Prix Aurora Award Nominations

Nominations opened for the Prix Aurora Awards (and a whole mess of other awards too–though it’s the Auroras that are most likely to impact ’round Thunder Road Way) while I had my head down trying to finish my latest novel.

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 so inclined, here’s what I did in 2015:

  • Too Far Gone, Ravenstone Books, October 2015, eligible in the Novel category.
  • The Last Good Look, The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, March 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • When the Gods Send You Rats, Shared World Volume One, October 2015, eligible in the Short Fiction category.
  • Co-Chair/Artistic Director ChiSeries Winnipeg with Samantha Beiko: “Fan Organizational” category.

Eligibility Lists are here:

I also want to mention the people that helped me create in 2015:

In addition to being my co-conspirator for the Winnipeg arm of ChiSeries, Samantha Beiko steps up every single time I give her a weird ass request, such as: I want to make story cards, or can you draw me a giant, evil cat? Even I want to put a new book together less than a month before Comic Con.

Sam did this great picture of Ted Callan for my story, “New Year’s Eve”

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

She also illustrated this super fun (and super creepy) Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat.

Christmas Cat by Samantha Beiko

and she edited and laid out Shared World.

Sam is awesomesauce. Check out her stuff, and her dream book store, Valkyrie Books.

GMB Chomichuk and James Gillespie also wrote a short story for Shared World. “Kaa-Rokaan.”

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In addtion to being a great writer, Gregory is an amazing artist. His Infinitum was a wonderful, weird read. Time travel noir!

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He also illustrated Underworld, written by another Winnipeg comics mainstay, Lovern Kindzierski. Greek mythology in modern Winnipeg.

Underworld-Cover

Silvia Moreno-Garcia wrote my favourite book of 2015, her novel debut, Signal to Noise. Silvia’s knows her Lovecraft, and everyone involved in Shared World was chuffed when she agreed to write us a kickass introduction.

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Michael Matheson was my editor for Too Far Gone. Michael was new to editing the series, anddid a bang up job. I’d love to have a chance to work with Michael again. In the meantime, checkout this anthology published by ChiZine Publications:

Boy Eating

David Jón Fuller was my copy editor for Too Far Gone (and the entire Thunder Road Trilogy) and kept all my umlauts in the right spots. David is also a damn fine short story writer.

His story “Caged” appeared in Guns and Romances, and “In Open Air” appeared in Accessing the Future.

Scott Henderson did this gorgeous piece inspired by Too Far Gone.

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Scott also illustrated Richard Van Camp’s graphic novel, A Blanket of Butterflies.

Blanket of Butterflies

Claude Lalumière and David Nickle were my editors for The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir and bought my story, “The Last Good Look.”

New Canadian Noir Cover

This is a killer anthology. I enjoyed reading every story in it.

Sandra Wickham and I are currently writing a novel together. She’s also sort of taken on the Herculean task of getting me back in shape. Her book Health and Fitness for Creative People is a great start.

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Kevin Madison has done tons of Thunder Road illustrations for me over the course of the series’ life. Here’s one of his most recent:

Ted with Ravens

Kevin also wrote a comic last year, which was a lot of fun. Different artists illustrating various points in a superhero’s career.

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Here’s some other stuff I really dug throughout 2015, heavily weighted towards comics, because that seemed to be the majority of my reading lately.

I helped back Canadian Corps on Kickstarter. Andrew Lorenz’s writing definitely hit me right in the Alpha Flight feels.

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Donovan Yaciuk did the colours for Canadian Corps, but he also writes this sweet indie comic:

Spacepig Hamadeus

A space-faring pig. ‘Nuff said.

Justin Shauf is the artist on Spacepig Hamadeus and Canadian Corps. He also drew me this SWEET Dr. Fate.

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Rat Queens is written by Kurtis Wiebe, and its one of the highlights of my comic pull list ever time an issue drops.

Rat Queens

I adore Fiona Staples’ art on Saga. Another book that’s never disappointed me.

Saga Staples

Jim Zub’s Wayward is another great fantasy comic.

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No matter how much I read, it still seems like it’s never enough! I feel like I’ve got a lot of cramming to do before I put in my nominations. What have you created or read that I should check out before nominations close?

