C4 2016 Roundup

Another Central Canada Comic Con has come and gone.

Me and my boothmates! Clare C. Marshall and Samantha Beiko! (Photo by Scott Henderson)

2016 wasn’t my best year at C4, and I’ve been hearing that from a lot of other vendors, despite record attendance, anecdotally speaking, most folks I’ve talked to were down in sales from last year. I imagine those of us in Artist’s Alley were hit the hardest. The last two years, Artist’s Alley was on a separate floor than the Exhibitor Hall, and that worked out great (for me at least) as almost every attendee walked through Artist’s Alley before getting to the Exhibitor’s Hall. This year, not so much.

It was the first year in the newly renovated convention centre, so we’ll have to see. Just as in Saskatoon at Sask Expo, my booth was facing out into a very wide aisle, and there wasn’t much directly across from us, which didn’t help in encouraging people to slow down and linger. A reminder that table placement is always important and unfortunately, not something you can really control. I suppose I could shell out for an endcap booth, but the costs of those are definitely prohibitive for what I’m likely to recoup at one of these events. Maybe if two or three authors pooled to take it on, that would work. Or it might be too many books all in competition in too small of a space.

This year presented me with a lot of variables to think about before next year’s con. C4 wasn’t a disastrous weekend by any stretch, I covered all my costs, made a bit of extra scratch, and got to talk to some returning readers and make some new ones, but it sure didn’t meet expectations.

I hate to be doom and gloom, because I did have a ton of fun. I got to rub elbows with some awesome creative folks I’m fortunate to call friends. On the plus side, I got to share a booth with good friends Clare and Sam, and lots of my convention pals were nearby, even if we were all too busy to hang out much during the show. I was also right beside Shared World colloborators GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie, who are an amazing font of creativity and energy. Jonathan Ball, the elusive fourth creator in Shared World 2, joined us on Sunday. It’s always nice to have great neighbours.

Also, huge congrats to Scott Henderson for winning a C4 Storyteller Award at C4’s Industry Night celebration!

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(Photo by Scott Henderson)

Scott’s been a huge supporter of my work from pretty much day one of Thunder Road’s life, I’ve commissioned a bunch of artwork from him, and I’m sure to ask him to do more in the future.

Shared World authors put their editor to work numbering the limited edition print copies.

Halloween hats courtesy of Sam’s mom. Thanks, Mrs. B!

We formed Knife Club, which was mostly wearing promotional temporary tattoos for Jonathan Ball’s The Politics of Knives, and pantomime knifing each other when we weren’t jug banding (sans jug).

Also amazing, Sam and I launched Mythfits #1 and people bought it!

So cool to have a comic we created together out in the world! It was birthed a couple of years ago at C4 when Sam and I shared an Artist’s Alley table, so it was cool to launch the book here as well.

Having a booth instead of a table required a different setup than I normally use, and led to more stress and consternation than I would’ve liked on Thursday night, but I thought I had the problem licked, and the table looked good.

By mid-Saturday, I wasn’t happy with it. Despite being a bookseller for more than a decade, I am not a natural “active” seller. I’ve known this for years, that I’m more comfortable selling other people’s work than my own. It’s a different sort of taxing, and being “on” when you’re inviting people into the booth instead of having the separation of the table between you. It’s something I’ll think on for next year, or the next show I do.

I did an emergency rebuild of my table on Saturday. I think it helped. It’s hard to say, but I was happier with the result, and sales did appear to tick up from that point on.

After my redesign:

I didn’t have as much time as I’d like to peruse the floor and see what everyone else was doing, but I did still come home with a few gems:

It’s like Jessica at Sweet Adeline cross-stiched this just for me!

My contributor’s copies of Spacepig Hamadeus and the Captive Planet, which in addition to several talented creators, includes my story “The Great Martian Train Robbery”  featuring art by Nyco Rudolph! Collectors take note, this is the first sequential comic work for both of us. We were over the damned moon to finally hold the book.

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Photo by my official-unoffical convention photographer, Andrew Lorenz.

Still getting caught up on Andrew Lorenz’ Legacy but I’m really digging what September17 productions are putting out. Also, can’t wait for Canadian Corps #2!

Once again, C4 fell on the same weekend as the World Fantasy Convention, and as I’ve been to a WFC in Columbus before, I chose the home con to try and make some money rather than spending it. On the plus side, it looks like next year’s conventions will be back to back weekends, not simultaneous, so that’s good (especially since I’ve already bought my membership for World Fantasy in San Antonio)!

