VCon and the Prix Auroras Roundup

Another year of the Prix Auroras have come and gone.

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Very cool to see some of my friends receiving their Aurora nominee pins. Here’s Samantha getting hers.

I didn’t win, nor did ChiSeries Winnipeg, but I knew competition was steep this year. Big Congrats to all the winners! Fellow Winnipeg nominee Samantha Beiko and I got dressed up as fancy as possible (as is our custom at formal affairs) and joined in for the high tea prior to the awards.

Here’s a list of the Prix Aurora winners in all categories:

Best English Novel: A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
Best English YA Novel: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
Best English Short Fiction: “Ghost in the Machine” by Ryan McFadden, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
Best English Poem/Song: “Night Journey: West Coast” by Eileen Kernaghan , Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, EDGE
Best English Graphic Novel: Rock, Paper, Cynic by Peter Chiykowski, webcomic
Best English Related Work: On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society
Best Artist: Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications
Best Fan Music: Chris Hadfield for his performance of Space Oddity
Best Fan Organizational: Randy McCharles, Chair and Programming, When Words Collide, Calgary
Best Fan Related Work: Robert Runté, “Why I Read Canadian Speculative Fiction: The Social Dimension of Reading”, Scholar Keynote Address at ACCSFF ’13, Toronto

For those who are interested, here is the breakdown of nomination and voting statistics.

A couple quick thoughts on the stats: It is very clear the two voting bases are in Alberta and Ontario (which I was already aware of in a vague sort of way, but looking at the numbers really hammered that home), but I didn’t know how thin the Manitoban voting pool was. We have a robust con culture here, between Keycon, C4, and other events, so I’m not quite sure why that is. Finally, Tombstone Blues had the most nominations in its category, so I must be doing something right.

Next year, the Aurora nomination ballot will go from three items per category to five. I wonder how/if that will change the shortlist dynamic.

As for VCon, it was my first time at this convention. Also my first time in British Columbia.

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Hello mountains.

I’ve been meaning to go west for a while, some of the first friends I made in the industry when I attended World Fantasy in Calgary were VCon regulars. This year, the combination of Sandra Wickham doing the literary programming, attending the Auroras, and getting to hang out with Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ann Aguirre again was too much of a treat.

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Convening the Illuminaughty.

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The view from my hotel.

Silvia got Ann, Samantha, and I to leave the safety of the hotel and head into the city. Vancouver really is beautiful at night (to be fair, it’s beautiful during the day also), and the waterfront seemed kind of magical. While we were out with met up with Clare C. Marshall for more fun times.

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Blurry waterfront photo brought to you courtesy of hunger/whiskey.

In fact, I was so hungry by the time we found a restaurant, that I’d completely forgotten how we arrived. Silvia’s directions back to the Skytrain had pretty much disappeared. However, I walk with a purpose and was on the way to getting us seriously lost before Ann and Samantha questioned me. A minor train misadventure later (this one wasn’t on me!) and we made it home safely, if very late. That two-hour time change was a bit of a beast, although I handled it a little better this time than I had in Portland for World Horror Con.

My panel on Writing Non-Fiction to Supplement Your Fiction went well. My fellow panelists had interesting things to say, it wasn’t a huge crowd, but it was a bit of a niche subject. The panel of Game Master Tips and Tricks was much better attended. I tried to speak in generalities that could be used across a broad number of games rather than just sharing D&D war stories from my games. It was cool to meet Tarol Hunt of Goblins fame. I made a shout out to the Amber Diceless RPG and got a very enthusiastic “Woohoo!” from a couple of the attending gamers. We chatted a bit after the panel about Amber and its latest scion, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow.

There was a bit of confusion with my reading on Sunday, mostly due to the fact that I had to ask to change the time at the last minute to ensure I’d make my flight home. That’s on me, I knew I had an afternoon flight, so I should’ve mentioned it to programming as soon as I’d booked it. VCon was very accommodating, but the turnout was pretty thin.

All in all, way too short of a time to spend in such a cool city. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Write on!

 

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My VCon Schedule

I’m heading off to VCon this weekend. VCon is Vancouver’s premier science fiction, fantasy and games convention. I can’t wait for this. I’ve been meaning to get to VCon since my first convention (World Fantasy in Calgary) as I met a bunch of awesome B.C. folks there. I’ve met a few since, some of whom I only get to chat with on Twitter and Facebook, so I hope we’ll get to hang out a bit.
VCon will also be another reconvening of the Illuminaughty, albeit a small one. It’ll be great to see Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ann Aguirre again. Secret societies are the bomb. (Ssssh. SECRETS.)

