GenreCon, get ready!

I didn’t want to announce this earlier, as I was still working out the details, but now it’s official…

I’m an author guest at GenreCon!!!! Like, a real author guest, not just an author that plonked herself down in the dealers’ room, or maybe even the foyer… not that there’s anything wrong with foyer dwellers. It’s just nice to be loved. ❤

And we’re having a wicked awesome book launch for Distant Early Warning, which I can honestly say is just coming together better and better. I seriously wish I could post the illustrations right now… but I guess that would be cheating. You guys will just have to live with the splash page for now.

I guess what I really wanted to say right now, is that I’m so proud of this book, and myself.

Next stop… getting a better mugshot for the promos. 😛

Summer’s End, New Beginnings

August was not a good month for me, thus the lack of blog postings. My family and extended circle had three major health crises, and a series of minor scares. After an extended arm wrestle with my last job, I ended up being forced to look for work elsewhere. As I strive for professionalism in all that I do, I will not post details of that situation here, except to say that the whole thing was bogus from start to finish, and it was a wake-up call that I needed to get off my butt and get moving again. We also thought my cat ran away for a few days, which was not fun. As it turned out, she was just hiding, so that one resolved itself in a positive way.

Throughout last month, I just seemed to be clinging to the mast of the ship of my life, trying to ride out storm after storm, praying that we wouldn’t go down. The business, and my writing life, was no exception. I tried a new printer for my books, hoping to save on shipping and buy Canadian, which is important to me. I will not name who it was, but the proofs were misleading and the quality on the printing was absolutely terrible. The covers were literally flaking apart. I got my money back, but that didn’t change the fact that I was short on stock for my next appearance. Also, someone who works with Pop Seagull as an editor had a personal crisis, and backed out of editing the latest book at the last minute, leaving me to find a replacement on short notice and at a disadvantage. I have mixed feelings on this, because I sympathize with their troubles but I wish they could have been honest with me when I gave them the chance to back out shortly after I heard about their life issues.

On top of all this, the historical project I’m working on stalled out completely during the chaos, as I scrambled to get enough assets ready in time for Distant Early Warning to be delivered on October 17th. The animated book trailer I’m working on also got the short end of the stick, and now we’re looking at a release for it sometime in January rather than at the book launch party, as I had hoped. I had known that one was a stretch goal, but things were on track, more or less, until all the upheaval. Now, I’m looking at presenting the work in progress as part of the book launch party as sort of a ‘behind the scenes’ treat. Hopefully I can get it up to the leica stage, which will still be understandable and entertaining for people to see.

Now that all of that is out of the way, here are the good things that happened over the last little while.

I went to the Milton Pirate Fest, and was charmed and entertained by this fun little festival. The actors that roamed around were really good, and the food and programming was fun for all ages! I really appreciated how enthusiastic everyone was about authors and reading in general, and thought that our readings had a really positive vibe to them. Other highlights were the sunshine, meeting new people, and the snow cones and turkey legs. I really hope the author group that I attended with will be going back next year. I also want to thank my author friends for being so supportive and lovely, and convincing me to go despite the botched book shipment and job drama. Catherine, Stephen, Joy, you guys really made a difference at a very low time for me.

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, loved it with all my heart, and now am curious about the comics. I have a new scifi novel bouncing around in my head right now, and I think if it were made into a movie, it would look a lot like that one, with a bit of Contact and some of the art direction of Alien thrown in there for good measure. So yeah, that was a very inspiring experience for me and I’m so glad that the movie got made, because it’s certainly not as formulaic as a lot of what comes out now.

And, lastly (but not leastly?), despite all of the setbacks, Distant Early Warning is coming out, on schedule, with a great launch slot, and we’re going to have plenty of time to prepare. It’s actually shaping up to be our nicest looking book yet, and I think that’s saying something. I did a post over at the Pop Seagull blog with a little self-interview on the book, my writing process, and some key facts about the release. It will be the first in a series of posts talking about the book, the launch, our vending platforms and pre-orders. We’re even going to have some interviews with the real VIPs… the characters.

I also want to invite all of my readers to come to the launch party on:

October 17th, 2014, from 7-9 pm at the Holiday Inn Guelph hotel and conference centre

It will be part of the festivities at Genrecon, and I think we’re going to be able to kick off the weekend with a bang! (Not the kind of bang from Denny’s shotgun, though. Homer Simpson already definitively proved that shotguns are not effective marketing tools.)

And, in conclusion, here’s a little art that I’m contributing to the book. It’s also probably going to get put on t-shirts at some point.

Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)

Splash Page/Logo Art for Distant Early Warning (Coming October 17th, 2014)

Con Bravo… Bravo!

This past weekend, I did an appearance at Con Bravo at the Hamilton Convention Center. I had heard mixed reviews of the convention in previous years from other vendors, but this was my first year, and I had a blast! Two thumbs way, way up.

I also tried a new format for my booth this con, choosing to join up with Ira Nayman, Karen Dales, Catherine Fitzsimmons and Stephen B. Pearl for a big, beautiful coalition table. We all really enjoyed this format, as far as I can tell, and it was a really fun weekend hanging out with my author peeps. Big thanks to Ashley, Greg and Dan, our power customers and dedicated readers who came and swept the table! That’s the spirit, guys!

