Three Great Events

I’ve definitely been a busy bee since Tombstone Blues escaped the printer. I had a few events in such short order (and I’m happy to say, I’ve more to come) that I just can’t give each their own roundup post.

Tombstone Blues Launch:

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It was another packed house at McNally, (thanks for coming back guys!) and while nothing can compare to the first launch, I have to say I might have enjoyed this one a little bit more. I’ve done several readings in the interim, talked to crowds that were not filled out with friends and family, and that definitely took some of the edge off the performance jitters.

Also, there was cake.

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Huge thanks to everyone who came out to support me!

The Ravenstone Monster Mash:

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On October 23rd, I was joined at McNally Robinson by my friends and fellow Ravenstone authors David Annandale, Karen Dudley, and (visiting from Edmonton) Janice MacDonald. We all got together to share spooky pieces from some of our latest works. If you were there, you got a tease from one of my forthcoming short stories, as I realized I read my favourite scary scene from Tombstone Blues a week early at the launch.

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David Annandale, Karen Dudley, Janice MacDonald, Chadwick Ginther

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Books! Karen Dudley’s Food for the Gods, David Annandale’s The Valedictorians and Gethsemane Hall, Janice MacDonald’s Condemned to Repeat, and from yours truly, Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues.

Word on the Water:

Kenora’s growing literary festival was a lot of fun. Guests included Robert J. Sawyer, Charles Wilkins, Gail Bowen, Duncan Weller, Mike Grandmaison, C.C. Benison, Catherine Hunter, Karen Dudley, Samantha Beiko, and Sherry Peters. Thank you to Elizabeth Campbell Books, who was on hand selling copies of the attending authors’ books.

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This was taken on the opening night of the festival. I had the pleasure of introducing my friend, Robert J. Sawyer, one of this year’s guests of honour. Rob delivered a fantastic keynote address and reading and then I had the pleasure of moderating the audience Q&A portion of the event. There were many great and thoughtful questions, you guys made my job easy!

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On the future of publishing panel with Duncan Weller and Samantha Beiko, moderated by Daniel Klein (who I know from Twitter, but finally had a chance to meet in person).

Next up was the Reality Made Fantastic or Fantasy Made Real, moderated by Kenora’s Rick Brignall. A spirited discussion on real places becoming fantastic and the creation of secondary worlds with Karen Dudley, Samantha Beiko, Robert J. Sawyer and myself.

Remember my “Grumpy Cat” photo from the Manitoba Book Awards? I think it’s been topped…

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Don’t blame me, I’ve got a condition. Seriously though, I hadn’t slept well, and had a fierce headache all day Saturday, but I did have fun on my programming, so I hope it wasn’t at least constantly obvious that I had a monkey trying to chisel out of my brain.

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Saturday night it was Charles Wilkins‘ time to shine. The Thunder Bay author introduced his latest work, Little Ship of Fools, did a short reading and then we had a screening of the film Big Blue (about Wilkins’ journey across the Atlantic chronicled in Little Ship of Fools) before the Page Turner gala dinner.

But this is not the end, more great events are coming up in short order!

C4 (Central Canada Comic Con): I’ll be selling copies of Thunder Road and Tombstone Blues, handing out swag, and staring at Ron Perlman. Come by Booth 140A and say “Hi.”

Tombstone Blues launching in Morden: Very happy to be giving book two a hometown kickoff. I wrote the first fifty pages of Thunder Road in Morden, and I discovered the Norse Myths in the very building where I’ll be doing my reading. Hoping for a very special night.

Eat, Drink, and Be Literary: I’ll be joined by David Bergen, Carolyn Gray and Kelly Hughes in this fundraiser for the Manitoba Writers’ Guild.

Reading and Signing in Saskatoon: I’ll be part of a multi-author book launch along with E.C. Blake, Sean Cummings, and Derryl Murphy at McNally Robinson Booksellers.

Lots to do and hopefully more to come.

Write on!