Guests of Honour include author David Weber (Honor Harrington Series; Safehold Series, Dahak Series) http://www.davidweber.net/,  artist David Mattingly (Does Cover Art for David Weber’s Honor Harrington Books) http://www.davidmattingly.com/ and game designer Bruce Heard (Original TSR employee, responsible for the development of much of the BECMI D&D line and it’s campaign world Mystara) http://bruce-heard.blogspot.ca/.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty stoked about meeting Bruce Heard. Mystara was (and still is) my favourite D&D setting and I backed Bruce’s recent Kickstarter for Calidar in Stranger Skies. It’ll be an honour to share a panel with a game design legend.

This year VCon is also hosting Canvention (Canada’s national and traveling convention) and the Prix Aurora Awards. Me and my ChiSeries Winnipeg partner Samantha Beiko will be there representing Winnipeg (oh, and our books, and the ChiSeries and stuff).

VCon has brought in a few guests specifically for Canvention. Canvention, Tarol Hunt creator of the Goblins webcomic http://goblinscomic.com/ and artist Melissa Mary Duncan http://www.melissaduncan.ca/.

Here’s my schedule:
Friday, October 3
7 pm Selling Your Nonfiction to Subsidize Your Fiction? There’s an abundance of work out there when you’re a talented non-fiction writer. How does that translate into your speculative fiction? How do you balance writing both? Do anthology editors consider an author’s entire portfolio or just the fiction?
Sandra Wickham • Claire Eamer • Melanie Dixon • Chadwick Ginther • Mark Anthonry Brennan
8 pm Aurora Award Pin Ceremony: All attending Aurora award Nominees receive their Nominee Pins from members of the CSFFA (Aurora award admin people) Board of Directors.
Saturday, October 4
2 pm Game Master Tricks: Having problems with your game going off the rails? Time to break out the big guns! Panelists share their favourite tips for putting one over on players, devising devious schemes, or improvising when your carefully laid plans go all to hell.
Paula Johanson • Tarol Hunt • Chadwick Ginther • Bruce Heard • Jeremy Reimer
4 pm Aurora Award Afternoon Tea: This is a catered ticketed affair. Guests will savour finger sandwiches, light pastries, scones, fruit compote, Devonshire cream, etc.
During (or shortly after) the High Tea retired Movie Critic and Journalist Michael Walsh will present several ‘spoof’ Elron Awards in a tradition dating back to the first VCON in 1971. R. Graeme Cameron, presenter of the Elrons since 1989, will unveil the rest of the horrors at a later program event.
4:45 pm Aurora Award Ceremony: Master of Ceremonies Sandra Wickham (well-known author whose stories have appeared in “Evolve”, “Urban Green Man”, and numerous other anthologies and magazines) will preside over the awarding of the Auroras.This is the last year the current Aurora Award design will be handed out – Frank Johnson’s wonderful ‘Maple Leaf Aurora’ design has been used for the past 23 years, each award individually handcrafted by him in his workshop. To put it mildly, CSFFA certainly appreciates Frank’s dedication and hard work. CSFFA is glad to note that Frank will be present at the awards. As part of the ceremony CSFFA Canvention 34 Chair Clint Budd will announce the recipients of the newly created Hall of Fame Honours. This replaces the previous Lifetime Achievement awards, all previous winners of which will now be inducted into the CSFFA Hall of Fame.The past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award being “transferred” into the Hall of Fame are: A.E. Van Vogt, Susan Wood, Judith Merril, Phyllis Gotlieb, Dennis Mullen, and Robert J. Sawyer. This year’s winners are William Gibson, and Spider & Jeanne Robinson. Bill and Spider will be present to acknowledge their induction, the latter on behalf of and in memory of his co-author and beloved wife of many years, Jeanne Robinson. 

Sunday, October 5
10:00 am Reading with Ann Aguirre
Hope to see you there, and wish me luck at the Auroras.
Write on!

(Very Tardy) World Horror Con and Keycon 31 Roundups

These roundups are coming a bit late, aren’t they? Like-“holy shit, really? It’s been two months”-kind-of-late. Between prepping for World Horror and traveling and then prepping for Keycon a week later, I managed to fall pretty far behind on a number of things. Having mostly dug myself out of the catch-up hole, it’s a long one, but here you are:

It’s hard for me to separate my impressions of these two cons, they happened so closely together, for one, and I hung out with a few of the same awesome people at both. In fact, World Horror Con (or the reconvening of the Illuminaughty) all spun out of last year’s Keycon 30. I had a great time with a bunch of awesome folks and we got to reminiscing on Twitter and missing each other and tried to find a convention where we could all meet up. Lee Moyer and Venetia Charles kindly offered to host those of us who made it down to Portland for World Horror and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ann Aguirre, GMB Chomichuk and I leapt at the offer.

