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)

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Awesome Crowdfunding Roundup

I’ve become more than a little addicted to supporting crowdfunding projects. Here’s a few of my more recent trophies. I tend to lean heavily towards books and roleplaying games, to the exact surprise of nobody. Lots of ebook editions that can’t be shown too, although I suppose I could’ve thrown my Kobo in the picture…

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I realized that a few of my friends have projects going on at the same time, and so I thought I’d give them a shout out. Here’s a peek at what I’ve been and will be supporting.

You might remember Scott Henderson from this awesome Thunder Road illustration:

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Scott is trying to fund his epic fantasy graphic novel, The Chronicles of Era.

Book I of The Chronicles of Era: Whispers of Redemption will introduce readers to a world where mankind made for himself a paradise fit for gods. Mankind lived in the City of Heaven for two thousand years before The Adversary destroyed paradise and returned humanity to a harsh and brutal world. The survivors rebuilt their civilization, but their history was reduced to myths and legends. Hundreds of years later, three youths—Seth, Sidrich and Caitleth—are caught between the struggles of a great empire and the scattered rural clans struggling to maintain their way of life.

All the while, secret forces are edging closer to awakening the Gifted Ones and reopen the gates of paradise…

It looks phenomenal.

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Clare C. Marshall is trying to fund her next book: The Silver Spear, a sequel to The Violet Fox.

Clare has written a couple of guest blogs for my site, one on Writing the Bad Guy, and the other on The Creation of Marlenia, the World of the Violet Fox. Clare was recently shortlisted for the inaugural Canadian Self-Publishing Award in the Young Adult category. Go, Clare!

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Cool anthology alert!

My friends Erika Holt and Andrew Romine have stories in this anthology Not Our Kind: Tales of (Not) Belonging, edited by Nayad Monroe. This anthology also has a story by Jennifer Brozek who was the editor of my Steampunk story, “A Taste of the Other Side.” Not Our Kind already has a great ToC, and if it hits its stretch goal, there will be an open call for two more stories to fill out the collection.

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EDGE Publications will be publishing nEvermore if it reaches it’s goal. This is a Poe-inspired anthology edited by Nancy Kilpatrick and Caro Soles. There’s no open reading period on this one, but it looks cool for readers. And October is the perfect time to be thinking of Poe.

I asked some friends what they’re currently supporting, and here’s what I heard:

Perry Grosshans, General Manager for THIN AIR and an editor for Rite Publications recommends: Age of Conan Strategy Game.

My friend Ashley, aka author Sierra Dean, recommends: The Black Glove.

There’s also Patreon, which a few friends have taken to. Patreon is a digital patronage system that allows creators to be paid for their work.

On Spec has been publishing Canadian Speculative Fiction for thirty years. They published my first short story, and recently published a Thunder Road ‘verse story. They’re also really fine folks.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia is an editor and publisher at Innsmouth Free Press. She’s also a damn fine author. Her debut short story collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was one of my favourite books of 2013.

Bundoran Press is a fine purveyor of Canadian science fiction that has garnered a lot of awards notices in its eight years of publishing. If you like smart, thoughtful SF (and who doesn’t?), they’re definitely worth your time.

What’s getting your backer dollars these days?

Write on!

 

December Goals and Year End Check In

So November has come and gone, and it’s taken the frenzy of National Novel Writing Month with it.

How’d I do?

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  • NaNoWriMo: I decided what I’m going to write and I’m going to put words on the page dammit. It feels like a long time since I’ve had steady, big word count days, and I’m hoping this will kickstart my routine back into shape.

It’s hard to tell how the book turned out, as I haven’t sat down to read any of those November words yet, but I feel like this was my most successful NaNoWriMo of the three I’ve participated in. I don’t know if that’s because I’ve had this idea for the last two years, and kept meaning to get to it (2009’s idea showed up three days before November and quickly dissolved into a morrass of nonsense), but was worried I was talking about it more than I was writing it or because I managed to type the words without actually re-aggrivating my tennis elbow and pinched nerve (which was 2011’s problem). And I do know it’s not really a book yet. It needs about 25000-30000 more words to finish or flesh out existing scenes, and to create the scenes I didn’t get around to writing. The real win will be when I actually take the scattered mess, rewrite it and hone it and send it out, but this time it feels like that will be easier than my 2009 project (which I’m still revising) or my 2011 project (which I’m still writing).