Okay, now, for the cosplay photos!

Amazing Deadpool and Wonder Woman!

I am back on a Venture Brothers tear, and the Season Six Blu-Ray was my gift to myself for making it through C4, so it was cool to see The Monarch and Dr. Mrs. The Monarch representing.

Killer Zatanna and Constantine. Zatanna has always been one of my favourite DC characters, and this duo was great.

Holy shitsnacks, it’s Pam!

There was somebody inside that Tardis, slowly shuffling around the convention floor.

The sons of Lugh were there in force.

This Hawkgirl was amazing. Easily my favourite costume of the year. Her wings could unfurl to probably 15′ across.

Fun Potter family cosplay!

Don’t see a lot of Scientist Princess Bubblegum costumes, and I love that Marceline chose to wear the floppy hat (she was out in the daytime).

R2-D2! I know it’s just a remote controlled giant toy, but it’s still damned hard to resist giving the bucket of bolts a hug.

Lots of Manitoba Ghostbusters out and about this year.

Not as much Thor and Loki cosplay as I’ve seen in previous years, (hopefully I’ll see more when Thor:Ragnarok releases…) but these two were great!

And let’s end the post with a sweet ride, it’s no GTO, but then, my first car was an Impala, so…it’ll do. What a beauty!

Write on!

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A Shockingly Timely Sask Expo 2016 Roundup

This was my first year exhibiting at Sask Expo. I’ve heard great things about the show from Winnipeg comic creator, Andrew Lorenz of September17 Productions, and since Saskatoon is a reasonable drive for a weekend show (turns out it’s not as reasonable as I thought, more on that later), I thought it was worth giving a try. Andrew and a bunch of other Manitoba creators like GMB Chomichuk and Nyco Rudolph were going, so I knew I didn’t want to miss it.

Also, there’s lots of cool folks in ‘Toon town that I don’t get to see nearly often enough, so the show also had that going for it. Another bonus, it’s roughly the same distance for me to get there as it is for my pal Clare Marshall, so we tabled up side by side. (Clare writes amazing roundups of her convention experiences, so do check hers out too!)

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It’s hard to get time off from the dayjob in September. It’s busy as hell, and I’m usually at low ebb energy wise, which was my only hesitation about heading west for the expo. And, in my brain I thought Saskatoon was 7 hours from Winnipeg. Turns out, it’s actually 9. I’ve driven the Yellowhead many times in the past, but never made just the Winnipeg to Saskatoon leg, I always stopped a little short of Saskatoon, or carried on to Edmonton. That, and forgetting about the damned time difference meant I had to beg, borrow, and steal a second day off work so I wouldn’t still be on the road at 3am after a busy con and needing to go into work almost as soon as I got home.

So…was the con worth it?

Mostly.

We shared a row with September17 and Justin Schauf who I know from C4 and other events. I really dug September17’s Canadian Corps, and Justin was the artist on that book.

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He also did a great Doctor Fate sketch for me a while back.

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Sask Expo announced they had over 15000 people attend over the weekend. I had it my head that there would be more. Maybe because Carrie Fisher was there, or perhaps I’d misheard last year’s attendance. The Expo did seem well organized. It was one of the easiest load ins I’ve ever had, and the volunteers were easy to spot, and ubiquitous, my problems finding a water fountain in the building aside (something nobody seemed able to direct me to, despite being certain there was one). On Sunday, volunteers came around to all the exhibitors to provide bottled water, which was very helpful.

Clare and I had our tables set up across from the Creator Guest aisle, which is cool, but unfortunately the spacing in the aisle was so broad, it was very hard to get any concentration of foot traffic. I heard other vendors had a different issue in cramped aisles nearer to the entrance but the same problem. Once you’re moving in a cramped aisle, it’s hard to stop to look at a table even if you’re interested as the press of people behind you keep you going. Once people hit our aisle it was being used as a superhighway to get from one end of the expo to the other, with brisk walkers not wanting to browse. Pretty much every vendor in our aisle was saying they had the same issue.

I met my minimum sales threshold to consider returning to Sask Expo. That doesn’t sound great, but the Saturday was really slow for me, and I wasn’t happy with my table build, so I tore it down Sunday morning and I think it came out stronger. Sales certainly were.

I kept seeing folks cosplaying vikings, but few were swinging by, so I bought a replica Mjolnir and thudded it down on the table.

WORTHY.

