I’m heading back to Cowtown for another When Words Collide conference. Can’t wait!
If you’re looking for me, here’s where I’ll be:
I’m heading back to Cowtown for another When Words Collide conference. Can’t wait!
If you’re looking for me, here’s where I’ll be:
Sorry for the delay on this roundup, folks!
Another year, another trip to Cowtown!
This trip was a little different. Samantha Beiko and I decided to drive to the con instead of flying. A supposedly fun thing I don’t think I’ll ever do again. Because of my car, not the company.
Roughly two hours into a thirteen hour drive, as Sam was joking about not getting stranded in Brandon again, my battery light came on. Rather than risking the car dying on the road, we pulled into Brandon for repairs. What had initially sounded like a one or two-hour delay became closer to four after waiting for the part to arrive, but new alternator installed, we journeyed on. Despite therapeutic cowch outside of Canadian Tire this development was…so disheartening.
Not gonna lie, the temptation to just give up on the trip then and there was pretty high. But! We were both on programming, both up for Aurora Awards, and, both really excited to visit our friend Clare for her birthday.
So we soldiered on, but that thirteen hour drive ended up being closer to nineteen, door to door.
There is a lot of Saskatchewan to get through. It’s not that the province isn’t pretty, but when you start roughly halfway through Manitoba, and are going halfway into Alberta, crossing the entirety of Saskatchewan just feels like forever. It takes the time it takes, but the perception of that time…that I could’ve done without.
We managed to dodge most of the thunderstorms, and had good weather at least.
This one only caught us for about thirty seconds, but we were completely blindied by the sun shining through the downpour. Sweet little Bifrost though waving us onward though.
The skies were amazing. I do love those big damn prairie skies. I am glad I got to see these clouds from a bit of a distance rather than having to drive through them.
Okay on to the con itself:
Calgary has a way of causing me headaches. Whether it’s the altitude, or the pressure changes, or what…I dunno. I’m batting 3 for 8 when it comes to Cowtown visits that give me a headache so bad I vomit (take your whiskey jokes and walk, folks) so I’m always a little bit on edge wondering if it’ll happen again. It’s one of the reasons I program lightly at WWC. No vomiting this time. YAY! But the length of the drive and the stress of car repairs did end up giving me a pretty wicked tension headache (thanks, Jill Flanagan for sorting that out!).
I had no programming on Friday. Which is nice for me. I like to catch up with folks at When Words Collide, and I have a lot of folks to catch up with there! We rolled in early, and helped Clare get her table set up and then got our membership badges.
And then I enjoyed a Basil Hayden’s bourbon, which until recently, I wasn’t able to buy in Manitoba. It’s always a treat when the convention bar has it on the shelf.
Saturday I participated in a Myth and Folklore panel moderated wonderfully by S.G. Wong (check out her latest, Death Takes the Hindmost when it releases, I got to read an advance copy. Very nice!) and thanks to fellow panelists Rhonda Parrish, and Nancy M. Bell for the lively discussion.
I found some copies of this on the freebie table:
My friend Chris Smith (an inaugural and long-suffering member of my writing group) has a story in this one. The Crow Maiden. Very cool story. You should read it. I brought a few copies home for him.
Saturday also meant running around to grab things for the Post-Apocalyptic Four party I was co-hosting with friends and fellow Aurora nominees Randy McCharles, Eileen Bell, Ryan McFadden and Billie Milholland. By things I, of course, mean whiskey (and whisky).
The Prix Auroras were handed out. This is no longer news, but I still want to give a shout out to the worthy winners. Neither I nor ChiSeries Winnipeg were awarded in our categories, but there were a lot of great works being celebrated, so that’s okay. Looking at the stats, Too Far Gone came in second in the novel category, so that’s pretty cool too. Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted,and congratulations to all the winners!
We went out for supper and cake after the awards to celebrate Clare’s birthday.
BIRFDAE! BIRFDAE! BIRFDAE!
After consuming my weight in Indian food and gluten-free vegan chocolate cake, I had to rush back to the hotel for the room party. It’s been four years since I’ve thrown a con party. It’ll probably be at least that many more until the next one. Lots of folks came out for it, but while I enjoy the parties, it’s another matter throwing one. It also means you can’t leave when you want to if you get overwhelmed by the crowd.
Look at this room.
There was nowhere to put anybody.
Which was awesome and terrifying.
Huge thanks to everyone who came out to drink our whiskey and beer, and hang out and talk writing, or just talk–loud and crowded as it was. You’re all great. I still can’t fucking believe we weren’t shut down within the hour.