The first leg of my trip to Portland for World Horror Con was Winnipeg to Minneapolis. The Minneapolis airport was nice enough, although I found actually boarding my next flight to be a part of crazy hodge-podge of too many gates too close together and an unending series of boarding announcements. Boarding feels considerably more higgledy piggledy (to quote Bloom County “Higgledy Piggledy means a big mess”) in the U.S. than it does in Canada. Also, a shoutout goes to the guy wearing the “You’ll Take My Guns From My Cold Dead Hands” T-shirt in the terminal. Way to represent, fella.

Another peculiarity of being south of the border was that there was Wi-Fi on my plane. I was very excited about being able to tweet during my flight, not that it was particularly dramatic, but c’mon, living in the future. Then I saw that I had to pay for the privilege and my cheap inner Winnipegger took over and decided to read instead. But I did see the mountains, sure I saw them from 30000 feet up, but that’s the closest I’ve come to them yet. I’ve seen them in the distance from Calgary but I couldn’t really make anything out. Next time I’m in Alberta, I’ll have to get closer, I guess.

When I left Winnipeg, the snow had been gone for about a week, all the trees were bare, all the grass was dead. Imagine how refreshing it was to see this when I landed:

Portland Green

In Bloom

At World Horror, I took in a few panels. Gregory crashed the comics panel at the insistence of Silvia and myself. He ended up moderating and rocked it.  Seriously, if you ever need to keep a panel lively, get that GMB fellow up there.

I also spent a lot of time watching GMB sketch. I always carry a notebook, he always carries a sketchbook, and both of us were scribbling words and pictures all weekend.

GMB Sketching 1

We came up with Secret Plans. (More on that in the future, hopefully.)

I also got to watch Lee Moyer work, seriously, check out his portfolio. He is amazing.

I’ve said this before, but it remains true, one of my favourite things about attending conventions is meeting people who I’ve so far only chatted online with. World Horror was a great con for that, and I finally got to meet Folly Blaine, Minerva Zimmerman, Wendy Wagner, Claude Lalumière, Camille Alexa, and Jennifer Brozek (Jennifer was my editor for my first Steampunk story, “A Taste of the Other Side”, forthcoming in Beast Within 4, Gears & Growls).

I can usually avoid con-crud, but I got sick the day after I arrived in Portland. I don’t think it was a bug, so I’m blaming the two hour time change. Fortunately, I was able to rally. (Thanks for looking out for me, guys!)

My only programming at World Horror was offering a critique to an aspiring writer. It was supposed to be a shared critique with another pro, and done in the Clarion Style. All good. Except I was still feeling like ass, and the other pro didn’t show up, so I had an hour of critiquing to fill instead of thirty minutes. Something good spun out of it though. That aspiring writer had gone through the trouble of making a submission and so I was determined to be “on” for him. Being forced to show up and not stay home wallowing in self-pity also pushed me through the wall of my headache and nausea, and I felt a lot better when the critique session was over. I hope the aspiring writer did too. He took my suggestions well, and was an affable, fun guy. I really hope he’s successful.

We managed a bit of time for sightseeing:

We had lunch at Zeus Cafe (food was great), which had a great basement club, called Al’s Den (very sweet art on the walls).

Essence of Manly Beauty

Lemmy! The essence of manly beauty.

Black Keys Poster

The Black Keys!

We also visited the legendary Powell’s Books, and man it lives up to its rep. For my Winnipeg friends, imagine if McNally Robinson had four floors and sold used and new books. It was also very busy. It did my heart good to see so many people in a bookstore on a sunny Saturday (Yes, it was sunny in Portland. At least until it rained again.) afternoon.

We started the dance at World Horror’s Gothic Ball. It was also strange to see more people dancing to “Funky Town” than “Closer“, but hey, Funky Town!

Maple Bacon Bar

Voodoo Doughnuts!

I first heard about Voodoo Doughnuts while watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations travel show, and have been lusting after the pictured bacon maple bar ever since. So good.

Street Elevator

Loading elevators that came out of the street!

By the time I noticed what was happening and got my phone out to get the picture, the delivery had already disappeared into the bowels of Portland’s underground.

Yes, I found a comic store. Evidently, Portland is rife with comics professionals. No surprise there, given it’s the home of Dark Horse Comics. The neighbourhood I was staying in was home to one Brian Michael Bendis, who you may have heard of.

