Thursday, October 24, 2013

It's November Next Week!

How did that happen? Well, probably the same way October, September and August arrived, I suppose. Nevertheless, I am once again feeling that the passage of time is occurring far too quickly. And without my consent.

October has been a good month for me. It started extremely well with GenreCon, which amazingly enough is only the second con I've attended this year. My third con, Reversed Polarity, is coming up very soon. It's from the same people who have done the Polaris and Toronto Trek conventions, and it centres around the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. I'm booked into two panels.

I prepared and uploaded The Five Demons You Meet In Hell to Smashwords, and I'm delighted to say it meets the requirements of their Premium Club (an honour that means wider distribution). You can have a look at my book's page on the Smashwords site here. I'm still working on some unforeseen complications involving payment and tax issues, but those will be resolved before too long.

Anyone interested in a free preview of 5 Demons can read a sample of it here.

My depression got a little worse this month, partly due to cabin fever. I need structure, and my lack of employment has left me without any. I wrote a kind of 'day in the life of' thing last week, but I'm not sure I want to post it. The day in question turned out to be a fairly bad one, at least for a couple of hours in the afternoon. What I ended up writing is intensely personal; one of the biggest fears a person can have is to reveal one's true, unmasked self.

I have a short-term job starting tomorrow that will last me through to the end of the month. That will be good for me, and my finances.

November promises to be a very entertaining month. Apart from Reversed Polarity, I am looking forward to Catching Fire and Thor: The Dark World. November 23rd is The Day of The Doctor, and of course there will be my own contribution to the world of entertainment - 5 Demons - on November 13!

My writing is going well. I've finished Part III of I, Suicide, and am ready to work on the next leg of Zombie Jesus Day. I'm also working on a new Doctor Who fanfic short story. There haven't been any assignments for a while, but that may change soon.

That's all for now.

Monday, October 14, 2013

GenreCon Part 3: Sunday

Those who know me well can tell you I'm not much of a 'party person'. I rarely drink alcohol but when I do, I limit myself to a single beer or cider. I have a very low tolerance for alcohol (Violet calls me a cheap date), and I'd rather spend my money on other stuff. Plus, I'm the guy who leaves the party early. I get tired, I start feeling anxious, and I'm not fond of the long trip home (especially if there's a bus involved, one that stops running at 1 AM).

How, then, do I explain the partying I partook in Saturday night at the con? Well, that's easy. The con organizers supplied the drinks for the room parties, and my own room was only three doors away. No bus schedule to keep, no need to fret over finances. And the anxiety? Still there, but I didn't let it stop me.

I got drunk. Pleasantly drunk. I did not get wasted. Nor did I get tanked. Nor, I hasten to add, did I get smashed, plastered or hammered. Other people did (or so I heard), and paid a terrible price that involved barfing. Booze can be a harsh mistress. Nevertheless, I offer my thanks to the organizers of GenreCon for providing so much of it.

I had shots. With whipped cream in them! Yum. Made some new friends, got to know some current friends better. Then I got a little flirty... it was probably for the best that I packed it in and went to bed when I did. It was four AM by that point, and I had a lot to do in the morning.

Check out time for hotels is 11 AM. I had a panel at ten, which meant I had to be packed up and out of the room before then. And, I was not going to spend another $20 on breakfast; I would find the nearest Tim Horton's instead.

Which meant I had to be up and with it by nine at the latest. In fact, I rose at eight. I need time to get my shit together in the mornings, and I hate to rush. I made myself presentable and went out into the cool, foggy morning air, and twenty minutes later I had my tea, a bagel, and a box of Timbits to share. Life was good.

Checked out. Luggage stowed. Tea savoured. Bagen eaten. Time for my panel, Self-Publishing in the Age of the Internet with Elizabeth Hirst and Sarah Water Raven. Considering it was 10 AM on a con Sunday morning, attendance was very decent. The panel went well, and I learned a lot of important stuff about ebook publishing. Afterward Sarah and I went for Thai food, and got back in time for a panel about Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At that point, my lack of sleep had begun to catch up with me.

My Pacific Rim panel could have gone better. Ryan Consell and I had a large audience, but five minutes in I realized I'd forgotten pretty much everything about the film. I remembered there were giant robots fighting giant monsters, and that the movie had been a lot better than that premise would suggest. And I think I repeated that at least three times. Fortunately Ryan had numerous beefs to pick with the movie's science, and that got a lot of discussion going. I should have done better, though. I've got to stop thinking I can simply wing a movie panel just because I've seen the film in question.