We shall see.

I didn’t have steady, big word count days. I probably averaged around 1000 words most weekdays, and tried to make up for it on the weekends (which I usually didn’t). Having a book tour in the middle of the month and a week away from home hurt my word count for sure, but I managed some words in airports, and while I was a guest in Edmonton and Saskatoon. Not a lot of words, mind you, but enough that I was able to catch up again on my return. I did notice a shift towards the middle of the month when I was back to work where I was getting closer to my old word count goal of 2000 a day, even if those words were broken up in three tightly focused shorter sprints rather than one long sitting. I even had a near 7000 word Saturday while trying to catch up (I paid for it the next day) which I haven’t done in a long time.

I almost made the same mistake I did in 2009, which was getting distracted by a shiny new idea shortly before NaNoWriMo, but I held firm to what I planned to write this year. But on the plus side, I may already have next year’s project kicking around in my brain.

So that was last month. What’s on deck for this month?

December Goals:

  • Reread the completed Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues novels and make some notes before diving back into Book 3.
  • Reread everything I’ve already written for Book 3 so I’m ready to start drafting again in the new year.
  • Write a story for Tesseracts 18
  • Get a rewrite request on a short story done for On Spec (and maybe get a new story in to them too).
  • Clean my office before all the loose papers and teetering stacks of books come for me in the night and I’m never seen again.

Rereads are definitely required, because I want to make sure I resolve what needs to be resolved and leave some story for readers to imagine, should I decide to return to Ted’s world after the trilogy is done. Also, between edits, production, and promotion of Tombstone Blues, my head hasn’t been in Book 3, and I’d hate to write a scene I’ve already drafted!

This year the theme for Tesseracts is “Wrestling with Gods: Faith in Science Fiction and Fantasy”. I took in the Pure Speculation panel hosted by editors Liana K and Jerome Stueart and it was quite informative as to what they were looking for, and while I don’t know if I started writing my Tesseracts story in that panel, I definitely had an idea for a story. I’m hoping my word count momentum will allow me to draft this story a wee bit faster than is my norm for short fiction and get it revised and out the door.

The last time On Spec was open to submissions, they rejected one of my stories, asked for a rewrite on a second, and bought the third, “Runt of the Litter” (itself a rewrite request from their previous opening and a story set in the Thunder Road ‘verse if such things matter to you.). On Spec is a great magazine, and I’m thrilled that they were my first sale, which is one reason why I keep submitting stories to them (and they seem to like my writing, so that doesn’t hurt). I have three short stories completed that need at least one more round of revisions before being submitted again and of course the rewrite request. I’m not sure I’ll get them all off, but I’m going to try.

No, I will not be posting a picture of my office to show you how cluttered things have become in the last year. Nope, nope, nope.

As for those yearly goals:

  • Finish Tombstone Blues
  • Start writing the as-yet nebulously titled book 3 in the Thunder Road Trilogy (I’m thinking this will be a good year to return to NaNoWriMo).
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Start a new writing project, just for the fun of it.

Only two left to go, one is definitely not going to happen, and the other is very unlikely to happen, but I’m still going to make a run at it. The SF&F convention goal was on my list because I think it’s a good excuse to travel and see some new things and meet some new people, which is not my natural inclination. When I’d added that goal, I was intending on attending World Horror Convention in New Orleans (another goal of mine is to get that city, even if its reality might never live up to the magical place my high school self built it up into. Also, GO SAINTS!), but of course, life happened. I changed jobs and the trip wasn’t feasible anymore.

While I’ve been to Ottawa a few times before, I’ve never been to Can-Con, Ottawa’s SF&F convention. And taking in that convention did what I’d hoped for in New Orleans. I saw some new things and parts of Ottawa that I hadn’t experienced and met some great new people. I also was able to finally meet some people that until October, I’d only known from Twitter or Facebook, and I love when that happens. So the spirit of the goal was achieved, even if the letter of it was not. I won’t have a chance to get to a conference in December, so this one won’t be getting crossed off, but you will see it pop up again in January’s Goals for 2014 post.

