Ad Astra, Ottawa, Creative Ink Fest

Ad Astra was fun!

There are so many folks that I want to see and hang out with, have a beer with, or talk fantasy/gaming/movies with that I can’t possibly fit it all in over a single weekend. That’s a good problem for a convention to have.

I finally got to meet Robert Wiersema! We’ve only been corresponding online since…well it feels like forever, and I’m glad we made the time to enjoy a drink and talk books and writing. Cheers, Robert! Here’s hoping we cross paths again soon.

Of course I also had to have my now annual curry dinner with Angela & Matthew Keeley and Derek Newman-Stille. This year we were also joined by Don Bassingthwaite, Kate Story, and Dominik Parisien. Lots of fun! I also lugged my old tuxedo to Ad Astra, because Angela promised to wear it. I don’t think she believed me when I said she could keep it, but I sure as shit didn’t want to find the room in my luggage again.


I think she rocked the look, even if the suit was ginormous on her. I wanted her run rods through the shoulders and turn it into a Talking Heads performance piece, but alas.

The first two panels I was on had smallish turnouts, but I did have fun conversations about visual storytelling and the pros and cons of hybrid publishing, so there’s that. Superhero Universe launched and I met co-editor, Mark Shainblum. My reading from “Midnight Man versus Doctor Death” was well received, which is great, because I really enjoy reading that story aloud. My final bit of programming was a shared reading slot with Sarah WaterRaven, Leah Bobet, and Vanessa Ricci-ThodeI. I read from Too Far Gone, and was pleased with the turnout, and the crowd’s reaction to the reading. Between the four of us we drew over twenty people early on a Sunday morning. I’ll take it.

Of course, I had to spend time in the ToroLUG Lego room.




And thank you, as always to Bakka-Phoenix books for their support. I signed all the stock they brought, so if you missed connecting with me in Toronto, check them out for signed copies.


The last thing I did before leaving Ad Astra was join an informal meeting of the Sessorium of Creatives from The Ed Greenwood Group over lunch before hitting the road to Ottawa for some family time and a reading before heading west to Creative Ink Festival. I also met Dave Robison, who talks in Onder Radio voice all the time, and was a really cool guy. I met Ed Greenwood very briefly at GenCon in (I think) 1992 and for some reason in my brain he looked identical now and then. Maybe he really is an Archmage.

ChiSeries Ottawa was a blast. (Shakes fist at Derek Künsken for joke-booing ChiSeries Winnipeg when Matt Moore talked about the Auroras) It was all in good fun though, and the spirit of friendly competition, so if you see Derek out and about, give him a high five from me.

I was glad I lugged a few books along, because I sold a bunch. Almost sold out in fact. I had one lonely copy of Thunder Road left to take to Creative Ink.

I stayed with family while in Ottawa, and got to do a bunch of sightseeing.


The city was pretty chill about this giant spider menacing a church.


The Museum of Civilization (now the Museum of History) was the first touristy thing I ever did in Ottawa over 25 years ago, so I wanted to check it out again. Lots of amazing sights there. It was the art and artifacts of Canada’s west coast that really stuck with me though.

There were a few special exhibitions on as well. One on the B.C. gold rush, and another on “Horsepower” that featured sleighs and carriages. The gold rush exhibit had lots of great writing material. Can you believe I missed a viking exhibit by a matter of weeks? Bloody hell.


Oh look! I am worth something.

I checked out some fun restaurants and pubs, and had a visit with the Curator of the House of Commons. So grateful she was able to fit me in. I got to go in through the “Parliamentary Business” door. Insane.



Ottawa’s Haunted Walk was a lot of fun! I still haven’t done the one in Winnipeg, but I’ve read a lot of the stories behind it, and so it was neat to get to hear all new Ottawa specific stories. I didn’t see a ghost, but I did see some cool old buildings and got some fresh air. I’ll take it.



Off to Creative Ink.


Goddamn I love seeing the mountains from the air. I don’t want to be in them. If Dungeons & Dragons has taught me anything, it’s that mountains are full of monsters.

When you’re used to doing Winnipeg-Toronto or Winnipeg-Calgary, Toronto to Vancouver is a long-ass goddamned flight. Even in an aisle seat. Even when the plane is half empty, and you get a row to yourself. I realize there are a lot longer (and much worse) flights I could’ve had though. Also, I didn’t load enough movies onto my tablet. The More You Know.