After that, the con was more or less over for me. I got more tea and did some writing, then began my numerous goodbyes. Sarah dropped me off at the Guelph University bus stop, and I was able to catch an earlier bus back to Toronto. I was sad to leave, but I was very happy to get home and see Violet and my two fuzzy boys again. And to get back on my computer and play Candy Crush. Man, had I missed that game!
Will I go to GenreCon again next year? That's certainly the plan. I hope I'll be able to report on the smash success of The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, and announce my next project. But even if I don't, I'm sure to have another good time!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

GenreCon Part 2: Saturday

Where we last left off, I was about to embark on a very busy afternoon at GenreCon. Two PM had me on the panel 50 Years of Doctor Who, followed by my reading, followed by The Basics of Writing Genre, followed by my signing. At that point I'd have an hour long break, and then I'd do Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Benedict Cumberbatch at seven. Whew!

The panels were well-attended. My reading and book signing were not. Nevertheless, I had an enjoyable time. And I sold a few books! One I sold for a dollar to my new friend Tristin; he'd been to all my panels and my reading that afternoon and the previous evening, so he totally deserved it.

For the Doctor Who panel, I sat between two panelists (Paul Neale & Dalek Dreadnaught) who had insider knowledge of the upcoming 50th Year Anniversary special. It was very tempting to ask for spoilers, let me tell you! We discussed the highs and lows of the last fifty years of the show, and our hopes for the upcoming adventures of the 12th Doctor.

Sarah Water Raven joined me for my reading, and brought a bunch of kick-ass flyers for my upcoming novel The Five Demons You Meet In Hell with her. She also joined me at my table in the dealer's room for my signing, and we both sold a couple of books. These things are more fun when shared with a friend!

The Basics of Writing Genre was well-attended, at least at first. Bestselling novelist Kelley Armstrong was scheduled to be on the panel, but she'd received the wrong information and thought the panel was on Sunday! When it was clear she wasn't coming, a few of her fans got up and left. The room was still 3/4ths full, however, and aspiring novelist Ed Mochrie and I rose to the occasion. It was Ed's first panel ever, too. Like, ever! Gosh, I remember what that was like, way back in the spring of 2006's Ad Astra. Ed brought a lot to the table, and we had a very good discussion with our audience.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Benedict Cumberbatch wouldn't have kept my wife Violet entertained for very long; most of the discussion was about the movie Star Trek Into Darkness, and not Benedict himself. Corrina McGill, Cory Albrecht and I talked about the film's strengths and flaws, of which there were many. A good friend of mine was kind enough to sit down with me a week or two back and list those flaws in alphabetical order, so I had plenty of material to draw upon. The majority of the audience (and panelists) seemed to have loved the film as much as I did, however, so a lot of that material was glossed over.

After the Star Trek panel, I headed to the hotel's restaurant with friends for dinner. The place was expensive but convenient, and the staff was just wonderful. One of the servers wore a suit identical to that of the 10th Doctor (by sheer coincidence!), and another one bought a copy of Section K.

The evening was very interesting; there was a dance, an epic card game, and room parties. And did I mention the genre-themed drinks? I had a TARDIS, vodka and some kind of blue juice that was quite yummy. Corrine invited me to the Cards Against Humanity game, and I volunteered to be a judge. The object of the game was to answer questions as rudely, inappropriately, or just plain horribly as possible using a selection of cards inscribed with various things. Hmm, I'm not explaining that very well... let me put it like this: in your selection of cards, you might have one that says kitten and another that says sandwich spread, and you might use them together if you got a fill-in-the-blank question like "A ______ makes a very good _______." Or you might use a card that says an adorable two-month-old baby with the question "What did you eat for breakfast?" Get the picture? And will you ever be able to get that picture out of your head? Sorry about that. Anyway, I took to the game like a butcher knife to a puppy's face - I just sank right in! Ooh, whoops. Did it again! I'm so evil.

And then, the fire alarm went off. Every hotel guest was evacuated to the parking lot, including all convention attendees and one very angry wedding party! They put forward their theories as to who was responsible for disrupting their happy nuptials, and came to two possible conclusions: the alarm had been triggered either by "some faggit" or "one of them cosplayers." Tempers ran hot, even though the temperature outside was very cold. I wished for my jacket, but I was one of the lucky ones - more than a few cosplayers were clad in little more than decorative underwear! The hotel staff moved us four times around the parking lot while the firefighters did their jobs, and we were finally allowed back in when the cause of the fire had been discovered a half-hour later. Turns out someone from the wedding party had lit a cigarette inside the hotel and set off the smoke detectors. Naturally, no apology was offered.

I missed my midnight panel on fanfiction due to the 'fire', so my programming responsibilities were finished for that day. I might have packed it in and gone to bed, but it turned out my night was just beginning...

GenreCon Part 3: Sunday Coming Soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

GenreCon Part 1: Friday

I feel like I'm repeating myself whenever I talk about my experiences at Fandom conventions. I always say that I had enormous fun, felt like I belonged, and was sad to leave at the end. That would be because it's always true. GenreCon was yet another fulfilling experience for me, and I learned a lot of great stuff in the bargain.

