Saturday, December 20, 2014

SFContario 2014: My Panels 'n Stuff

This was my third time attending SFContario, and it wasn’t as much fun as before. Not the con’s fault, except that they booked the same weekend as the Book Fair. A large number of con regulars chose the Fair, so the number of authors on hand was significantly lower.

This is not to say I had a bad time. There was plenty to do and good people to hang out with. I made a new fan (hello, Jayden!), enjoyed my panels, attended a fantastic reading, and even managed to spark some completely unintentional controversy! Click here for that story.

I did a reading myself from my upcoming novel Apoca-Lynn, and once again faced a tiny crowd of only four people. Nevertheless, we had a good time.

Next, I went to the much better attended reading by Madeline Ashby. She read from a new story, and it had me on the edge of my seat. Full marks to you, Madeline!

I had four panels that weekend, two on Saturday and two on Sunday. My first was on writing horror for children with David Nickle, Madeline’s fiancĂ©e. It went well, and made me want to rush out and scare the crap out of some kids.

My second panel was about the TV show Marvel’s Agents of Shield. I was a little concerned with how that one would go – my memories for the details of that show are not as perfect as my memory for Doctor Who or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Luckily I had plenty of help from my fellow panelists, and a great time was had.

My first Sunday panel was Troll or Insightful Criticism, about the rise of the so-called ‘trolls’ on the Internet who disparage everything they see. We discussed the difference between a troll and a harsh critic, boiling it down to a matter of respect for the thing being critiqued. The conversation naturally touched upon topics like Gamergate and cyberbullying. Sensitive issues, but they made for a good panel.

Sunday also saw the debut of Adi Everett’s mental health and fandom panel at SFContario, renamed Fandom and Disability. We had a good turnout for that one, and the expanded scope to include all forms of disability led to some great discussion. The room we held the panel in was the least accessible for people with disabilities, an irony that was not lost on anyone.

After all was said and/or done at the closing ceremony, I went up to the Consuite for the Dead Dog, otherwise known as the afterparty. There was lots of food (I cut the ham!) and plenty to drink – it was hard to stick to my no-pop rule, but I managed.

The next day I was back at work with a fandom-sized hole in my heart. Until next year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

SFContario Controversy!

My final con for this year, SFContario provided a calm and stress-free outing punctuated by a case of unintended controversy. And I was to blame. Me, and my God Hates Bags satchel, pictured here.

A hotel employee spotted the bag in question through a window and thought it was the genuine article – a God Hates F@&$ sign used by the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. This employee was very upset, and he raised a stink at the registration desk. The Con staff had no idea what he was talking about until I ambled by a few minutes after the irate man had left. I straightened things out with the con organizers, and the other hotel staff were very understanding and didn’t make an issue of it. I would have hated it if I’d caused a rift between the convention and their venue!

I get a lot of compliments on my satchel from people who get the satire, but every so often there’ll be someone who doesn’t get it. I may have bought it at Pride Parade, but it’s the same font and only one letter away from being that message of hate so beloved by the Phelps clan. When I’m carrying it, I’m making a political statement, and I need to take responsibility for that. Not everybody is going to get the joke.

Can-Con 2014

Like GenreCon, Can-Con is an out-of-Toronto sci-fi convention that I want to keep as a regular part of my life. Two years ago I attended, back when I was still pushing The Cupid War, and I regret not being able to go last year (same weekend as my first GenreCon).

This time around, the con was held at the Sheraton, a much bigger and more convenient hotel in downtown Ottawa (as opposed to being out past Bell’s Corners). The Sheraton had a lot more available space, meaning bigger panel rooms and a larger dealer’s room.

My panel schedule involved some interesting and creative stuff. Unfortunately I missed my very first one on Friday night – my bus was over an hour late getting into the city. Saturday morning onwards, however, I had no trouble at all.

Here’s what I was up to:


10 AM – 11AM
The Economics of Self-Publishing: Kevin Johns (m), S.M. Carriere, Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Tim Carter

12PM – 1PM
The Whedonverse: from Buffy to Firefly to the Avengers:
Derek Newman-Stille (m), Timothy Carter, Kevin Johns

7PM – 8PM
Email spam: Can a narrative be created? Silliness may ensue.
Rebecca Simkin (m), Timothy Carter, S.M. Carriere, Geoff Gander, Max Turner


12PM – 1 PM
No More Sparkly Vampires! Scary Monsters in Fiction:
Derek Newman-Stille (m), Mike Rymar, Timothy Carter, Caroline Frechette, Kevin Johns

1PM – 2PM
Talking about your Sonic Wrench and Other Tricks for Flushing Out the Nerds Who Are Hiding As Muggles:
M. Bilodeau (m), S.M. Carriere, Erik Buchanan, Timothy Carter, Mark Shainblum

I did three panels with S.M. Carriere, a novelist and party animal like myself. She's the one who, during my last Can-Con visit, said "I'm stealing this from you. This looks awesome!" to her friend The Blurry Fan, who was reading Evil at the time. Speaking of The Blurry Fan, I ran into her once more in the dealer's room, next to S.M.'s table. Good times.

I still have my spam stories. It was an interesting writing exercise – each of us interpreted the directive in our own way. I found I couldn’t come up with a narrative and then work the spam into and around it – I chopped my spam up and put the sentences back together in a new and (hopefully) funny way, figuring out where I was going with it as I went along.

Sadly, I no longer have Optimus Plane, my entry into the paper airplane contest. Run by Marie Bilodieu and her terrifying minions, it was just as fantastically fun as 2012’s. And my plane went a lot further, too! Before a terrifying minion crushed it under her foot. I won a prize, and my cats have enjoyed playing with it. Marie really knows how to put on a good show.

No, I mean she really, really knows – I went to her reading Saturday night, and she demonstrated her storytelling talents with a tale of tragic love. It was a moving experience I shall not soon forget.

The final day’s panels were No More Sparkly Vampires and Talking About Your Sonic Wrench. Sparkly vampires was about the de-fanging of monsters that used to be, well, monsters. As an example, vampires used to be bloodsucking fiends of terror before certain authors turned them into brooding romantic leads. Good fun, and we all had plenty to say.

Marie hosted Sonic Wrench, a panel about discovering whether or not someone is a closeted geek. The audience tossed out names from genre media properties, and each panelist had to come up with a way to subtly bring up said media property through casual conversation. Many laughs ensued, and some of them were actually mine! I like it when I’m actually funny (as opposed to just trying to be).

The con ended, I said my goodbyes, and added a few more people to my Facebook friends list. My parents picked me up, and we had some quality time together before I headed back to Toronto the next day.

Can't wait for next year!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back In The Game

Just got back from Regina, Saskatchewan, visiting my sister Claire! Had a great time with her family.

Now I feel like I need to catch up on things. I've got a bunch of posts waiting in the wings, with updates on recent conventions that I want to share. Motivation continues to be a harsh mistress for me.

Hmm... mistress...

Ahem. I've also let my writing go. I promised a friend I'd submit a story to an anthology she is working on, but I haven't made any progress in over a week. I've also fallen behind on I, Suicide. I'm hoping to turn things around this week. At the very least, I want to publish my post about Can-Con.

Soon, my readers. I'll be back in the game soon...