I had an abbreviated, whirlwind When Words Collide weekend this year.
I arrived late on the Thursday before the convention, already running a sleep debt, and then promptly stayed up well into Friday morning catching up with my pal, tourguide and host, Kevin Madison. We left in the morning for Kananaskis so that I could do some location scouting for future stories (more on that later), and then I hit the con hotel in time to join Celeste Peters and Renee Bennett for supper.
Unfortunately, I missed the Patricia Briggs workshop on Character and Voice, it took place before the conference, and I wasn’t able to get the extra days off of work. I still submitted my sample though, and both she and the critique group had some great things to say about my non-Thunder Road-related work in progess.
Because I wasn’t entirely certain I’d be able to make it to Calgary at all, I didn’t sign up for any programming this year, not even a reading. But my publisher, Jamis Paulson from Turnstone Press, was one of the Guests of Honour, so I crashed the hour with Jamis panel that fellow Turnstone author, Edmonton’s mystery queen (and all around awesome human being) Janice MacDonald was also guesting on.
(Last two photos courtesy of Randy Williams)
Some of my favourite folks are Alberta folks. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’ve met so many amazing people at the Calgary conferences I’ve attended. WWC feels like my home con even though its over 1300 KM away. I got to meet a bunch of my fellow critiquers for the first time. There were some great stories in that batch of first chapters and I think you’ll be seeing more than a few on the shelves sooner rather than later. It was lovely to hang out with Sandra Wickham, Ella Beaumont, and Jill Flanagan from the critique group, who missed no opportunity to remind me that I wasn’t there. They also made sure to drag me off to meet Patty before the con was over though, so there’s definitely no hard feelings!
One of the other great things about going to cons is finally getting to talk in person with people you’ve only interacted with on Twitter or Facebook. I enjoyed sharing a drink with JW Schnarr, Charles Propelec and Jeff Campbell even if the service and decor of the sports bar were lacking. They were also kind enough to offer their sympathies about the Blue Bombers woes to me when they saw I was from Winnipeg.
There were many launches taking place at WWC this year, but I was only able to take in one, due to my schedule, and that was the Urban Greenman launch. I’m so happy for Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine. They’ve put together a beautiful book and I can’t wait to dig into the stories inside. I have so many friends who made it into Urban Greenman, and I’m not going to lie, I REALLY wanted to get a story in this collection. Alas, not to be, but I did write a story that I love, and I’m sure it will find a home eventually.
I always tend to spend a lot of time in the Dealer’s Room at any convention I attend, if you can’t find someone in the bar, they’re probably looking at books and swag. And I brought too many (and yet not nearly enough) books home this year, including Urban Greenman, The Puzzle Box by the Apocalyptic Four (aka Eileen Bell, Randy McCharles, Ryan McFadden, Billie Milholland), The Tattooed Witch by Susan MacGregor, and Warriors by Barb Galler-Smith and Josh Langston. Also big thanks to Owl’s Nest Books for stocking Thunder Road at their table this year!
(Photo courtesy of Randy Williams)
When Words Collide is also the host conference for the In Places In Between short story contest. I have fond memories of this contest. Learning about it was a big kicker to get me submitting my fiction. The first short story I every finished and submitted to strangers went to In Places in Between. I didn’t win. I didn’t place. I didn’t have a hot clue what I was doing then, but having my work critiqued by strangers was an eyeopener. A member of my writing group has placed in it, the extremely talented Chris Smith (“Crow-Maiden”), and this year, I was surprised to see my copy editor, David Jón Fuller had a story inside (not surprised he made it in, David’s a great writer, but I had no idea he’d entered) and now I see that he took second place. Congrats, David (and you’d better come to Calgary next year)!
A note on the parties (because there are always parties): Whether it’s bubble-blowing gauntlet or a bowl of punch so heavily spiked that allows you to see through time, romance writers know how to have fun. To Tim Reynolds, for the Irish Whiskey (Mmm Writers Tears), and the generous soul (I never caught your name, I’m sorry!) with that fine, fine, bottle of Kentucky Bourbon (Blanton’s, I believe), thank you for roaming the halls with your libations, gentlemen. I took things easy this year, knowing I’d be hiking through the Badlands the next day, and somehow I felt being dehydrated, hungover, and scrambling up and down coulees was a remarkably bad idea (it was, evidently, I didn’t take things quite as easy as I thought).
Next year’s fantasy author guest of honour at When Words Collide is Brandon Sanderson! Which reminds me that I really have to finish writing my review/roundup for the Wheel of Time, now that its all done. But hey, that series was supposed to be a trilogy and it lasted decades and fourteen books, so if my review is a few months tardy, who’s going to complain? Brandon will be joined by Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction), Jacqueline Guest (YA, Historical), D.J. McIntosh (Mystery), and my Tesseracts 16 editor, Mark Leslie (as Director of Self-Publishing & Author Relations for Kobo).
Thank you Randy McCharles and all of the WWC organizers, volunteers, members, and guests for another great year!