Half-Year Check In

So here’s what I planned to accomplish for 2020 back in January:

  • Decide what to do with Graveyard Mind and Graveyard Mind 2 and implement those plans.
  • Revise An Excuse for Whiskey.
  • Finish short stories I’ve started but not completed. As before, I would like to get at least six new stories out the door this year, but this year I’d also like to write one of those stories for submission to the online pro markets rather than for open call themed anthologies, as is my usual way.
  • Finish revising my WIP novel and get it out on submission.
  • Restart the agent hunt.
  • Read more.

Stretch goal!

  • If I get my WIP out on submission, and Sandra and I finish An Excuse for Whiskey by November, I’ll take a run at NaNoWriMo again.

Holy shit. That list seems ridiculously optimistic looking back with hindsight. I’m still hopeful that I’ll find Graveyard Mind a home with a new publisher, but there’s nothing to report yet. I have received my final royalty statement from CZP, with (hopefully) my final royalty payment arriving imminently. It’ll be nice for that chapter of the novel’s story to be finally closed. Unfortunately, until I find Graveyard Mind a new home, or choose to self publish a new edition, its sequel will remain lying fallow.

Sandra Wickham and I have agreed to put An Excuse for Whiskey on hold for the time being. She’s launching her new fitness website and doing the pandemic single-mom thing, so she’s got her hands full. (You should totally check out Sandra’s fitness programs, she really knows what she’s doing, and has offered me plenty of advice in the last year and a half as I became more serious about losing some weight and getting into better shape.) Lately, revisions haven’t been my bag, so…someday I hope we’ll get back to it. We’re both still really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far with our first attempt at co-writing. Sandra’s one hell of a writing and critique partner, so I’m looking forward to when we’re both able to get this project done and on submission.

Short stories have been going a bit better. I’ve finished one novelette of my six new story challenge and am closing in on another short story. Both stories are for general submission not a specific anthology, which I haven’t done in ages. The novelette is roughly 13000 words, and the short story is currently around 7000, so I’m tempted to count them as three (or four) of my six stories, as the novelette felt like four times the work to edit. I’ll wait and see on that. It’s not really in the spirit of the challenge, is it? In other short story news, my story “Cheating the Devil at Solitaire” was longlisted for the Sunburst Award, my story “All Cats Go to Valhalla” released in Swashbuckling Cats: Nine Lives on the Seven Seas, and my story “Golden Goose” sold to Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens, due to be released in August! Golden Goose is my fifth sale to Rhonda Parrish, which is awesome, and also makes me three for three (so far) on her Elemental anthology series. If I sell a story to the eventual Water anthology it’ll be like getting a rare Enlightenment Victory in my old Legend of the Five Rings card playing days.

As I said in an interview with Derek Newman-Stille, I gave up on the revisions I’d been working on in favour of trying to draft a new book in this strange pandemic moment. This is the book that I’ve kept promising myself I would start “when I’d crossed a few more items off the old list” but I never got there. This was the book that was going to be my NaNoWriMo stretch goal for the year. I’ve been working on the worldbuilding and history of this secondary world for ages now, but wouldn’t allow myself to actually do any drafting or prose. Now seemed like the perfect time to dive in. Currently, I’m at 41000 words, which means probably about halfway to a finished discovery draft; 30000 words is when a draft usually starts to feel like a book to me, but this one isn’t quite to that feeling yet. I think I’ve figured out what I want the finale to be, but I’m uncertain of the best steps to get through the soggy middle to get there. Nevertheless, I’m hoping to have a draft done by the end of the summer. We’ll see.

I can’t really start the agent hunt until I have a finished book, so that item is on hold for now, but I am updating my wish list of agents to submit to a bit at a time, so that when I’m ready, I am ready. I’ve also been working on a grant proposal project for Manitoba Arts Council and possibly the Canada Arts Council. My sample materials are done, and I have an idea of what I’m going to say, I just have to finish the actual application parts. MAC’s applications changed in recent years, so I’m building a new template from scratch.

As for my reading goals, I must say I’m enjoying tracking this a little bit more. So far I’ve read twenty-seven books, a combination of novels, non-fiction, graphic novels, and roleplaying games (check out my reading list so far here). When I started writing these mini reviews, I first just grabbed whatever was handy and seemed shiny. Since then, I’ve decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. Now I’m pulling out an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand. I’m limiting the stack to five books, which seems doable for the month, even though odds are I won’t get through them all each month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games might jump the queue, but I’m trying to get through the pile in order I stack them. The first time I did this, I basically grabbed the first five shinys to catch my eye, but for my next stack, I plan on adding some criteria to diversify my reading a bit. My intention is for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally (I’ve accumulated a lot of these over the years, and I’ve been a bit slower to get to many of them than I’d like. Sorry, friends!). For now, especially due to COVID-19, and having hoarded some of these books for so long, I’m still trying to pull most of these titles from my existing shelves, rather than going out an buying more. I’ve been trying to stick to a finish two books I’ve already purchased before buying any new books plan since I moved last summer anyway.

