Friday, August 16, 2019

Post-Convention Post!

Hello!!!! I am so glad to be back! Not that I really went anywhere, but it feels like it. Last week was magical; a term I don’t use often, let me tell you. But it really was. I’ve been going to When Words Collide for years now… if I remember correctly this was my fifth year. Year two and three, I was on panels, but I didn’t have any books out. It meant that in addition to me occasionally feeling like I was unworthy of being up there with published authors, I also had to deal with looking at people earnestly excited to meet me and read my books and not have anything to give them. So finally being able to have my book to show at the panels and being able to direct people where it was selling was wonderful.

First, let’s talk about the panels. I was on four panels, as I mentioned last week. All four went wonderfully. I felt a little unworthy and fan-girly about being on the East vs West panel, which came through in a slight inability to pronounce Japanese/Mandarin words correctly. Other than that, I feel that I did really well, showing my knowledge, talking with the other panellists and discussing the topic. We took questions and everyone left excited to have listened to us.

The two about social awareness went really well, too. I was intelligent and able to discuss my positions easily and intelligently. Being on the panel with Adam Dreece was as fun as I thought it was going to be. He may have stole the show, but he still made sure that all of us got a chance to talk, to discuss our positions and that we got to have discussions across the board. My favourite panel was actually on the bad guys though. It was a wonderful panel with a lot of energy and a great crew with me. We talked about monologuing, about the different classifications of bad guys, what we liked seeing, what we didn’t like seeing, what annoyed us and what interesting things you could do with your bad guys. It was awesome.

I got to have dinner with Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Rhonda Parrish (you’ll remember that I was part of her Giftmas last December) and a few other people. We had great conversations about everything from the food we eat, to religious beliefs, to what panels we’d been on and what we’d been doing all weekend thus far. It was wonderful and the dinner was very tasty. I really enjoyed it.
At the signing, I left Laura and Rhonda and found a seat at a table with two wonderful writers. I was fully expecting to talk to two or three people who stopped off to see the other two at my table, maybe show them my book and tell them where they could pick it up later if they wanted, and that was it. Instead, I was lucky enough to sell most of my copies and talk to a whole lot of people. I got to catch up with a few people I hadn’t gotten to see yet that year and had four people ask for my autograph. I was over the moon!

My table mates were awesome as well. Amanda Witow had some of the best swag I’ve ever seen; book lights, tote bags, bookmarks, pens… she had something for everyone. She was nice enough to give me a pen and sign one of her tote bags for me. Nicole Bross was super friendly as well and had the coolest prop I’ve ever seen; a working purple typewriter; a Remington Portable #3 from 1929! Apparently, she collects them and fixes them up, which I think is pretty darn amazing. She said she has 20-30 already, which is just an incredibly awesome thing to collect!

This is the Remington #3 in orchid that I mentioned above. Isn't it gorgeous?
Picture attributed to Nicole Bross
And that was my weekend! If I have any regrets, its that I had no extra money and wasn’t able to come home with any extra books for myself to read. It means I’ll be looking forward to next year all the more. Were any of you at WWC? Let me know how your weekend went? What panels did you go to and what books did you come home with?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

When Words Collide - Itinerary

You may have noticed that my post is up early this week! That is not a mistake, but very deliberate. I wanted to let you you know where I'll be officially at WWC and what I'll be talking about, so you can plan your weekend and hopefully attend a few of my panels as well.

Friday 9am - 12pm
Social Media and Online Marketing Your Book with instructor Kat Flannery
This class is one that of the masterclasses that I am attending. while I'm good at social media, my online marketing sucks, so saying I'm looking forward to this class is an understatement.

Friday 1pm - 2pm
I will be volunteering at the ARWA booth in the Merchant's Corner. Take a look on the map, in addition to my novel, Hunter's Gambit, I will also have some jewelry pieces for sale. We will also have the books of everyone else in ARWA there too; a very fine selection of romances, mysteries and other genres, if I do say so myself. I've included the map, highlighting in purple where the table is located in the hall.

