First Reprint

My second post of the year and on schedule. And I’ve done pretty well with my daily reading so far. I missed the last couple of days, but I was able to critique an 100K novel in a little over a week, and some nights I read more than half an hour. But this had nothing to do with the title of this post.

There were a couple of things that happened late in 2016 that I forgot to mention. My story, Soil of Truth, which was published in Bundoran Press’s Second Contacts anthology in 2015, has been getting some love. It was included in a short fiction spotlight for 2016 with a nice review over on Black Gate. And I’ve made my first ever reprint sale. Soil of Truth is going to be translated in Chinese for Science Fiction World. I’m not sure when that will be published but I will post an update once it comes out.

And edits on my Folklore novel are coming along pretty well. I’ve finished all the major edits I had notes about and now am doing a full read through and marking it up in red font (cause digital). I keep floating between feeling confident and thinking that edits may not take as long as I was first anticipating, and being certain that I must have deluded myself into believing this and that there’s way more work ahead and I may not finish it on time. Oh the joys of being a writer. In reality, it’s probably somewhere between those two extremes: definitely stronger than my last novel (waiting on the back burner after 4 drafts), but still a healthy amount of work left. A certain amount of crippling self-doubt is normal for us artistic types and helpful motivation to work hard at making the story better. And critiquing groups and partners are a godsend. Speaking of which, time to get back to the editing.

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2017: The year of the deadline

(dun, dun, dunnnnn…)

But before getting into what’s coming up for the new year, I suppose it’s worth looking at what happened in 2016. (Do I have to?)

2016 feels like it was an unproductive year, at least if I look at the number of things finished. Most of the year I was focused on drafting my novel for the Folklore: the Affliciton setting for The Ed Greenwood Group, which meant not a lot of short fiction got written. Also, when in the throes of novelling, I tend to forget about submitting existing short fiction. I did finish the novel draft, which is actually more words written than if I’d just been writing short fiction. I started editing it, and still think that draft one of this novel is stronger than draft four of my last (nano) novel was. So although it was slower drafting, that’s a fair level up and a win in my books. (Hopefully I’m not just deluding myself into thinking it’s stronger).

I also took two 6-8 week online writing workshops. The first focused on novel writing with Marie Bilodeau and got me through the last of the novel drafting. The second course was on short fiction with C.S. Friedman and I did draft a short story for that one, but again, as I’ve had novel on the brain it hasn’t been critiqued or submitted anywhere yet.

The Ottawa ChiSeries was nominated for an Aurora Award again in 2016, and Second Contacts (with my story Soil of Truth) won the Aurora for Best Related English Work. I completed my third year slushing for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and we were nominated again for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards, and had short stories we published win awards. This year I was formally on the Can-Con planning committee.

It was a quiet year for storytelling, and I expect 2017 will be even more so (you’ll see why soon). Marie and I, with my friend Jason Sonier, had our Arthurian show at the start of the year, and that was my only performance. I’m not planning any shows at this point for 2017, unless we are able remount the King Arthur one, which we’ve talked about doing but finding time when all three of us are available is very challenging.

On to 2017 and the reason for this post’s title. Though I suppose it could also be called 2017: The year of the novels. Yup, plural.

Of course there’s edits to continue on my Folklore novel. My deadline though has actually been pushed up, so now the manuscript is due in September. Of 2017. That’s not too bad since the draft is finished and I’ve started on edits. However, I am writing a second novel in a different setting (Lost Princesses of Mars, space opera) and that deadline also got moved up. Not in 2017, but close enough. January 2018. So I have to edit one novel and draft and edit another this year. It’s doable, but there’ll be no time for slacking off. (I’m going to try not to panic about not having done any work on it over the holidays.) I’m also working on a gaming related project for The Ed Greenwood Group. That’s actually what’s had my attention over the past couple weeks, since the draft needs to be finished before the end of the month.

So my goals for 2017 are pretty short and simple. I think the two novels is enough. I’m also setting myself a goal to read for half an hour every day. I haven’t been reading very consistently lately. When I start a book I really like, I get pretty focused on finishing it, but I almost miss when I had a longer commute to work as that’s when I did a lot of reading. Slushing won’t count towards reading time, but I may allow critiquing time, especially when critiquing a novel. I’m also going to try and start blogging more regularly. (I heard that snort… and I don’t blame you.) I’m going to try and write a post every two weeks, and am putting it in my calendar to remind me. With both the blogging and the reading, I’m not concerned about meeting these goal perfectly, but attempting these goals should get me doing more of both, and that’s good enough.