Creative Ink was incredibly well run for a first year con, so kudos to Sandra and her team of volunteers! The programming was excellent, and while the con was on the smaller side (to be expected for its first full year) the percentage of attendees actually at panels was very high. Creative Ink had great turnouts for readings, panels, and workshops. Lots of my friends from Calgary were there, so it was fun to see them outside of When Words Collide.


My schedule.

Does Sandra Wickham know me too well, or did she just want me to embarrass the hell out of myself at the “Guilty Pleasures” panel?


I snuck out of the convention on Saturday for a bit, because my cousin invited me to a whisky tasting fundraiser, and I got to see her pipe in the mayor of the District of North Vancouver. Great night!

I was so happy to meet Carrie Vaughn, and even happy that she turned out to be such a nice person. I interviewed her years ago. She’s super smart, and funny, and great to panel with.

Galen Dara was sweet and is such a talented artist! I loved seeing her step by step run through of creating this cover for Uncanny Magazine:


I had to leave too soon. My early flight caused me to miss most of Sunday (other than a quick breakfast and getting to say goodbye to a few early risers, but I’ll be back if I can swing it!

Write on!


My Ad Astra Schedule

The schedule for Ad Astra is live!  I love this con! This will only be my third year of attending, but it’s definitely worth the jaunt. I’ve made so many good friends there over the last couple of years. Can’t wait to see them!

Here’s where you’ll find me:

Aaron Lenk, Chadwick Ginther, Naomi Foyle

Saturday 1:00 pm Exploring Hybrid Publishing
Chadwick Ginther, Mark Lefebvre, MJ Moores, Sandra Kasturi, Sephera Giron

Chadwick Ginther, Sarah WaterRaven, Leah Bobet, Vanessa Ricci-Thode
Write on!

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.


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.


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)!

DSC_2150[1] DSC_2149[1] DSC_2148[1] DSC_2147[1] DSC_2145[1] DSC_2144[1]

See you again next year, Ad Astra.

Write on!

My Ad Astra 2015 Schedule

Ad Astra is fast approaching. If you’re attending, here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday, April 10th

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM: Readings: Chadwick Ginther & Arlene F. Marks 

Room: Whitchurch

Saturday, April 11th

2:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Funding Your Grocery Bill: Writing Grants and Writing for Grants 

Room: Markham B

Panellists: Amanda Sun, Karina Sumner-Smith, Robert Boyczuk, Sandra Kasturi

Grant writing is hard – we can’t teach you how to write the perfect grant – But! We can discuss the good, the bad and the necessary fundamentals of grant writing. Gain some insight from our pros who have been there, written the grant and lived to see the benefits.

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM When the Gods Run Amok: Ancient, New and Urban Mythology

Room: Markham B

Panellists: Doug Smith, Kelley Armstrong, Marie Bilodeau

Urban fantasy gives us the chance to play around with our archetypal fairy tales and mythology. We can bring the gods down to our level and we get to bring magic into the everyday. Why is this so compelling?

That’s it for my programming, although I may, should inspiration strike, join Michael Matheson’s Late Night Slash Readings panel.

See you in Toronto!

Write on!

Ad Astra 2014 Roundup

2014 was the first time I’ve attended Ad Astra, Toronto’s premiere science fiction and fantasy fan convention.  All in all, it was a great weekend. Guests included: authors Patricia Briggs and Steven Erikson, as well as editor Anne Groell. My only regret is that I wasn’t feeling well. I rarely get sick, rarely get con crud, but I rolled in sick this time, and had to make the best of it. If any of you Toronto folks caught my cold, my apologies.

I took it easy on the Friday, my throat was sore and I was already running a sleep debt from various deadlines leading up Ad Astra. Definitely not the best way to get started, I know. On the plus side, Ad Astra was held in the same hotel that hosted the World Fantasy Convention in 2012, so I at least I already knew the venue. Granted, the hotel is technically in Markham, so it’s hell and gone away from the airport (and I hate traveling on public transit with luggage) but it is a nice venue.

My immediate thought about the con was how quickly it felt like a “home convention.” Keycon feels this way, obviously. So does When Words Collide in Calgary. As I went to grab dinner in the restaurant, Robert J. Sawyer was sitting with Steven Erikson, and introduced me. Steve used to live in Winnipeg, though that time predated my writing career. Also in the restaurant were a gang of rogues that I’ve met in my previous travels, including Matt Moore, Derek , and Michael Matheson.

