Happy Holidays! Enjoy “Go Tell It On The Mountain” A Thunder Road Story

Well, 2015 was a great, but hectic year for me (more on that later). In the meantime, I hope you’ll all enjoy the continuing (mis)adventures of Yule Lad Sheep Cote Clod.

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C4 Roundup

Once again, C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) proved a blast! I would’ve had this up sooner, but C4 was immediately followed by my book tour, including stops in Toronto, Saratoga Springs, NY (World Fantasy Con, woo!) and Alberta; Edmonton, Calgary, and Canmore (I already talked about WFC, but more on the western tour later).

C4 is fast becoming one of my favourite times of year (coinciding with Halloween sure doesn’t hurt). It was great to hang with my friends, and have a chance to talk with some creators that I’ve previously only known via Facebook and Twitter. I love being in Artist’s Alley surrounded by other creators. It has a great vibe. I may have even found a new local tattoo artist!

Here’s my table:

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For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see the finished version of Scott Henderson’s Too Far Gone art, here you go:

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Needless to say, I fucking love it.

Here’s Valkyrie Books:

Valkyrie Books C4 2015

I’m so damn proud of all that Samantha Beiko accomplished with her pop-up store (even though I had nothing to do with it other than cheering her on). If her C4 booth looked this amazing, imagine what the real store will look like (someday soon, right, Sam?). Also, big thanks to her for selling copies of my books there too!

Other fun stuff this year: GMB Chomichuk and I made a book! We had lots of help from James Gillespie (one of the fine folks I got to meet this year) who co-wrote a story with Gregory, Silvia Moreno-Garcia who wrote us a kickass introduction, and Samantha Beiko who edited and designed the book, and made sure we got it printed in time for C4.

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C4 was my first chance to hold the finished book in my hand. I always love getting new author copies!

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GMB Chomichuk’s title page art for my Lovecraftian sword and sorcery story, “When the Gods Send You Rats.” Shared World was a blast to put together, so here’s hoping we keep the tradition going, and keep creating fun things together.

I also printed out some of my flash fiction this year. Design and illustrations by Samantha Beiko:

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Some of my swag:

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All art and comics this year. On the comic side, Greg Waller’s Magnitude, Donovan Yaciuk’s Spacepig Hamadeus, and some new to me September 17 books (the fine folks who did Canadian Corps). As for art, I got my signed print of Too Far Gone, and the original art from Scott Henderson, a Doctor Fate sketch by Justin Schauf, and a valkyrie print by Carly Montgomery.

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Justin’s colour paper sketches are such a cool idea. I wonder who I’ll get next year…

It was a good con. In terms of sales, roughly equivalent to last year, maybe a bit better. I sold lots of books, talked to lots of people, and applied some of the lessons learned from the first two years. I still have a ways to go when it comes to being at ease with selling my work directly like this, but progress is being made. Every year, I add new display items to the arsenal, and new work to the table, so I’m really looking forward to next year. I even put my name on the waitlist for a table at the monstrosity that is the Calgary Expo.

And of course, the real reason you’re likely here: some of my favourite costumes from the weekend:

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“OH YEAH.”

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A sweet Loki cosplay. Even better, he’s a Thunder Road reader!

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There was lots of unexpected, but cool cosplay. This Ugly Betty was pretty sweet. I wish I would’ve got pictures of the teen gender-swapped Columbo, and the teen Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. Someone is raising their kids right.

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Wasn’t surprising to see Fury Road costumes, but this one was awesome.

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Another unexpected, but awesome costume! Barf from Spaceballs! Maybe all of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens excitement is bringing attention back to that sweet parody. I’m secretly hoping Mel Brooks brings out Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money the weekend before the new Star Wars film.

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Princess Mononoke!

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This was one of the better Mr. Freeze costumes I’ve ever seen.

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Rock and Roll all night, and every day.

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Zero’s nose lit up!

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More people living (dying?) right.

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So. Good.

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“I am not fast.”

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And now it’s back to the real world, where R2-D2 almost never shows up to say hello.

Write on!

New Year, New Goals 2015 Edition

This is coming a bit late isn’t it? It’s still January, so it still counts.

