Friday night kicked off with the IFWA talent show, ConVersion Cabaret. We had great acts — even Guest of Honor, Tanya Huff sang! The next morning, I was one of four judges for the Robin Herrington Memorial Short Story Contest, and all five of the finalists wrote marvellous stories, but top honours went to Erika Holt for a compelling fantasy story about a witch who loses her powers and is tempted to regain them by killing a street waif.
One of the best sessions I went to — at ANY convention — was one held Saturday afternoon with Tanya Huff, Rob Sawyer and Terry Brooks on the business of writing. Yes, the marketplace is tough, and one must always keep in mind that it is a commercial environment where the bottom line is the deciding factor. But despite the recession, people are getting published. The keys are: write the best damn story you can, and write for the market that loves you. Persist!
Here are pics:
Anna Bortolotto and Val King performing at ConVersion Cabaret on Friday night.
Katie Harse and Mike Gillett chatting about the day’s sessions at dinner.
The two days critiquing novel excerpts with Rob was, as always, fantastic. We had some really good writers with projects that I am sure will develop into fascinating books. We all got together for a barbecue at Robin Herrington’s parents’ house on the Wednesday evening and chatted until well into dark. Here’s a photo of Rob working with Val and Randy at the workshop.
It was a lovely weekend, and I got to re-read the entire novel, capturing little wording and plot snags and correcting them. Tomorrow it is off to my Kensington Writers’ Group for critique and I plan to take a Saturday or two off to get caught up on all the things I have been ducking as the novel came close to completion. I’ve already plotted the next book, and will start writing, probably during the Write-Off.
Thanks to Ron Friedman of my Imaginative Fiction Writers’ Association for compiling this partial list of eligible works for the Auroras — with the slant that all these writers are from Calgary (or were from Calgary or are good friends of Calgarians). Some to consider, at least:
Sawyer, Robert J. IDENTITY THEFT AND OTHER STORIES (collection). Red Deer Press, May 2008
Trenholm, Hayden. DEFINING DIANA. Bundoran Press
McCharles, Randy. “Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta.” Tesseracts Twelve, edited by Claude Lalumiere
Forest, Susan J. “Back.” Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2008
Sawyer, Robert J. “Apple Will Own Margaret Atwood,” The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine, January 2008 (reprinted as “E-Mails from the Future” in Sawyer’s collection Identity Theft and Other Stories).
Trenholm, Hayden. “Love In its Season” On Spec #73, Summer 2008
Other Non-CanadaSF eligible:
McCharles, Randy (fan achievement) for chairing World fantasy convention.
Jeff Campbell – for editing Gaslight Grimoire: Fantastic Tales of Sherlock Holmes
IFWA, my writers’ group, has a bi-yearly tradition of setting aside a weekend JUST for writing. It’s a poor-man’s writers’ retreat. As members, it’s free to us (and the group even buys us pizza for the Saturday night when we all read a little of what we have written so far). From 6 PM Friday to 5 PM Sunday, you can hear nothing but the clacking of keys — especially my daughter, Heather’s. I forget how many thousand words she wrote over the weekend, but the excerpt she read aloud on Saturday night was to die for. I am so proud of her!
I got no actual words written, but I went through all the notes I have been accumulating over the past few weeks and wrote plot outlines for 2 novels. Lots of thinking / problem solving involved, so even though I had most of it worked out ahead of time, I was pretty cooked by the end of the weekend. However, I’m ready to go!
THIS weekend, I work on chapter one of my new novel, and I get almost 2 full days to work on it because the ski season hasn’t (quite) started yet — have to keep the instrument tuned, you know: healthy and active — and because last Christmas, Heather gave me the best gift a writer can get: a weekend to write. She is doing all my chores for me this weekend, so I have nothing between me and my story.