Tuesday, August 23, 2016

When Words Collide: a run-down of my weekend

What a busy and wonderful weekend! So many friends came to Calgary for When Words Collide (August 12-14, 2016) that it was a constant social whirl. Many thanks go to the ever-inventive Convention Committee, who make presenters' tasks simpler and keep the program moving through three challenging days. They won another Aurora for their efforts, and well deserved it is, too.

My scheduled duties began with another presentation of that popular 50-minute workshop I do with EC Bell on how to give great public readings. As usual, no photos survive, which is probably a good thing as I spend a significant part of that time waving my arms and contorting my face to demonstrate ways to warm up the chest, neck, face, and voice. EC Bell (Eileen) has the more dignified role, imparting information on bookstore etiquette and other essential matters of organization.

My second job was a panel, "Around the World in 80 Murders." Our crime writers' tribute to the Steampunk theme of ‪#‎WWC2016‬, featured Mystery Guest of Honour Ian Hamilton along with Calgary writers Sharon Wildwind, Gary Renfrew, and me. We didn't quite make it to 80 places in the world where we've committed (fictional) crimes, but came close. Thanks to Constantine K for the pinning and Susan Lawson for the photo.
Kevin collected my first-time-nominee pin for me at this charming Aurora ceremony in the Atrium (I was in the 80 Murders panel), and re-pinned me later that evening in the Tyche/SASS party surrounded by my friends.  Here he is receiving the pin from the delightful Julie Czerneda (who also MC'd the Prix Aurora Awards the following evening). 

 What an exciting honour for my first SFF book!

Congratulations to all the other first-time nominees, whose names are immortalized on the Prix Aurora site, and thanks to Ron Friedman for the photo of Kevin with Julie.

 After meals with friends, and several parties, and some sleep, I attended the launch social for Enigma Front: Burnt

My post-climate apocalypse story, "When the Tide Burns," is in excellent company with the varied SF and fantasy tales by a troop of talented authors from the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association.

Fifty Shades of Murder:

Between Dwayne Clayden, Mahrie Glab, Axel Howerton, and me, we spanned all four quadrants of crime fiction, from the cosiest character-driven tea party to the most blood-and-brains-splattered plot-driven grit. This was another audience-participation panel, with some debate about which quadrant which author's works landed.  (photo credit to AJ Proc)

Saturday evening saw the Steampunks descend on the Delta Calgary South for the Prix Aurora banquet. Almost every table in the hall featured guests in hats, spats, goggles, and other fantastical apparel. Seated next to me is fellow author Laini Giles (photo credit to Constantine K). 

A fun demonstration of Parasol Dueling accompanied the dessert. Two duelists and two Doctors (referees) from Madame Saffron Hemlock's Parasol Dueling Academy showed the ropes and elucidated the variants of this gracious Steampunk sport. The World Championships will be held in Calgary on September 10th, 2016.

Speaking of dessert, kudos to the kitchen staff of the hotel for their lovely array of gluten-free desserts. I gleefully indulged and can testify to their wonderful flavours and textures. This is Margaret's (my editor) much more restrained plate, to give you an idea what all was on offer.

And then the Auroras were presented, to much cheering. You all know how award ceremonies go, and the winners have already been announced (but if you missed it go here ) so I won't report in detail on that. Cliff Samuels kept the show moving with his usual exemplary efficiency, and the presenters illuminated many tidbits of SFF history.

After the mass autograph signing that followed the awards, there was more social whirl, more catching up with friends. Eventually, more sleep. 

Which brings us to Sunday.

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 My first afternoon panel was "Gaslight, Clockworks, & Steam" featuring editors Jeff R. Campbell and Charles Prepolec along with authors H. Leighton Dickson, Marty Chan (not shown) and me. Someone in the audience had just asked us a question none of us had anticipated, and the astute photographer (related to Charles) caught our unfiltered reactions. 

Apart from this moment, it was a lively discussion that covered everything from dinosaurs to colonialism, mentioned the movies and television shows all the panelists had watched faithfully during our formative years, and touched on the classic literature of Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle and others, that is at the root of modern works of gaslight, clockwork, and steampunk literature.
My final panel at When Words Collide was a fascinating discussion on finding your way past (and through) disability to creativity. I learned a lot from the audience and from my fellow panelists: Valerie King (moderator), Aviva Bel'Harold, Catherine Saykaly-Stevens, and Adam Dreece. (photo credit to AJ Proc)

A great many panels, presentations, and workshops went on before, during and after my three days, given by experts in many fields and genres:  music and poetry through mystery, fantasy, and romance; making audiobooks; writing better hooks, and the mechanics of self-publishing. It's truly a one-stop shop for both writers and readers.

That was the end of my wonderful weekend, although many convention members hung on well into the evening. I'm already looking forward to next year. 

 The convention was sold out well in advance, and doubtless will be again in 2017. Don't wait to get your pass. See When Words Collide for prices and purchasing options.

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