Overall, the feel of the con, and the general attitude of the people we met, was so great. I totally ran out of business cards, which, besides the obvious advantages, give me an opportunity to redesign! Yay, layout! Plus, I really appreciate how helpful the staff were. I left my phone at our booth overnight, then forgot my charge cable, and the people at registration totally had me covered. It’s great to see such a fun, growing fan event developing in the downtown Hamilton area. There really seemed to be a lot of buzz on the street about it when I was walking around.

Next up, Milton Pirate Festival, which should be a really interesting new experience.

In other news, over on the Pop Seagull Blog, we’re open to submissions! If you’ve got a short story or novel you think we might like, check out our guidelines. We’ve got a couple of anthologies in the works!

I’ve Been Everywhere!

That’s right, I’ve been all over the place these last couple of weeks! Two Fridays ago, with a little help from my friend, Stephen B. Pearl, I experienced my first Hamilton Art Crawl. Have you been yet? Yeah you. I’m talking to you. You’re missing out if you haven’t been.

There are some really amazing things on offer down on James Street on the first Friday of every month. Everything from balloon art to impromptu porch jams to gallery openings! And there’s food, and fashion, and impromptu drama and, and, and… I’m getting out of breath just typing it! Come and see for yourself, and bring the family.

Stephen and I parked ourselves out in front of the armory, and it was a great spot.

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I also attended Superfan Comicon this weekend at Exhibition Place, and the crowds were a little thin, but the authors brought the party with us. Well, the authors, and the awesome Elvises (Elvii?). Thanks to Ira Nayman for complicating this pluralization permanently for me. 😛 Shoutouts to Midnight Elvis! Also, check out my awesome new signage in the background. We’ve got a new banner as well, featuring Pops Seagull, but he was a little late to the party and will have to wait for the next appearance.

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Some Thoughts On Ad Astra 2014

This weekend, I attended Ad Astra 2014, an annual literary SF/F/H convention held in Toronto. Ad Astra was the first convention I ever attended as a young person (to the best of my admittedly shoddy memory, I was around 17) and it has always been a lot of fun and a great learning experience.

Ad Astra is where I first started to connect with the indie writing community, and picked up some of the first books that were outside of the mainstream, feature shelf at Chapters Indigo category. It’s actually where I wrote my first published short story as part of a flash fiction contest. Before that point, I had scarcely ever written any flash fiction. The mental stretch of trying a new form among friends, I believe, helped to push me to that next level and make every word count in a way that finally caught the attention of an editor.

Ad Astra was also one of the first places that I learned about the ins and outs, the opportunities and pitfalls of self and indie publishing. I was intrigued that so many people were out there, doing it for themselves, and not waiting for someone else to tell them it was okay to begin. I met people who were producing high quality work that didn’t fall into easy categories, and I loved it. Yes, over the years, Ad Astra has provided a fertile ground for the seeds of my creativity and business sense to grow in.

These past few years have not been easy for me. A lot of the initial inspiration, strength and conviction I found through my passion for writing and art have been shaken by the perspiration that it takes to get somewhere with your work. I’ve faced severe financial hardship, job uncertainty, hostile work environments, and drifting away from friends. For several years, I also faced self-alienation from the fan community after a horrible experience with a stalker that went unaddressed and left me feeling vulnerable and unsupported within the community. All of these things have led me to question my work, my conviction, and my reasons for doing what I do.

Things reached a low for me this past fall when I was forced to drain most of my funds for upcoming cons and business appearances in order to pay rent, because a contract I had been promised fell through at the last minute. The business was left with a skeleton budget, barely limping along and unable to grow until such time as I found the money to breathe new life into it. With credit card debt mounting, and a job that paid a fraction of what I would have gotten with the other contract, I felt hopeless and bogged down with obligations.

A few months went by, and I tried to figure out what to do, but nothing I came up which seemed realistic. I got a car, got out of debt, and generally stabilized things, but I was still feeling discouraged artistically, and a little bit lost trying to manage my art time with a full time job. That was when I got an amazing email, one that I’d forgotten was coming. Ad Astra was writing me to confirm my place in the dealers’ room, which I’d booked two years before but hadn’t been able to follow up on. Since I now had a car, I could keep costs low, and potentially fund some future projects, if the weekend went well.

Suffice it to say, the weekend went well. We sold out of our second anthology, Spirits of Suburbia, and had to direct more people to our e-store. We made enough money for more books, more appearances, more everything, and better than that… I got inspired again. I learned about some amazing opportunities for marketing my books nearby that didn’t involve table fees or gas money. I looked into some really great volunteer opportunities that I hope will bring me closer to the local writing community. I got two (two!) interviews! There’s way more to tell on that front, but hopefully that can all wait until I have official announcements to make. I also received praise for our books from several writing colleagues whom I greatly respect, which… well, I just have to say thank you to everyone who offered words of encouragement. You have no idea how much your support and friendship meant at this point in time, and continues to mean going forward.

Ad Astra has done it again. I came in tired, discouraged and on my last legs, and I left inspired, supported, and empowered for the battle ahead. Thank you to everyone involved with the convention, and I wish long life and health to this wonderful organization. Thank you for making grass-roots arts and literature possible for the fan community with integrity and inclusiveness.