Leaving Minneapolis for both Portland and Winnipeg, my flights were racing a thunderstorm (appropriate, I know) and on the flight home, there was a moment when it actually felt like the plane was going to fall out of the sky. Crazy. Scary. Cool (because, you know, it didn’t).

When I got home from Portland, I had a couple of cool things waiting for me:

Sword & Mythos

My backer’s copy of the latest Innsmouth Free Press anthology, Sword & Mythos!

On Spec Spring 2014

And my contributor’s copies of the Spring 2014 issue of On Spec, which includes my Thunder Road story, “Runt of the Litter.”

Keycon 31 was a bit different beast. And while we’re not quite at the Cheers phase, my home con is definitely the place where a lot of people now know my name.

Silvia was a guest of honour here, so we got to hang out again, which was awesome. I picked Silvia up at the airport and we went on a walking tour of Winnipeg’s Exchange District before grabbing some supper.

Silvia at Millenium

Friday night, I shared my reading slot with Samantha Beiko, who I unintentionally trolled during her reading.

SM Beiko Reading Keycon 2014

Samantha is reading from her phone, see, and I decided to tweet about her reading and tag her. If only I could’ve caught the look she gave me when she realized what was happening. Again, sorry, Samantha! Not intentional. (She got her revenge when we went to see Godzilla and punched my belly like it was a speed bag at the gym. Tiny but fierce.)

Met some awesome folks, such as author (and wrestler) Adam Knight and cartoonist Johnathan Hatton. I caught up with old friends, Clare Marshall, Code Skillen, Levi Labelle and Brian Mitchell, co-chairs from Keycon 30.

I also signed a book for Tanya Freaking Huff. That is the kind of thing that doesn’t get old. I love her writing and she is a wonderful human.

The women who worked the Chapters book table last year were back again. Many thanks for your support and enthusiasm, Dana, Stephanie and Sydni! I had at least a couple of people at my signing who told me they bought Thunder Road because you sold them on it. You rock!

Gregory Chomichuk didn’t have any pieces in the art show this year, but he was doing live art in the registration area. So cool!

GMB Live Art Keycon 2014GMB Keycon 2014

(I saw this piece, finished, and up for sale at Gregory’s joint “CoLabratory” art show, which was a time and a half.)

When it came to panels I was on the Locally Grown: Authors and More You Likely Missed panel, moderated by my pal Adam Petrash alongside Samantha Beiko, GMB Chomichuk, Karen Dudley, Adam Knight, Johnathan Hatton, Laurie Smith, Lindsay Kitson, Leia Getty, and Lenora Rose Patrick.

Using Setting and Culture to Shape Characters with Samantha Beiko and ably-moderated by another Winnipeg fantasy author, Sherry Peters.

My final panel was Sparking Creativity, which I shared with Sherry Peters, artist GoH Ian Sokoliwski, and GMB Chomichuk. I was late to this panel, because for some reason I thought it was hour later than it turned out to be. Fortunately one of my fellow panelists tweeted that he missed me, and I dashed off. I was in such a hurry that I got caught in a lie. We were talking about opening yourself up to creativity and I mentioned that I always carried a notebook so if I had an idea I didn’t lose it, when Gregory noticed that I didn’t have my notebook on the table (I’d left it safely behind the Faery Ink Press table in the dealer’s room when I realized I was late) and called me on it. But I did have my back up, my phone, which has a notepad and voice recorder app, so I somewhat recovered my always taking notes cred.

I missed a bunch of panels that I would have liked to check out. They were either opposite my programming or in the brief spans that I had available to try to squeeze food out of the hotel restaurant. I did take in GMB’s panel on Storytelling for Graphic Novels, which was fun.

Silvia, code and I played Crazy 8s (and tried to remember how to play Crazy 8s) while waiting for the banquet to start. After dinner we roamed the party rooms until the ungodly hours of the morning.

And at least I managed to finish this blog post before I have to write one for When Worlds Collide!

Write on!

 

Where You’ll Find Me At Keycon 30

Tentacles,Tardis, and bison, oh my!

Keycon 30 is almost upon us! I’m really excited about this year’s convention. It’s my first Keycon with a published book under my belt, and a lot of my out of town friends are coming in for the event. All signs point to an awesome weekend. If you’re attending and want to see me, here’s where I’m guaranteed to be:

Author Reading with David Annandale and Chadwick Ginther

Ambassador C 11 11:00:00 Saturday

David Annandale and Chadwick Ginther read from their latest works.