Here were my goals from last year:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Not going to lie. This wasn’t the best year for hitting goals. It wasn’t that I didn’t accomplish anything, but opportunities kept coming up that weren’t a part of my goals list. They were pretty cool though. I won a Manitoba Arts Council writing grant, and applied for my first Canada Arts Council Grant (still waiting to hear back on that one). I was invited to teach a couple of workshops (which also meant I had to design a couple of workshops): the ACI Teen Writing Workshop at Winnipeg’s Millennium Library, and a Writing Dark Fantasy and Horror workshop for the Thompson Writing Guild (Thanks ACI for having me, and thanks to the city of Thompson and the Manitoba Writers’ Guild for sending me north!). As a part of the teen writing workshop I also edited an anthology of my students’ work (Shine a Light and it’s available at Millennium Library if you want to check it out), there’s some excellent young writers coming up in this province, I assure you.

Okay, so, how bad was last year for actually making my goals:

  • Turn in Book 3 of the Thunder Road trilogy to Ravenstone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Participate in NaNoWriMo again (I’ve already started outlining the new project!).
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • I have at least eight short stories in various stages of readiness to submit, I’d like all of those to be out the door in 2014, and say write and submit at least two more for a total of ten new stories in the mix.
  • Turn in two comic scripts (Sekkrit projects, yo.).

Pretty bad (this is probably why I never do New Year’s resolutions).

I finally finished a draft of Too Far Gone, and have done a couple revision passes, but it’s not handed in yet. It will be by month’s end, but it’s no longer 2014, is it?

Conventions fared better, I went to more conventions this year than any year prior. In fact, I doubled down on the convention in a new city goal by attending World Horror Con in Portland, Oregan, and World Fantasy Con in Washington, D.C. What I’ve realized for a long time, and still need to find a better way to implement, is how to be more productive while I’m on the road.

Most of my revision energy went into Too Far Gone this year, I made some progress on the first book in a potential new series, but it’s not ready for submission yet. Which is why I bowed out of committing to NaNoWrimo early this year, I’d hoped to have Too Far Gone off to first readers by end of October so that I could NaNo guilt-free, but that didn’t work out, and so I didn’t see the point in dodging one deadline, while adding another first draft to the pile.

I was more diligent with submitting my short fiction at the beginning of the year, I also identified some new markets, and did some research into reprint markets and audio markets, but as the deadline loomed for Too Far Gone that discipline fell away. Which is why I also didn’t finish up a lot of those short story drafts.

On the plus, side, a drafted a bunch of new stories. “New Year’s Eve,” a Thunder Road vignette, was published on the Ravenstone website in January. I sold “The Last Good Look” to The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir (releasing March 1st, 2015!), another has been accepted pending revisions/contract signing (so I won’t say any more for now) and I self-published two stories. The first self-published story “A Simple Twist of Fate” was an experiment. I didn’t have anything new for the Winnipeg Comic Con (C4) this year, so wrote a  new Thunder Road story, hired an illustrator for the cover and interior illustrations and had it printed to look like a comic book. That was a rousing success. I’ll definitely do more of those (thanks Kevin Madison for the art, Samantha Beiko for the book design, and GMB Chomichuk for the idea). The second story I self-published, “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks,” also a Thunder Road story, was published on my website, as a thank you to my readers (because you’ve been awesome to me). I’ve also got two other stories that I drafted that have to be polished for submission, and the first 10000 words of a novella in the can.

Those comic scripts are almost there…One has finished art, and me and the artist just need to get together and sign off that we’re both happy and we can send it to the editor. The other script just needs one or two more passes, and I’ll send it in to the editor so he can find me an artist.

And for this year:

  • Finish Too Far Gone.
  • Attend at least one SF&F convention in a city that I’ve never been to.
  • Revise at least one of the three four (after NaNoWriMo) drafted novel manuscripts I’ve been letting lie fallow until it is in submission shape and then send it out.
  • Be more diligent about keeping my short fiction on submission.
  • Get those old stories polished and out the door (which I think will also help the goal above from getting lost in the shuffle)
  • Write and submit at least two new short stories.
  • Write a script for a secret comic project with Samantha Beiko.
  • Say no to more “author” stuff and yes to more “writing” stuff.
  • Keep better track of my daily word count output.

I’m not planning to make a run at NaNo this year. If Too Far Gone releases when I think it will in the fall, then I’ll probably be touring in November. I played that game in 2013 and it was a wee bit stressful. I’ve been keeping track of my daily word count since I saw this post by Jamie Todd Rubin, and it’s definitely helping to motivate me. At times it didn’t feel like I was writing very much, since a lot of my time was spent revising, but after only twelve days, I see that all the those new words I sneak in while I rewrite are adding up to a page or two of new material a day. Seeing that I’ve got a few hundred words down, makes me want to add to them. I’ve never actually tracked my words for a full year, so I’m curious how it’ll shake down.