You’ll probably see my revision goal there too, if I don’t finish another draft on an old manuscript in December. Currently, I’ll have to rewrite more than a chapter a day to succeed. But for the first time in twelve years, I won’t be dealing with a Christmas in retail. So with apologies to my friends who used to come visit me to see my infamous “Christmas Face”…

This:

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will be replaced with this:

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!

New Month, New Goals

So these were my goals for January:

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

Now that it’s February, how did I do?

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

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

  •  Send at least one short story to On Spec.

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

  • Write a blog post at least once a week.

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

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

  • Write a blog post at least once a week.

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

I think that’s ambitious enough for now.

Write on!

Thunder Road Launch Roundup, Part The Second

I’ve mostly recovered from my first book launch. Thanks again to everyone who came out on Thursday. I was so wired afterward that I don’t think I slept a wink.

As problems go, I’ll take it.

Knowing that space as I do, my best booksellerly (it’s a perfectly cromulent word)

estimate of attendance would be around 250 people.  Wendy even overheard a customer who saw the crowd say: “who the hell is reading tonight, James Patterson?”

I’ll take that too.

McNally events maestro, John Toews, gave me a lovely and professional introduction, hitting all the highlights of my writing career thus far, and I’m sure that Orrin Grey and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, my editors for the Fungi anthology will appreciate that John (who is a huge fan of things eldritch and Lovecraftian) also singled out Innsmouth Free Press and my story “First They Came for the Pigs” in front of the crowd. Even sweeter than the professional introduction, was the very personal one that my dear Wendy offered up. She likes public speaking even less than I do, but she stood up there, and she fucking rocked it. My Grinch heart grew three more sizes in that moment.

 

 

I told the crowd that while I was preparing I felt that I was writing a toast for a wedding. I was surrounded by family, friends, acquaintances, and yes, even some strangers (in some ways, that was the most thrilling thing, that someone had seen the poster and thought that looks cool and decided to attend). I’m also sure a few people were drunk when I hit the podium (and certainly were by the end of the night, judging by how much wine Turnstone put out. I know I had a couple or three by the time the line was done. Woo!).

People seemed to like my intro, and laughed where I hoped they would, which was a relief. I’m not a natural public speaker. I can’t hop up to a podium and extemporize and have it go well. The most stressful part of a reading for me is what to say before  I start reading. Once the book comes out, I’m on script and feel fine.

Again, because I’m not a natural performer, I rehearse my readings to ensure good pacing and change of inflection. I’ve been to at least three hundred readings over the last ten years, and so I like to think I’ve absorbed a bit about what works and doesn’t. I chose a passage from the beginning of Thunder Road so that I didn’t have to spend five minutes explaining backstory, and read for about ten minutes, trying to leave the story on a tense moment, hoping the audience will need to know what happens next. Judging by the Winnipeg Free Press Bestseller list, it worked.

Because of the size of the audience and the fact that I knew there were a number of out of Winnipeg guests (hello, Morden, Darlingford, Miami, and Brandon!) who still had to drive home on a work night, I decided against doing a question and answer period. If any of you were in the audience and had a question you wanted to ask me, drop me a line in the comments, and I’ll be happy to chime in with my two cents.

The Thunder Road launch was also a reunion of sorts. My teachers from the 2nd, 3rd, and 8th grade were in the audience, as was my junior high principal. I’m sure every time I said “fuck” it brought back old times for him (I was an early adopter of profanity, even I mostly kept it hidden from authority figures). There were tons of local writers in the crowd, and Robert J. Sawyer, who provided the cover blurb for my book) flew in from Toronto to attend.

After the reading, I was presented with a block mounted, enlarged version of my author photo. I had absolutely no idea that McNally Robinson planned to enshrine me on their wall of writers, so surprise well-kept folks. This is a store where the staff go above and beyond every damn day–I also joked that I liked to think that maybe they gave me just a little bit extra above and beyond, and boy did they ever deliver. So thank you, once again, to my fellow booksellers, here in Winnipeg, and to booksellers every where else.