Friday 6pm - 7pm
Volunteering at the ARWA booth again!

Saturday 10am - 11am
Awakening to Social Sensitivity 
Brandy Ackerley, Diane Terrana, Erin Weir, Jay Martin 
This panel looked really interesting and I had to get in on it. We'll be talking about writing about other genders, races, classes, cultures with honesty and sensitivity, along with tips of how to be inclusive without appropriating or creating token characters.

Saturday 11am - 12pm
Writing a Character Who Could Never Be You
Adam Dreece, Brandy Ackerley, Colleen Anderson, Halli Lilburn 
Similar to the last panel, this one will discuss the benefits and pitfalls of creating characters that differ from us, as well as discussing that question of 'is anyone off-limits?' I'm really looking forward to being on a panel with Adam Dreece as well. I've met him a few times and I've got to say, the guy has one hell of a personality.

Saturday 2pm - 3pm 
Villains, Antagonists and Other Baddies 
Arlene F. Marks, Brandy Ackerley, Kevin Weir, Susan Calder 
I love writing villains; those people that you want to hate, and that you have no sympathy for. However, I also know that while all stories need an antagonist, not all of them need a villain. Specifically, look at my novel, Hunter's Gambit. You'd be hard-pressed to find a villain in there, although it's rife with antagonists. Having been on both sides of the wheel, I figured I could really contribute to this discussion.

Saturday 8pm - 10pm
Autograph Session 
Me and 70+ other authors will be signing your books! This session is open to the public, so tell your friends.

Sunday 10am - 11pm
East and West: How Our Mindset Changes the Way We Tell Stories 
Calvin Jim, Brandy Ackerley, Jennie Bennett, Laura VanArendonk Baugh
This panel is my little baby this time around. I get to be on a panel with some of my fav people and talk about the differences between eastern and western storytelling. Need I say more to get you excited?

Now, I haven't specified exactly where I'll be in between these times, mainly because I don't know yet. I will try to update Instagram and/or Twitter as often as I can during the weekend to keep you guys updated though. Also, keep your eyes open for me while you're walking the halls. I am almost always willing to stop and chat in the hallway or before a panel, so stop by and say hi! 

Friday, August 2, 2019

Rules for Conventions

I was going to talk about the religion in my novels this week, but I think I'm too excited about my convention happening next weekend to even think about it. Yes, that's right. For all of you out there who will be in Calgary next weekend, I will be at When Words Collide! While I understand that the actual convention is sold out, you can still see me for free during the signing on Saturday evening to get your book signed. Check here for the full list of authors and bring all of your books to get signed by not just me. Or you can check out the sale area (which I believe is open for everyone and not just attendees) and pick up books from your fav authors to get signed.  

I do feel the need to remind everyone that will be attending on proper etiquette during the con. First, the most important rule of any convention for any type of event is the rule of 1,2,3. That is no less than 1 shower a day, 2 meals, and 3 hours of sleep. More is encouraged, but you cannot have less than what is listed here (no matter how awesome the parties may be, or good the shows are to try and stop you from leaving to eat... and no less than one shower a day should be obvious as well). 

The second rule, good for any convention but most especially for conventions where you hope to learn something, is to have a really good notebook and a decent selection of pens, pencils, and 1-3 highlighters. I prefer moleskins that are around the 5"x7" size, but whatever is your preference, use it for a few weeks first so that you know you like it. Also, find a way to carry your said pens/pencils easily so they are all easily grabbable. I suggest mechanical pencils (pre-loaded with extra lead so you never need to worry about sharpening them), with full (nearly) unused erasers on top.  I suggest at least two pens. Use your pens in advance so you'll know if they tend to blob, run, and how long it will take the ink to dry, so you won't be running your hands through wet ink smudging all your notes into an incomprehensible mess. The highlighter is less important, but I do suggest one if only to highlight your preferred courses and super important information during the panels. 