One of my favourite things about conventions is when I finally get to meet people that I’ve been interacting with on Twitter or Facebook. This time I met writer and podcaster, Adam Shaftoe and Blue Magic author, Alyx Dellamonica (who I interviewed ages ago).

After having my gear stowed and registration picked up, I had my first panel of the convention. Normally, I like to attend a con at least once before I do any programming, but that’s not always going to be an option, and as I’d asked excellent indie bookseller, Bakka Phoenix to bring stock of my books to the con (Thanks, Team Bakka!), it seemed a good idea to get out there and be seen.

Panels are fun, but it’s a fun that’s also wholly dependent on who you share them with and what kind of crowd you draw. There’s lots of advice I’ve heard about doing panels well which is easily said, but harder to implement. I try to be fun, have fun, as well as be informative. And I do my best to not bring up my books. I hate sharing panels with the “Mybookmybookmybook” author. If you’ve ever been to a convention, you probably know the one, they have nothing to say unless it directly relates to something they’ve written or they try to twist everything back around to their writing.

I take my cue for panel participation from Edmonton author, Minister Faust. I saw Minister on a large panel of authors once, and he was the only person not to bring up his books, or his writing. What he did was have thoughtful and interesting things to say. Full stop. He didn’t need to sell me on his books, I was hooked on him as someone who had something to say. Guess whose book I bought when I was next in the dealer’s room? (He’s a great writer too! Loved From the Notebooks of Dr. Brain!)

My first panel, “Myth Information in Fantasy”, which had my friend Marie Bilodeau on board, as well as Jen Frankel, Katrina Guy and Stephen B. Pearl, was a blast. There was a great turnout, almost a full room, and I think the panel went well, I did receive some compliments on it after the fact. It was also nice to see Derek Newman-Stille from Speculating Canada in the audience. (Also, terrrifying. I’ve been interviewed by Derek before, and he always asks great questions, but they’re also hard questions.)

Myth Information Panel

The Myth-Information Panel: Photo by Matt Moore. (Marie Bilodeau is challenging Derek ‘s assertion that fantasy cannot be political. Or rather, trying to raise up a mob to challenge Derek on her behalf.)

I bowed out of the parties quite early Friday night, I even had to skip the Romulan Ale, Blue Milk, and Slurm (it’s highly addictive!) replicas that the restaurant was offering (among other SF&F drinks) during Klingon Kareoke. Evidently, Klingons really like Alannah Myles. Who knew?

AdAstra Klingon Kareoke

Me and Marie Bilodeau. Photo by Derek Newman-Stille.

Lots of good fun on Saturday. I enjoyed meals with friends before getting to the mass author signing. Not a lot of signatures to be had, that’s the nature of the game though, It’s hard to begrudge Patricia Briggs and Steven Erikson their fans because they’re awesome folks (and at least no one actually pointed out that the GoHs had a longer signing line than me. Yes, that’s happened). I sat close to Suzanne Church and Julie E. Czerneda so I had some fun folks to talk to. Julie was even gracious enough to give me an opinion of the titles I’m considering for Thunder Road book 3. Thanks, Julie!


One cool thing I got to do was sign a copy of Michael Rowe’s stellar book, Wild Fell, for collector Mike Cramer. Mike likes to have signatures from everyone involved in the book, and Michael was kind enough to thank me in the acknowledgements of Wild Fell (You’re very welcome, Michael!).

After the signings, Derek Newman-Stille caught up to me and we did a sit down interview for Speculating Canada that will air on Trent Radio. I’ll post a link or announcement about the date as soon as I have one.

Also, there were Daleks.

Derek & Dalek

Derek Newman-Stille, photo by yours truly.

It tried to exterminate me. Perhaps because of an offhand comment about that big blue public toilet it was hanging around…

My final bit of programming (I went light this year, and good thing I did, as my voice always felt just this side of collapse) was the panel “Comics as Literature”, ably moderated by James Bambury. We were joined by Michael J. Martineck and Sarah WaterRaven. I think that one went very well too. Good questions from Derek Newman-Stille as always, and from new con pal, Angela Keely.

After supper at Host, a local Indian restaurant, (their butter chicken was good, but I always feel I’m cheating on hometown fav, East India Company, but EIC is still winner and champeen of the curry universe as far as I’ve experienced) we headed up to the party rooms and books launches.