Finally, my goals for the month of January:

  • Finish Too Far Gone  (I have to, that’s my deadline)
  • Turn in a review of Owl and the Japanese Circus for The Winnipeg Review
  • Submit a story to Tesseracts Nineteen: Superhero Universe

Write on!

Central Canada Comic Con 2014 Roundup

Well…that went well.

Another C4 is in the bag, and I feel like it was an unqualified success. Artist’s Alley was moved away from the main exhibition hall this year. I was worried that being away from the bigger vendors and the celebrity guests would hurt the artists, a worry made more serious by a slow Friday, but it really didn’t. I’ll admit to being concerned about that, given that I’d printed up a book just for the con, but Saturday and Sunday more than made up for that. Artist’s Alley was packed most of the weekend. We also had better lighting, a brighter, more cheerful space, and (and I can’t stress this enough) carpeted floor. That carpet made a huge difference with all the standing I had to do over the weekend.

I’d brought my tablet to do some writing, as there had been slow times last year where I could really dive in and get some words, but that wasn’t the case this year. There was always someone to talk to so not a lot of writing got done, other than a few messily scrawled notes to self in my notebook.

I shared a booth with Samantha Beiko, GMB Chomichuk, Ryan Roth Bartel, and Jeff Martin and had a blast. There were a bunch of other awesome folks in Artist’s Alley this year, Lovern Kindzierski, Scott Henderson, Nyco Rudolph, Scott A. Ford, Sierra Dean, and the Burst Books crew (Ron Hore and Leia Getty).

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Sam ended up doing a Tilda sketch in her Valkyrie Books Dream Book. Which was pretty awesome.

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Okay, this couple was just to perfect not to take a picture. I was wearing a Thor shirt of my own, and Sam is a huge She-Hulk fan. They were kind enough to pose with our books.

I talked to lots of folks, and it was surprising how many people stopped by who had actually read my books. Sales aside, the convention was totally worth it for the young man who stopped dead when he saw Thunder Road and realized that I was the author. His enthusiasm for my work certainly helped keep me energized over the 13 hours I was in Artist’s Alley on Saturday.

My limited print run Thunder Road short story “A Simple Twist of Fate” was a success also. I didn’t sell out, but I sold a lot of copies. It was also great to have something new for the people who bought Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues last year. Credit where credit is due, I got the idea from GMB Chomichuk and his Raygun Gothic limited print runs and Kevin Madison knocked it out of the park with the art, as did Samantha Beiko with the book’s design.

A Simple Twist of Fate

Too Far Gone releases next fall, so there will be a new novel in time for next year’s Central Canada Comic Con, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility of having another new convention exclusive short to debut at C4 2015. We’ll see, no promises on that front yet. Too Far Gone needs to come first.

Kevin Madison, the artist of “A Simple Twist of Fate” was in town to surprise his mother with a visit, and he had time to run by the con, which was awesome. He even happened to be there when someone was buying the story, and got to do a signing and sketchfor her.

Chad & Kev ASTOF

Just when I thought I was about to lose my voice, it was time to sit down with Dan Vadeboncouer and Kenton Larsen for the Media Nerds Podcast. We talked a bit about my books and writing, but dove quickly into geeking out about movies and television, and discussing Star Wars (as happens from time to time). At the end, I gave a big shoutout to Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy.

Met Edmonton artist and writer Jeff Martin. Jeff’s done lots of cons and had some cool tips that I’ll try to incorporate into future ventures. There’s still a few things I need to take care of if I want to start doing more of these types of cons. Better signage for one. Maybe some ancillary things like buttons or magnets for sale. Again, we’ll see. I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact I’m there to sell books.

I usually end up leaving C4 with all kinds of swag and 2014 was no different.  I thought I wasn’t going to buy any more art, as I still haven’t hung up everything from last year, but the heart wants what it wants. I got it in my head to get a Dr. Fate and Zatanna original sketch, but I couldn’t find the artist I was hoping to do it, so instead I may have commissioned a (modified) Dr. Fate helmet from Rampant Design. Clearly I cannot be left alone at my own table. I will turn all of my profits into swag.