For example, did you know that iron is probably the worst metal you could use to construct giant robots with? Pacific Rim got that wrong! And the current level of human technology does not have the ability to detect gravitron waves that may be increasing the mass of our planet. Tsk, tsk, Man of Steel! I also learned valuable information about publishing and selling ebooks, invaluable knowledge given my current writing career plans.

Friday was slow, an evening of settling in. I had no trouble getting to Guelph; I even got the driver to let me off a stop early at the university, practically next door to the Delta Guelph Hotel and Conference Centre! Lots of time and a taxi fare saved there! I checked in, registered, and dumped my stuff in my room, then set out to find my friends. And a cup of tea. I didn't worry about supper; I brought a couple of sandwiches to further cut down on my expenses.

My first panel was about the recent Superman movie, Man of Steel. My fellow panelist was Ryan Consell, a splendid chap with a mind for science who looks almost identical to the 10th Doctor. We had only two people in attendance, a bit disappointing considering how prepared I was. Nevertheless we had a good chat about the Superman films in general and the science mistakes in Man of Steel in particular, and generally had a good time.

I got the timing wrong for my next panel, the one on Geek Cliques. I showed up an hour early, and ended up participating in the panel on Canadian content in genre fiction with Jennifer Bickley and my friend and fellow author Elizabeth Mary Ann Hirst. We got some heated debates going, which is what you always hope for in a panel. Attendance was better, too - at least six people - and most of them stuck around for Geek Cliques afterward. Strong emotions were incurred as fellow panelists Corrina McGill, Michael Scott and I discussed the exclusion of unpopular fandoms, fandom hierarchies, and the concept of the 'fake geek girl'. In the end we came to two very noble conclusions: 1. all forms of prejudice or perceived superiority have no place in fandom; and 2. Twilight fans suck. ;)

Next I attended a reading by my good friend and cover artist for The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, Sarah Water Raven. Only a couple of people turned up; Friday nights, it would seem, really aren't very good for programming. Nevertheless we made the most of it; Sarah read from her novel Detective Docherty and the Demon's Tears, and I remember a lively discussion about killing characters in creative ways. Sarah and I went for a drink afterward, as this photo blurrily depicts.

I slept well, and treated myself to room service breakfast Saturday morning. It was expensive, but I could not resist the allure of bacon and homefries! And, I didn't know where to go to get anything cheaper. The morning was mine to do with as I pleased, but the afternoon had me booked solid from two o'clock until eight. I wandered about, checked out the dealer's room, and made a few new friends. Then I woofed down the last of my provisions and prepared myself for action...

GenreCon Part 2: Saturday is Coming Soon!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mid-October Update

GenreCon was a lot of fun. I'm still writing about the experience, and hope to have a post about it up within the next couple of days. I'll probably split it into three parts, like I usually do.

In the meantime, I want to let everyone know that a new review of The Cupid War has surfaced! This one's from Reads 4 Tweens, and can be read here. It's very thorough, and includes a link to Amazon. I'm lucky to have had so many wonderful reviews of my stuff, and I hope I'll have a whole bunch when I put out The Five Demons You Meet In Hell.

Speaking of which, my new novel draws closer and closer to publication. Officially it will be available on November 13th, but it looks like I'll be able to offer a preorder option! I'm going to publish it through Smashwords first, as per advice I got last weekend, and make it available for the Amazon Kindle after that.

That's it for now!

Oh, wait. One more thing...

Go and see Gravity, on the biggest screen you can find. In 3D, too. It is awesome!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Off To GenreCon!

In just under half an hour I'll be jetting out of here and on my way to Guelph to attend GenreCon. Three days of fun and hard work mixed together in such a way that the work feels like fun but the fun still feels a little bit like work. It can be very tiring, doing a con. I can't imagine the strain the con organizers go through! So here's a thank you to all those who work long hours for weeks on end to make sci/fi cons happen. Couldn't do it without you guys, quite literally! You're the best.

I've done my homework this time around. I've got material for my panels, like a couple of magazine articles and stuff I pulled from the web. I will be a more mature panelist this time around. I wish I had more to show for the FanFiction panel; I've done so very little of it. Here's a link to Happy Landings, my Doctor Who story. Maybe the panel will inspire me to write more. Or maybe I'll be inspired to write more of my own stuff!

I'm still trying to decide what to read. I've narrowed it down a lot, however. Something from The Five Demons You Meet In Hell, for sure - that's the one I want to spread the word on! If I have time, I'll probably also throw in a bit of The Cupid War.

That's it for me! I'll have a full update on the con as soon as I can.