I was talking to Clare about sales and the foot traffic patterns, and she said “what’s your brand?” well right now it’s Thunder Road, sure I tagged my banner “Mythic Fiction” because that is what I do. While I have other stuff on my table, it’s the Thunder Road trilogy that sells best, reminding me of the old bookselling adage: Sell more of what is selling.

Clare knows this stuff. it’s her job. Con sales are a sideline for me, a bit of supplemental income to direct towards travel or shiny projects, but it’s a big part of her business plan. So I listen when she suggests something. It’s also cool getting to watch her work, and how she engages her customers, both returning and potential.

How’d that advice turn out?

If you rebuild it they will come.

I made the books way more prominent, and that hammer paid for itself within the hour. I sold two complete trilogies to folks who recognized it, and their wondering why it was on my table gave me the opportunity to pitch the books to them.

I handed out lots of postcards and business cards over the weekend, so that’s good. Hopefully that will lead to some future sales, or requests from the library. Hard to say what the results will be. I know that there’s a lot of folks who seem to buy the second or third time you do a show, because they keep seeing you around, and I guess they no longer assume you’re a fly-by-night operation. I also noticed a significant uptick in web traffic, and lots of those views came via Sask Expo’s exhibtor page, before, during and after the show.

I was also surprised by the number of folks who stopped by to say they’d read and enjoyed the series, as I’ve not made much inroads into Saskatchewan sales wise, and my last event there was almost three years ago.

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One young woman who’d read the first book and told me she’d enjoyed it came back later to get it signed and returned again on Sunday to purchase the rest of the trilogy.

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Thunder Road is also currently on adoption for Professor Michael Cichon’s “Beowulf and Tales of the Northern Heroes” course at U of S, and some of the students popped by to get their books signed. Pretty cool when they’re forced to buy it, and they still want it inscribed. It’s moments like that which really push you through the dead times in Artist’s Alley.

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Not related to the writing side of my trip, but I also found a bunch of the issues I need to recreate my run of the 90s version of New Warriors! Woo!

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Mike was also kind enough to host me and Clare while we were in Saskatoon, and we had a great time, so I’m very grateful for the hospitality, fine food and drink, and excellent conversation.

I don’t know a ton of people from Saskatchewan, but many of them stopped by for a visit, so it was great to see Arthur Slade, Kurtis Wiebe, , Ed Willett, and Ian Goodwillie again.

Okay! On to the real reason folks come by my comic convention roundups: COSPLAY.

I’d probably have more (and better) photos to share, but Wendy was able to make the trip with me to track down shots of folks I couldn’t catch at the table. Sorry, folks!

JOUST.

When I asked for his picture, this Lemongrab screamed “ACCEPTABLE.”

I didn’t see many Lokis and no Thors this time around, but this young lady was great, and very excited to hear that Loki was a character in my books.

FOUND YOU BOTH.

Jeff Burton, creator of Auroraman, dressed up as his character.

The Saskatchewan Ghostbusters were out in force.

Can’t wait to see what the Manitoba Ghostbusters cook up for C4!

An awesome Betty and Violet from Rat Queens.

AKU!

This Hawkwoman was bloody amazing.

Okay, that was Sask Expo 2016!

Write on!

An Embarrassingly Late When Words Collide 2016 Roundup

Sorry for the delay on this roundup, folks!

Another year, another trip to Cowtown!

This trip was a little different. Samantha Beiko and I decided to drive to the con instead of flying. A supposedly fun thing I don’t think I’ll ever do again. Because of my car, not the company.

Roughly two hours into a thirteen hour drive, as Sam was joking about not getting stranded in Brandon again, my battery light came on. Rather than risking the car dying on the road, we pulled into Brandon for repairs. What had initially sounded like a one or two-hour delay became closer to four after waiting for the part to arrive, but new alternator installed, we journeyed on. Despite therapeutic cowch outside of Canadian Tire this development was…so disheartening.

Not gonna lie, the temptation to just give up on the trip then and there was pretty high. But! We were both on programming, both up for Aurora Awards, and, both really excited to visit our friend Clare for her birthday.

So we soldiered on, but that thirteen hour drive ended up being closer to nineteen, door to door.

There is a lot of Saskatchewan to get through. It’s not that the province isn’t pretty, but when you start roughly halfway through Manitoba, and are going halfway into Alberta, crossing the entirety of Saskatchewan just feels like forever. It takes the time it takes, but the perception of that time…that I could’ve done without.

We managed to dodge most of the thunderstorms, and had good weather at least.