In one room Bundoran Press was launching Strange Bedfellows, edited by Hayden Trenholm (I contributed to the Indiegogo to support this one), and Alison Sinclair’s Breakpoint: Nereis. Robin Riopelle joined them, launching her debut from Nightshade Books, Dead Roads (and I’m so happy her books made it! She was having customs and FedEx issues and at least her launch had a happier ending than my Canada Post-foiled Edmonton launch of Tombstone Blues). In the other party room, Suzanne Church and Michael J. Martineck were launching their books from EDGE Publications: Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction and Milkman: A Freeworld Novel.

Michael Matheson had a reading scheduled for 10:30pm, and since Fun Things would be happening opposite the slot and there was nothing happening after, his reading morphed into a boozy sharing of Pacific Rim/Star Wars fan fic. Good Times. Probably the highlight of the con, in fact. Angela Keely brought down the house with her reading of the first four chapters of legendary (and legendarily bad) Harry Potter fan fic, My Immortal. There is talk of this becoming a thing for next year’s Ad Astra. I hope it does.

From the readings we meandered our way back upstairs. After roughly 4:00 in the morning, I realized my words were no longer working and went to bed. I did manage a bit of sleep and thank Thor for late checkouts.

A few other cool things about Ad Astra:

Check out the LEGO room!




Seeing this loose tumble of multicoloured bricks really is a thing of beauty.


Very cool Batman cover replica!


And….my swag: Golden Age Flash T-Shirt for the Win! And always, books, books, books!

I spent the remainder of Sunday afternoon and evening in Toronto proper with one of my oldest friends. We rewatched Zombieland and then watched This is the End for the first time. All in all, a wonderful trip. Ad Astra was a great con experience and I’ll definitely be back.

Write on!


My Ad Astra Schedule

I will be making my first visit to Ad Astra this weekend, and it looks like a great literary-streamed convention. Guests include: David Weber, Steven Erikson, Anne Groell, Patricia Briggs and Donato Giancola. As well, some of the convention’s past guests of honour will be returning, so Julie E. Czerneda, Ed Greenwood, and Robert J. Sawyer will also be in attendance!

I’m also excited to get to see a bunch of my Ontario writing friends, and to share panels with James Bambury and Marie Bilodeau.

Here’s where you can find me if you happen to be in Toronto this weekend:

Myth-Information in Modern Fantasy

Speakers: Chadwick GintherJen FrankelMarie BilodeauStephen B. PearlKatrina Guy
Scheduled At: April 4, 2014, 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Hall: [Markham A]
Track: Telling the Story
Type: Panel

How do authors incorporate traditional lore and myths into their modern-day fantasy settings? Is it possible to make a witch burning pertinent in the twenty-first century? Discuss these, and other inflammatory questions, in this panel.

GoH and Author Signings

Speakers: A.M. DellamonicaAlyx HarveyAmanda SunAnne GroellChadwick GintherDavid WeberDerwin MakDouglas SmithEdith ChartierEric ChoiErik BuchananGabrielle HarbowyIan Donald KeelingJames Alan GardnerJaz AshtonJulie CzernedaKaren DalesLeah PetersenLinda PoitevinMarie BilodeauNina MunteanuPatricia BriggsRob St-MartinSarah TolmieStephanie Bedwell-GrimeSteven EriksonSuzanne ChurchTimothy Carter
Scheduled At: April 5, 2014, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Hall: [Richmond A]
Track: Convention Related
Type: Event

A mass autograph session.

Comics as Literature

Speakers: Chadwick GintherJames BamburyMichael MartineckSarah WaterRaven
Scheduled At: April 5, 2014, 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Hall: [Markham A]
Track: Telling the Story
Type: Panel

This age-old (well, okay, decades-old) question is the focus of a panel set to discuss the merits of making room on the big-kid bookshelf for comics, the potential pretentiousness of the term ”graphic novel”, and which comics benefit best from a literary reading.

I would also feel remiss in not mentioning Michael Matheson’s reading Saturday at 10:30 pm in the Oakridge room, which has morphed into a Star Wars/Pacific Rim fanfiction affair guest starring Derek

Michael Matheson reading Attend

Speakers: Michael Matheson
Scheduled At: April 5, 2014, 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Track: Story Time
Type: Reading – See more at:

Michael Matheson reading Attend

Speakers: Michael Matheson
Scheduled At: April 5, 2014, 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Track: Story Time
Type: Reading – See more at:

Michael Matheson reading Attend

Speakers: Michael Matheson
Scheduled At: April 5, 2014, 10:30 pm to 11:00 pm
Track: Story Time
Type: Reading – See more at:

If you can’t find me at any of these places, you may want to check the bar. That is where writers are said to congregate…

Write on.