Regardless of how my other 2020 goals shake down, I’m going to pass on NaNoWriMo this year, and I think, every year going forward. Starting a new book and just writing at my own pace has been really enjoyable, and since my last few NaNo attempts have led to one book that took me forever to revise to my satisfaction, another that I still haven’t revised to my satisfaction, and a third that’s on hold until I find a home for Graveyard Mind, it’s just creatively not for me. Also, the last couple times I’ve participated it’s been more of a “holy shit, I haven’t written as many words as I’d hoped for this year, quick, lets get some points on the board before the year’s over” and those words haven’t proven to be terribly productive, let alone any fun.

A few things have changed since I spoke to Derek, but I’m still trying to write, and take care of myself, and stay in touch with my friends as I can. I was also recently a guest on the Seangeek Podcast, where we talked about writing, tabletop gaming, and comics. Sean was also kind enough to review Graveyard Mind previously on the podcast.

That’s it for the first half of my 2020. I hope you’re all staying as well as can be.

 

Awards Eligible Works from 2018

Here’s what I did in 2018. It was a pretty good year for publications, a new novel kicking off a brand new series, and four short stories (a personal best!). If you’re planning on voting in any of the major SF&F awards, such as the Hugos, Nebulas, or Auroras, and you’d like to read anything I’ve written, let me know (@chadwickginther on Twitter, or justonewick [at] gmail.com), and I’ll make sure you have a copy of any of my stories you want to read, or an excerpt of Graveyard Mind.

Novels:

  • Graveyard Mind (ChiZine Publications). I hope you’ve had a chance to read it, I think this book is my best work to date. Please also think of Erik Mohr who did my kick ass cover, and Samantha Beiko, my editor, who honed this book into the best shape it could have.

Short Stories:

  • All and Nothing,” Abyss and Apex, April 2018
  • “Midnight Man versus Frankie Flame,” Fire: Elemental Anthologies #1, Tyche Books, Rhonda Parrish, editor, August 2018
  • “Eating of the Tree,” Parallel Prairies, Adam Petrash and Darren Ridgley, editors, October 2018
  • “None of Your Flesh and Blood,” Over the Rainbow: Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins, Exile Editions, Derek Newman-Stille, editor,  December 2018

I’m proud of all of these stories, but I think “All and Nothing” is my strongest work among them, and hey, you can read it online, so please check it out.

If you’re a comic reader, I also self-published Midnight Man Magazine #1 which includes the following short comics I wrote:

  • Midnight Man versus The Ghoul Gourmet (Art by Justin Shauf)
  • Midnight Man versus Corpse King (Art by GMB Chomichuk)

Cover art by Justin Shauf; colours by Donovan Yaciuk.

Thanks, and happy reading!

 

 

 

 

Catching Up On New Year’s Eve

Howdy!

It’s been a while since I’ve been active on ye olde blogge. Sorry about that. Lots of fun stuff has been happening though, I swear!

I attended the Parallel Prairies launch, which was a blast! I wasn’t one of the readers this time around, but I did participate in the mass signing afterward. It was great to see a full house for a book of Manitoba speculative fiction, this is something I’ve wanted to see for a long time.

I attended Can-Con in Ottawa in October, this was my third time there, and second year in a row, and I’m sure I’ll be attending for the foreseeable future. Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau and their team of volunteers put on an amazing convention, and it’s become my favourite event of the year. I moderated a panel on attending your first convention and did a reading from my Parallel Prairies story “Eating of the Tree”.

Shortly after Can-Con, I was off to St. Albert, Alberta to participate in STARFest. I had a great time swapping spooky stories with E.C. Bell, Rhonda Parrish, and S.G. Wong.

Most of us did a signing at the Chapters at Whyte Ave on Sunday, and were joined by Jayne Barnard. Sold some books, bought some books, and talked to some readers. All and all, a fine way to spend a weekend.

New Stories! I sold two new short stories this year.

One that just released: Over the Rainbow Folk and Fairy Tales from the Margins edited by Derek Newman-Stille. This anthology contains my story “None of Your Flesh and Blood” which I’m stoked to have out in the world.

The other story I sold in 2018, “Cheating the Devil at Solitaire,” will be appearing in On Spec. I just signed the contract, so I’ll have to let you know when you can read it later, but this marks my third appearance in On Spec! On Spec will always be dear to me because they were both my first short story sale, and my first rejection.

