Monthly Archives: November 2012

Just Another Cyber Monday

I don’t have a lot to report in the writing scheme of things. I’m working on some stories and reading slush still for Tesseracts 17. We’ll probably have another batch of rejections and “hold for further consideration” to go out in the next few weeks. Remember, if you’re submitting, you must be Canadian, expat Canadian or living in Canada. We’re looking for something from every province and territory. So far, there are very slim to no pickings for NW Territories, Nunavut, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Manitoba. I would love to see stories or poetry from these areas, as well as from younger writers. Spread the word.

In the meantime, if you would like to pick up my book, Embers Amongst the Fallen, for your shelf or as a holiday gift, it’s on sale till tomorrow for $10.95 instead of $16.95  (UK and Euro prices are cheaper as well). This is for the print version available through Amazon. I’ll put the e-version on sale in a week, if I have time. This is a reprint collection of speculative stories, from fantasy to SF, with a bit of darkness sprinkled in between.

In the non-cyber world, I recently realized that Vancouver doesn’t seem to have much of a speculative community. There are writers and artists scattered about but we don’t always know each other. I noticed how much stuff Toronto does (colloquia, readings, other author events) and that Calgary has IFWA (Imaginative Fiction Writers Association) and I thought, why should they have all the fun?

So ,last Friday I held a cocktail party and invited writers and spouses/children to come to my place and mingle. It turned out to be a lot of fun and about 20 people came (my place isn’t large so it worked well). Everyone enjoyed themselves so we’ll try another one in January. I’m hoping that as we build community, ideas will germinate and grow and we’ll be a force to be reckoned with. Chizine Publications also sponsors the Chiaroscuro Reading Series in Toronto. In April we’re hoping to launch in Ottawa and Winnipeg and I’m hoping we can do the same in Vancouver. This will involve published authors reading from their work and receiving an honorarium, and raffles for bags of books at a bar. I’m still searching out venues that would work and be central enough that people can get to them on various forms of transportation.

If you’re another Vancouver speculative writer, reader, artist, drop me a line and I’ll make sure you know about the next Specfic Cocktail Party. In the meantime, get out there and read.

 

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Traveling in Europe: Calais

Europe 2011: Calais

Click on the above picture to go to the album.

Well, it seems a year after my travels I’m still going through photos. Life just got busy and I got distracted. So, tracking back in time, I needed to get to Calais from Belgium because I had to catch the Dover ferry to England and then get to Brighton for the British Fantasy Convention, held at the beginning of October.

Calais, travel, war, photos, Europe, France, French coast

The bunker in Calais. I’m not sure if it’s from the first or second World Wars.

There were ferries closer to where I was in Belgium but it turned out none took foot passengers except for the Dover ferry. By this time, I was getting a cold and my feet were actually blistered from walking so much. I was a bit tired. The train to Dover from Ghent took 2-3 hours with a stop in Lille. It was a beautiful clear day in Calais, a fairly modern looking city but then it was probably bombed a fair amount during WWII. I stayed in the Hotel Richelieu, a very short walk from the station and run by a man who was slowly renovating each suite. Breakfast was included but  declined as I needed to get up early the next morning to catch the ferry.

Calais, France, travel, Europe, Dover ferry

Calais’ warm, brown sand beach.

I wandered down to the beach, passing a bunker that I explored. It was sealed but obviously left over from the war. The beach itself was this amazing very fine-grain beige sand. I took my shoes off and walked into the water to soothe my feet. I wandered after that, taking a few pictures, then stopped in a cafe. I thought, because I was in France I would find cider, and using my very sad French, prefacing it first with “My French is not very good” (in French) I asked, “Vous avez cidre de pomme?” My answer was “quoi?” by a rather rude waiter (who tried his best to ignore me). I repeated and he said non so I ordered a glass of red wine. When it came time to pay the bill,  and I didn’t understand what he said, he reverted to English.

Later, when I wandered into a chocolate shop and repeated the experience I began to suspect that the people of Calais won’t speak English if they can get away with it. With ferries from England you can expect that they deal with English daily and maybe it’s a resistance to assimilation or the belief, when in France do as the French. I at least tried but they certainly didn’t give much for trying.

Calais, gardens, travel, peacock, France, Europe

The very large floral peacock on the main street in Calais.