Write on!

Central Canada Comic Con & Creative Colleagues

I can’t believe that C4 (Central Canada Comic Con) is only a week away!

It’s definitely going to be a mad dash to that finish line to get everything done I’d like to have done beforehand, and an even madder weekend during the con. But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Because I love working with friends. And I’ll have a lot of them at this convention.

First off, Prix Aurora nominated artist (for his work on a live blog of his reading of the Thunder Road Trilogy), and illustrator of my 2014 C4 project, A Simple Twist of Fate, Kevin Madison will be at C4 for the first time in Artist Alley. He surprised me on Thanksgiving with this piece:

Ted with Ravens

Love it! Check out more of his work.

Samantha Beiko is the illustrator of a couple of my other projects that’ll be debuting at C4 in addition to being a top-flight editor and author. Sam’s a triple threat, and the real deal.

Here’s a taste of her work:

Ted New Year's Eve by SM Beiko

Samantha will also be at C4 as her alter-ego: Valkyrie Books, a bookstore that until now, has existed only in her imagination. She’ll be selling the latest speculative fiction goodies, as well as a selection of titles by local authors (including yours truly).

I love having a table around GMB Chomichuk, it’s such a good vibe and good energy. We finally got to work together, putting a little story bindup of Lovecraftian Madness together called Shared World. We each contributed a story and Gregory brought his wicked art sensibilities to the cover and interiors. Gregory talked about how the project came together on his blog last week, and how he blames me, but Samantha Beiko made the craziness possible. Thanks also to Silvia Moreno-Garcia for writing us a kickass introduction.

Our first (hopefully of many) Valkyrie Books Secret Editions: Shared World!

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The third (but definitely not last) of my Scott Henderson commissions just arrived. Scott did a killer Thunder Road illustration after reading the book, and I loved it so much I asked him to do a Tilda drawing to celebrate the publication of Tombstone Blues.

Here’s what he cooked up for Too Far Gone:

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This is just the inks, to see the full colour amazing, you’ll have to come by my or Scott’s tables at C4. I fucking wept to see it. Also, sorry for all the stuff that happens to you in Too Far Gone, Edmonton.

Finally, speaking of creative colleagues, Dave Gross hosted me on his blog’s Creative Colleagues feature! Send him your clicks please.

Write on.

Level Up!

I suppose I can share this now, as the contract is signed (and I’ve been paid).

Sold my first short story reprint!

Level-Up

Nice!

The story in question is “First They Came for the Pigs” originally included in the Innsmouth Free Press anthology, Fungi, edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Orrin Grey, it’ll be appearing in Grimdark Magazine in the near future. Super stoked about this!

I also came home from work to this as a congratulations the day they made the offer:

Mushroom Congrats

(“First They Came for the Pigs” features people-eating mushrooms by-the-by.)

Thanks Silvia and Orrin for choosing the story in the first place (and for commissioning that amazing cover that made me want to write about mushrooms even if I’ll never eat them) and to Grimdark for giving this one another moment in the sun.

Write on!

Gears & Growls and New Canadian Noir Covers

Some news about a couple of anthologies I’ve contributed to:

It’s been a long time coming, but Beast Within 4: Gears & Growls releases soon, Halloween, to be exact, which I love. This was my first steampunk story and my first anthology invite (thank you, Jennifer Brozek!) so I’m pretty excited to see “A Taste of the Other Side” in print.

Here’s the cover!

Gears & Growls

Full cover including the copy.

Gears & Growls full cover

Jenna Fowler’s wonderful illustration of my protagonist! See more of Jenna’s work here.

jennafowlertasteoftheotherside

And while this probably isn’t the final cover, here’s a teaser to give you an idea of the feel that The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir is going for. This anthology is edited by Claude Lalumière and David Nickle and includes my story “The Last Good Look.”

New Canadian Noir Teaser Cover

I’m very excited to get to share a TOC with a bunch of cool folks like Colleen Anderson, Keith Cadieux, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Corey RedekopAlex C. Renwick, and Kelly Robson.

Write on!

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.

Chronicles of Era

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!

 

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!