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This one only caught us for about thirty seconds, but we were completely blindied by the sun shining through the downpour. Sweet little Bifrost though waving us onward though.

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The skies were amazing. I do love those big damn prairie skies. I am glad I got to see these clouds from a bit of a distance rather than having to drive through them.

Okay on to the con itself:

Calgary has a way of causing me headaches. Whether it’s the altitude, or the pressure changes, or what…I dunno. I’m batting 3 for 8 when it comes to Cowtown visits that give me a headache so bad I vomit (take your whiskey jokes and walk, folks) so I’m always a little bit on edge wondering if it’ll happen again. It’s one of the reasons I program lightly at WWC. No vomiting this time. YAY! But the length of the drive and the stress of car repairs did end up giving me a pretty wicked tension headache (thanks, Jill Flanagan for sorting that out!).

I had no programming on Friday. Which is nice for me. I like to catch up with folks at When Words Collide, and I have a lot of folks to catch up with there! We rolled in early, and helped Clare get her table set up and then got our membership badges.

And then I enjoyed a Basil Hayden’s bourbon, which until recently, I wasn’t able to buy in Manitoba. It’s always a treat when the convention bar has it on the shelf.

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Saturday I participated in a Myth and Folklore panel moderated wonderfully by S.G. Wong (check out her latest, Death Takes the Hindmost when it releases, I got to read an advance copy. Very nice!) and thanks to fellow panelists Rhonda Parrish, and Nancy M. Bell for the lively discussion.

I found some copies of this on the freebie table:

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My friend Chris Smith (an inaugural and long-suffering member of my writing group) has a story in this one. The Crow Maiden. Very cool story. You should read it. I brought a few copies home for him.

Saturday also meant running around to grab things for the Post-Apocalyptic Four party I was co-hosting with friends and fellow Aurora nominees Randy McCharles, Eileen Bell, Ryan McFadden and Billie Milholland. By things I, of course, mean whiskey (and whisky).

The Prix Auroras were handed out. This is no longer news, but I still want to give a shout out to the worthy winners. Neither I nor ChiSeries Winnipeg were awarded in our categories, but there were a lot of great works being celebrated, so that’s okay. Looking at the stats, Too Far Gone came in second in the novel category, so that’s pretty cool too. Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted,and congratulations to all the winners!

  • Best English Novel: A Daughter of No Nation by A.M. Dellamonica, Tor Books
  • Best English YA Novel: An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet, Scholastic Canada/Clarion Books
  • Best English Short Fiction: “Waters of Versailles” by Kelly Robson, Tor.com
  • Best English Poem/Song: “Origami Crane / Light Defying Spaceship” by Naru Dames Sundar, Liminality, Issue 5 Autumn
  • Best English Graphic Novel: The Lady ParaNorma by Vincent Marcone, ChiZine Publications
  • Best English Related Work: Second Contacts edited by Michael Rimar & Hayden Trenholm, Bundoran Press
  • Best Visual Presentation: Orphan Black, Season 3, John Fawcett and Graeme Manson, Temple Street Productions
  • Best Artist: Erik Mohr, covers for ChiZine Publications
  • Best Fan Publication: Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille
  • Best Fan Organizational: Randy McCharles, Chair, When Words Collide, Calgary
  • Best Fan Related Work: Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating, Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM

We went out for supper and cake after the awards to celebrate Clare’s birthday.

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BIRFDAE! BIRFDAE! BIRFDAE!

After consuming my weight in Indian food and gluten-free vegan chocolate cake, I had to rush back to the hotel for the room party. It’s been four years since I’ve thrown a con party. It’ll probably be at least that many more until the next one. Lots of folks came out for it, but while I enjoy the parties, it’s another matter throwing one. It also means you can’t leave when you want to if you get overwhelmed by the crowd.

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Look at this room.

There was nowhere to put anybody.

Which was awesome and terrifying.

Huge thanks to everyone who came out to drink our whiskey and beer, and hang out and talk writing, or just talk–loud and crowded as it was. You’re all great. I still can’t fucking believe we weren’t shut down within the hour.

Early on Sunday I was on Susan MacGregor’s panel on writing trilogies. Great batch of panelists and questions from Susan. Thanks to Susan, and fellow panelists Gerald Brandt, Samantha Beiko, Barb Galler-Smith and to everyone who came out.

Once again Sandra Wickham presented her “Writing About Fighting” presentation. And I got to be her fight dummy. Another packed room! Sandra does a great job with this so you really should check it out if you’re at a con where she’s presenting it (and not just to see me get kicked in the stomach).

