Appearing At Sask Expo!

I’ll be driving out to Saskatoon (should that be running back to Saskatoon?) Friday to set up for my first Sask Expo. There’s lots of cool folks to meet there: Carrie Fisher, James Marsters, Shannon Purser, and Tom Felton on the media side,  Tom Grummett, Karl Kerschl, Kurtis Wiebe, and Steve Niles on the comic side, among many talented others.

Those of you who’ve read Too Far Gone know that the outskrits of Saskatoon play a bit of a role. That chapter is one of my favourites in the novel, and the one I usually read at events. So if you’re at Sask Expo, come by my table and ask me about Secret Saskatchewan Lore. I’ll tell you about how that chapter came to be, and give you a little bit of swag (while supplies last).

You can find me at Booth #1318 in Artist’s Alley, side by side with my pal Clare C. Marshall of Faery Ink Press! A bunch of my C4 friends look to be there too, so I think this’ll be a good time.

Write on!

 

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When Words Collide 2014 Roundup

Another When Words Collide Festival has come and gone. I’m a little bit late getting to this roundup (although not nearly so late as I was with World Horror Con and Keycon!). This year my WWC festival was wrapped up in a research trip to Alberta for Too Far Gone, so I hope you’ll forgive the delay. I’ll try to document the research side of the trip (and my reading at Audreys Books in Edmonton) soon. (Yeah, right.)

This Calgary festival for readers and writers has in its four years of existence become one of my favourite events of the year. It’s always well run, the programming excellent, and the guests of honour are top notch. This year’s guests included Jacqueline Guest, Mark Leslie (director of Publishing Services at Kobo–and my editor for “Back in Black” in Tesseracts Sixteen), D.J. McIntosh, Brandon Sanderson, and Jack Whyte (filling in for Diana Gabaldon, who unfortunately had to cancel).

I did a bit more programming this year than last, no readings though. Unfortunately, readings (except for the guests of honour) have gone by the wayside for programming which will actually fill up the rooms. I understand this, and fair enough, even if it is a little disappointing. I love doing readings, and like to attend them. WWC offered folks the opportunity to book one of the social rooms to host launch parties, etc. but with no new book out, or on the horizon, it didn’t seem worth the expense for me this year. Maybe next year, although it’s doubtful Too Far Gone will be out by August, I might have some advance reading copies, or do a teaser reading.

My programming included:

  • 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 McCharlesPatrick 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.

I thought the RPG Storytelling panel was excellent. Brandon Sanderson moderated and did a great job. It was clear that the packed room was primarily there to see him (except for the one person who asked him who he was, drawing a good laugh from the audience–Brandon had been making notes on his name card, like a good moderator) but he was very generous with sharing the panel and including everyone. There were some great points from my fellow panelists Dave Gross and Ron Bender and I had a lot of fun.

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The Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance panel went well. The only person I knew on it was Sandra Wickham, and I think she did a great job of moderating. I won points from someone in the audience for giving a shoutout to Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series (which is a blast, check it out).

I had a lot of fun with the autograph session. I hung out with Edmonton friends, Janice MacDonald, Randy Williams, and S.G. Wong, and we were joined by the force behind Faery Ink Press, Clare C. Marshall. I stamped a few people with my new “Loki Approved” stamp.

Oh, and Brandon Sanderson’s signing line was ridiculously long.

My last panel was about writing vacations. I haven’t been on a focused group retreat, like the Rainforest Writers, that Patrick Swenson hosts, but I did start writing Thunder Road while I was housesitting for my parents which was a sort of writing retreat. I also go to a lot of local “write ins” at friends’ houses, (Gerald Brandt and Sherry Peters, thanks for hosting!) so I talked a bit about that, and using microfocus Twitter sprints as my contributions to the discussion. Everyone else on the panel is a regular at Rainforest so there was a bit of a dynamic that I wasn’t a part of, but rather than making me feel alienated, it made me really want to sign up for the retreat (next year’s already full, but I’m going to put my name on the waiting list).

There was also a lot of unscheduled fun (there always is) that took place.

This year was my pal Laurel’s very first convention. I’m so proud of her for heading out to Calgary and pitching her work and I hope she had a lot of fun and will be back again next year.

When the official party rooms, didn’t suffice, a new space was created (thanks to one David J. “Fort” Fortier.

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It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there were at least sixteen folks in there. Also: whiskey (and whisky).

Here’s something you don’t get to do every convention: Get beat up by a pregnant Ninja:

When Sandra Wickham was worried about whether someone would come to her writing about fighting presentation, I made a joke suggesting she’d be less nervous if I was there to heckle her. This led to me volunteering to be her test dummy for a few moves.

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For the record: Arm bars hurt.

I also spent a lot of Friday telling people they had to be at the panel if they wanted to see me get up by a pregnant woman. And evidently they did. Sandra had a packed house!

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Seriously though, she gave a great presentation, so if you have a chance to check out one of her panels (whether I’m getting beat up or not), do so. She’s a great writer too. You’ll be seeing a lot more of her.

I also got to hang out with a couple other alums from Patricia Briggs’ character workshop last year (I wasn’t actually able to go, but I still made some cool friends because of being signed up and doing the critiques). Kate Larking and Jill C. Flanagan, it was a pleasure.

When I wasn’t doing my own programming, I hung out with Clare at the Faery Ink Press table, because Clare is awesome, and I don’t get to see her nearly enough. I even managed to get some writing done

Somewhere along the way, On Spec editor and unofficial Sheriff of Edmonton, Cat McDonald declared we were rivals and needed to have a Read Off. Our goal is to end up in the same anthology so that we can make this happen (I WILL DESTROY YOU. Ahem.). Cat is also doing a Kickstarter for a new RPG, which you should check out and back.

Sentry Box was also in the Dealer’s Room selling books, and they sold out of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues! That was great news! I also spent some of those future royalties at their table.

One of the cool things WWC did this year was have an evening where people could play Magic the Gathering with Brandon (who is an avid gamer, and has had a roleplaying game created from the world of his Mistborn novels) Sanderson. I didn’t play. It’s been forever since I’ve played Magic, but listening to Brandon explain the rules to the folks who’d signed up made me very glad I didn’t have to play him for money.

I stayed an extra night so that I could attend the Dead Dog Party. It’s always fun, and even though everyone is exhausted, it’s a good chance to catch up with folks (like the con organizers) who are way too busy during the convention proper.

I’ve already purchased my membership for When Words Collide 2015. Check out the guests!

Daniel Abraham Fantasy
C.J. Carmichael Romance
James S.A. Corey Science Fiction
M.L.N. Hanover Urban Fantasy
Sally Harding Literary Agent
Faith Hunter Urban Fantasy
Gwen Hunter Thriller
Brandon Mull Young Adult

I know I’ll have a blast. Hope to see you there!

I’ll leave you with some words of wisdom from Jack Whyte, who when he was asked in his writing about battles workshop: “How much fighting is too much? How much whisky is too much? There are signs.

Write on.

 

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!

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