So you should be hearing (reading) from me again come mid-January. We’ll see how this goes. Back to writing.

Can-Con

It appears to have been a while since I posted. *whistles innocently* I’ve been working on my novel (draft one now complete!) and most recently, preparing for Can-Con this weekend. It’s been a lot of updating the website and working on a special, top-secret project.

It’ll actually be a quieter can-con for me this year as I’m not on as many panels. There are, however, a ton that I want to attend. Here’s my schedule:

Friday, 8-9 PM, Dawn Room
Unarmed Martial Arts for Dummies and Writers:
Knowing the basics of many martial arts leads to more dynamic and believable scenes. And martial arts are super-interesting and fun to pull out at dinner parties! S.M. Carrière practices Kung Fu and teaches kickboxing. Nicole Lavigne studies karate. K.W. Ramsey studied Jiusitsu and Tae Kwon Do. Erik Buchanan holds a black belt in Mo Kempo & Shaolin Kenpo.

Sunday, 1-2 PM, Guildhall (ConSuite)
Readings: Sky Road Walker by S.M. Carriere, True Magics by Erik Buchanan, “Phantom’s Sting” by Nicole Lavigne

You’ll probably also spot me hanging around a lot of The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) events and panels.

The Dealer’s Room is free to the public, jut drop by the registration desk for an NPC Sticker to get in. You can pick up copies of the Aurora Award-winning Second Contacts, containing my story “Soil of Truth”, at the Bundoran Press table. (By the way, YAY! Second Contacts won for Best English Related Work. I’m in an award-winning anthology!!!)

Ad Astra Schedule

Ad Astra is coming up this weekend. This will be my first year on programming there, and it’s going to be a busy one. Here’s my schedule:

Friday

7:00 PM – Trophies: A Live Reading of the Stage Play by Hayden Trenholm
with Erik Buchanan, Hayden Trenholm, James Bambury, Matt Moore, MJ Moores
in Richmond A

Saturday

10:00 AM – Steampunk Reading
with D. L. Narrol, Kate Heartfield
in Oakridge

Noon – Do You Binge-Read?
with Brandon Draga, Kate Heartfield, Robert J. Wiersema
in Markham B

3:00 PM – A Guide to Submitting Your Short Stories
with Kate Heartfield, Gregory A. Wilson, Robert Boyczukin Markham B

4:00 PM – Sherlock Goes Victorian
with Giasome Italiano, Sarah Remy
in Nermarket

Sunday, May 1

11:00 AM – Princess Leia: Slave Princess Action Hero or All of the Above?
with Kari Maaren, Mary Fan
in Markham A
The full schedule is available online now over here: http://adastra.shdlr.com/grid

Aurora Nomination Season

A new year also means a new seasons of literary awards and the Aurora Awards are now open for nominations!

The Aurora’s are Canada’s fan-voted awards for speculative fiction. Last year Marie Bilodeau, Matt Moore and I were nominated in the category of Fan Organizational for the Ottawa ChiSeries. We lost to the Toronto ChiSeries where it originated, which was still an awesome win for the ChiSeries.

The Ottawa ChiSeries is eligible for nomination again. My story, Soil of Truth, is also on the eligibility list for Short Fiction, and the Second Contacts anthology is eligible under Related Work. Derek Künsken and Marie Bilodeau are listed for their work on Can-Con 2015.

If you are interested in nominating for the awards, you do have to buy a membership to the CSFFA. Membership costs $10, but you will also be able to vote once the final nominees are announced. The best part is that as a member you will receive a package of all the works nominated for the awards so that you can read everything before voting. It’s a sweet package of fiction (novels, young adult novels, short stories, anthologies) for a good price. If you are interested in and want to support Canadian speculative fiction, this is a good way to do both. Two birds for one stone, whoo! 🙂

Nominations are open until March 19. The ballot gets announced April 1, then voting happens between June 15 and July 23. Give a little love to Canadian creators.

The Wheel Turns Again

Time to say farewell to 2015 and welcome in 2016.