Early on Sunday I was on Susan MacGregor’s panel on writing trilogies. Great batch of panelists and questions from Susan. Thanks to Susan, and fellow panelists Gerald Brandt, Samantha Beiko, Barb Galler-Smith and to everyone who came out.
Once again Sandra Wickham presented her “Writing About Fighting” presentation. And I got to be her fight dummy. Another packed room! Sandra does a great job with this so you really should check it out if you’re at a con where she’s presenting it (and not just to see me get kicked in the stomach).
Photo by S.G. Wong.
(One of these days I’m going to beak off too much on Twitter and Sandra will just straight up murder me in front of her audience)
I skipped the dead dog to hang out with Sam and Clare, decompress, and watched Dragon Heart.
The drive home wasn’t as long as the drive to Calgary, but it was long enough.
Still, a rainbow that crossed the entire sky was a nice welcome home when we pulled over in Brandon to swap out the driver’s seat.
The drive home was especially long the last hour of thunderstormin’. Poor Sam had to drive. What a trooper!
I tried multiple times to catch a lightning strike. Not easy with a cell phone camera.
I also really wanted an image of a lightning strike behind the Halfway Tree. For reasons.
And once we got fully into the shit, it was dark.
But, we made it home okay, and you couldn’t ask for a better driving partner than Sam Beiko. 12/10 would road trip with Sam again.
See you again next year, When Words Collide!
When Words Collide is always a highlight of my convention schedule, and this year it has the added bonus of hosting the Prix Aurora Awards too. If you’re attending, here’s where to find me in Calgary:
When Words Collide is the only convention that I can say I have attended every year. And I certainly have no intention of breaking that streak. Having been there since the beginning, it’s been cool to watch it grow. The organizers have a great record of bringing in top notch guests and 2015 was no different. This was the first year I think WWC has grown to the size where I’m no longer guaranteed I’ll get to see everyone I want to, or at least not for as long as I’d like. So if we missed a chance to chat, hey, I’ll be back next year!
Day one of When Words Collide was mostly a wash, no fault of the convention though. I arrived in Calgary on Thursday, as is my custom, so that I could hang out with old chum, and Aurora-nominated Thunder Road Trip artist, Kevin Madison. We had a great time catching up, but a change in the local air pressure gave me a headache that absolutely floored me.
I was in too much pain to manage to caffeinate Friday morning, which didn’t help matters either. My headache made me nauseous much of the day. Still, I rallied enough to make it to the con hotel and register (this happened largely because my shared room was in my name, and I didn’t want to leave my roommate in the lurch).
By supper time I’d eaten roughly five spoonfuls of soup and three pieces of cheese–which I knew given the Absinthe and Whisky tasting social that Tyche Books was hosting, wasn’t going to do the job of keeping me upright.
The other big downside to feeling crappy on Friday was it meant no Sentry Box visit! Granted, Sentry Box has a table at When Words Collide every year, (and they were kind enough to stock my books. W00T!), but it’s not the same as being able to bask in all the gaming book glory. I usually leave with some out of print treasure from days past when I get to Calgary, and was disappointed not to have a chance to browse this time around. I’ll have to make time when Too Far Gone book tour takes me back in November.
Winnipeg comics author Andrew Lorenz introduced me to Joshua Pantalleresco over Twitter and then I met Joshua pretty much the moment I walked into the Dealer’s Room. I love the first tour through the Dealer’s Room, because it’s my first concentrated dose of all my con friends. Everyone at a con eventually passes through the Dealer’s Room. Clare C. Marshall had a table there, as did ChiZine Publications, which was great, because Brett Savory and Sandra Kasturi are always fun to hang with. Sadly their managing editor, and my glamourous ChiSeries Winnipeg co-chair, Samantha Beiko wasn’t able to make the trip due to illness. I also caught up with On Spec, and Bundoran Press.
I grabbed supper with Renee Bennet and Celeste and Bill Peters. It’s not quite a WWC tradition to dine with Renee and Celeste, but I think we’re at either 2 for 5 or 3 for 5 when it comes to sharing a meal while I’m in Calgary, so it may as well be. Celeste and Bill used to live in Winnipeg, so I got to catch them up on some of our new stuff.
Recently I learned that one of my Calgary writing pals is moving home to Winnipeg, and so I had to try not to gloat that we’ll be stealing Dave Fortier away from Cowtown. It sounds like the Calgary crew is definitely going to miss him. They did extort a promise from me to take good care of him, and I have no doubt there will be stories shared, dice rolled, and whiskey poured in the near future.
