Central Canada Comic Con Roundup

This was not my first time attending C4, but it was my first time there as an author.

In the past, I would get a day pass, swing through Artist’s Alley and the back issue bins, drop too much money, and be gone in under an hour or so. Big crowds always have a way of making me want to start throwing elbows. It’s been a number of years since I’ve even attended, as C4 almost always conflicts with World Fantasy Con and WFC is probably my favourite model of conference. Given the amount of editors and agents that attend, more likely to advance my career in the long run than selling a box of books. But WFC was in Brighton, England this year, and unfortunately, just not in the cards.

IMG_0401 My table, tarted up with books and props.

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But I had a great time! In fact, I found C4 far more enjoyable as a vendor than I did as just an attendee. Having a table allowed me to avoid the lines getting in, gave me a place to sit and leave my jacket, toque, and gloves (I mean, it is held in November in Winnipeg, if you feel me), and to have a place to go if the crush of people became too much. Aside from having fun, how’d the con go?

Great!

I sold enough copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues to pay for the cost of my table and the crappy pizza and hotdogs that the Winnipeg Convention Centre offered up (I’ll need to sell a lot more books to cover the cost of all the swag I bought). I talked to a lot of people, handed out postcards, magnets, pens, journals, and t-shirts.

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I thought a varied table might help me out, so I brought copies of all the anthologies and magazines containing my short stories. I sold a couple copies of the Fungi anthology. Talked up On Spec, and the forthcoming Tesseracts anthology The reaction the passersby had to Fungi was awesome to see, and allowed me to chat up people who would have otherwise have kept walking. I’ll definitely keep bring the short stories along to play if I do more of these cons.

I was located in a makeshift “Author Alley” row inside of the general Artist’s Alley along side a bunch of my writing pals, Sierra Dean, Samantha Beiko, Clare C. Marshall, and the Burst Books crew of Graeme Brown, L.T. Getty, Ronald Hore, and Cameron D. James.

I tracked down Donovan Yaciuk, creator of Spacepig Hamadeus, and talked a bit about my short comic for his upcoming anthology, introduced him to Samantha, who in addition to being a great writer, is a kick ass artist. One of the big attractions for me of this year’s C4 was picking up a limited print edition of GMB Chomichuk’s Aurora Award nominated comic, Raygun Gothic.

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Once I found the Alchemical Press booth I dropped all of the coin! I picked up some prints, buttons, and of course, that limited print edition which is now customized and rather than 1 of 200, is one of a kind!

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Also, it can pay to be a Secret Society (TM) member, and there are some cool things coming up that I can’t talk about yet.

But what you really want to see is the costumes, isn’t it?

“Aww, Ice King!”

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How do you spell the repulsor noise?

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Enchantress and Red Sonja!

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Sweet classic Loki costume!

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Another great Loki. IMG_0395

Not pictured: the mini donuts this Loki has tucked behind her back.

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One of many Thors. I wish I could have caught them all (like Pokemon).

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My lovely assistant was having some fun while I was gadding about.

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Probably the best Ash costume I’ve ever seen. This guy rocked it. Groovy.

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Unless these guys are about to reenact an “Acts of Vengence” storyline, I find it very dubious that Magneto and The Red Skull would be so buddy-buddy.

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Captain America might need to separate those two…

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Batman knew what we wanted to see.

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One of my favourites! Castle and Beckett. The guy in the Castle costume made the vests.

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TONS of Adventure Time cosplay, and lots of Marceline the Vampire Queen. This Marceline traveled with Marshall Lee the Vampire King.

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I don’t know who these guys are, so it must be a video game thing, but awesome costumes.IMG_0457

Ghost Rider knows who you are and what you’ve done (especially you, Nicholas Cage).

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Write on!

My Keycon 30 Roundup: AKA Best. Con. Ever.

A bold statement, “Best. Con. Ever.”

But I’m going to stand by it.

Keycon 30 was a multiple anniversary, celebrating thirty years of the convention, fifty years of Doctor Who, and 100 years of H.P. Lovecraft (In another anniversary of sorts, or at least a cool coincidence, I am celebrating my one hundredth post on the blog with this roundup).