I didn’t have time or energy to explore farther afield but Calais seems a small resort town. I found what I thought was city hall, with a lovely floral garden and a foliate peacock across the way. That evening I went to Le Restaurant Ancienne and had sea bream with balsamic rucola (arugula), tomatoes, bell peppers and mashed potatoes. Dessert was creme brulee with caramelized strawberries and lemon. It was creamy and all very good but too much for me to finish. In Europe so far, I found that unless you were ordering a bottle of wine, restaurants only have one choice by the glass.

The next morning I took a taxi to the ferry dock. I’m very glad I did as it turned out to be a very long and winding way. I would probably have missed the ferry and been exhausted. It didn’t cost that much for a taxi and I had a pleasant enough journey chatting with a man and his sons. The ferry ride was about three hours and for some reason, none of the sites seemed to have given an accurate time for the crossing.  I got to see the white cliffs of Dover but had no time to dally on the other side and made my way to Brighton.

Dover ferry, travel, France, Calais

The only ferry that takes foot passengers is in Calais. The Belgian ferries are only for cars.

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World Fantasy Aftermath

writing, lectures, speculative fiction, science fiction, authors

The Gladstone Hotel was were the yearly SpecFic Colloquium was held.

The World Fantasy Convention took place this year in Toronto from Nov. 1-4. I try to attend every couple of years but I feel that it might have been four years since the last one. Before I got to the convention the previous Sunday saw the SpecFic Colloquium sponsored by ChiZine Publications.It was a day of short lectures on the topic “Beyond the Human.” Featured lecturers were Helen Marshall, Peter Watts, Robert Runte, Scott Bakker, Karin Lowachee, and special guest from England Rob Shearman. All the speakers were interesting but Rob’s talk was interesting and humorous and he had us all listening through to the end. It’s worthy checking out for next year.

Art Bar Poetry Reading Series, readings, poetry, fantasy

Pauper’s Pub, an apt place for writers to gather.

I also did a successful reading at the Art Bar Poetry Reading series held at the Pauper’s Pub on Bloor St. (an aptly named pub for most writers). There were four of us as featured readers and then an open mic where people had three minutes to read. Surprisingly most of the open mic pieces were good, something that can be very hit and miss when you don’t know the level of writing. Since it was the night before Hallowe’en I read mostly speculative poetry.

The World Fantasy Convention (WFC) started on the Thursday and is one of several professional conventions and one of three “world-class”conventions. The other two are the World Horror Convention (also professional) and the World Science Fiction Convention, which is large and has an extensive fan track. By professional, it means the convention caters to those in the profession of writing and publishing so there are many authors, editors and publishers present.

wirters, World Fantasy, fiction, Hair Side Flesh Side,

Helen Marshall, of Chizine, author of Hair Side, Flesh Side and speaker at the Spec Fic Colloquium.

Correspondingly, there were numerous readings, and panels on various subjects from e-publishing to urban gothic fantasy, the theme of this year’s convention. World Fantasy is capped at around 850 people and the convention had only two tracks and two readings at the same time. Still there were many events I wanted to tend but is often the case at these conventions I was lured into chatting with people and having drinks at the bar. I did listen to Rob Shearman and read a well executed and somewhat sad tale about god, and Cat Rambo read a very bizarre tale about a planet that has porcelain people. I attended one panel on urban gothic but the convention rooms were so cold that I couldn’t sit through a full hour.That was one fault with the hotel, thinking it was still summer. The other was not fathoming that writers drink and being perpetually understaffed at the bar.

Tightrope Books, World Fantasy, writing, fantasy, speculative fiction

Halli Villegas, publisher of Tightrope Books, holding up the awards and banquet menu.

However, as far as the convention went, there were more panels that I wanted to attend than I could get too. The dealer’s room was large and the room parties abounded. Publishers and various groups will host a party at this convention and everyone is invited. The hospitality suite was well decked out with free meals all day and beer and wine in the evenings. I’ve only ever seen this type of spread done at the WFC that took place in Minneapolis. The Chizine party on Saturday night was packed with wall to wall people and even an event I missed called “writers in tub.” You couldn’t move at one point. The party was fairly epic.

World Fantasy, fantasy, speculative writing

Scott Bramble, and CZP author Michael Rowe

I met many people at the convention and for the first time ever, attended an awards banquet, which took place on Sunday afternoon. Chizine Publications was up for a World Fantasy Awardunder the special professional category, but alas did not win. However, while everyone was moving slower on Sunday, it was a very good convention overall, with many new people that I met and great panels. Truly one of the better ones I’ve been to. Check out the World Fantasy convention. It’s a great place to meet authors and publishers.

SF, fantasy, magazines, World Fantasy

Diane Walton, part of the On Spec collective, a magazine out of Alberta

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