Con, Course, and Con Again

It’s been a busy, non-stop, couple of months, which is why it’s taken this long for me to finally post about Can-Con.
Can-Con was, as always, fantastic. First up, were the workshops. I took Creating Underwater Worlds for SF&F with Nina Munteaneau, with lots of threads to chase for potential story leads. Then was Mythic Worlds with Derek Newman-Stille, where we created our own gods (I made a modern trickster god of the internet and may share that later), partnered up to create pantheons and battles between our gods.
This year I was only on one panel: unarmed combat for dummies. I got to hang out with SM, Eric and Kris and chat about different fighting styles to help writers describe fight scenes. It can be a difficult balance to achieve, sharing some of the cool things we do in martial arts without getting too caught up in the mechanics, but we received some great feedback from people who enjoyed.
Going into Can-Con, it seemed a little strange only having one panel, but being fully entrenched in the planning committee for the first time this year I was glad to have a lighter load. It also meant that I didn’t get to attend as many of the awesome panels as I would have liked. Sadly the encore of Mark Robinson’s Extreme Weather Smackdown was canceled so he could go chase a tornado (figures). I did get to attend a fantastic panel on humour with locals Marie Bilodeau and Jay Odjick, plus agent guest of honour, Sam Morgan. Other highlights were meeting and hearing from a few other members of The Ed Greenwood Group and hanging out with Sam.
I also designed the RPG name badges and boss monsters that were a new feature this year. (I’ll go more into that in another post.)  Derek Newman-Stille became our secret boss monster, sharing hints of twitter about his identity. Less than ten people figured out he was the secret boss to challenge him to a battle.
The day after Can-Con ended I started a short fiction writing class run by C.S. Friedman, because I’m crazy. I was more worn out from Can-Con this year than I expected, so starting the course the next day was a little rough. But I loved Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy so I didn’t want to miss out the chance to take a class with her. The class was great. I’ll admit, it was a little strange though, submitting each week’s progress in a short story and getting feedback as you write. I’m definitely not used to that after getting it ingrained into me to finish the draft before you start editing. The feedback from Friedman and the other classmates was great though and it helped to catch a couple of things early on in the story and with our scene list (not a complete outline, just the major scenes) and adjust direction right away. It’s also encouraging to hear that people are enjoying your work in progress and urging you to finish it so they can read the rest. The wrapped up my story and the class last weekend and this weekend finished editing from Friedman’s and my classmates; notes.

Beneath Ceaseless Skies staff photo

And just before the final week of the writing course, the Can-Con crew, Derek, Marie, Brandon and I, drove down to the World Fantasy Convention (Oct 27-30) in Columbus Ohio. This was my second year attending. I took a pretty laid back approach to the con, mostly hanging out and meeting people in the bar and attending a couple of readings. I got to chat with my editor-in-chief Scott H Andrews and Dominik Parisien and get to know them both a bit better. I attended fantastic readings from Jerome Stuart, CSE Cooney (who won a World Fantasy Award this year for Bone Swans), and Tina Connolly, and got to meet them. I also met editors Jonathan Oliver (Solaris) and David Thomas Moore (Abaddon Books), and, upon David describing a project he had worked on, tell him about Monstrous Little Voices, an anthology of stories set in Shakespeare’s fantastical world featuring my friend Kate Heartfield, only to then learn that he was the editor and that was the project he was talking about. Potentially embarassing? Maybe. But he was delighted to discover he had fans and we geeked out about Chaucer and my Canterbury Tales tattoo, so all was well. editor of Monstruous Little Voices, an anthology set in Shakespeare’s fantastic world and which featured Ottawa’s own Kate Heartfield. And there was of course collecting autographs at the launch party for Into the Starlit Wood, which I’ve been dying to read since I heard about it at last year’s WFC.

Like I said, a little non-stop for the past couple of months, but at last I have a breather (ha!)… and now get to turn my attention back to my novel for The Ed Greenwood Group and start editing it. No rest for the wicked.