Interviews! I did the Lucky Seven interview series for Open Book. Also interviewed on Books and Tea about Graveyard Mind. Also cool, I was interviewed for a feature in Quill and Quire!

I participated in Rhonda Parrish’s Giftmas campaign by donating my story The Gift That Keeps On Giving, and the campaign was a fantastic success! Here’s a message from Rhonda:

We did it! Our goal was to raise $750 for the Edmonton Food Bank but we blew that goal out of the water and raised $1,127! That is enough for the Edmonton Food Bank to provide 3,381 meals for people who need help.

Yay!

Thank you so much for all your support. Whether you helped directly by donating, or by signal boosting, or even by reading the stories (authors track our website stats, we see when you visit and we love it), it all added up to one heck of a successful fundraiser. You’re awesome :0)

To thank you all we gathered up all the stories and compiled them into an anthology — one you can download for free!

Click here to download it now for free!

The free anthology expires on January 1st though, so do check it out if you have a chance.

I think that’s about it for updates. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a treat. Enjoy some Tom Waits, and a story the song inspired:

New Year’s Eve

A Thunder Road vignette

Outside of the hotel that had become his home, the cold bit into Ted Callan’s lungs with every breath.

What is your resolution for the coming year? Huginn asked.

Why do you fucking care? Ted shot back as he lit a cigarette.

Call it curiosity, the raven said. Everyone else seems to be making one tonight.

Doesn’t matter, they’re all bullshit.

“Cold out tonight,” a woman’s voice slurred from behind Ted.

He turned to see a middle-aged woman, shivering in her dress as she struggled to light a cigarette, and huddled under a borrowed suit jacket for warmth. He was glad that he hadn’t addressed his living raven tattoos aloud.

Ted nodded absently and muttered a yup as he lit her smoke and then went back to his own.

You could do something about this cold. Huginn’s cawing voice echoed shrilly in Ted’s mind.

I’ve done enough, he shot back.

It had been a brutal, miserable fucking winter, and it was a long way from over. The mercury had only cracked -20 twice since he’d beat back Hel’s army of the dead, and both of those times, a blizzard had chased in, nipping the heels of the warmer weather.

“What’s your resolution?” the woman asked, and then without waiting for Ted’s answer, added, “I think I’m going to quit smoking.”

They shared a chuckle, and then took a drag, exhaling plumes of smoke that coalesced in the frigid night air.

Resolutions had to be Ted’s least favourite part of the New Year, aside from his usual—and fierce—hangover. He couldn’t think of a single resolution that he’d ever kept. But at least tomorrow he wouldn’t be passed out, body half in the bathroom and his head pounding with thunder instead of his fist.

Muninn trotted out Ted’s list of past broken promises; it made quite the litany. All had been chosen spur of the moment to fulfill a cultural need, not out of any genuine desire to change, or to better himself.

Quit smoking

Take up the guitar again.

Get back in shape.

Quit smoking.

Eat better.

Eat less.

He took a drag of his cigarette, and exhaled in a long sighing breath. Quit smoking.

That one had definitely been the most common.

“Happy New Year!” the woman yelled, voice thick with drunken cheer, as she butted out her cigarette in the hotel’s sand-filled ashtray. She rushed back inside blowing on her hands as she went through the brass-edged revolving door entrance.

Judging from his chuckles, Muninn was having a grand old time continuing down the list of Ted’s failed promises.

Be more romantic.

Quit the Patch.

Travel.

Everyone is making a resolution, Huginn pressed, staring pointedly at Muninn. Thinking ahead. Forgetting the past.

Ted didn’t get why the birds were so fucking excited about resolutions, but he supposed making one was the only sure way to shut them the hell up.

“Fine,” he grumbled. “Kill Surtur. How’s that for a fucking resolution?”

Huginn and Muninn exchanged surprised quorks.

“Not good enough? What about: go to my buddy’s wedding without getting everyone killed? Oh, and maybe repair all the goddamned damage that Loki’s done to my godsdamned life.”

Ted took a last drag and mashed his cigarette into the ashtray.

The ravens waited in silence for a moment, and then together said, You would have a better chance quitting smoking.

Art by S.M. Beiko.

Happy New Year!

Ad Astra 2014 Roundup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myth Information Panel

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

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

AdAstra Klingon Kareoke

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

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

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

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

Also, there were Daleks.

Derek & Dalek

Derek Newman-Stille, photo by yours truly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few other cool things about Ad Astra:

Check out the LEGO room!

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SPACESHIP!

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

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Very cool Batman cover replica!

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

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

Write on!