Saturday Autograph Session Hour 2 

Terrace East 13 14:00:00 Saturday

I’ll be signing along with Ann Aguirre, David Annandale, Eileen Bell, Marie Bilodeau, Karen Dudley, Richard Hatch, Billie Milholland, Robert J. Sawyer, and Hayden Trenholm.

An Hour with Ann Aguirre

Ambassador B 11 15:00:00 Saturday

I’ll be moderating the question and answer period with Keycon 30 Author Guest of Honour, Ann Aguirre

Mythology/Folklore

Terrace East 13 14:00:00 Sunday

The re-emergence of Greek and Norse Mythology in Fantasy Fiction.
My co-panelists are: Karen Dudley and Leia Getty

There’s also a very good chance you’ll spot me in the Dealer’s Room or attending one of the other fine panels. If you do, please say hello.

Not only is Keycon 30 shaping up to be a stellar con, but you’ve got two options for an early kickoff. Thursday night, May 16th Clare C. Marshall will be reading and signing from her YA novel, The Violet Fox at McNally Robinson and Eileen Bell, Marie Bilodeau, Karen Dudley, and Billie Milholland will be reading their work, and discussing women in Canadian science fiction and fantasy at the Millenium Library.

Write on!

May Goals

It’s time for another monthly goals post. I’m not shooting for the moon in May, but with Mother’s Day coming up, a convention to prep for (Keycon 30! W00T!) and my presentation at Inside Publishing behind me, I think I’m going to go light on the goals. Besides, it’s revision season, and the next round of edits on Tombstone Blues could drop in my lap at any moment.

May Goals:

  • Write at least 31000 words on the third book in the Thunder Road trilogy. Why 31000? It works out to 1000 words a day. 1K a day for May. I like the way it sounds. Also, somewhere around 30000 words is when a work in progress starts to actually feel like a book to me. My first drafts are usually in the 60K range (Thunder Road was 68000 in first draft, and Tombstone Blues was 62000 words in first draft), and so this will take me to roughly the halfway point of the novel (though I have a sneaking suspicion that Book 3, will be the longest of the trilogy)
  • Prepare for my Keycon 30 panels. I’ll be interviewing Ann Aguirre and moderating audience questions as a part of the “Hour with an Author” program. I’m also doing a panel on Myth and Folklore with Karen Dudley and Leia Getty, and sharing a reading slot with David Annandale.
  • Draft a new short story (I’m told there will be a post-Keycon write-off with some of my writing chums, and I always get lots of work done at these things, so what the hell, let’s add this to the mix).

So how did I do in April? Not too shabby…

  • Finish the first draft of my current (and newly untitled–man I hate thinking of titles) urban fantasy Work in Progress.
  • Look at my short fiction not currently on submission and send those stories to new markets.
  • Finish my latest review for Quill and Quire
  • Finish my latest review for The Winnipeg Review
  • Finalize my soundtrack for as-yet-untitled book three of the Thunder Road Trilogy(The soundtrack is the first step of my novel writing process–its essentially my first rudimentary outline).
  • When I finish reading or watching something that I really like, say something about it here on the blog.

Colour me as surprised as you, but I did indeed finish the first draft of book one in an entirely new urban fantasy series. Lots and lots of work left in this one before I’m ready to send it out, but I think it has promise (even if it still doesn’t have a name). Probably the darkest thing I’ve written so far, and skirts closer to horror territory than anything I’ve written in the Thunder Road trilogy so far.

I didn’t get all of my short fiction back out into the world, but I did resubmit most of it. There were a couple of stories I wrote for theme anthologies that I decided to take a long second look at before resubmitting, and a couple stories came back, one with a rejection and one with a rewrite request that threw a spanner in the delicate work of juggling stories between markets that are open and stories that have already been submitted to those same markets. All in all, of my stories that were sitting fallow, five were resubmitted, three consigned to the rewrite pile (one at editorial request), and one more ready to go out.

My review of Barbara Fradkin’s The Whisper of Legends was turned in to Quill and Quire, it’s not online yet, but you can read my review of Guy Gavriel Kay’s River of Stars on the Winnipeg Review website.

The soundtrack for Thunder Road book 3 is currently in regular rotation in my car, good thing, because I’ve started to write that book! I won’t reveal the tracks just yet, but the soundtrack for book 2, Tombstone Blues, will be revealed this summer.

I did finally post a review of J.M. Frey Triptych, on the blog, and a couple of brief reviews on my Goodreads account, so I’m counting that last one.

Looking forward to next month, I’m going to try and get my June goals up before the first week of the month is over. But that’s a goal for June. 😉

Write on!