July Goals And A Half-Year Check In On The Big Picture

Here’s my latest monthly goals post:

So, how did I do in June?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road book 3. I’m not going to set a specific word count goal, I just want to keep up the forward progress and keep momentum rumbling. Okay, who am I kidding, I want to hit at least 50000 words in the manuscript by month end (which is not looking promising), which brings me to the next item:
  • Revamp my writing routine. There’s a good reason for this (besides getting my ass off Facebook and Twitter a bit more).
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon! I’m waiting on the contract to make the announcement). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

Not as good as I’d hoped, unfortunately. There are reasons for this. (*cough* EXCUSES! *cough* Ahem) I didn’t write for most of the first week on my new job. I had two book reviews (one for The Winnipeg Review, one for Quill and Quire) and an article for Prairie books NOW all show up close together, and with similar deadlines. My response to paying work is generally to say “yes” and then figure out how I’ll make the time later. For year’s it’s been these reviews and articles that have helped to pay for my out of town conference trips. I made an admirable run at my word count goal for the final book in the trilogy, hitting almost 47000 words, but that’s not 50000, is it? Sadly I didn’t even look at those two short stories. The big goal of revamping my writing has been working however, and while 500-700 words a day on my lunch break and another 300-400 on the bus ride home may not seem like much, that roughly 1000 words a day is considerably more than I was averaging before May.

So what’s on the deck for July?

How about everything left over from June, to start.

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3: This time I’m aiming for at least 60000 words in the manuscript by month end.
  • Polish the first short story I wrote in May. It’s set in the Thunder Road ‘verse and takes place just after the first book. No Ted in this story. I’m playing around with some minor characters. Who doesn’t like dwarf women kicking ass?
  • Finish drafting the second short story I started. Another one set in the Thunder Road ‘verse. Another one without Ted. I’ve written a story with this character before, and love the voice (Hopefully you’ll all be able to read that one soon!). These first 2000 words feel more like the beginning of a new novel, but I think I can make it work as a short story.

And on the new side:

  • Write a short story for the Innsmouth Free Press “Wings” special issue.
  • I haven’t written any “Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology” blog posts in a while. I have two on deck that I’ve been meaning to get to.
  • Attend the kick ass launch of ChiSeries Winnipeg Wednesday July 17th, at McNally Robinson. I am the co-organizer of this along with the Tiny Godzilla of Winnipeg’s YA scene (AKA the awesome and talented Samantha Beiko) and it’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally there! We’ll have readings from David Annandale, Andrew Davidson, and Sierra Dean.

I think I’m already veering into “unrealistic goal territory” as there is editorial work on Tombstone Blues to take into account, so I’m going to leave it there and see what happens in August. But since we’re half way through the year, I thought I’d also check in on those goals for 2013 that I posted back in January:

  • 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.

Still some work to do there, I see. I’m not terribly worried.

Tombstone Blues will be finished, I’m not worried about that, but I don’t feel I’m done writing a book until I’ve approved the final page proofs. So until then, I’m leaving it on the list. I’ve probably hit the two-thirds point of my discovery draft of Book 3. There will be lots more work once that’s done, but things are going well, and I’m way ahead of schedule on that project, as I’d only anticipated starting to draft in November.

I’d thought the convention would be an easy one, when I first made that goal, it was my intention to hit World Horror Con in New Orleans. That plan got a bit waylaid when I switched jobs, so I couldn’t make it. I will get to World Horror some day. And I will get to New Orleans too (maybe for the Romantic Times convention next year). I will be going to Can-Con in Ottawa in October. I’ve been to Ottawa, but not  to that convention… I’ll leave it up to readers to decide if I can count that one and strike it off my list.

I’ve revised one of my old manuscripts, it’s still nowhere near submission shape, but it’s probably next on the list once the draft of book three is done. It’ll be good to take a little break and let the draft breathe before I get back to it.

So that leaves starting a project just for the fun of it. Looks like that will be my project for NaNoWrimo this year.

Write on!

My Keycon 30 Roundup: AKA Best. Con. Ever.

A bold statement, “Best. Con. Ever.”