The third rule is to remember to order anything you need from a business standpoint a full month or more in advance. This includes any business cards, books, bookmarks, posters, etc - anything that you may need. Since you aren't just counting on yourself, but on other people and their schedules; try to give yourself more than enough time to order everything you need. 

Other suggestions are to wear layers. Its easier to put on a sweater or take one off than it is to suffer sweating or freezing all day. Find out if the venue provides water at an easily refilled place. For instance, the hotel for WWC provides pitchers of water in every room for all attendees and glasses for the water. I still suggest bringing your own water bottle though, as the glasses are rather small and you won't have a table to actually keep your glass on. 

And those are my rules for conventions. Do you guys have any other rules that I may not have listed here? Will you be at the con next week? I'll let you know when and where I'll be at the con in my post next week!

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Summer is a Tough Season

We've hit one of our 3-4 weeks a year when its over 20C even at night.

Which is no excuse for me not having a post out yesterday. No, I put that blame entirely on the concert I went to see. Blackstreet Boys came to my hometown this week and I'd bought tickets months in advance. That was on Wednesday evening and I admit, I danced my ass off and sang loudly to every song and screamed like a fangirl. Then I did nothing but draw on Thursday while listening to BSB music on repeat, not realizing that I was supposed to have a blog done. 

However, instead of panicking, I'm simply going to own up to it and apologize. I am very sorry and I promise that I will have a full post up next week on time. And in lieu of my normal post, please appreciate what I did produce yesterday.  

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tragedy in Japan Kills Thirty-three

Back in 1996, I was in high school and I was clearly too old for cartoons. Then out of nowhere, Nickolodeon started playing Dragonball on the weekends. While the art interested me enough to watch it if it was on, the story did almost nothing for me. Whenever I'd get into the story, they'd take three episodes to have people scream about how they were powering up and it drove me mad. Even now, I am not a Dragonball fan, unless its TeamFourStar's Dragonball Z Abridged (if you haven't seen it, go check it out). Fortunately, a few months after Dragonball had started to air, Sailor Moon came out. 

I denied for months that I actually liked this silly cartoon about a crybaby who saves the world through the power of love and friendship... but the truth was that I was enamoured, both of the art style and the stories they told, a romance to last through the ages. Magical Knight Rayearth was the next thing to show up at my local card shop. Then a store opened selling bootlegs video cassettes. I bought posters, videos, cards... nearly everything I could. And when I met my boyfriend, the man I eventually married, he introduced me to even more. Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Ranma 1/2, Macross Plus... 

That was a little over 20 years ago now. 

So when I say that anime has been a huge influence on me and my writing (which I originally began writing around the same time... it was horrible), I'm not simply jumping on a bandwagon. The Asian style of storytelling is different than what is done in the west and I adore it, even if it means that I have to admit that Dragonball is simply a super-extended story and not straight out bad writing (in most cases). Hells, this year I'm helping to give a panel on how to incorporate Japanese storytelling into your writing. I suggested the panel to friends who write Asian fiction, wrote up the base description and submitted the version the rest of my friends helped edit to WWC. 

This has been a long-winded way of coming around to it, but I wanted to give some background before I jumped right into the news today. 

On July 17, a man started screaming death threats in the front office of Kyoto Animation Studio 1 in Uji. He splashed the area with a flammable substance and then lit the studio on fire. With the front door and bottom floors blazing many people tried to escape other ways. Most went for the roof. At the time of this writing, thirty-three people have been confirmed dead in the arsonist's blaze, with nearly everyone else in the building injured. My heart goes out to everyone involved in the attack and to all of Japan, dealing with the shockwaves of this incident rolling throughout the country.