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Picked up a copy of Scott Henderson’s new graphic novel, Chronicles of Era.

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And got a pretty sweet sketch inside too.

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Jeff Martin and I traded books. I sent him home with a copy of Thunder Road and now I’ve got a book about Space Wrestlers to read.

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In a happy surprise, I found that I’m an entry in the Manitoba Authors colouring book fundraiser being done by the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

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My book came with Black, Grey, and Orange crayons. I might also draw some hair sticking out the sides of that hat…

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I didn’t find the entire Beau Smith/Mitch Byrd Guy Gardner Warrior run, but this was a good start. One of my favourite issues, illustrated by Phil Jimenez, and Supermullet Superman? Gold.

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Nyco Rudolph bills his work as “Art for people who are classy as fuck” so I’m pretty chuffed to be putting this “Viking as Fuck” print up on my wall.

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Fantastic old school print by Donovan Yaciuk, creator of Spacepig Hamadeus.

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Talked to Hope Nicholson, who Kickstarted the return of Canada’s first superheroine, Nelvana of the Northern Lights, and scored a couple of sweet prints. Wished I would have remembered to bring my Nelvana collection with me though, it would be nice to have it signed.

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A while back I commissioned an original Tilda drawing from Scott Henderson that was inspired by Tombstone Blues. Man did he deliver. Pictured here are a signed print, and the original inked page. You can still see the pencil marks in places. I love it.

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Just look at it. God. I can’t wait to see what he cooks up for Too Far Gone.

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STAY VIGILANT!

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Finally got my hands on volume 2 of Raygun Gothic!

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And a sketch of Ghost Doctor 13 (And his sidekick, the brain of Neils Bohr)!

Who is Ghost Doctor 13?

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Time to read and find out.

COSTUMES!

I’m not much of a cosplayer myself. I can barely find the energy to dress up for Halloween these days (I went as Darkest Timeline Chadwick this year). But I love seeing the folks who go all out. And comic conventions are full of the highest concentration of balls out great costumes you’re likely to find anywhere.

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These vikings were awesome.

There were a lot of Poison Ivys this year (I suppose as costumes go, that one is evergreen. Bah dum bum), and lots of Harley Quinns. There always are. Fewer Adventure Time costumes than last year, to my disappointment. Newly popular were the Winter Soldiers, Quicksilvers, and Rocket Raccoons and Groots–not surprised by that at all given how sweet they were in their various movies.

Jessica Quicksilver

My favourite Quicksilver of the weekend.

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I’m always on the lookout for good Thor and Loki cosplay, and these were two of my favourites of the weekend.

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YES.

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Sweet Baroness.

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One of my favourite clever costumes. Not picture: Bat Sandals and Spider Sandals.

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Props to this guy, who needed two helpers to maneuver him through the crowd.

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“Pizza for I.C. Weiner? Awww, crud.”

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If I could’ve found a knit brain slug to stick on my head, I totally would’ve bought one.

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Boba Fett sucks, but this costume does not.

Another great year!

Write on!

A Simple Twist of Fate–A Central Canada Comic Con Exclusive Thunder Road Short Story

Central Canada Comic Con is this weekend and I’ve been cooking up something special to debut for my readers: an original Thunder Road story!

Comics are a huge reason why I’m a reader and I’ve always kind of wanted to see my name on a comic book. So I made one.

Sort of.

“A Simple Twist of Fate” is a short adventure starring the hero of Thunder Road, Ted Callan. It’s an illustrated story that I had printed to look like a comic. The printer just dropped my copies off and they look gorgeous! This project came out of talks with GMB Chomichuk, and the coolness of the limited print editions of his Raygun Gothic comic (seriously, check it out). “A Simple Twist of Fate” takes place after the events of Tombstone Blues for the continuity nerds out there. Cover and interior illustrations are by Kevin Madison, and book design is by Samantha Beiko.

Here’s a peek at the cover image:

TR ASTOF Cover Finished

There will only ever be 200 of these. Come by Booth 328 to find these signed and numbered bad boys (and me!).

Write on.

Upcoming Events

Some fun stuff on the horizon:

Central Canada Comic Con!

