Sunday, September 30, 2012

Can*Con 2012 - Sunday

Sunday was my busiest day, with two panels and a reading. I started the day off right with a Tim Horton's breakfast, and I surprised Violet with said breakfast in bed! Best hubby ever? Uh huh!

I was nearly late for my reading with Eric Choi and Melissa Yuan Innes! We each read for twenty minutes: Eric read his essay Making Mars A Nicer Place, Melissa read the first chapter from her book High School Hit List, and I read from The Cupid War. All of us received our due from the audience, but Melissa's reading generated the best reaction, and deservedly so. I can't wait to read her book now!

There was no rest for the author of Evil (ha ha, see what I did there?); I had to run all the way next door for my next panel. That is one tremendous benefit of having a smaller con - no time lost running across hotels (or even highways[looking at you, Anime North!]) to get to your next event. This panel was GLBTQ Reader, looking at the issue of gender identity in speculative fiction. Brett Savory, Liz Strange and I were lucky to have a very involved audience, and it became more of a room discussion.

Another hour of dealer’s room time, followed by my final panel: Humour in Science Fiction, with Ira Nayman(Alternate Reality Ain’t What It Used To Be) and Cenk Gokce. Here's a picture I took of our terrific audience:

We talked about different types of comedy, and comedy in sci/fi we enjoyed, but the consensus of the panel was that humour in sci/fi equals an automatic rejection from publishers at the current time. Of course, that will change overnight if somebody writes a fantasy/comedy that sells a million copies!

Also, my high school friend Kevin Booth dropped by the panel to wish me all the best – everyone should have a friend like that.

As the convention wound down, I made a final tally of my sales: 23 books in all, including 8 copies of Evil; 5 copies of Epoch; 6 copies of The Cupid War; and 4 Section Ks. Not bad at all! Seems a shame Flux has given up on Epoch and Evil when there is clearly still an audience waiting to be found. I also sold eight Transformers toys, netting me some fine pocket change!

Goodbyes came next, to friends new and old. As always, it was sad. My thanks to Farrell McGovern, Caycee Price, Derek Kunsken, Elizabeth Buchan, Tim Sellmer, and everyone else who worked so hard to put this convention together. I had a fantastic time, and next year I must return for more!

Can*Con 2012 - Saturday

On Saturday I checked into the hotel. We could have stayed with my folks again, but having a room at the hotel just seemed easier. I wanted to have the freedom to do con stuff late into the night without worrying about how I was getting home(OC Transpo and I have, shall we say, a sordid history). Besides, staying in a hotel is kind of exotic. And it was great for Violet and I to have a place to dump our suitcases.

I had no panels that day, so I spent a lot of time in the dealer's room selling my stuff. I was delighted to see so much interest in Evil and The Cupid War - it was my first Ottawa convention, so I was introducing myself to a lot of new people. Do you have any idea how amazing it is to look over and see someone reading a book you wrote? Well, trust me, it's fantastic. But almost as fantastic was hearing the person next to them saying, "I'm stealing this from you. This looks awesome!" Thank you for that, S.M. Carriere (author of The Dying God & Other Stories)!

Apart from my novels, I was also trying to unload some of my Transformers toys. I know I made some fellow Trans-fans very happy (I'm looking at you, John Seed!).

In the afternoon, I attended a panel on marketing one's novel(with Marie Bilodeau, Matt Moore, Allan Isfan and Above author Leah Bobet), and learned the benefits of not being an a$$h0le. Apparently that's a really bad thing. All kidding aside, though, I came away from that panel with plenty to think about. Afterward, Marie joined Violet and I for dinner at a small Vietnamese restaurant across the road from the hotel. Good soup, and lots of it; when they say a large bowl, they really mean LARGE!

That night I went to the ChiZine launch party for John Park's new novel Janus. I missed his reading, sadly, but I got there in time for good conversation and plenty of beer! It was a perfect way to unwind after the events of the day.

Then I slept. Just down the hallway from the dealer's room. Super convenient, and it sure beats lugging a suitcase full of books back and forth by transit, lemmie tellya!

Can*Con 2012 - Friday

Last weekend I attended Can*Con, a sci/fi convention in my home town of Ottawa. It reminded me a lot of Ad Astra and Con-Cept - not too large, and more of a literary focus. Actually, I was surprised at how small the convention space actually was; three panel rooms, a con-suite, and a tiny little dealer's room! I worried the con wouldn't be very well attended, but that concern was quickly put to rest. I sold lots of books, had a great time, and hope to make my attendance an annual thing.

I have a lot to say, so I'm splitting this post into three parts - one for each day of the con.

Violet & I arrived by train Thursday afternoon and stayed over with my parents. It's been a long time since I got to spend quality time with them, and the convention provided a wonderful opportunity to kill two stones with one bird! My folks drove us to and from the hotel on Friday night, which was extremely kind; they live in Orleans, which is as far East of Ottawa as the hotel is West! They must love me or something(Awwww!!!). It was nice to show them what I do for an almost-living!

We arrived in time for the Paper Airplane Contest, hosted by my friend and fellow author Marie Bilodeau. But she was no friend to anyone that night, oh no... as judge of the contest, she was a living embodiment of fear itself! I still have nightmares(hold me). There were many impressive and flight-worthy airplanes made from paper that night. Mine was not one of them.

