The 2020 Reading List: January

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 was to read more, I thought keeping track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku would help keep me honest. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read in 2020, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

January:

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski: The first novel in the Witcher series. Full confession, I started this one over Christmas but wasn’t done until the new year. The main reason I checked this out was because I loved the show. I’d read The Last Wish years ago, and never felt compelled to read more in the series. Sadly, I think that instinct was the correct one. While reading Blood of Elves definitely helped me keep track of some of the characters on the Netflix series, Sapkowski’s writing just isn’t for me. I’ll happily keep watching the show though.

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: The twelfth October Daye novel. Now I’m mostly caught up on the novels, just waiting for the latest hardcover to hit paperback. May check it out at the library if I get a hankering, but with a new book dropping in February from McGuire’s InCryptid series, I might be good for a while. This wasn’t my favourite book in the series, which remains Book 3, An Artificial Night (the book that really made me all in for this series), but it was fun. McGuire’s got a knack for keeping the reader intrigued even this deep into a series. Every time I finish an October Daye novel I want to play a game of Changeling: The Dreaming.

Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw: The first Persons Non Grata novella. This is the first bit of Khaw’s work that I’ve read, but I’ll definitely be seeking out more. I’m thrilled to see there’s another book in this series. Hammers on Bone had an amazing voice and a great noir feel. Oddly enough it was recommended to me by Michael at Whodunnit when I was on the hunt for Once Broken Faith (another October Daye book) and no one had it in stock at the time. Thanks, Michael!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells: Book One in the Murderbot Diaries. I’ve been aware of Martha Wells’ work for a while, but never cracked a book. All Systems Red was recommended and loaned to me by my pal Karen Dudley, but I’ve seen so many great things about the series from folks on my Twitter feed. I’d mostly given up on reading science fiction until I’d finished this. Wells writes fantasy too, so I  should check out some of that eventually too.

Fury From the Tomb by S.A. Sidor: Book One in the Institute for Singular Antiquities series. I picked this one up on a whim because it looked like it would hit me in the Indiana Jones/Brendan Fraser Mummy feels. It was a little bit that, and a little bit not. Fury From the Tomb was a fun, fast-paced read. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure that the narrator was enough to my taste to rush into book two.

Heathen: Volume 1 by Natasha Alterici: A fun viking fantasy series. I stumbled onto the artist’s work on Twitter a while ago, and finally got around to reading it. Heathen has almost everything I like in Norse myth: valkyries, Odin being a dick, shapeshifters, Sigurd and Brynhild! Alterici’s art sold me on the series but her writing is clever, honest and heartfelt. Can’t wait to read Volume 2!

What have you been reading, folks?

Can*Con 2017 Roundup

I haven’t been as diligent (or as prompt) with my convention roundups as I used to be, and I still have my C4 roundup on deck (and I should really be writing my NaNoWriMo novel) but I wanted to make sure I talked about Can*Con.

What a great convention!

The 2017 Can*Con was my first time back since I attended in 2013 for the Prix Aurora Awards. The convention has grown noticeably since then. I always love an excuse to get to Ottawa, because it’s a gorgeous city, and I have family and lots of friends there that I don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Saturday was my big day for programming. I heard that a lot from a number of the out-of-towners. I don’t know if it was purposefully done by the programming team, but it does mean you can build your schedule without having to worry about whether a panelist has a late flight in or an early flight out. Given Can*Con’s attention to detail in every other regard, I’m going to assume that the decision wasn’t an accident.

Me reading from the first chapter of my forthcoming ChiZine novel, Graveyard Mind. Photo courtesy of Jerome Stueart.

On the On Spec Panel (L-R, Me, Brandon Crilley, Leah Bobet, Susan Forest, Diane Walton, Hayden Trenholm). Photo courtesy of Andy Taylor.

I didn’t get a picture of the Stories of the Northmen panel, unfortunately, but we had a great crowd–honestly way more than I was expecting. K.W. Ramsey, Una Verdandi, and Kate Heartfield shared the panel, and Kate did a great job as moderator. We had a pretty lively discussion, a few disagreements that highlighted while we all enjoyed the topic we’ve consumed it in different ways.

I’ve mostly gotten out of the habit of attending panels that I’m not speaking on, using that time instead to catch up with friends or network. Can*Con was different. I remembered a high level of discourse from my first time attending, and looking at the panel descriptions and who was speaking on them I felt assured that this year would only be better. And it was.

First off, most presenters at Can*Con only appear on a couple of panels, and this cuts down on the “I don’t know what I’m doing here” confessions from panelists. The moderators know their topics, and every panel had a moderator. This attention to detail seems vanishingly common, and I can’t stress how much it improves a paneling experience for me (unless a moderator is there to turn the conversation to their own books, but Can*Con seems to have avoided that with their careful curation).

