cichon who’d invited me to speak to his class in 2013 (and introduced me to Loki beer from Paddock Wood) at St. Thomas More College at the University of Saskatchewan happened to be in Calgary, so I was glad we had a chance to catch up a bit. It was great to see so many of my friends from When Words Collide as well. Owl’s Nest is a great store, and I’m looking forward to going back some day with another book.

From my Calgary preamble:

I love coming to Calgary. I’ve made some great friends here, and your conference When Words Collide is one of the highlights of my year every August. Calgary also hosted the first SF&F convention I ever attended, and if it wasn’t for the great friends I’ve made along the way since, I probably wouldn’t have thought to make Ted Albertan. Now I just hope you’ll forgive me for making him from Edmonton.

I snuck in a signing at Indigo Signal Hill on Friday thanks to Stacey Kondla (another great WWC person) and it went well. Signal Hill is a huge store with a great SF&F and Graphic Novel collection.

Indigo Signal Hill SK

(Photo courtesy of Stacey Kondla)

I’ve admired the work Kevin Madison has done for his Prix Aurora nominated “Thunder Road Trip” art blog of his reading of my trilogy for ages. It’s one of the reasons I specifically commissioned art from him for “A Simple Twist of Fate” and while I was in Calgary, I got to witness him starting up the next leg of the blog after the launch:

Ted's Back KBM

So cool.

Canmore! I’ve never been to Canmore, or right in the mountains like this.

Mountains and Snow

Too bad it was cloudy and snowy so that I couldn’t see to the tops of those mountains, but it was still amazing. After a lunch at a Mexican restaurant, I headed down to Cafe Books to do my thing.

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(Photo courtesy of Jean Cichon)

Cafe Books is a wonderful store. I talked to lots of people, and signed a bunch of books. Cafe Books is labyrinthine, and seems to keep going and going. It feels like you could find anything there. I hope to return someday.

That was my tour! Thanks to Ravenstone for putting me out on the road, and the folks who put me up (and put up with me) along the way.

Write on!