I’ll be sharing some space with GMB Chomichuk, Samantha Beiko, Ryan Roth Bartel, and assorted other awesome folks in Artist’s Alley. Come on down to Booth 328 and say hi. I’m also debuting a new illustrated Thunder Road ‘verse short story illustrated by Kevin Madison (who did a series of  “Thunder Road Trip” illustrations)! “A Simple Twist of Fate” will be limited to a 200 copy print run, so you know what they say: buy early and buy often.

Other friends of Thunder Road that will be in Artist’s Alley include: AP Fuchs (#829), Burst Books (#823), Donovan Yaciuk (#316), Kari Ann Anderson (#116), Keycon (#910), Lovern Kindzierski (#425), Nyco Rudolph (#532), Scott A. Ford (#621), Scott Henderson (#324), and Sierra Dean (#724).

NaNoWriMo is kicking off November 1st. I won’t be participating in NaNo this year (I know, I know, it was on my goals for the year, but I still have two NaNo novels waiting to be edited and rewritten properly and a contracted book to finish and hand in) but the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Writers’ Collective have asked me and Samantha Beiko and Chris Rutkowski to pop by their NaNoWriMo kickoff and do a reading and give some words of inspiration.

Saturday, Nov. 1st from 6 – 10 p.m.
The Manitoba Writers’ Guild and The Writers’ Collective have combined forces to help you get your novel started off right! November is National Novel Writing month. The guild has offered up their office (218-100 Arthur Street) for writing space, coffee, and inspiration. At 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 authors will read from their fiction and offer words of inspiration!

6:30 Chris Rutkowski 7:30 Samantha Beiko 8:30 Chadwick Ginther

World Fantasy Convention WFC is one of my favourite traveling cons. I missed it last year, as Brighton just wasn’t in the cards, but Toronto 2012, Columbus 2010, and Calgary 2008 have all ranked among my favourite conventions ever, so I have high hopes for this year. Hope to see you there!

Novel Writing Club: In collaboration with the Manitoba Writers’ Guild, the Winnipeg Public Library will be hosting a novel writing club to offer emerging novelists the opportunity to work with a mentor for a seven month period. At monthly meetings, a facilitator will meet with participants to address their concerns, provide inspiration and advice, and offer ideas and suggestions. The objective is for all participants to complete the first draft of a novel by the last meeting in June.

The program is intended as an opportunity for writers who are prepared to commit to monthly meetings. Applications are open to those who have not participated in WPL’s critique circles during the past year. There is no charge to participants.The novel writing club will be facilitated by Chadwick Ginther (That’s me!).

Tuesdays, 6-9 p.m. November, 25, December 16, 2014, and January 13, February 10, March 10, April 7, May 5, and June 9, 2015. A wrap-up event presenting an opportunity for writers to read aloud from their work will be scheduled for June.

Interested writers are encouraged to complete the application and submit it via email to critiquecircle.wpl@gmail.com starting November 1, 2014. Applications will be accepted until November 14, 2014. For more information, please call Millennium Library Reader Services at 204-986-6779

Write on!

VCon and the Prix Auroras Roundup

Another year of the Prix Auroras have come and gone.

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Very cool to see some of my friends receiving their Aurora nominee pins. Here’s Samantha getting hers.

I didn’t win, nor did ChiSeries Winnipeg, but I knew competition was steep this year. Big Congrats to all the winners! Fellow Winnipeg nominee Samantha Beiko and I got dressed up as fancy as possible (as is our custom at formal affairs) and joined in for the high tea prior to the awards.

Here’s a list of the Prix Aurora winners in all categories:

Best English Novel: A Turn of Light by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books
Best English YA Novel: The Rising by Kelley Armstrong, Doubleday Canada
Best English Short Fiction: “Ghost in the Machine” by Ryan McFadden, The Puzzle Box, EDGE
Best English Poem/Song: “Night Journey: West Coast” by Eileen Kernaghan , Tesseracts Seventeen: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast, EDGE
Best English Graphic Novel: Rock, Paper, Cynic by Peter Chiykowski, webcomic
Best English Related Work: On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society
Best Artist: Erik Mohr, cover art for ChiZine Publications
Best Fan Music: Chris Hadfield for his performance of Space Oddity
Best Fan Organizational: Randy McCharles, Chair and Programming, When Words Collide, Calgary
Best Fan Related Work: Robert Runté, “Why I Read Canadian Speculative Fiction: The Social Dimension of Reading”, Scholar Keynote Address at ACCSFF ’13, Toronto

For those who are interested, here is the breakdown of nomination and voting statistics.