This was my first con with a book out (yeah, yeah, I know, World Fantasy and Pure Speculation were a part of my tour, but Thunder Road was just released then, and few folks had had the chance to read it yet). I was blown away by the number of people who came up to me to tell me that they loved the book. And I swear, I didn’t pay first time Keycon attendee, Shayla Elizabeth to sport a Thunder Road tattoo on her cheek all weekend. 

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The only complaints I heard were about the brief period when the elevators had stopped working, but seriously, people complain about the elevators at every convention I have ever been to. And you can hardly blame acts of Cthulhu on the convention. This was the biggest and best Keycon I can remember. The guests hit on all cylinders, even the ones I wasn’t familiar with before the con. I didn’t see half of the folks I wanted to, and they time went by too quickly with those I did see. But I did make many great new friends.

Hats off to Brian Mitchell and Levi Labelle, the 2013 ConChairs. They deserve your Aurora nominations next year. As does the programming team of Sherry Peters, Lindsay Kitson, Anna Lauder and Charlie Lauder.

This year the book table was manned by some Chapters and Coles staff. I’ve tweeted about how awesome they were all weekend, but it deserves to be said again: Sydni, Stephanie, Dana, you ROCK! They knew their stuff (and knew my book!) and were lots of fun. I signed all the stock of Thunder Road they brought with them, and I hope to see them back at the con next year.

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I never get to see everything that I want to at any con. Invariably, one must see (at least, must see for me) panel is in conflict with another, but I particularly enjoyed Lee Moyer’s presentation on bad book covers and the crowdfunding panel Lee shared with Sylvia Moreno-Garcia and Steven Barnes.

As for my side of the programming, I had a great time sharing a reading slot with David Annandale. We decided to tag team and trade off several short readings rather than each doing one long one. I think it worked well and kept our audience interested. David read from Gethsemane HallDeath of Antagonis, and Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha. I read the openings from my short stories “First They Came for the Pigs” (natch, Silvia was my editor on that story) and “Back in Black”, finishing off the slot with the opening pages of the second book in the Thunder Road Trilogy, Tombstone Blues. 

Next up, I was moderating the Hour with an Author panel, featuring Author Guest of Honour, Ann Aguirre. Things got off to a slow start due to some location confusion (our original room had been partially flooded by a busted sprinkler head–R’lyeh Rising, terribly appropriate for a Lovecraftian Keycon) so I had a great chat with Ann before attendees filtered in to start asking questions. Ann is a great storyteller, and I’m in the middle of reading her Corine Solomon novels at the moment and really enjoying them (I’ve also been told that if you like Firefly you’ll like her Sirantha Jax novels–and I love me some Firefly, so I’m excited to start those too). Because our panel started late, we ended a little late, and Ann only had 45 minutes to eat before her next slate of programming started. Knowing from experience that the Radisson restaurant would not make that kind of turnaround, we hustled out of the hotel and into the rain. The closest restaurant was La Bamba, so yes, we took the author from Mexico City to eat at a Mexican restaurant in Winnipeg (her verdict: good–and more authentic than she usually finds in the States).

My final panel was a discussion of Mythology and Folklore with Karen Dudley and Leia Getty. Technically, the panel was about the “reemergence of Greek and Norse mythology in fantasy fiction” but after talking about how those stories have never really gone away, we started branching out to talk myth in a more general way and about using it in fiction. It was  a great turnout for a Sunday afternoon panel. I had a lot of fun.

I checked out the Filk room, aka The Dandy Lion, run by Morva Bowman and Alan Pollard (who are nominated for an Aurora Award for their concert at FILKONtario 22) with Samantha Beiko and Clare Marshall. Clare rocked the blue fiddle she borrowed from Sam (the blue fiddle she was hoping to sneak home in her luggage) through a number of songs before Morva and Alan started their concert. I’ve never been much into the filk scene at cons, but I had a lot of fun.

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Things got a little meta when Canadian Author Guest of Honour, J.M. Frey read a fantasy short story set at a fantasy con during the Dead Dog party. Ryan Roth Bartel from Rampant Design made a custom mask for Lee Moyer. GMB Chomichuk drew a wicked version of Nyarlathoteph in his crawling chaos shape for Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I love Gregory’s work, and so to see him create an original piece was a treat I won’t soon forget.