I looked back at the ol’ blog and realized that I never actually posted any formal goals for this year but it was a pretty awesome and successful one as far as I am concerned. I made three sales this year, two of which have been published and the third will be coming out in the new year. I’m particularly proud of Soil of Truth. It was not an easy story to write and made me push myself much harder than anything before to, what I’d like to think great success. The story I worked on for the creative writing workshop with Amal also involved trying something very different for me, and I need to revise that and start submitting it in 2016. I haven’t talked much about it but it’s an idea that I’ve been toying with for a couple of years and made several attempts at writing, with the same plot at the core but each completely different narrative approaches.

At this time last year I would have pictured my big project for 2015 being editing the last nano-novel. It stayed on the back burner, needing some space from it, and there it shall remain for a while now that I have a different novel to write on contract. Making the pitch for that novel and having it accepted was a huge step and for that alone this year gets a big gold star from me. 🙂 That novel is due in April 2018 for publication at the end of that year, but my goal is to complete it in 2016. It’s a shorter novel, only about 50,000 words (a familiar goal from NaNoWriMo) so doable. Besides, I was always a keener in school and finished things early. As it’ll be my first I’d much rather have extra extra time to for review and edits. And in addition to the novel I have to write a couple of companion short stories to bookend it.

This year also marked my first year at a professional level convention, World Fantasy, which was fantastic. And Marie Bilodeau and I submitted our pitch for a storytelling show based on King Arthur and Merlin and blending older material (like Geoffrey of Monmouth) with some more familiar versions of the story (like Tennyson). We’ve been working on the show and will perform it January 21st at the NAC 4th Stage. mask

It hasn’t quite all been cake and candy. Subluxated ribs, which I had back in the earlier part of the year, suck. Pro tip: avoid rib injuries. My knee also crashed, again, this summer. 3 cheers on both accounts for kick-ass chiropractors and physiotherapists, but I haven’t been spending enough time strengthening. That would be the other major goal for 2016: dedicate more time to exercise and strengthening so my joints function without so much pain. Hyperflexibility sounds like it should be a cool super power but in reality it just stinks.

So while there’s definitely a couple of areas where this year had room for improvement, great marks for the most part. Here’s to 2016 for a year of continuing growth and improvement!

Whatever your own 2015 as brought you, good or bad, may your 2016 be fantastic!

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Obey the Captain. 😉

It’s a Mad Mad ChiSeries

Last night was our now annual Ottawa ChiSeries Holiday Extravaganza!

ChiSeries Holiday Extravaganza 2015

It’s a lighter fare than our usual readings. We invite out local publishers and artisans to set up a few tables and we had some highlights of past readers. This year for the entertainment we had a story in the round The Nightmare Before Christmas. Marie started the story with an opening written by Matt Moore about the Big Red Guy’s nephew, Cliff Cringle, having to take over due to Santa having a nasty cold. But the two don’t see eye to eye on what’s naughty or nice and insanity ensues. There were a few cameos in the story, both political and fandom. Marie ended up wrapping the story up so of course everyone exploded.

We also had some holiday themed Mad Libs that Matt and I crafted for the evening. The audience shouted words to fill in the blanks and then to read them we had Jay Odjick, Hayden Trenholm, Robin Riopelle and Derek Kunsken. And now, I offer you the completed Mad Libs, our own ChiSeries carols, for you to share with your loved ones.

Jingle Vuvuzuela

Vibrating through the snow
In a one-platypus open weiner mobile
O’er the Royal Ottawa Golf Club we go
Flatulating all the way (ha ha ha)
Vuvuzuela on bobtails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to flatulate and ferment
A weiner-mobile song tonight!

Jingle vuvuzuela! Jungle vuvuzuela!
Jingle all the way.
Oh! What fun it is to ride
In a one-platypus open weiner mobile.

Chartreuse Secretary’s Day

I’m dreaming of a chartreuse Secretary’s Day
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the submarinetops glisten and cocktails listen
To hear sleigh wigwams in the wolverines.

I’m dreaming of a chartreuse Secretary’s Day
With every Secretary’s Day Mercedes Benz I vaporize.
May your days be loose and bombastic
And may all your Secretary’s Days be chartreuse.

Let it Tornado!