But I’m going to stand by it.

Keycon 30 was a multiple anniversary, celebrating thirty years of the convention, fifty years of Doctor Who, and 100 years of H.P. Lovecraft (In another anniversary of sorts, or at least a cool coincidence, I am celebrating my one hundredth post on the blog with this roundup).

This was my first con with a book out (yeah, yeah, I know, World Fantasy and Pure Speculation were a part of my tour, but Thunder Road was just released then, and few folks had had the chance to read it yet). I was blown away by the number of people who came up to me to tell me that they loved the book. And I swear, I didn’t pay first time Keycon attendee, Shayla Elizabeth to sport a Thunder Road tattoo on her cheek all weekend. 

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The only complaints I heard were about the brief period when the elevators had stopped working, but seriously, people complain about the elevators at every convention I have ever been to. And you can hardly blame acts of Cthulhu on the convention. This was the biggest and best Keycon I can remember. The guests hit on all cylinders, even the ones I wasn’t familiar with before the con. I didn’t see half of the folks I wanted to, and they time went by too quickly with those I did see. But I did make many great new friends.

Hats off to Brian Mitchell and Levi Labelle, the 2013 ConChairs. They deserve your Aurora nominations next year. As does the programming team of Sherry Peters, Lindsay Kitson, Anna Lauder and Charlie Lauder.

This year the book table was manned by some Chapters and Coles staff. I’ve tweeted about how awesome they were all weekend, but it deserves to be said again: Sydni, Stephanie, Dana, you ROCK! They knew their stuff (and knew my book!) and were lots of fun. I signed all the stock of Thunder Road they brought with them, and I hope to see them back at the con next year.

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I never get to see everything that I want to at any con. Invariably, one must see (at least, must see for me) panel is in conflict with another, but I particularly enjoyed Lee Moyer’s presentation on bad book covers and the crowdfunding panel Lee shared with Sylvia Moreno-Garcia and Steven Barnes.

As for my side of the programming, I had a great time sharing a reading slot with David Annandale. We decided to tag team and trade off several short readings rather than each doing one long one. I think it worked well and kept our audience interested. David read from Gethsemane HallDeath of Antagonis, and Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha. I read the openings from my short stories “First They Came for the Pigs” (natch, Silvia was my editor on that story) and “Back in Black”, finishing off the slot with the opening pages of the second book in the Thunder Road Trilogy, Tombstone Blues. 

Next up, I was moderating the Hour with an Author panel, featuring Author Guest of Honour, Ann Aguirre. Things got off to a slow start due to some location confusion (our original room had been partially flooded by a busted sprinkler head–R’lyeh Rising, terribly appropriate for a Lovecraftian Keycon) so I had a great chat with Ann before attendees filtered in to start asking questions. Ann is a great storyteller, and I’m in the middle of reading her Corine Solomon novels at the moment and really enjoying them (I’ve also been told that if you like Firefly you’ll like her Sirantha Jax novels–and I love me some Firefly, so I’m excited to start those too). Because our panel started late, we ended a little late, and Ann only had 45 minutes to eat before her next slate of programming started. Knowing from experience that the Radisson restaurant would not make that kind of turnaround, we hustled out of the hotel and into the rain. The closest restaurant was La Bamba, so yes, we took the author from Mexico City to eat at a Mexican restaurant in Winnipeg (her verdict: good–and more authentic than she usually finds in the States).

My final panel was a discussion of Mythology and Folklore with Karen Dudley and Leia Getty. Technically, the panel was about the “reemergence of Greek and Norse mythology in fantasy fiction” but after talking about how those stories have never really gone away, we started branching out to talk myth in a more general way and about using it in fiction. It was  a great turnout for a Sunday afternoon panel. I had a lot of fun.

I checked out the Filk room, aka The Dandy Lion, run by Morva Bowman and Alan Pollard (who are nominated for an Aurora Award for their concert at FILKONtario 22) with Samantha Beiko and Clare Marshall. Clare rocked the blue fiddle she borrowed from Sam (the blue fiddle she was hoping to sneak home in her luggage) through a number of songs before Morva and Alan started their concert. I’ve never been much into the filk scene at cons, but I had a lot of fun.