I couldn’t bear the idea of attending the Guest of Honour Keynote Speeches–nothing against any of the speakers, but the idea of being in a large gathering was just too much with my lingering headache. Fortunately, I felt better as the evening went on (big thanks to the expertise of Jill Flanagan!) and had a great time chatting with Jill, Brett, Sandra, Gregory, and Clare, but I called it an early night after the whiskey social.
Saturday: Up and at them! What a world of difference the day made. No lingering effects of my Friday headache, and enjoyed breakfast with roomie, and fellow Manitoba author Craig Russell.
One of the big things on the agenda for Saturday was to meet up with Sandra Wickham because we’re co-writing a novel together. It’s totally a thing. We’ve been talking about it for months, and When Words Collide was our chance to pull all of our ideas together and break the plot. And it’ll be awesome. Or at the very least, since she’s a total plotter and I’m a total pantser, an excuse for whiskey. I went to her panel on health and fitness for creative people, because I blurbed her book on the topic and I’ve been her audience participation dummy before. SHE MADE ME EXERCISE. I think getting beat up last year was more fun, to be honest.
I talked to some other fine Calgary booksellers in attendance, and got to know some folks from Owl’s Nest (who will be hosting me for a reading in November) and Indigo Signal Hill (who will be having me in for a signing) a little better.
The mass autographing was on Saturday night. I actually signed a few books too, which is always nice, but I think I signed more books just happening upon people throughout the conference. Still, it’s always nice to hear a reader is excited for the next book, or excited to start the series and watching people queue up for Diana Gabaldon does give one something to aspire to, doesn’t it?
Sunday was my only panel of the weekend. It was on setting. A topic I do enjoy. I shared the panel with Calvin Jim, Sarah Kades, and Al Onia, and I think we had a good discussion. We all approach writing setting slightly differently, and so I think everyone had at least one observation that got the others thinking.
After the panel, it was basically time for me to go home. I did a quick stop in the dealer’s room to grab a bite to eat, and say my goodbyes. I also finally got to meet Kristi Charish. We’ve chatted on Twitter and Facebook, and I loved her story in Masked Mosaic, as well as her debut novel, Owl & the Japanese Circus. You should really check out both.
It’s never easy, and I hate leaving a con early. Normally I stay an extra day–especially at When Words Collide–so that I can attend its Dead Dog party, but that wasn’t in the cards this year, unfortunately. By the time I was done saying goodbye, I realized I was getting to the airport later than I’d have liked. Nearly missed my flight home as a result. The line to get through security was INSANE. Just when I thought I was safe, I got pulled over for the extra rummage through your bag in public check. Still, I got home, another great WWC in the books, and I’m already excited for next year.
When Words Collide is my favourite literary conference. I haven’t missed one yet, and every year it gets better and better. The organizers have lined up a great group of guests again for this year:
|M.L.N. Hanover||Urban Fantasy|
|Sally Harding||Literary Agent|
|Faith Hunter||Urban Fantasy|
|Brandon Mull||Young Adult|
I’m very happy to be sharing a program book with all of them.
Here’s where you’ll find me:
Only a few short days until I leave for Calgary and When Words Collide!
Hope to see you there!
I am the passenger and I ride and I ride
I ride through the city’s backsides
I see the stars come out of the sky
Yeah, the bright and hollow sky
You know it looks so good tonight
How’d I do in July?
Pretty good, but not perfect. Still small victories, right?
I locked in those four chapters of the Work in Progress, and almost locked a fifth. It needs a couple more run throughs before I’m satisfied to add it to the manuscript. The WiP now stands at 68000 words, and with just under 20000 (very rough) words left to revise and flesh out, I should be able to bring this draft in under 100000 words. After that it will feel like a real book, and I can hone it into submission readiness.
That short story came very close to going out the door, but while it has been revised, I’m still not sure it’s for the better. It’s shorter, and with short stories, shorter usually is better, but it didn’t quite sing on reread. So I’m going to take another run at it.
Had every short story back out the door and into the world in July. Some of them more than once! Collected a new pile of rejections, some personalized, some form letter, and no new sales, but that’s okay. I can’t sell any of the stories I don’t submit.
That was my July. I feel pretty good about the month, considering there was two rounds of substantive editing on Too Far Gone that happened over the span of the month, and copy edits rolled up to say hello on the 31st.
What’s on deck for August? Lots.
This is more than plenty for the goal plate, but I do have a week of holidays coming up in August. So we’ll see how it goes…