 

My VCon Schedule

I’m heading off to VCon this weekend. VCon is Vancouver’s premier science fiction, fantasy and games convention. I can’t wait for this. I’ve been meaning to get to VCon since my first convention (World Fantasy in Calgary) as I met a bunch of awesome B.C. folks there. I’ve met a few since, some of whom I only get to chat with on Twitter and Facebook, so I hope we’ll get to hang out a bit.
VCon will also be another reconvening of the Illuminaughty, albeit a small one. It’ll be great to see Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Ann Aguirre again. Secret societies are the bomb. (Ssssh. SECRETS.)

Guests of Honour include author David Weber (Honor Harrington Series; Safehold Series, Dahak Series) http://www.davidweber.net/,  artist David Mattingly (Does Cover Art for David Weber’s Honor Harrington Books) http://www.davidmattingly.com/ and game designer Bruce Heard (Original TSR employee, responsible for the development of much of the BECMI D&D line and it’s campaign world Mystara) http://bruce-heard.blogspot.ca/.

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty stoked about meeting Bruce Heard. Mystara was (and still is) my favourite D&D setting and I backed Bruce’s recent Kickstarter for Calidar in Stranger Skies. It’ll be an honour to share a panel with a game design legend.

This year VCon is also hosting Canvention (Canada’s national and traveling convention) and the Prix Aurora Awards. Me and my ChiSeries Winnipeg partner Samantha Beiko will be there representing Winnipeg (oh, and our books, and the ChiSeries and stuff).

VCon has brought in a few guests specifically for Canvention. Canvention, Tarol Hunt creator of the Goblins webcomic http://goblinscomic.com/ and artist Melissa Mary Duncan http://www.melissaduncan.ca/.

Here’s my schedule:
Friday, October 3
7 pm Selling Your Nonfiction to Subsidize Your Fiction? There’s an abundance of work out there when you’re a talented non-fiction writer. How does that translate into your speculative fiction? How do you balance writing both? Do anthology editors consider an author’s entire portfolio or just the fiction?
Sandra Wickham • Claire Eamer • Melanie Dixon • Chadwick Ginther • Mark Anthonry Brennan
8 pm Aurora Award Pin Ceremony: All attending Aurora award Nominees receive their Nominee Pins from members of the CSFFA (Aurora award admin people) Board of Directors.
Saturday, October 4
2 pm Game Master Tricks: Having problems with your game going off the rails? Time to break out the big guns! Panelists share their favourite tips for putting one over on players, devising devious schemes, or improvising when your carefully laid plans go all to hell.
Paula Johanson • Tarol Hunt • Chadwick Ginther • Bruce Heard • Jeremy Reimer
4 pm Aurora Award Afternoon Tea: This is a catered ticketed affair. Guests will savour finger sandwiches, light pastries, scones, fruit compote, Devonshire cream, etc.
During (or shortly after) the High Tea retired Movie Critic and Journalist Michael Walsh will present several ‘spoof’ Elron Awards in a tradition dating back to the first VCON in 1971. R. Graeme Cameron, presenter of the Elrons since 1989, will unveil the rest of the horrors at a later program event.
4:45 pm Aurora Award Ceremony: Master of Ceremonies Sandra Wickham (well-known author whose stories have appeared in “Evolve”, “Urban Green Man”, and numerous other anthologies and magazines) will preside over the awarding of the Auroras.This is the last year the current Aurora Award design will be handed out – Frank Johnson’s wonderful ‘Maple Leaf Aurora’ design has been used for the past 23 years, each award individually handcrafted by him in his workshop. To put it mildly, CSFFA certainly appreciates Frank’s dedication and hard work. CSFFA is glad to note that Frank will be present at the awards. As part of the ceremony CSFFA Canvention 34 Chair Clint Budd will announce the recipients of the newly created Hall of Fame Honours. This replaces the previous Lifetime Achievement awards, all previous winners of which will now be inducted into the CSFFA Hall of Fame.The past winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award being “transferred” into the Hall of Fame are: A.E. Van Vogt, Susan Wood, Judith Merril, Phyllis Gotlieb, Dennis Mullen, and Robert J. Sawyer. This year’s winners are William Gibson, and Spider & Jeanne Robinson. Bill and Spider will be present to acknowledge their induction, the latter on behalf of and in memory of his co-author and beloved wife of many years, Jeanne Robinson. 