Nevertheless, the evening was a joy. To get the extra-special folding paper, Marie insisted we sing. I stood and gave a terrific rendition of the Lumberjack song, with Violet as my Best-Girl-By-My-Side. I also made friends with some kids, all of whom gave me their paper airplanes afterward. It may have been out of pity, but I prefer to think of it as a sweet gesture!

We didn't stay any later Friday night, preferring to save our energy for Saturday. The Saturday post is coming soon...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can*Con This Weekend!

This weekend I'll be in Ottawa for Can*Con 2012! This will be my second time at this convention - the first was many, many years ago, before I'd even published my first short story - and my first time as a pro writer.

My panel schedule is fairly small, and all of them are on Sunday. First, I'll be reading from The Cupid War in Room 3 sometime after 12:30 PM. Immediately after, I have GLBTQ Reader in Room 2(I love how the rooms are so clearly labelled!) at 1 PM. Then, at 3 PM, I'll be doing Humour in Science Fiction with my good friend Ira Nayman (author of Alternate Reality Ain't What It Used To Be) in Room 1.

All day Saturday I'll be selling Evil & Epoch, which I suppose I could classify as collector's items! I'm also hoping to take part in Friday night's paper airplane-making contest, hosted & judged by author friend Marie Bilodeau (Destiny's Blood & Destiny's Fall). I'm lucky in that there will be plenty of people there (like Marie & Ira) whom I've met and befriended at other cons. Gives these events a feeling of community!

As always, I'll provide a full write-up of my experience when I return to Toronto.

Can't wait! Cons are good for me.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Out Of Print

You know how I said this month is looking pretty good for me? That was before I got the bad news. My books haven't been doing all that well, hence the decision on my publisher's part not to go ahead with another book from me. That was hard enough for me to take, but this new bad news is even worse.

My publisher has decided to let my first three novels go out of print. As of Monday morning, September 17, all remaining stock of Epoch, Evil, and Attack of the Intergalactic Soul Hunters will be pulped and recycled. This is a huge blow to my writing career; it isn't over, but it is in serious trouble.

I was expecting this news for Soul Hunters. It's been out since 2005, and since 2006 the average sales have been less than twenty copies per year. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did.

The decision to pulp Epoch and Evil, however, came as quite a shock. Epoch sold relatively well in its first couple of years; Evil, not so much. I had hoped this situation would improve as my Internet presence grew. Since Evil's publication, I've had lots of reviews and quite a few guest posts on numerous blogs. I've discovered the promotional possibilities to be had with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Goodreads and Amazon, to name just a few.

I've also kept up a regular presence on the convention circuit. I'm a regular attendee of Ad Astra and Polaris in Toronto, and a few others when I could. I was the guy with the cartoony leaflets, handing them out to anyone who'd take one, leaving them on chairs and tables, trying to get myself noticed.

I've been busy, worked hard, and had an extraordinary amount of help. To every person who has friended or followed me, or Liked my fan pages; to every blogger who reviewed me, interviewed me, or asked me to write a guest post; to everyone who posted comments on those blogs, or wrote critiques of my work on Goodreads and Amazon; to every convention organizer and volunteer who helped set me up with what I needed, worked me into the programming schedule; to every fan I met at the cons who bought a book from me, took one of my flyers, sought me out at my table, commented at one of my panels, befriended me, and generally made me feel welcome and accepted... I can't thank all of you enough. I am so grateful, and feel so lucky, to have met you, and I want to shake every one of your hands.

And yet... it wasn't enough. Not by a longshot. I tried to get the word out, and all of you stepped in and gave me a boost, but the word simply didn't spread far enough. My novels didn't earn the sales required to justify keeping Epoch and Evil on the shelves.

Thankfully I still have The Cupid War, and I will continue to fight for it. It will be a much harder fight, however, now that I'm no longer taking up as much shelf space. I still have my small press books: my ebook for children, Closets; and Section K, my sci/fi comedy for grown ups. And, of course, I'll keep writing. I still have hope, and a burning desire to write I'll keep going.

Maybe someday I'll sell those three novels to a new publisher. The rights have reverted to me, apart from those already sold. I really don't know what's going to happen with the digital versions of those books; I'll update when I do.

This isn't the end. It does, however, feel an awful lot like the beginning of the end. I wish I sounded more positive about this, but I'm not going to sugar-coat the situation, either. I'm in a bit of a funk, and I'm not going to snap out of it for anyone else's comfort. This is me, reeling from a blow delivered by a harsh reality, and I haven't managed to bounce back yet.

But I will.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Welcome To September 2012

It's going to be a busy month for me. There is a strong possibility I will have a new job by the end of this week, for one thing. I also anticipate finishing my current novel project this month; I'm on Chapter 31, right in the heart of the climax! Another two chapters and an epilogue, methinks.

When that's done, I'll need to pick a new project. As always, I have a wealth of ideas. I also have a couple of projects I could return to.
In the middle of the month I'll be in Ottawa for Can-Con, another science fiction convention. It will be my second time doing an out-of-Toronto con, and I've wanted to do this one for a very long time. Why? Because it's in Ottawa, the town where I grew up! Aside from Can-Con, I will visit my parents and a few old friends and generally have a good time. Expect a full report here in a few weeks!

I will also unleash a new short story on my readers sometime this month. The story is set in the Cupid War universe, and will expand on something the novel only touched on briefly. More details to come soon.

With all this to look forward to, September is looking to be a pretty good month for me!