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You can see the finished product in all its eldritch glory in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Keycon post.

A whole gang of us spent the night of the Dead Dog in the Clockwork Club hospitality suite holding a seance that summoned only popcorn. Stories were told and plots were hatched. Oh, and we may or may not have formed a secret society. But I can’t talk about that.

It’s a secret, after all.

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!

New Month, New Goals

So these were my goals for January:

  • Finish my submission for Sword and Mythos. I helped fund this anthology on IndieGogo, so I damn well better send them something.
  • Send at least one short story to On Spec.
  • Write a blog post at least once a week.

Now that it’s February, how did I do?

  • Finish my submission for Sword and Mythos. I helped fund this anthology on IndieGogo, so I damn well better send them something.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. I have finished drafting the story, but it still needs a lot of polish before I’m willing to let anyone (let alone an editor) see it.

  •  Send at least one short story to On Spec.

I managed to send in three stories to On Spec for this submission period. Two of those stories are ones they offered to take a second look at if I made some revisions and the third, while not a new new story, is new to them, as they were closed to submissions when I first finished it. Fingers crossed, knock wood, not mentioning that “Scottish play” and all that.

  • Write a blog post at least once a week.

I’m actually not sure what to say about this one…I wrote five blog posts in January, as well as had a guest blog from Clare Marshall. By the numbers I guess I hit my goal, but if I lawyer up on my wording, I failed. In one of those January weeks I didn’t actually write a blog, I only published Clare’s guest post. A technical win, I suppose?

Yeah, I’m going to call that a win too. It’s my blog, I can change the rules.

  • Write a blog post at least once a week.

So what’s up for February? February actually has some paying deadlines so it’s going to be a little crazy.

I think that’s ambitious enough for now.

Write on!

Guest Post: Clare C. Marshall on Writing the Bad Guy

Please welcome back to the blog, Clare Marshall!

It’s been a year since her first YA novel, Within, was published, and I’m a part of her celebratory blog tour. Today, Clare talks about writing the bad guy:

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It’s not every story that we get to hear from the bad guy.

If you’ve never heard of my book before, here’s a brief synopsis. It’s about a girl named Trinity who gets in a car accident, and as a result, has brain damage. But then she starts uncontrollably writing a novel, streamlining the consciousness of a murderer who turns out to be very real. It’s up to Trinity’s boyfriend Zack, and Trinity’s best friend Ellie to determine who the murderer is before he finds them—and he’s closer to home than they realize. Plus, the book takes place in the very real city of Halifax.

Within is written in third person with multiple POVs, and one of those POVs is the psychotic murderer, named Edmund. Now, Edmund fancies himself a clever man, and in many ways, he is quite clever. He likes to prey upon the weak-minded to help him with his schemes–aka, murdering those he considers to be impure–ethnic minorities and homeless people especially. He makes up a fake god named Omnus, who demands sacrifice, and grants power to his followers for each kill. In reality, during the convoluted killing ritual that Edmund has concocted, he serves wine laced with a powerful hallucinogenic to his followers.

But why, you might be asking, why would it be necessary to have Edmund go through all this song and dance just to kill people? Why can’t he just stab his victims in an alleyway? A couple of reasons: first of all, that would be too boring for him. It’s about the chase: picking out his victims according to his specific code of twisted ethics, and capturing them, taking them to his secret lair beneath the Halifax Common. The Commons (as it’s locally known) is a park in Halifax that you really don’t want to go around at night. Or at least, when I lived in Halifax, it wasn’t a place you wanted to be after dark, alone.

It’s also about the control Edmund has over the people gullible enough to buy into his charade. His followers become addicted to the feeling of power that he gives them. His dark rituals take place in caverns beneath the Commons, so he can hide his face from the public and practice his guilty pleasures. The more involved his devotees become, the more they have to lose.

And because Edmund prefers this kind of chase, this kind of control, he needs his followers to help him kidnap his victims and get rid of their remains. The more complicated the scheme, the more loose ends there are.

Will these loose ends be Edmund’s undoing? Well, you’re just going to have to read it and find out!

Read more about Within at Faery Ink Press (http://www.faeryinkpress.com), and enter the giveaway to win a physical copy (open internationally!)

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Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a freelance editor, designer and website manager, and enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.