A couple quick thoughts on the stats: It is very clear the two voting bases are in Alberta and Ontario (which I was already aware of in a vague sort of way, but looking at the numbers really hammered that home), but I didn’t know how thin the Manitoban voting pool was. We have a robust con culture here, between Keycon, C4, and other events, so I’m not quite sure why that is. Finally, Tombstone Blues had the most nominations in its category, so I must be doing something right.

Next year, the Aurora nomination ballot will go from three items per category to five. I wonder how/if that will change the shortlist dynamic.

As for VCon, it was my first time at this convention. Also my first time in British Columbia.

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Hello mountains.

I’ve been meaning to go west for a while, some of the first friends I made in the industry when I attended World Fantasy in Calgary were VCon regulars. This year, the combination of Sandra Wickham doing the literary programming, attending the Auroras, and getting to hang out with Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ann Aguirre again was too much of a treat.

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Convening the Illuminaughty.

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The view from my hotel.

Silvia got Ann, Samantha, and I to leave the safety of the hotel and head into the city. Vancouver really is beautiful at night (to be fair, it’s beautiful during the day also), and the waterfront seemed kind of magical. While we were out with met up with Clare C. Marshall for more fun times.

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Blurry waterfront photo brought to you courtesy of hunger/whiskey.

In fact, I was so hungry by the time we found a restaurant, that I’d completely forgotten how we arrived. Silvia’s directions back to the Skytrain had pretty much disappeared. However, I walk with a purpose and was on the way to getting us seriously lost before Ann and Samantha questioned me. A minor train misadventure later (this one wasn’t on me!) and we made it home safely, if very late. That two-hour time change was a bit of a beast, although I handled it a little better this time than I had in Portland for World Horror Con.

My panel on Writing Non-Fiction to Supplement Your Fiction went well. My fellow panelists had interesting things to say, it wasn’t a huge crowd, but it was a bit of a niche subject. The panel of Game Master Tips and Tricks was much better attended. I tried to speak in generalities that could be used across a broad number of games rather than just sharing D&D war stories from my games. It was cool to meet Tarol Hunt of Goblins fame. I made a shout out to the Amber Diceless RPG and got a very enthusiastic “Woohoo!” from a couple of the attending gamers. We chatted a bit after the panel about Amber and its latest scion, Lords of Gossamer and Shadow.

There was a bit of confusion with my reading on Sunday, mostly due to the fact that I had to ask to change the time at the last minute to ensure I’d make my flight home. That’s on me, I knew I had an afternoon flight, so I should’ve mentioned it to programming as soon as I’d booked it. VCon was very accommodating, but the turnout was pretty thin.

All in all, way too short of a time to spend in such a cool city. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Write on!

 

(Very Tardy) World Horror Con and Keycon 31 Roundups

These roundups are coming a bit late, aren’t they? Like-“holy shit, really? It’s been two months”-kind-of-late. Between prepping for World Horror and traveling and then prepping for Keycon a week later, I managed to fall pretty far behind on a number of things. Having mostly dug myself out of the catch-up hole, it’s a long one, but here you are:

It’s hard for me to separate my impressions of these two cons, they happened so closely together, for one, and I hung out with a few of the same awesome people at both. In fact, World Horror Con (or the reconvening of the Illuminaughty) all spun out of last year’s Keycon 30. I had a great time with a bunch of awesome folks and we got to reminiscing on Twitter and missing each other and tried to find a convention where we could all meet up. Lee Moyer and Venetia Charles kindly offered to host those of us who made it down to Portland for World Horror and Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ann Aguirre, GMB Chomichuk and I leapt at the offer.

The first leg of my trip to Portland for World Horror Con was Winnipeg to Minneapolis. The Minneapolis airport was nice enough, although I found actually boarding my next flight to be a part of crazy hodge-podge of too many gates too close together and an unending series of boarding announcements. Boarding feels considerably more higgledy piggledy (to quote Bloom County “Higgledy Piggledy means a big mess”) in the U.S. than it does in Canada. Also, a shoutout goes to the guy wearing the “You’ll Take My Guns From My Cold Dead Hands” T-shirt in the terminal. Way to represent, fella.