Coming Soon to a Con Near You

In a couple of short weeks – no, long weeks with plenty of time to get everything done… really – in a couple of weeks it’s Can-Con. Are you going to this? You should be going. Can-Con last year was my first time at a convention and it was fantastic. It’s friendly and cozy and filled with awesome. I was on a couple of panels last year (my favourite was discussing AESci-Fi and Ideomancer with their editors, much fun) and will be again this year. I’ll be doing So This Is Your First Con? on the opening night, Critiquing Groups and National Novel Writing Month on Saturday evening and then assisting as demo dummy (a role I am all too familiar with) with my Sensei, Rick Lutes, for his martial arts demonstration geared towards writing good fight scenes. The demonstration should be fun, and if nothing else will involve me being twisted into a pretzle. You can’t miss that! There’s tons of other great panels on the schedule, plus Can-Con is hosting the Aurora Awards ceremony. Guests of honour this year are Robert J. Sawyer, Ottawa’s own Hayden Trenholm from Bundoran Press, and storm hunter Mark Robinson as the science guest of honour. Scheduling info is up on the website now, here: That’s been my side project for the last month or so, updating the website and collecting all the panelists bios.

And right after Can-Con will be the third ChiSeries reading in Ottawa. Stay tuned for more info about that. It’s moved over to Maxwell’s on Elgin St, which is a fantastic location. So much fun. Be sure to check it out.

I suppose this is also a good time to officially announce that I will be co-Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month in Ottawa again this year. For those not up on the NaNo lingo that makes me a local coordinator and host of Kick Off and Thank Goodness It’s Over Parties as well as write-ins all month long. Start flexing your fingers and stocking up on duct tape for your internal editor…. NaNo is coming.

ChiSeries Arrives in Ottawa

Ottawa now has a speculative fiction reading series! ChiZine Publications has been sponsoring a reading series in Toronto for a while now but they won’t be hogging it any longer. ChiSeries launched in Ottawa on Tuesday night to an overcrowded basement room of The Royal Oak near the University of Ottawa.

Matt Moore hosted the evening. I stepped in to help man the ChiZine table selling books, which was fun. First Violette Malan read from her urban fantasy book Shadowlands, followed by an excerpt from The Soldier King, the second of her Dhulyn and Parno books.

Following a short break, Matthew Johnson read his short story Heroic Measures, which will be released in a collection by ChiZine next spring. It’s a fantastic read, go check it out. Now. Time’s a wasting.

Last but never least, Charles de Lint read the opening to his recently launched young adult novel, The Cats of Tanglewood Forest. I’m pretty sure the audience would have let him read the entire novel if not for pesky things like sleep and work demanding attention. The book is illustrated by Charles Vess and its absolutely stunning.

It was a great night and a huge success. If you missed it, you will definitely want to check out the next one in July. As if I didn’t buy enough books at Ad Astra last weekend, I’ve added yet more to my wish list. At least I have a year to catch up before Matthew Johnson’s short story collection is released. That will help a little.

Ad Astra Recap

This was my first year going to Ad Astra. It was a whirlwind of a weekend. I drove up to Toronto on Friday afternoon with a few other writers from Ottawa. We arrived around 8 pm and spent under 48 hours there. It was a great experience. It seems like I didn’t see much while I was there, but it was go-go-go the entire weekend. I swear I slept.

Friday evening was the launch party for Leah Petersen‘s Cascade Effect from Dragon Moon Press. Saturday I wandered the dealer’s room, worked a couple of hours at the Bundoran Press table, attended a panel on what comes after the manuscript is finished, readings by Gabrielle Harbowy and East Block Irregulars Marie Bilodeau and Derek Kunsken, hosted a room party with Marie Bilodeau and much support with our Ottawa crew to promote Can-Con in October, and then party hopped between the Bundoran digital book launch for Salt and Iron Dialogues (the prequel to Matthew Johnson’s Fall from Earth) and the ChiZine room party. Sunday I attended a couple more panels (one on high fantasy and another on knowing when your story is done and it’s time to stop fiddling with it) and then it was on the road again.

It was a great weekend and a great convention. Everyone there is really friendly and I am now thoroughly stocked on books for the year, in addition to the year or two’s worth of books I already have sitting unread at home.