Sunday, October 5
10:00 am Reading with Ann Aguirre
Hope to see you there, and wish me luck at the Auroras.
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.

GMB Sketching 1

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!

 

My Keycon 31 Schedule

Are you coming to Keycon 31? I hope so! It’s shaping up to be a good one. Author guests include: David Gerrold, Tanya Huff, and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Robert J. Sawyer will be attending, as well as a bunch of awesome local folks, such as: S.M. Beiko, Gerald Brandt, GMB Chomichuk, Karen Dudley, Shayla Elizabeth, Lindsay Kitson, and Sherry Peters.

If you’re around, here’s where you’ll find me:

  • Reading (with Samantha Beiko) – 9pm Friday
  • Locally Grown – 12pm Saturday
  • Using Setting & Culture to Shape Characters – 1pm Saturday
  • Sparking Creativity – 4pm Saturday
  • Autograph Session – 12pm Sunday

Do come and say hello!

 

October Goals

September has come and gone. I made some promises, but did I keep them?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal again. Any forward progress while I’m prepping for the launch and tour of Tombstone Blues is going to be considered a win.
  • 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?
  • Start pre-writing blog posts for my website and guest blogs for during the Tombstone Blues tour.
  • Submit a review to The Winnipeg Review.
  • Actually get my next goals post up a little earlier than middle of October.

Why yes, yes I did–mostly. Nice to see for a change. September was a busy month for me at the dayjob and with back to school and fuller buses means it’s a little harder to get work done on my to and from work. At times I could have spent my entire lunch break just trying to find space to write, let alone actually putting words down. I may have to reevaluate my writing routine again. I’ll wait out October and see how I feel once things have settled down.

I didn’t do any writing sprints on my lunch in September with the pals that normally play along but I did get some writing done. I wrote a second epilogue for the final book in the Thunder Road Trilogy (No, both won’t appear in the final book). I’ve been waffling on the final grace note of the series (although I know what the last two words have to be (and no, not: “The End”, thank you very much)), and I think I might release the unused one as an e-short after the series is done if anyone is interested in reading it.

The long-suffering short story now has a name: “A Door in the Rock”. I really wanted this story done, but while it went through a few more polishes, I just don’t feel it’s ready for readers yet. Just because I want to give it away at Comic Con, doesn’t mean I want to give away something half-baked. I’ll still try to have it ready for C4, but if it’s not done, maybe I’ll do something with it for Christmas instead. You’ll read it eventually, never fear.

I’ve written up the first few “Loki’s Guide to Mythology” posts from Tombstone Blues and outlined a few other posts, that might end up on this site or as guest posts elsewhere. I turned in my review of Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s This Strange Way of Dying (short version, awesome and you have to read it!) long version coming soon from The Winnipeg Review.

And here we are in a new month, and not already halfway through it. So what’s up for October?

  • Keep writing Thunder Road Book 3. No word count goal again. Any forward progress while I’m on tour for Tombstone Blues is going to be considered a win.
  • Finish “A Door in the Rock” and rewrite it based on editorial advice.
  • Try to get “A Door in the Rock” typeset and printed in time to hand out at C4.
  • Post at least one blog per week. (I’d like to do more, but in the pursuance of realism have to be honest).
  • Turn in my story about The Puzzle Box by The Apocalyptic Four for Prairie Books Now.

Not enough? I’ll be doing events in Ottawa, Toronto, Kenora, and yes, even a couple in Winnipeg, so I’m trying to be realistic (and I’m probably not being realistic). Also? I’ve had an idea. Actually a collision of a couple of ideas that I think together have the legs to be not just a book, but a new series. Which means I’ll be diving into National Novel Writing Month again to try to get it drafted. Plotting has begun, much to my surprise. I’m not normally an advance plotter, but the last time I tried pantsing my way through NaNoWriMo I almost lost my mind and three years on I’m STILL trying to fix that manuscript.

So. Yearly goals. What do you know?

  • 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.

Another one bites the dust.

Write on!