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Photo by S.G. Wong.

(One of these days I’m going to beak off too much on Twitter and Sandra will just straight up murder me in front of her audience)

I skipped the dead dog to hang out with Sam and Clare, decompress, and watched Dragon Heart.

The drive home wasn’t as long as the drive to Calgary, but it was long enough.

Still, a rainbow that crossed the entire sky was a nice welcome home when we pulled over in Brandon to swap out the driver’s seat.

The drive home was especially long the last hour of thunderstormin’. Poor Sam had to drive. What a trooper!

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I tried multiple times to catch a lightning strike. Not easy with a cell phone camera.

I also really wanted an image of a lightning strike behind the Halfway Tree. For reasons.

And once we got fully into the shit, it was dark.

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But, we made it home okay, and you couldn’t ask for a better driving partner than Sam Beiko. 12/10 would road trip with Sam again.

See you again next year, When Words Collide!

Write on!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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I DID A BUSINESS.

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.

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Off to Creative Ink.

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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.

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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?

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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:

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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!

 

When Words Collide 2015 Roundup

When Words Collide is the only convention that I can say I have attended every year. And I certainly have no intention of breaking that streak. Having been there since the beginning, it’s been cool to watch it grow. The organizers have a great record of bringing in top notch guests and 2015 was no different. This was the first year I think WWC has grown to the size where I’m no longer guaranteed I’ll get to see everyone I want to, or at least not for as long as I’d like. So if we missed a chance to chat, hey, I’ll be back next year!

Day one of When Words Collide was mostly a wash, no fault of the convention though. I arrived in Calgary on Thursday, as is my custom, so that I could hang out with old chum, and Aurora-nominated Thunder Road Trip artist, Kevin Madison. We had a great time catching up, but a change in the local air pressure gave me a headache that absolutely floored me.

I was in too much pain to manage to caffeinate Friday morning, which didn’t help matters either. My headache made me nauseous much of the day. Still, I rallied enough to make it to the con hotel and register (this happened largely because my shared room was in my name, and I didn’t want to leave my roommate in the lurch).

By supper time I’d eaten roughly five spoonfuls of soup and three pieces of cheese–which I knew given the Absinthe and Whisky tasting social that Tyche Books was hosting, wasn’t going to do the job of keeping me upright.

The other big downside to feeling crappy on Friday was it meant no Sentry Box visit! Granted, Sentry Box has a table at When Words Collide every year, (and they were kind enough to stock my books. W00T!), but it’s not the same as being able to bask in all the gaming book glory. I usually leave with some out of print treasure from days past when I get to Calgary, and was disappointed not to have a chance to browse this time around. I’ll have to make time when Too Far Gone book tour takes me back in November.

Winnipeg comics author Andrew Lorenz introduced me to Joshua Pantalleresco over Twitter and then I met Joshua pretty much the moment I walked into the Dealer’s Room. I love the first tour through the Dealer’s Room, because it’s my first concentrated dose of all my con friends. Everyone at a con eventually passes through the Dealer’s Room. Clare C. Marshall had a table there, as did ChiZine Publications, which was great, because Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi are always fun to hang with. Sadly their managing editor, and my glamourous ChiSeries Winnipeg co-chair, Samantha Beiko wasn’t able to make the trip due to illness. I also caught up with On Spec, and Bundoran Press.

I grabbed supper with Renee Bennet and Celeste and Bill Peters. It’s not quite a WWC tradition to dine with Renee and Celeste, but I think we’re at either 2 for 5 or 3 for 5 when it comes to sharing a meal while I’m in Calgary, so it may as well be. Celeste and Bill used to live in Winnipeg, so I got to catch them up on some of our new stuff.

Recently I learned that one of my Calgary writing pals is moving home to Winnipeg, and so I had to try not to gloat that we’ll be stealing Dave Fortier away from Cowtown. It sounds like the Calgary crew is definitely going to miss him. They did extort a promise from me to take good care of him, and I have no doubt there will be stories shared, dice rolled, and whiskey poured in the near future.

I couldn’t bear the idea of attending the Guest of Honour Keynote Speeches–nothing against any of the speakers, but the idea of being in a large gathering was just too much with my lingering headache. Fortunately, I felt better as the evening went on (big thanks to the expertise of Jill Flanagan!) and had a great time chatting with Jill, Brett, Sandra, Gregory, and Clare, but I called it an early night after the whiskey social.

