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.

Audreys 1 BGS

(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.

imagejpeg_3

(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.

Cafe Books 2 JC

(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!

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November Goals

November will be busy. I’m on the road for almost half the month, so things’ll be light around here in the goal department, other than having fun on tour.

  • Have fun on tour. World Fantasy Con is on deck and I always have a blast there, but first I’m doing a reading at Bakka Phoenix! I haven’t seen the new (to me, not so new to everyone else) location yet, and I can’t wait. I’m reading at some other venues for the first time this tour too, so thanks, Bakka Phoenix, Owl’s Nest, and Variant Edition for welcoming me, and thanks as always, Audreys, for your continued support.
  • 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.

And what about October, you ask?

Here’s how it went:

  • Two more chapters locked on the WiP
  • Keep my short fiction out on submission.
  • More blogs to write!
  • Get that unsubmitted short story I’ve been plugging away at out the door.
  • My annual reread of Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October, one chapter a night, for the thirty-one nights of October. I started this personal tradition last year, and it’s a great excuse to revisit an old favourite.

Nice. Glad I got everything done.

October was pretty intense, but my new writing routine of words before work seems to be working. It was my best month for new words since May. In addition to new words, I managed to lock four chapters, rather than two, in the WiP, which is why I’ve made the big November goal of finishing the current draft of the book. Really starting to get a head of steam up on this one near the end of the draft, so I hope I can maintain that, despite being on the road for two weeks.

It’s a lot easier to keep the short fiction on submission when make it a routine. All my stories that were available to submit in October are back out in the world. AND: I finally added another story to the pile. Godspeed you weird little Mennonite Magical Realism yarn! I also got another short story revised in time to make an anthology deadline. It’s another Thunder Road yarn, pretty much all new characters, but a familiar venue, and a couple nods to book one. I really like the heroine, so I hope readers will too.

I wrote some blogs. I would’ve liked to blog more, but with the fence done various other things around the house chimed in saying: Fix me. Replace me. So…I’m just gonna cross this one off the list, and back away slowly.

Every time I reread A Night in the Lonesome October (pretty much every time I read any Zelazny, really), I find something new, or something I’ve forgotten. I wonder if that’s a nature of taking a leisurely month to reread what is otherwise a short novel. Maybe next year, I’ll glut myself on the book in one day (Halloween, natch) and see how that changes the experience.

Write on!

 

Alberta Mini Tour!

I’m heading back to Alberta to do another round of research for Too Far Gone and I thought I’d tack a couple events on, since I was already around. Hope to see you either in Calgary or Edmonton!

Here’s where I’ll be:

Friday August 8th – Sunday August 11th: When Words Collide.

  • Saturday 1 PM RPG Storytelling: [panel discussion with Brandon Sanderson, Chadwick Ginther, Ron Bender, Dave Gross] RPGs or Role-Playing Games make up a huge chunk of the gaming industry. Part of what makes them so popular is the rich storytelling that players experience as they solve problems and learn secrets through the game. Our panel of RPG storytellers and players discuss what draws them to the gaming life.
  • Saturday 2 PM Why Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Is So Popular: [panel discussion with Margarita Gakis, Melodie Campbell, Aspen deLainey, Sandra Wickham, Chadwick Ginther] Urban Fantasy has grown large enough to be its own major genre. Indeed, many publishers have created imprints just for Paranormal or Urban Fantasy. What is it about these subgenres that are so attractive to today’s psyche?
  • Saturday 8 PM Autographs: Festival Guests are joined by 50+ authors
    Drop by between 8 PM – 9 PM to meet the authors and get your books signed. This session is open to the public, so tell your friends.
  • Sunday 4 PM On (Writing) Vacation [panel discussion with Randy McCharles, Patrick Swenson, James Van Pelt, Chadwick Ginther] Writing retreats, with their focused time and space, can inspire and rejuvenate authors and are as accessible as you want them to be. Panelists discuss their experiences and the rewards reaped from attending writing retreats.

Check out all of the programming being offered here:

Thursday August 14th at 7pm: Reading and Signing Tombstone Blues at Audreys Books in Edmonton. 

Write on!