Oh the weather outside is repugnant,
But the fire is so hairy,
And since we’ve no place to go
Let it tornado! Let it tornado! Let it tornado!

It doesn’t show signs of stopping
And I’ve brought some haggis for regurgitating,
The lights are turned way down low,
Let it tornado! Let it tornado! Let it tornado!

When we finally rhinoplasty good night
How I’ll sliding out in the storm!
But if you’ll hold me tight
All the way I’ll be yellow-drunk.

The fire is pedantically dying
And, my dear, we’re still goodbying
But as long as you elate me so
Let it tornado! Let it tornado! Let it tornado!

How to install your Christmas Corset

  1. Unfold Christmas corset stand until the amygdala are perpendicular.
  2. Insert eyebolts and scrounge Softly.
  3. Insert the Brandon of the smelly section of the corset into the assembled corset
  4. Scrounge the eyebolts as necessary.
  5. Insert the mellifluous section of the corset into the smelly
  6. Unfold branches until your corset looks
  7. Unroll entrails from carton.
  8. Starting at the mellifluous, tranquilize the entrails around the You should be able to wrap the entrails pi times around the tree.
  9. Plug the entrails into a
  10. Jump your new Christmas corset!
  11. To prevent coffee shortages do not leave your corset plugged in unattended.

World Fantasy

It just occurred to me that I have been back from World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, NY, for a little over a week and have not thought to write anything about it. Honestly I was pretty exhausted, in the best possible way, when we got back and the past week has just been trying to recover while desperately praying I don’t catch all the colds going around the office. Tough work.

World Fantasy was a lot of fun and a great experience and also quite different from the other conventions I have been to. Before this I had only been to Can-Con here in Ottawa and Ad Astra in Toronto. World Fantasy is bigger, and the focus is entirely different. I tend to take in a lot of panels at Can-Con, or try to, and I’ve talked already about the types of panels there. World Fantasy is much less about the panels and so much more about who is there and networking. I attended two panels at World Fantasy, both on topics relating to Epic Fantasy since that was the theme for the year. The dealers room was filled largely with used and rare book sellers, with only a few publisher tables. It was not actually a bad thing since it made it much easier to not empty my bank account on books.

The really weird part for me was actually having time to sit down to a leisurely meal without being all go-go-go-GO all weekend and taking my time getting up and moving. Really weird after being at Can-Con the week before where I am on the go pretty much constantly. It was nice being able to kick back and relax for a convention a bit more, but I went in already pretty exhausted. I felt like I was just starting to get back my energy levels for normal day-to-day life the day before we left, but that’s not enough energy reserves for hard-core convention mode. I felt slightly dazed through most of the weekend there.

World Fantasy is in many ways more of a business con. People make plans to try and meet agents and editors and network. On the drive there Derek brought up the question of what our goals were for the weekend. I didn’t particularly have any goals, I just wanted to get a feel for the World Fantasy and big pro con experience while it was closer to home and could be done on the cheap (huzzah for splitting gas and hotel room!). The big thing that I was looking forward to was finally meeting Scott H. Andrews, the editor-in-chief for Beneath Ceaseless Skies, in person. I’ve been working for him for 2 years now so it was nice getting to meet face to face and chat. I can now inform you that Scott’s awesome, super nice, and has great taste in stouts. It was also fun hanging around him and getting introduced to tons of people. Also a fun experience: having lunch with a bunch of friends of a friend and realizing half way through the meal that one of the guys at the table is JJA, editor of Lightspeed Magazine. I may have been slightly dazed during introductions or only caught his first name, but that realization dawned slowly.

And there’s already ideas floating around of another road trip to World Fantasy in Columbus in 2016, but we shall see what the future holds.

That’s a wrap!

Can-Con 2015 has come and gone in a whirlwind of fun, friends and creativity. It was an exhausting weekend but in the most fun and positive way possible.

I saw less panels this year and spent a chunk of the weekend running around helping out with organization. Though it’s a strange blur; looking back now I’m not quite certain how all that time was filled up so readily. Time does not flow the same at a convention I suppose. 😉 But though the weekend was definitely of the go-go-go variety for me, it was not in a stressful way. I found last year was more stressful for me with mostly setting up for the caffeine and candy party by myself and then immediately running down to pitch a novel and then dashing back up to the party.