I had to grab a seat on the floor for the stellar Epic Fantasy panel with Kim-Mei Kirkland, Michelle Sagara, Steven Erikson, Sheila Gilbert, Violet Malan, and Fiona Patton. It’s been a while since I’ve read epic fantasy, and some of the insights I garnered gave me an ephiphany for how to rewrite an old sword & sorcery first draft that wasn’t working. It also made me realize I probably need to step away from urban fantasy for a while as I have two existing series in that subgenre, and while I was editing a third, motivation to continue with it was thin on the ground.

The Post-Apocalypse and First Nations Perspective panel was fantastic. Brandon Crilly (centre) did a great job of moderating, but to tell the truth, there weren’t many lulls in the conversation between Jay Odjig and Waubgeshig Rice.

Also, Julie Czerneda is awesome. But you probably know that. Not only did Julie give me a killer blurb for Too Far Gone, she went out of her way to ensure that I was introduced to people she felt I should get to know. So thanks for making me feel at home, Julie!

Also, a big thank you to Derek Marie Bilodeau, and all the staff and volunteers for putting on an amazing weekend. I had way too many fine conversations and interactions to list, and I’m planning on returning to Can*Con in 2018. This convention is just too good to miss.

 

Can*Con 2017 Schedule

I’m thrilled to be returning to Can*Con, one of my favourite (and one of the best) Canadian conventions. If you’re in Ottawa and have a chance, I highly recommend coming out. If you do, here’s where you’ll find me:

Saturday October 14th

Dealer’s Room — Signing 11:00-11:30 with Linda Poitevin

Salon B — Reading 13:00-13:15 Chadwick Ginther, 13:15-13:30 Leah Bobet, 13:30-13:45 Curtis C. Chen

Salon F — On Spec Magazine 25 Years of Canadian SFF 17:00-17:50 Leah Bobet, Brandon Crilly, Susan Forest, Chadwick Ginther, Diane Walton, Hayden Trenholm (moderator)

Salon F — Stories of the Northmen 19:00-19:50 Chadwick Ginther, Kris Ramsey, Kari Sperring, Una Verdandi, Kate Heartfield (moderator)

Scatter The Foals To The Wind Excerpt

It’s launch time for Equus. Enjoy a teaser taste of my story!

Scatter the Foals to the Wind

My mom always said, “Michelle, never trust a short man. They’ve always got something to prove.”

Most of her advice hadn’t stuck, but that tidbit had; one reason most of the guys I’d dated had been the size of vikings. The latest was a bruiser of a redhead named Ted. More tattoos than a biker. Mouth like a sailor. Smoked like a chimney. Mom would’ve hated him, 6’4” or not.

We’d had a few dates. I’m sure he’d made the same plans for tonight I had.

He’d come over to my condo and made me dinner. We were having a toke on my balcony, the air was brisk, but warm for a Winnipeg November. He had one arm around me and the other pointed up at the stars, toward the constellation of Orion.

“So there was this giant, name of Veggbyggir,” he said. “And he had this horse, big strong bastard went by Svaðilfari. Could tow a fucking mountain.”

The story of the myth behind the stars had a practiced feel, as if this was something he said to all the girls. It was also wrong. The “horse” constellation he’d pointed to had been Taurus.

“Veggbyggir and Svaðilfari were tasked with building a wall around Asgard—that’s the home of the Norse gods—in only three seasons or they won Freyja—the most beautiful goddess in Odin’s court—and the sun and moon besides. And they’d almost done it. So Loki had to stop them.”

Practiced or not, wrong or not, it was working. I wanted to hear where his story went. “Wait? Isn’t Loki a bad guy?”

“You know Loki?” Ted’s eyes caught the starlight and he laughed.

“Not personally,” I said. “Who won?”

“Not the giant,” Ted said. “And not Loki.”

I took a deep toke, held the smoke in my lungs for a three count, and passed the joint back to Ted as I exhaled. “How’d Loki manage to stop them?”

“He turned into a mare and lured the stallion away.”

“Classic honey pot,” I said.

Ted laughed. “Right?”

“So why’d you say Loki lost? Sounds like he had the last laugh.”

Ted shrugged. “He came back pregnant with an eight-legged horse son.”

“Bummer,” I said. “Which constellation is Loki? Where’s he hiding?”

He stopped pointing at the stars to pull me close, and I figured he was going to kiss me, so I closed my eyes, leaned in, and over the balcony I went. As I tumbled ass over tits, his grin flashed; a crescent that glowed bright as the moon.

***

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