Another peculiarity of being south of the border was that there was Wi-Fi on my plane. I was very excited about being able to tweet during my flight, not that it was particularly dramatic, but c’mon, living in the future. Then I saw that I had to pay for the privilege and my cheap inner Winnipegger took over and decided to read instead. But I did see the mountains, sure I saw them from 30000 feet up, but that’s the closest I’ve come to them yet. I’ve seen them in the distance from Calgary but I couldn’t really make anything out. Next time I’m in Alberta, I’ll have to get closer, I guess.

When I left Winnipeg, the snow had been gone for about a week, all the trees were bare, all the grass was dead. Imagine how refreshing it was to see this when I landed:

Portland Green

In Bloom

At World Horror, I took in a few panels. Gregory crashed the comics panel at the insistence of Silvia and myself. He ended up moderating and rocked it.  Seriously, if you ever need to keep a panel lively, get that GMB fellow up there.

I also spent a lot of time watching GMB sketch. I always carry a notebook, he always carries a sketchbook, and both of us were scribbling words and pictures all weekend.

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We came up with Secret Plans. (More on that in the future, hopefully.)

I also got to watch Lee Moyer work, seriously, check out his portfolio. He is amazing.

I’ve said this before, but it remains true, one of my favourite things about attending conventions is meeting people who I’ve so far only chatted online with. World Horror was a great con for that, and I finally got to meet Folly Blaine, Minerva Zimmerman, Wendy Wagner, Claude Lalumière, Camille Alexa, and Jennifer Brozek (Jennifer was my editor for my first Steampunk story, “A Taste of the Other Side”, forthcoming in Beast Within 4, Gears & Growls).

I can usually avoid con-crud, but I got sick the day after I arrived in Portland. I don’t think it was a bug, so I’m blaming the two hour time change. Fortunately, I was able to rally. (Thanks for looking out for me, guys!)

My only programming at World Horror was offering a critique to an aspiring writer. It was supposed to be a shared critique with another pro, and done in the Clarion Style. All good. Except I was still feeling like ass, and the other pro didn’t show up, so I had an hour of critiquing to fill instead of thirty minutes. Something good spun out of it though. That aspiring writer had gone through the trouble of making a submission and so I was determined to be “on” for him. Being forced to show up and not stay home wallowing in self-pity also pushed me through the wall of my headache and nausea, and I felt a lot better when the critique session was over. I hope the aspiring writer did too. He took my suggestions well, and was an affable, fun guy. I really hope he’s successful.

We managed a bit of time for sightseeing:

We had lunch at Zeus Cafe (food was great), which had a great basement club, called Al’s Den (very sweet art on the walls).

Essence of Manly Beauty

Lemmy! The essence of manly beauty.

Black Keys Poster

The Black Keys!

We also visited the legendary Powell’s Books, and man it lives up to its rep. For my Winnipeg friends, imagine if McNally Robinson had four floors and sold used and new books. It was also very busy. It did my heart good to see so many people in a bookstore on a sunny Saturday (Yes, it was sunny in Portland. At least until it rained again.) afternoon.

We started the dance at World Horror’s Gothic Ball. It was also strange to see more people dancing to “Funky Town” than “Closer“, but hey, Funky Town!

Maple Bacon Bar

Voodoo Doughnuts!

I first heard about Voodoo Doughnuts while watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations travel show, and have been lusting after the pictured bacon maple bar ever since. So good.

Street Elevator

Loading elevators that came out of the street!

By the time I noticed what was happening and got my phone out to get the picture, the delivery had already disappeared into the bowels of Portland’s underground.

Yes, I found a comic store. Evidently, Portland is rife with comics professionals. No surprise there, given it’s the home of Dark Horse Comics. The neighbourhood I was staying in was home to one Brian Michael Bendis, who you may have heard of.

Leaving Minneapolis for both Portland and Winnipeg, my flights were racing a thunderstorm (appropriate, I know) and on the flight home, there was a moment when it actually felt like the plane was going to fall out of the sky. Crazy. Scary. Cool (because, you know, it didn’t).

When I got home from Portland, I had a couple of cool things waiting for me:

Sword & Mythos

My backer’s copy of the latest Innsmouth Free Press anthology, Sword & Mythos!

On Spec Spring 2014

And my contributor’s copies of the Spring 2014 issue of On Spec, which includes my Thunder Road story, “Runt of the Litter.”

Keycon 31 was a bit different beast. And while we’re not quite at the Cheers phase, my home con is definitely the place where a lot of people now know my name.