I have no stakes here beyond my love for the art and my respect for this incredible company which is known for promoting women directors and paying their workers more than above-average wages. Yet somehow this attack feels personal, like I lost something, even though I have lost nothing. I'm stuck feeling confused, lost, and angry as hell over this. Perhaps that's just grief I'm feeling at such senseless destruction and loss of life. I've certainly lost nothing compared to those poor people who lost their lives or to those who survived and will have to live with the injuries of this ordeal for the rest of their lives. 

I am not going to put that man's name in my blog. I don't believe in giving people like him the screentime. I do want to send my heart out to everyone who worked in the building or had family that was injured or died. There has been a GoFundMe started to help the survivors and families of those who died. If you can help, please do. If you can't, then please at least share the link and the news so that people know what happened. 

I'll end here, still confused and lost... because what else can I do when all I'm feeling is anguish for those involved. Again, my prayers goes out to everyone in Japan, and every victim of this senseless attack, but most especially to those who actually worked for Kyoto Animation. Our hearts all beat for you today.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The First Days Back are Always the Hardest

... especially when you changed your sleep schedule for it. I was full of hope, ready to get back to work last week and yet, I am definitely not up to where I wanted to be working yet. Still, I have finished 15 more pages of the edit, which leaves me 85 to go. I'm not worried about getting it done yet, but I really do need to get to work on it, if that makes sense. That said, I'm going to keep this one short this week. 

Last Sunday was my second signing and despite a few hickups, it went swimmingly. I sold a few copies, I had the poster of my cover in their window all day. I got to talk to more than a few people and get the lay of the land. I didn't sell quite as many novels as I'd originally guessed, but I had forgotten to account for the fact that it was the first weekend of Stampede which, again, made for a quiet weekend for the location. Still, despite that, I really enjoyed myself. The staff was great, as well. 

In very interesting news, I started my first advertising campaign for Hunter's Gambit. Hopefully, I'll have some interesting factoids for you once it's over and I have some information to compare it to. Also, hopefully, it will get Hunter's Gambit out there and a few more reviews. Before I move on from this point, I'll remind everyone that if you've read my novel, reviews really help, even if you're going to give me a low star rating or your entire review is "I really liked it". Amazon specifically, but other places as well, use those reviews to decide if they start working to share your stuff with others. Please, if you want to help me out, leave a review. 

And I think that's where I'll end this week. Next week, I think I'll jump back into religion... so which religion of Hunter's Gambit would you like me to talk about next? Let me know in the comments below. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

A Mini Vacation

A year ago, for I and my husband's 10th anniversary, we got out of the city and travelled to Banff. While we enjoyed the trip all-around, the mind-blowing thing for me was the hot springs. Despite being within a few hours drive from Calgary, I had never been to them before. I am one of those women who is almost always cold, so the feeling of almost being too hot was amazing and I loved it. Since I've discovered it, we have gone back twice more on day trips. Yesterday was the most recent trip. It was rainy and cold; mixed with the hot water, again, I was in heaven. It's nice on warm days, but I much prefer cold days instead. I brought back pictures of the hot springs, if not me in it... I'm one of those people who refuses to take my phone into a pool.

This is the view from the front steps. You can see a bit of Banff in the background but look at how close the clouds were to us. It's one of the reasons I love heading up into the mountains. That hill on the other side actually goes much higher and its all covered by clouds.

This was the hot spring pool.  Not as rustic as it originally was, but the fog, low clouds, heat and rain combined to make it a truly magical experience.

This is what is left of the original springs... while without the clouds it looks dull, with the clouds and fog it looks rustic and wonderful. You can expect me to try to slip it into a book one of these days.

I adored the trip! If you haven't been to the Upper Banff hot springs, five out of five will go again is my recommendation.

Als, I wanted to remind everyone that tomorrow I'll be at Owl's Nest Books, signing books and chatting up customers from 11am to 2pm. Take a look at their site, it's a gorgeous little shop. You can expect some pictures as always!