Guest Post: Clare C. Marshall On The Creation of Marlenia, The World of the Violet Fox

Welcome to the last stop on The Violet Fox Blog Tour! As I talk about mythology with some regularity around these parts, when I agreed to host a blog by YA author Clare C. Marshall, I asked her to talk about the mythological inspirations for her novel, and here’s what she had to say: 

The creation of Marlenia, the world of The Violet Fox, boils down to one element:

Names.

I’m particularly fond of names, especially unusual ones. My protagonist’s name is Kiera (alternate spelling: Ciara) and it’s an Irish name meaning “dark one.” Kiera isn’t particularly dark but she does have a temper. Her love interest’s name is Keegan, which is an Irish surname. I chose these names back when The Violet Fox was about twenty pages of loose leaf in a writing binder in elementary school.

When I revisited the manuscript and expanded the story, I realized that I really liked these names and there was no way I was going to change them. Meaning, I would grow the world and its mythology from the names. But because the land of Marlenia has four provinces, I wanted to give them each a distinct culture. The events in The Violet Fox are set in Western Marlenia, where Keegan and Kiera are from, and thus that province is Irish/Scottish/English inspired.

Not only did I grow the culture from the names, but also the religion. The people of Marlenia live under what I like to call a “lapsed theocracy.” Their main ruler is the Holy One, and he presides over all four provinces of Marlenia from his seat in Western Marlenia. “The Holy One” was another artifact from my elementary school manuscript. I didn’t write it with the intention of having a religious monarchy–it just sounded cool to my nine- or ten-year-old self and was different than “king” or “queen” or any of your other standard ruler monikers. But again, I realized that if I wanted to keep the Holy One as a title, I had to work it into the culture.

So, under the intense focus of many energy drinks, I drew up a document that contains a basic history of the religion and culture of Marlenia. Marlenians worship a man-god named Dashiell, who supposedly lived and ruled thousands of years ago, and affected the lives of everyone with his god-like powers. Once, religion was strong in the land of Marlenia, but over the past couple of generations, the Marlenians have become more distant from their faith. The Holy One supposedly speaks the will of Dashiell, but because the people of Marlenia don’t care as much about Dashiell anymore, this lessens the influence of the monarchy. This ties in with the unrest created by the Freetors (the people who are forced to live underground).

The Freetors, originally, didn’t have any religion, or idols. But as I completed the second draft of the manuscript, I realized that they needed something, someone to look up to, someone that inspires them to continue fighting for freedom on the surface. So, Alastar the Hero was born. Two hundred years before the events in The Violet Fox, a man with magical powers beyond human comprehension sparked a rebellion against the monarchy. The Holy One saw this as a threat to Dashiell and the religion created around him, and fought back.

It was actually a lot of fun to create Alastar the Hero. While the Freetors look up to him as a inspiration, he’s become a legend in the mythology of the world. Like most legends, he has some bizarre stories that may or may not be true. One of these such stories has become the basis for The Silver Spear, the sequel to The Violet Fox. It just goes to show that a story mechanic doesn’t have to be mechanical–it can bring new life to your manuscript in ways you never thought possible.

Drawing mythology and culture from names is not the normal way to do things: it’s just a challenge I put upon myself because I wanted to salvage what details I could from the original manuscript. When creating mythology or culture for your own world, you can draw it from all kinds of sources, from existing ancient mythology, to a story that resonates with you, to an event that happened just yesterday. You just have to go with what feels right.

If you’d liked to be entered in a draw to win a copy of The Violet Fox or other Faery Ink Press swag, click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Clare Marshall grew up in rural Nova Scotia with very little television and dial up internet, and yet, she turned out okay. She has a combined honours degree in journalism and psychology from the University of King’s College, and is a graduate from Humber College’s Creative Book Publishing Program. She is a freelance editor, designer and website manager, and enjoys publishing books through her publishing imprint, Faery Ink Press. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing the fiddle and making silly noises at cats.

Here’s where you can find Clare online:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/faeryinkpress
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ClareMarshall13
Website: http://www.faeryinkpress.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14743283-the-violet-fox
McNally Robinson Buy Link: http://www.mcnallyrobinson.com/9780987779441/clare-c-marshall/violet-fox#.UKCNBYf_l8F