Saturday: Up and at them! What a world of difference the day made. No lingering effects of my Friday headache, and enjoyed breakfast with roomie, and fellow Manitoba author Craig Russell.

One of the big things on the agenda for Saturday was to meet up with Sandra Wickham because we’re co-writing a novel together. It’s totally a thing. We’ve been talking about it for months, and When Words Collide was our chance to pull all of our ideas together and break the plot. And it’ll be awesome. Or at the very least, since she’s a total plotter and I’m a total pantser, an excuse for whiskey. I went to her panel on health and fitness for creative people, because I blurbed her book on the topic and I’ve been her audience participation dummy before. SHE MADE ME EXERCISE. I think getting beat up last year was more fun, to be honest.

I talked to some other fine Calgary booksellers in attendance, and got to know some folks from Owl’s Nest (who will be hosting me for a reading in November) and Indigo Signal Hill (who will be having me in for a signing) a little better.

The mass autographing was on Saturday night. I actually signed a few books too, which is always nice, but I think I signed more books just happening upon people throughout the conference. Still, it’s always nice to hear a reader is excited for the next book, or excited to start the series and watching people queue up for Diana Gabaldon does give one something to aspire to, doesn’t it?

Sunday was my only panel of the weekend. It was on setting. A topic I do enjoy. I shared the panel with Calvin Jim, Sarah Kades, and Al Onia, and I think we had a good discussion. We all approach writing setting slightly differently, and so I think everyone had at least one observation that got the others thinking.

After the panel, it was basically time for me to go home. I did a quick stop in the dealer’s room to grab a bite to eat, and say my goodbyes. I also finally got to meet Kristi Charish. We’ve chatted on Twitter and Facebook, and I loved her story in Masked Mosaic, as well as her debut novel, Owl & the Japanese Circus. You should really check out both.

It’s never easy, and I hate leaving a con early. Normally I stay an extra day–especially at When Words Collide–so that I can attend its Dead Dog party, but that wasn’t in the cards this year, unfortunately. By the time I was done saying goodbye, I realized I was getting to the airport later than I’d have liked. Nearly missed my flight home as a result. The line to get through security was INSANE. Just when I thought I was safe, I got pulled over for the extra rummage through your bag in public check. Still, I got home, another great WWC in the books, and I’m already excited for next year.

Write on!

 

A Blog About Blogging

Is it too meta to write a blog about blogging?

One of my goals for my holidays was to write a blog post every day. So far, so good. One of my goals when I started the blog was to post at least every week. If I look at my number of posts so far this year it looks like I’ve succeeded, but in reality, there were weeks with multiple posts, and stretches where my site was lying very fallow.

The thing I love about using WordPress, is the access to stats. A fellow could get lost analyzing them, breaking them down, and eventually, writing towards them. And why not? I want to draw traffic to the blog. So what have I learned since January?

1. People love my convention roundups.

My two biggest posts thus far have been my post on Keycon 2012 and When Words Collide 2012. What does this tell me? Step One: Go to more conventions. Step Two: Don’t know. Step Three: Profit! But seriously, Underpants Gnomes references aside, I love going to conventions, and love writing up the experience afterwards, so that’ll happen regardless.

2. When I post something, I get more hits.

This should have been self explanatory, but it’s nice to see the data backs it up. It would be very disheartening indeed to see blog traffic go down when I posted. Another thing I’ve noticed is that there is carryover to blog traffic the day after a post, but not much beyond that. Keep posting everyday and even if the numbers fluctuate up and down, the average views have been significantly higher than they have been. August has been my busiest month for page views as a result of this.

3. Most of my page views have been from Canada.

Another stat that I expected. Most of the people I know are from Canada, my publisher is Canadian, and I rarely travel outside of Canada. That said, there have been multiple views from The United States (also expected), Great Britain (interesting), Korea (really?) and Iceland (awesome!). I can only hope these aren’t the spambots that have been trying to comment about Search Engine Optimization.

4. Blogging everyday is exhausting.

I don’t know how folks like John Scalzi do it (maybe if I had a cat I could tape bacon to…no, that’s been done. Maybe pics of my belt buckles or bad moustaches?). I’m glad they do, because I love reading their posts. I’m still committed to blogging every day of my holidays, but I think I’ll need to find a schedule that suits me better, while continues to provide more benefit than the once a week goal that I had originally set for myself. Perhaps every other day or three days a week would work.

5. Once you start writing about any topic, it isn’t hard to wind up with five hundred words or so on that topic.

See, I just did it.

Write on.