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 (

Graphic yoinked from Linda Poitevin (

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). 🙂

Back to the NAC, Arthur Take 2!

Marie Bilodeau and I have had a lot of fun working together on a couple of shows at the Tea Party and West End Well, including our show of Arthurian Legends, a favourite for both of us. Now we have the pleasure and joy of doing another, new, show about King Arthur at the National Arts Centre as part of the Ottawa StoryTellers’ 4th Stage Series. And we’ll be joined by the fantastically multi-talented musician friend of mine, Jason Sonier.

4th stage web header

The Wizard & The Dragon

January 21, 2016, 7:30 PM

Legendary King Arthur and his mentor the wizard Merlin still cast an enduring spell. Drawing on the original texts of Geoffrey of Monmouth, 1100 to 1155, and Lord Tennyson, The Idylls of the King, Nicole Lavigne and Marie Bilodeau, accompanied by the eclectic musical talents of Jason Sonier, journey into this tale of darkness versus light to explore the role of prophecy and fate in the lives of these two fascinating mythic figures. Let the enchantment begin!

Guest Post

I know, I’ve been silent for a couple of months now. I took some much needed down time after the creative writing workshop (amazing but busy) plus various and sundry submission deadlines. It was greatly needed. But I have been getting back to the writing now. I just finished revising an older short story and have started it circulating again. I also wrote a new story that is inspired by the glass blowing classes I have taken. And I wrote a guest post, over on Marie’s blog.

It all started with this article and one woman’s experiment with using a male pseudonym and getting better response rates. That inspired Marie’s little rant on the subject, and as it is a topic we have discussed in the past, she asked me to write a post about my own decision process on the matter. You can read my post here:

May at Last

With warmth and sunshine and a reprieve from deadlines. Ahhhh.

April was a little intense. Deadlines (revising story for class and for Second Contacts, both completed on time) on the heels of other deadlines (Women in Practical Armour on April 1). Plus April was still in recovery mode from the rib. April was far better than March for the rib pain but it was only last week that I was able to get through a whole load of dishes without pain. Dishes were the lingering hell.

On the Brink was a great success last week. We had a good turnout and people enjoyed the readings. Silver Stag Entertainment was there recording the event, so once the videos are up I will post a link for those who couldn’t make it.

And now… the odd lull after deadlines when current projects are complete and the next is not fully lined up yet. Over the past week I revised a story I wrote last summer and sent it off yesterday to a new call for submissions. And I realized that all the newly drafted short stories since last summer were written for calls for submissions. It actually hasn’t been all that many for some nine months. A few of those months were dedicated to the novel, during which I didn’t touch short fiction. I did also rewrite a couple older stories post-critiques. But it feels a little strange now to not be working towards a deadline.

I do have a short story idea on my list of things to write, but not for any deadlines. First I think I’ll go back and revise some more older stories and get them moving, starting with that one that was critiqued back in the fall that I have not gotten around to editing yet. I’m relishing the idea of May being a bit calmer.

On the Brink Reading

I’m very excited about an event coming up in a couple of weeks, On the Brink. I attended last year (and assisted handing out raffle tickets) and had a great time. It features new local authors as well as a keynote speaker and is sponsored by Can-Con and ChiSeries. This year I will be reading alongside Agnes Cadieux and John Haas.

On the BrinkI will be reading from Stolen Cargo, which was published last year and with copies for sale, and also from my new story, Soil of Truth, which will be coming out later this year.

Beware the Ides of March

(ya, I know, this is the end of March not the Ides, but shit went down at the Ides, a little after the Ides, but I’ll get to that in a minute.)

Ah editing. Let me tell you, bouncing back and forth between editing one short story and another without even finishing a complete pass is not fun, at least not for me. I prefer to focus on one story, finish it or at least finish a stage before consciously setting it aside. I find even after finishing one story and moving onto the next can take me a bit to switch gears, especially compared to the long haul of focusing on a novel for months at a time. But the deadline is King and there is no sense wasting time. So while the Narwhals critiqued my Women in Practical Armor story, I commenced edits on the story for class (more like rewrites) and then once it was critiqued, I had to switch off in the middle. Fortunately I had offers for second readers on the Armor story, but that meant another mid-editing flip-flop.

And then the Ides came.

(I’m making this sound way more exciting than it is. I apologize for your impending disappointment.)

So about two weeks ago I get up (’twas a Wednesday, I remember it somewhat) and notice a little twinge in my back. Nothing major, but it’s a little sore and I’m not sure why, but the back was not a fan of work (sitting at a desk all day, twisting and reaching constantly over files). I thought maybe I pulled a muscle, just a little, or something, but it should go away in a day or two. Come Friday night the back is angrily protesting this whole cooking and doing dishes thing. My plan for the weekend was to make a big focused push on the story for class before Armor came back from second readers. It was a productive weekend alright, at watching tv and playing video games (Chrono Trigger!) while lounging on the couch on a pile of cushions to minimize my pain. Not what I had in mind. So Monday, still in pain, I went to the chiropractor to figure out what was what. Turns out that back pain was actually a dislocated rib. Don’t ask me how. Sadly I cannot even offer you sage advice about how to avoid this because I have no clue. In my sleep is the best guess. But it can take just a sneeze or a cough to dislocate a rib – the slight silver lining is the pain is far worse than the damage – so no one is safe! Seriously, don’t dislocate a rib, it SUCKS! I ended up having to leave my creative writing class last Tuesday because I was in too much pain, even brushing my teeth hurts (standing for more than a minute, leaning and bending is worse). And still in pain this past weekend.

Don’t ask me how she got here, I think the pain is making me delirious.

The good news: in spite of the pain I managed to edit the Practical Armor story and submitted it this morning. YAY! One thing off my plate. This also marks my 75th submission. Now I get to focus back on the story for class. Wohoo!

And in two weeks I’m off to Ad Astra (which god do I have to libate or sacrifice to for this rib to heal before then?) and hosting the Can-Con Caffeine & Candy party with Marie Bilodeau. This year instead of chocolate fountain we’re having a chocolate tar pit with dinosaur cookies to drown in it. Yes, you read that right! Cause that’s just how we roll.

chocolate dino death small