Silvia was a guest of honour here, so we got to hang out again, which was awesome. I picked Silvia up at the airport and we went on a walking tour of Winnipeg’s Exchange District before grabbing some supper.

Silvia at Millenium

Friday night, I shared my reading slot with Samantha Beiko, who I unintentionally trolled during her reading.

SM Beiko Reading Keycon 2014

Samantha is reading from her phone, see, and I decided to tweet about her reading and tag her. If only I could’ve caught the look she gave me when she realized what was happening. Again, sorry, Samantha! Not intentional. (She got her revenge when we went to see Godzilla and punched my belly like it was a speed bag at the gym. Tiny but fierce.)

Met some awesome folks, such as author (and wrestler) Adam Knight and cartoonist Johnathan Hatton. I caught up with old friends, Clare Marshall, Code Skillen, Levi Labelle and Brian Mitchell, co-chairs from Keycon 30.

I also signed a book for Tanya Freaking Huff. That is the kind of thing that doesn’t get old. I love her writing and she is a wonderful human.

The women who worked the Chapters book table last year were back again. Many thanks for your support and enthusiasm, Dana, Stephanie and Sydni! I had at least a couple of people at my signing who told me they bought Thunder Road because you sold them on it. You rock!

Gregory Chomichuk didn’t have any pieces in the art show this year, but he was doing live art in the registration area. So cool!

GMB Live Art Keycon 2014GMB Keycon 2014

(I saw this piece, finished, and up for sale at Gregory’s joint “CoLabratory” art show, which was a time and a half.)

When it came to panels I was on the Locally Grown: Authors and More You Likely Missed panel, moderated by my pal Adam Petrash alongside Samantha Beiko, GMB Chomichuk, Karen Dudley, Adam Knight, Johnathan Hatton, Laurie Smith, Lindsay Kitson, Leia Getty, and Lenora Rose Patrick.

Using Setting and Culture to Shape Characters with Samantha Beiko and ably-moderated by another Winnipeg fantasy author, Sherry Peters.

My final panel was Sparking Creativity, which I shared with Sherry Peters, artist GoH Ian Sokoliwski, and GMB Chomichuk. I was late to this panel, because for some reason I thought it was hour later than it turned out to be. Fortunately one of my fellow panelists tweeted that he missed me, and I dashed off. I was in such a hurry that I got caught in a lie. We were talking about opening yourself up to creativity and I mentioned that I always carried a notebook so if I had an idea I didn’t lose it, when Gregory noticed that I didn’t have my notebook on the table (I’d left it safely behind the Faery Ink Press table in the dealer’s room when I realized I was late) and called me on it. But I did have my back up, my phone, which has a notepad and voice recorder app, so I somewhat recovered my always taking notes cred.

I missed a bunch of panels that I would have liked to check out. They were either opposite my programming or in the brief spans that I had available to try to squeeze food out of the hotel restaurant. I did take in GMB’s panel on Storytelling for Graphic Novels, which was fun.

Silvia, code and I played Crazy 8s (and tried to remember how to play Crazy 8s) while waiting for the banquet to start. After dinner we roamed the party rooms until the ungodly hours of the morning.

And at least I managed to finish this blog post before I have to write one for When Worlds Collide!

Write on!

 

Prix Aurora Awards Nomination Deadline

Less than two weeks are left to nominate for the Prix Aurora Awards! Once again, I’ll be a last minute voter. I’m still frantically trying to squeeze some reading in before the deadline.

If you haven’t made your nominations yet, my second novel, Tombstone Blues, is eligible in the Best Novel category and alongside my co-chair Samantha Beiko, I’m eligible for Best Fan Organizational for work in the Winnipeg arm of the Chiaroscuro Reading Series.

Instruction for how to nominate a story are available on the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association’s site. But why should you vote? Ottawa author Matt Moore wrote an excellent blog post on why we should participate in the Aurora Awards. The more people participate, and the more they care, the more these awards will matter.

If you’re looking for a couple of last minute things to fill out your ballot, here’s a list of of stories and things I enjoyed in 2013 (Huge thanks to Michael Matheson for maintaining the CanSpec list!):

Novels:

YA Novels:

Short Fiction:

Poetry/Song:

Graphic Novels:

Best Related Work (Magazine/Anthology/Single Author Collection)

Best Artist:

Best Fan Publication:

Fan Organizational:

Best Fan Music:

 

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!