(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!

 

Advertisements

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!

An Interview With Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Silvia Moreno-Garcia bought one of my short stories for the Fungi anthology she edited with Orrin Grey, and so it was an absolute pleasure to meet her at Keycon 30. I’m very excited about her latest project, Young Blood, a YA vampire novel set in Mexico. She’s currently crowdfunding the book on Indiegogo. I hope you’ll consider donating, there’s still ten days left to make this book happen and I really want to read it.

CG: Young Blood started out as a short story. Why did you decide to expand it into a novel?

SMG: I worked on two previous novels that didn’t pan out and I wanted to try something different, something that was short and had more clear-cut fantastic elements. I decided “A Puddle of Blood” could be extended and work as a YA, and it had been well received, so it seemed like a natural fit and I didn’t think there was anything like it around, so it might have some potential to attract readers.

CG: What appeals to you most about vampires as a monster in general, and your vampires in particular?

SMG: I think vampires are creepy fuckers. Nowadays they are popular romantic heroes, but if you look at legends and folklore, they are scary things. Emblems of the plague. You watch Nosferatu, the black and white version or the colour remake, and even though the vampire seems to desire the leading lady, it is NOT the kind of relationship you’d like to be in. It is deadly. Nosferatu is a horrid-looking thing. Those vampires appeal to me more than the romantic ones.

Even with the romantic ones, there are details that are ignored which I find disturbing. Why would a 100 year-old creature want to spend his life in high school, meeting teenagers? There’s a disturbing thing there. Predator double time.

As for my vampires, Atl is inspired by Caribbean and Latin American folklore. I like having a vampire that is a bit different and isn’t romantic. Some of the other vampires in the book take after European vampires, but they are not romantic, either. It was fun having these creatures going around Mexico City and fighting each other.

CG: Why do you feel it’s important to set fiction outside of the big US cities where we commonly see it?

SMG: I just think it’s odd that everything happens in the US. Every single time an alien ship it lands it’s in New York or Washington. Let’s shuffle it around, no? Also, the reactions of the people in a different cultural setting can be very interesting. If you have aliens walking through the slums of Mexico, I think you’d get a very different reaction. I imagine that if they tried to make it into Tepito, a famous low-class, tough neighborhoud (since the time of the Aztecs), they’d come out dead. There are many untapped possibilities when you go for someone who is not the usual protagonist or you transport the action to a setting you normally don’t see.

That’s why Domingo collects garbage. I wanted to have a protagonist who was not upper class or white or emo. Someone who isn’t heroic in the oh-you-are-the-chosen-one kind of way, but still has street smarts and is brave in his own way. And I wanted to put him against Atl, who is older, more sophisticated, more sure of herself, so that we don’t have the older suave male and the younger naive woman.

CG: I’ve only read the sample chapters so far, but I love your portrayal of Mexico City. How did you capture its flavour?

SMG: Thanks. Mexico City is an awesome city. It’s huge. You can find anything in the world there. It’s also ugly as hell. It’s also beautiful. You can walk into 18th century houses and brand new highrises. It’s a labyrinth. It’s a great monster. I love and hate it. I hope some of those feelings come through in the text: what it’s like taking the subway, walking through some of the streets and the like.

CG: What was the most interesting piece of research you found while working on Young Blood?

SMG: I read a lot about the current crime troubles in Mexico, the narco stuff. It’s quite disturbing. If you think fiction is bad, try browsing through some newspaper articles. In a way, writing about these kind of crimes is a bit cathartic because it’s just so freaking scary knowing what’s going on in the place where I was born. I can process the horrors better this way, if it makes any sense.

Anyway, the most interesting factoid is how the narco system began. It started in the 1940s. Farmers in Sinaloa started growing opium poppies. The government of the United States needed an alternate supply of morphine during World War II. They couldn’t get it from Asia due to the war. So they encouraged farmers to grow it for them. They planted the seeds of the cartels. Though the United States loves to talk about the War on Drugs, they got us started on this path.