I started off the weekend with workshops. First I attended Derek Newman-Stille‘s “Perceptions, Senses, and Exploring Your Character’s Sensory Environment and Setting” workshop. It was absolutely fabulous and I am so glad I signed up for this one. Throughout the workshop we would put on blindfolds and Derek would play a short soundscape (restaurant, nature, etc), or put a container of something to smell (spices, potpourri, etc), or an object to touch. We’d get a couple minutes to explore that sensory experience and then share some of the descriptors, images and memories they brought to mind. Finally, objects and blindfolds removed, we would have a couple of minutes to write whatever was inspired by the experience. I know I have a tendency to focus on visual description in my stories and have to remind myself to incorporate other senses and this exercise was a great way to really focus on other senses. It also made for interesting writing prompts. This is definitely something I plan on saving in my back pocket to take out again and use both for writing inspiration and to help me bring other senses into my writing. If he offers this workshop again next year or elsewhere, I highly encourage you to take it. I’d be tempted to take it again myself because I enjoyed it so much and there is a layer to the exercises that you can get from having someone else prepare objects and scents for you without you knowing what you are getting, rather than setting it up for yourself.

The second workshop of the afternoon was Matt Moore‘s “Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats“. Matt had tried to run this as a full day workshop last year but due to time of year there wasn’t enough interest. So I have been waiting to be able to attend this for a while. The only downside was that he really did have a full day’s worth of material so there were places where he touched on a topic/aspect briefly but didn’t have time to fully delve in and explore. Even with the much trimmed material there was still a lot of excellent information and tips about increasing tension and also varying the types of tension and I know I will be making use of it as I plot my next novel. Hopefully at some point Matt will have the opportunity to run this as a full day workshop and I will be signing up.

And then the convention began in earnest. The panels I was on were filled with great people with lots of things to share and so many interesting discussions were had. Friday night was the Bundoran Press launch party for Falcon’s Egg by Ed Willett (Writer Guest of Honour) and Second Contacts, which is now available directly from Bundoran in print or ebook, and can also be ordered from Amazon, Indigo and Kobo. And there was a nice little turn out on Sunday for my reading alongside the lovely S.M. Carrière. I’d chatted with her briefly at previous conventions but am happy I finally got a chance to talk to and get to know her better over the convention and a Can-Con prep and writing marathon party we had over the Thanksgiving weekend.

I also got to have a couple of exciting new authors experiences this weekend. Robert J. Sawyer was in attendance again this year and asked for my signature in his copy of Second Contacts at the launch party on Friday. I was also stopped in the hallway on Sunday as I was dashing from one panel to the next so that I could sign a copy of Second Contacts belonging to another attendee that I don’t personally know. 🙂

Graphic yoinked from Linda Poitevin (http://www.lindapoitevin.com/2015/11/02/post-con-musings/)

Graphic yoinked from Linda Poitevin (http://www.lindapoitevin.com/2015/11/02/post-con-musings/)

Can-Con Schedule

We are less that two weeks away from Can-Con, Ottawa’s own literary convention for speculative fiction. It’s a wonderful and welcoming little convention, with epic paneling. Seriously, go scope out the schedule. I’m really looking forward to the repeat of last year’s blood splatter analysis panel (which I missed), an RCMP sergeant talking real-life police procedure, and the return of Storm Chaser Mark Robinson’s Fantastic Weather Smackdown. As for me, here’s what I’ll be doing:

  • Friday, 7:00 PM: Backstories and the Development of Villains
  • Friday, 9:00 PM: Bundoran Press Release Party for Falcon’s Edge and Second Contacts. I’ll be doing a short reading from my story Soil of Truth.
  • Saturday, 1:00 PM: The Role of Editorial Voice in Acquiring Stories, speaking about my experiences as Editorial Assistant for Beneath Ceaseless Skies
  • Saturday, 7:00 PM: Fantasy Novels, A readers’ panel
  • Sunday, 12:00 PM: Reading from a selection of my short stories

Also, the Dealers Room is open to the public all weekend. In addition to tons of great books from Canadian writers and publishers, there are comics and geekiness PLUS trick-or-treating and a coffin photo booth. Bundoran Press will have copies of Second Contacts for sale if you are looking to pick up a copy (and you might spy me at the table). 🙂