I was also surprised with gifts of whiskey (Irish and Kentucky), Odin Stones hand picked from Gimli’s beach, a beautiful photo album (which will become my record of the evening) and a very cool caricature card drawn by my friend and former co-worker Phil Hayes. John Toews also arranged to have a soundtrack of sorts playing for the evening with the songs I used as chapter titles. For those of you who know my taste in music hearing this in the store was totally worth the labour of writing a book.

 

This isn’t the first time I’ve scrawled my name and defaced a book or magazine. When I sold “First Light” to On Spec, I signed copies for friends and family. At Edmonton’s Pure Speculation festival in November 2011 I signed my first signature for a stranger (though Cath Jackal isn’t a stranger any longer!). Recently at When Words Collide in Calgary, after the EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy fall launch I signed my name over my story “Back in Black” in a bunch of copies of Tesseracts 16. This was very different however. With the pressure to move a long line efficiently, and wanting each of the signatures to be heartfelt and unique, I often found myself scrambling for something to write. My publisher warned me to come up with a few stock taglines to sign with, and I did, but let me tell you, in the moment, it’s a lot harder than it sounds to remember them. Sometimes, you go to sign a book and you just have nothing. One more thing to work on. You learn more about this business of being and author every day.

You also learn to watch what you say on Facebook. I made a professional wrestling reference and thanks to David Nowacki of Cult Couch infamy, this was happened:

 

“Oooh YEAAAAAH!”

Holiday Accountability Checklist

As of this moment, I’m on holidays from bookselling until after my book launch. Of course, when you’re a writer, holidays from the day job usually means typing until your fingers bleed (in between the paroxysms of self-doubt and inevitable bouts of internet time-wastage). I do plan on taking advantage of these dog days of summer, visiting family, playing tennis, etc. but mostly, I’ll be working.

For your observing pleasure I’ve decided to post a list of my writing goals for the next couple weeks. I know there is no way in hell all of this will get done. It probably wouldn’t have been possible even when I wasn’t on Twitter or Facebook, but by itemizing every project big and small that is on my to-do list, and most importantly, making it public, I’ll try that extra little bit harder (you know, to avoid the shame (and stink) of failure).

So, here’s the list:

  • Choose the passage I’ll be reading for my Thunder Road launch.
  • Attend my own book launch.
  • Don’t screw up my own book launch.
  • Choose the passage I’ll be reading for my THIN AIR appearance.
  • Finish the current (3rd) draft of Tombstone Blues (four chapters and a short epilogue left to look at).
  • Walk the Winnipeg locations of Tombstone Blues for veracity & feeling (this will be repeated in the fall, as the novel is set in November).
  • Arrange research trip to the virus lab.
  • Actually go to the virus lab.
  • Start 4th draft of Tombstone Blues.
  • Finish 4th draft of Tombstone Blues.
  • Finish my story for submission to Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Dead North anthology.
  • Go back to the drawing board (notebook?) and completely redraft my Urban Green Man short story so that I’m not embarrassed to have Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine read it.
  • Revise two short stories that On Spec offered to take a second look at in their next submissions period.
  • Write a guest blog for As You Were.
  • Write a new blog post every day.
  • Update a few things on my website.
  • Answer interview questions for my first confirmed interview.
  • Brainstorm ideas for a horror story for when John Joseph Adams’ Nightmare Magazine reopens to submissions.
  • Brainstorm ideas for the forthcoming Innsmouth Free Press anthology Swords and Mythos.
  • Dust off an old, too-long short story to see if I can resurrect it as a novelette or novella for Innsmouth’s new Jazz Age Cthulhu venture.
  • Dust off my 2nd draft of a Sword and Sorcery manuscript and give it a reread, as I’ve been itching to get back to it lately.
  • Look at the outline for the as-yet-untitled third book in the Thunder Road trilogy.
  • Most importantly, write new damn words, every damn day.

Wow. I will be busy, won’t I?