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Things got a little meta when Canadian Author Guest of Honour, J.M. Frey read a fantasy short story set at a fantasy con during the Dead Dog party. Ryan Roth Bartel from Rampant Design made a custom mask for Lee Moyer. GMB Chomichuk drew a wicked version of Nyarlathoteph in his crawling chaos shape for Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I love Gregory’s work, and so to see him create an original piece was a treat I won’t soon forget.

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You can see the finished product in all its eldritch glory in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Keycon post.

A whole gang of us spent the night of the Dead Dog in the Clockwork Club hospitality suite holding a seance that summoned only popcorn. Stories were told and plots were hatched. Oh, and we may or may not have formed a secret society. But I can’t talk about that.

It’s a secret, after all.

C4 Lit Fest Roundup

C4 Lit Fest was a blast. For a first year festival, it ran very smoothly.

Odin love G.M.B. Chomichuk, when he introduced himself at the Opening Ceremonies, he told the attendees that if they were going to buy only one book on the weekend, they should by Thunder Road. I tried to return the favour when ever I saw someone linger by his table (not that he needs my help, check out his art, Raygun Gothic is AMAZING).

Author alley was a lot of fun, as our tables were in close proximity, and I had the pleasure of being next to awesome Winnipeg YA author, Samantha Beiko  and directly across from awesome Winnipeg urban fantasy author, Sierra Dean. Fun was had. Great to see other familiar faces, G.M.B. Chomichuk, Ronald Hore, Rhiannon Paille, Craig Russell and Susan Rocan. It was also great to meet Jodi Carmichael, The Chapter by Chapter book bloggers: MaryAnn and Gabby, A.P. Fuchs, Gabrielle Goldstone, and Shaylinn Wilbon.

My first panel of the day was Plotting versus Pantsing, with Guest of Honour, Kelley Armstrong and fellow local authors A.P. Fuchs and Ronald Hore. Most of us tended to write on the seat of our pants, but Kelley ably held up the plotting end of the spectrum.

Sadly, How Can I Support My Local Authors (with Samantha Beiko) had the lowest attendance of any of my panels, not that it wasn’t expected. Making people care about the writers in their home town is always tricky. I think that the group that did attend got something out of what Samantha and I had to offer.

We were paired together again on a panel about the Traditional Publishing Process. Sam brought reams of experience as Managing Editor at ChiZine Publications and Marketing/Promotions diva for Signature Editions and I chimed in from the bookseller/book buyer side. Good turn out and good questions.

Sunday got off to a rough start as I woke up to more snow. However, by the end of the day the sun was out and looking back now and seeing grass (dead, brown, snow-mould encrusted grass, but grass all the same) I’m able to forgive that.

My first panel of the day was Fairytales, Folklore and Myths, Oh My! which I shared with Kelley Armstrong and local YA author, Susan Rocan (who was kind enough to interview me, and to review Thunder Road when the book first came out). This was a packed house. We talked about Werewolves, Vampires, Norse Myth (Kelley’s got a Middle Grade novel, Loki’s Wolves, co-authored with Melissa Marr, coming out that looks amazing), Aboriginal spirituality, the dangers of cultural appropriation, and a bit on avoiding inherent sexism and racism in modern takes on the tales. When the audience ran out of questions, I started picking on them and asking questions of them (Sorry, Perry and Craig). Tons of fun.

My final panel of the festival was What is a Beta Reader? with C4 Lit Fest organizer, Rhiannon Paille, and Ronald Hore. As with most panels on publishing or writing advice this quickly veered into territory of every writer is different and everyone’s path is different. I think we covered a lot of the bases on critique groups, first readers and beta readers, though.

Big thanks to Rhiannon and all the volunteers who made C4 Lit Fest such a great experience! I met a bunch of great people–I even sold some books! I’m very happy to hear that C4 Lit Fest will be back again next year.