CG: Do you have any further plans for Atl, Domingo, and Rodrigo if Young Blood gets funded?

SMG: I don’t like doing multi-series books, so this will be the end of them. Unless someone wants a graphic novel. Then GMB Chomichuk can draw it.

CG: I’d definitely buy that! Thanks, Silvia, and good luck with Young Blood!

You can read Chapter 1, 2, and 3 on Silvia’s website. Here’s the trailer for Young Blood:

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia lives in beautiful British Columbia with her family and two cats. She writes speculative fiction (from magic realism to horror). Her short stories have appeared in places such as Fantasy Magazine, The Book of Cthulhu, Imaginarium 2012The Best Canadian Speculative Writing and Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, is out in 2013.

Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction. The Innsmouth Free Press website features daily non-fiction and tri-annual fiction issues. Innsmouth Free Press publishes several  high-quality anthologies and novels during the year.

She has co-edited the anthologies Historical LovecraftFuture LovecraftCandle in the Attic Windowand Fungi. The upcoming Dead North will be the first anthology she edited solo.

In 2011, Silvia won the Carter V. Cooper Memorial Prize (in the Emerging Writer category), sponsored by Gloria Vanderbilt and Exile Quarterly. She was also a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize.

To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitterand Google+.

The Next Big Thing Week 11

Thank you, Rhiannon Held, for tagging me in The Next Big Thing. The Next Big Thing is a weekly blog post where the tagged authors talk about a work in progress.

What is the working title of your book?

Tombstone Blues Book Two in the Thunder Road Trilogy is my current work in progress. Book One launches on Thursday, September 6th and Tombstone Blues will release Fall 2013.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Tombstone Blues happened organically from events leading up to the climax of Thunder Road. I’d sketched out a rough outline for this story to write someday, not intending it to be next, but as soon as I wrote: “Hel is jealous and strong. She will not be pleased.” I also knew this book had to be next.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy, with heavy Norse mythological influences.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I would have said Brett Favre for Ted (at least before all that texting business…), but as I’ve only seen him play himself in Something About Mary, I’m not sure he really counts as an actor. Instead, I’m going to say Ray Stevenson. Perfect height for Ted, and he has a gift for onscreen profanity and violence. Tilda would be Adrianne Palicki. Again, she’s the perfect height. I liked her in Supernatural, and she seems drawn to superheroic/fantasy roles. Loki is a shapeshifter, so he could be (and should be) played by multiple actors (and actresses). It feels like a cheat to say Tom Hiddleston, but I liked him so much in Thor and The Avengers. He might play his Loki a little more sinister than I wrote mine. Hel would be Tilda Swinton, because she does layered madness very, very well. Finally, Thor would be Liam Neeson. He’s big. He punches wolves, and he’s played gods before. What more can you ask for?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Hel’s army invades Winnipeg trying to reclaim Thor’s hammer from its new wielder.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My book will be published by Ravenstone Books, an Imprint of Turnstone Press. Currently, I am not represented by an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A little less than three months for the first draft, but as I wrote it immediately after finishing Thunder Road, it sat after its first round of revisions until I sold the first book (a strategy I am somewhat regretting at the moment as my delivery deadline creeps closer).

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

J.A. Pitts’ excellent Black Blade Blues mixes Norse Myth with the locales of his home state. And while I hesitate to mention Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which has won every award and is simply a breathtaking book, it also has strong mythological elements–particularly Norse Myth.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As I said above, the broad events of Tombstone Blues grew out of Thunder Road, but the biggest inspiration for the book was my home city of Winnipeg. It’s history geography and folklore make the book what it is. I just hope Winnipeg forgives me for all the damage my characters are doing to it!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I write an appendix of handy-dandy explanations about the gods and creatures of Norse Mythology, all done in Loki’s best snarky voice.

Tag! You’re it!

David Annandale

GMB Chomichuk

Karen Dudley

Erika Holt

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Rules:

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress) ***
Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. It’s that simple.
Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?